...I suspect I may be the luckiest kid in the world

Friday, April 30, 2010

The Fun And Fabulous (Frivolity Included) (f)Adventures of PW and Kylie! Part 1: Barcelona

....so perhaps I'll update you another time on the passport misadventures (it arrived (miraculously?) on the morning of my flight...

But for now, let me introduce The Fun And Fabulous (Frivolity Included) (f)Adventures of PW and Kylie!

Part 1: Barcelona

We are sitting in the bus en route to Girona from Barcelona and have decided to utilize the time productively by updating our blogs with what has happened so far on the trip. For those of you new to our lives, Kylie (chaupair.blogspot.com) and PW (paywhen@blogspot.com) will be typing away furiously every free moment we have to bring you the details of this Spain/Portugal trip.

PW: Barcelona was every bit as beautiful as everyone claimed it to be... we saw beautiful beaches, the Gaudi buildings, met friendly people and had great weather.

Kylie: I will remember Barcelona as a time of clutching my bag and looking suspiciously at everyone. This follows many warnings of the people we met...because "everyone they knew" had been robbed in Barcelona.
I can't tell you how many happy feelings I had bike riding in the sunshine along the beach path. Somewhat marred by unwanted viewings of people who should have been wearing swimming suits.

PW: I had a new found appreciation for my Mandarin "skillz"... everywhere we went there were Chinese people - most of them clothing or food shop owners/workers. The first night I was able to order some lemon chicken and rice for us in Mandarin (although I failed to secure a reduction on the cost of our meal). Then there were the other times I was useful for communication purposes: finding out how much the sushi/wok place cost, translating prices and descriptions of goods for Kylie and delivering the bad news that the dress she wanted (which was marked 6.50) was actually 12 euros for her, since we did not look Spanish enough to get the lower price.

Kylie: Its true. She actually said the double price was for tourists. Sheesh.
It's been a while since I've been in a country that I have absolutely no language skills.
(Well I can say please and thank you. I do have lovely manners. See, Mum? I told you I'd grow up ok.)
But other than that? It's been fun playing a giant game of charades.
Favourite part of Barcelona? Definitely being too cheap to pay to go up to the roof of a Gaudi house. And instead somehow finding our way up to the rooftop of the neighbouring hotel. A much better view AND it involved a game of hide and seek with hotel workers and cleaners.
I love games.

PW: WHAT?!?! Kylie totally stole MY favourite moment... It's true, we were too cheap to pay entry to the attractions so had to come up with creative ways to see everything. However, I'm required to recount the event Kylie has mentioned in a more accurate manner (her memory is not what it used to be). Firstly, we were at Palau Güell, which is under re-construction, so NO ONE could see the whismical rooftop chimneys on the roof. Being able-bodied, curious and cheap, Kylie and I snuck stealthily (is that even a word?) into a nearby casino/hotel and headed straight for the rooftop. There, we scoured the premises and realized we could see directly onto the top of Gaudi's first masterpiece mansion from a certain vantage point on the roof of this hotel. The problem was that 3-4 workers were on the roof as well - we had to 007 our way over scattered pieces of building materials on the ground, get onto the terrace and take the photo without getting caught. We felt quite accomplished after successfully capturing the photo. My other favourite things: saving a cat stuck in the tree in the beautiful Jewish gardens; sneaking into the gas station to use the w/c, then trying to justify the toilet use by buying a 0.30 euro pack of cookies; seeing the street performers on La Rambla.

Kylie: Her 30 cent cookie purchase was made all the better when she tried to pay with a 50 Euro note. Needless to say, we were not their favourite sneaky toilet users of the night.
And seriously--cats do not, can not, and will not get stuck up in trees. And if they do-it's their own fault. It's just part of their evil plan to rule the world. If we had the baggage room PW would be carrying bags of cat food with her. She wants to make sure she is remembered among them if they succeed in world domination.

All in all, we enjoyed Barcelona! Especially the 1 euro McDonalds menu!!! See you next in Portugal!

Friday, April 23, 2010

I don't like Iceland Anymore

Dear Passport. I know you are lost. Lost and scared and alone. And you don't know where you are. I don't know where you are either. Somewhere between Australia and Switzerland.

Dear Volcano. I know you ate my passport. Or you scared away all the planes with the mail in them. Give me back my passport. I need it.
(Please, please, please come in the mail tomorrow.)

Dear Spain and Portugal. I really want to see you. Why do you always need to see my passport? I don't have mine. The Volcano ate it. Eyjafjallajökull. [Ay-yah-FYAH'-plah-yer-kuh-duhl] (just in case you were wondering)

With much love (for the passport & next week's countries), threats and bribes (for the volcano),

Next up: Another visit to Mamma Mia and Many many many mysterious blue boxes floating around Zurich City.

Tuesday, April 20, 2010

Pink Hair, A Red Convertible & An Icelandic Volcano

This week I took to heart Climb Every Mountain and climbed a giant giant mountain.
Bigger than any I've climbed before.
It took a sturdy pair of snow shoes, some pulling from a good friend (Thanks Aline!) and 7 1/2 hours.
Yeah - I'm pretty happy.

Spring is really coming. We even had Sechseläuten yesterday.
After spending the last week up in the mountains, I am amazed at the colour everywhere. It even smells like Spring.
I went for a walk yesterday and ended up having a little nap in the garden at a Church nearby with a beautiful view.
There's something a little different about waking up from a sleep and realizing you're sleeping amongst 100-year old graves. At least I woke up - more than I can say from those sleeping next to me.

2 more sleeps until Mamma Mia! What? You think I've seen it enough times?! Pfssht!

Next week it's off to Spain. I'm pretty excited about this because 1.) the beach, and 2.) after Spain we are going to Portugal and here I can eat Portuguese Custard Tarts. This will be the fulfillment of a lifelong (well at least 3-year-long) dream.

That is, if this Icelandic volcano decides to sit still for a while. Please, Eyjafjallajökull, don't ruin my plans. It's ironic that it has caused so much havoc, and we really can't see a thing from down here below.
I think I have 12 flights planned for the next few weeks so I'm quite at the mercy of a Volcano whose name I can't even pronounce!

In other unfortunate news, I have pink hair. Actually somehow a mix between red, pink, and purple. I was trying for dark brown with a slight auburn tinge. How did I end up with pink?!

And, in other cool news, I got to be driven around the Swiss Alps in a red convertible on the weekend (Thanks Sandro & Pam!) How.Very.Cool.

Wednesday, April 14, 2010

"Please Don't Steal Me" - The Desperate Plea of a Pink Bike

I know many of you are waiting with baited breath for news of the PB (Pink Bike).

After first trying to get it onto a bus 1. without the driver seeing it (not easy, pretty much impossible) REFUSED and 2. casually pretending there wasn't a problem REFUSED, I stashed it behind a church. Sacred ground and all that. Please don't get stolen.

The girls and I went home, we had dinner and I put them to bed. Still not sure how I was going to retrieve the PB. I had visions of walking into town and then riding back (a feat that would have taken all night - SO NOT happening!) So I called the lovely neighbours, and with my desperate pleading they agreed to drive me into town and pick up the PB.

I felt like a thief, creeping around the church grounds in the dark and putting a random bike in the back of the car.

The black clothing and balaclava I was wearing probably only fueled people's suspicions. Hey, I was cold.

PB is now home safe and sound. It had better be used, pinkness and all!

Sunday, April 11, 2010


I'm staying at the moment in a beautiful Alpine village about 15 minutes from a popular Ski Village and we're tucked away up in the mountains.

NickNat have gone to Venice for a few days and TayAbs&George and I are hanging out at home.

Saturday the 11th April. I've promised the girls a visit to the Pool

The girls are I make a crazy run for the bus. It only goes once an hour so we really want to make this one.
We have to change buses and then get off at the Supermarket to buy lunch and copious amounts of Easter chocolate. Yes, yes, Easter was last weekend, but who can say no to half-price chocolate!?

We get back on the bus and ride it til the end. Our mission? To buy a bike at the one-day bike sale for Nat. I'm dubious. I know nothing about bikes, and I don't even own a bike at this stage of my life (due to selling it to my Dad several years ago when I needed money).

Apparently everyone in Switzerland also wants to attend this bike sale. We join the long line to enter the shed.

When the doors open, we are pushed along in the throng of the crowd to rows of shiny bikes. It's doubtful that there's enough bikes for all buyers and so the race is on.

I fight off a few people with my handbag and use my Swiss angry words to warn off potential interest in the bikes I'm interested in. But then I turn into an angel as I help a fallen victim who was trying out her new bike.

I lose the girls several times but together we find a [hopefully] good buy. It's unfortunately pink but otherwise we agree.

After finally making it through the purchase line we step outside and start to walk toward bus stop. It's time to go to the promised pool but first, the bus. I'm rejected on the bus with the bike and so the girls go without me and I use some pedal power.

Upon arriving at the pool [wittily and appropriately called Eau-La-La - although the pool people probably should be informed that we are in the German part of Switzerland, and not the French part], I am faced with what to do with the bike. Since I cannot take it swimming with us, I hesitantly leave it outside, unlocked. Eeeek.

The pool is wonderful. There's something amazing about swimming outside in a heated pool, in cool weather, with snowy mountains all around. I selfishly plant myself at the water massage section and settle in for the long haul. Life is tough.

The girls come and go [it's hard for them to choose whether to use the water slide or the massaging jets] and a little British girl hears us speaking English. When she finds out we are Australian, she proudly shouts to her Mum that she can understand Australian.

I am strangely watched constantly by an older woman who is wearing so much gold jewelry in the pool I wonder she doesn't sink. Her carefully made-up face and string of pearls stick out amongst us normal people, who don't wear enough jewelry in the pool to start a shop.

I am relieved to find the bike still there when we leave. We are on a race against time to 1. get to the grocery shop before it closes and 2. get the last bus back to our village.

I am rejected again on the bus with the bike and so decide to hide it behind the church so conveniently placed near the bus stop. Please don't get stolen, I plead with it. I've invested too much of my day with you.

The girls are I make the made dash around the shop and then jump on our first bus just in time. We're lugging bags of groceries, swimwear and also the copious amounts of chocolate. Which, I'm positive will be in tiny pieces by the time we get home.

We arrive home, 7 buses later and minus a bike.

Mission somewhat accomplished.

Thursday, April 8, 2010

Me Me Me

I am drinking tea.
I am applying for uni.
I am thinking about A Million Miles in a Thousand Years by Donald Miller. SO GOOD.
I have so many wonderful friends.
I am so excited about up-coming trips.
I have too many flights booked here, there and everywhere, to count.
I am alone in the mountains...with 4 little girls. Well, in a nice house in the mountains.
I am currently loving lattes, fresh peppermint tea, and kirsch liquor filled chocolates.
I am anticipating spring so much, and enjoying the glimpses given.
I am thankful for so many things.

I found my pros and cons list of Options for 2009. I had to laugh in disbelief when I read the Cons for Au Pairing/Living OS:
Lonely? Boring? No Friends?
I don't think I've felt any of those things this year. At all. I'm so glad I didn't listen to my negative possibilities.
I laugh in the face of my 2008 self. :)
When I'm reminded of the fears of the unknown I've had before, it gives me so much confidence for the future unknown.

Which brings me to a quote from A Million Miles [Donald Miller] (it's really worth the read! - and I'll probably quote from it more than a time or two!)

Before I realized we were supposed to fight fear, I thought of fear as a subtle suggestion in our subconscious designed to keep us safe, or more important, keep us from getting humiliated. And I guess it serves that purpose.
But fear isn’t only a guide to keep us safe; it’s also a manipulative emotion that can trick us into living a boring life.

I am drinking tea. And I am thankful.