A sweet surprise indeed!

Our final days in Geneva (just 3 more days to go) saw me packing up stuff and passing some of the useful items and/or food over to our friends.  I was feeling a lot better so was out and about making arrangements to meet up with friends to catch up over coffee.

I’ve been meaning to catch up with L over at the Swiss Watch Blog after her surgery but had been too ill to do so over the past 2 weeks.  So, I was really glad when I received an email from her last week asking if I was free for tea before our departure from Geneva.  Yay to an afternoon out, for I really wanted to could catch up proper with her.  I asked if it could be a bigger gathering asking if the other gals were free, I knew I wanted to meet with A (The Switzerland Hughes) to pass her our rice-cooker.  L said she would arrange, but I thought no one else other than A could make it.

Boy, was I wrong!  I rushed in carrying 2 heavy bags filled with stuff for the pair but as I stepped in, I was greeted with shouts of ‘Surprise’ by familiar faces!  So it seems that L had been planning this surprise and I was not to know that the rest of the girls were going to be there.  Must say they were pretty good at keeping me in the dark for I met with S from Schwingen in Switzerland earlier that morning for coffee and she gave me a quizzical look when I asked if she was going to join us for tea.  I also met with N at for a morning session yoga but there was no mention of the party.  L, you certainly did a great job on planning this little surprise!  Thank you!  😉

That’s not all!  A lovely spread of afternoon tea delights (they knew I was crazy about making macarons) were prepared in my honour by these superb ladies.

It was indeed an afternoon that got us all on a sugar high – macarons from Laduree from A, home-made peanut butter cookies by N, home-made pumpkin brownies by L, home-made matcha (green-tea) tiramisu by T, chocolates and other treats from S and L.  We had girly conversations and stuffed our faces silly with the sweet treats.  The girls also compiled a little online album filled with the adventures that we had taken during our stay in Geneva.  Aww.. thanks ladies for everything!  Once again, am really touched.

Prior to moving to Geneva, I was worried that I wouldn’t be able to make any friends and I’d probably become a hermit by the end of my expat journey.  Honestly, making friends from scratch can be rather challenging but looking back, I most certainly did not become a hermit for I’ve gone on to make this small but amazing group of friends.  How?  One of the ways was through blogging.  It has really opened doors for me here and after that, we kinda expanded the group further by pulling people we knew separately into the group.

Thanks again ladies for the wonderful memories and the great times that we spent together exploring Geneva.  It was short but I’m thankful that our paths crossed.  It’s goodbye for now but hopefully we’ll get to see you real soon.  And be sure to give us a shout-out if you ever come to Singapore.  🙂

[All photos courtesy of L over at the Swiss Watch Blog]

P.S: Vain me talking here but I wished I put on some make-up before leaving the house.  And let’s not talk about my bad hair day!  😉

What next?

[Image source]

I can’t believe in just less than 2 weeks, our lives would change again.

We’re heading back to a life that we’ve known a good part of our lives, a life that I’ve been so looking forward to return but yet I can’t quite describe how I’m feeling as I write this post.

I wonder where this chapter in our journey will lead us.  I wonder what I am to do with my life back home.  But most days, I honestly just wonder where I will go from here.

Friends asked me at our farewell party, what are some of the things I’m looking forward to in Singapore?  I say we’re definitely looking forward to spending time with our beloved fur-kid, Sparky; to meeting up with our family and friends; for the Man – saner working hours and for me, to be gainfully employed soon.  But beyond these, I’m also looking forward to things that I’ve taken for granted back on our tiny island.  For instance, safety – I’ve heard too many cases of pickpockets in trams and unfortunately for us, the Man fell victim to this petty crime recently in Paris.  To stores opening on Sundays – don’t think I can deal with wondering what to do on Sunday if we’re staying put in Geneva or rushing to the grocery store on Saturday just to stock up on food.  And knowing where to seek medical attention when needed – now that I’m super duper sick, I want to be able to walk into a doctor and ask him to give me antibiotics for a quicker recovery.

They also asked what I will miss about Geneva?  I paused for a while trying to think of what are some of the things I would miss about this place.  The list ain’t too long but given that we’ve only been here for 10 months, I think it’ll suffice.  I say I would miss the four seasons.  Having four seasons make dressing up a little more fun.  Also, I’ll definitely miss the traveling.  Geneva is really the perfect springboard to travel and see other parts of Europe.  I’m grateful for the many weekend trips that we’ve taken.  Lastly, I will also miss the friends and the wonderful people that we’ve met during our stay here.  They definitely make life in Geneva a little more colourful.

So, what’s going to happen next?  Honestly, I have no clue.  But stick around, won’t you to watch the story unfold?

A quick tour of Lausanne

Since we were expecting slightly warmer temperatures last weekend, we decided on a whim to make a short trip to visit Lausanne.

Lausanne (pronounced as loh-san) is Switzerland’s fifth largest city.  This hilly city enjoys a spectacular lakeside location (which we didn’t get a chance to see because we didn’t have enough time).  Other must-sees in the city according to my new-found friend, Shinn include heading over to Ouchy to see the Musee Olympique and Lake Geneva, visiting the Eglise Saint-François and for a bird’s eye view of Lausanne – the Lausanne Cathedral.

With only about 2.5 hours in the city, we arrived to a some-what grey Lausanne and did a leisurely walk around the Rue de Bourg and Place de la Plaud where boutiques and shops lined the narrow and hilly streets.

With my fave gal!  Check out how we have matching bags with our some-what matching leather outerwear.  I didn’t know if the leather jacket was going to keep me warm, so I decided to layer my faux fur-vest over the jacket for good measure.

Then, we took a leisurely walk to visit the Cathedrale de Notre Dame.

My fave pic of the trip where we took a snapshot of our shadows as the sun slowly set behind us.

I guess this marks one of our very last excursions with one of the closest family that we’ve grown rather attached to during our stay here in Geneva.

A sweet gift from a lovely young lady

So I bundled up and braved the strong winds this afternoon to attend the Chinese New Year luncheon organised by the Temasek Club Switzerland (TCS).  The venue – Hungky restaurant.  Nothing too fancy, plus we were pretty familiar with most of the dishes on the menu.  But it was more for the Singaporeans to get together and celebrate the festive season here in Geneva.  It was nice to see the usual friendly faces and to meet a couple more new friends at this casual gathering.  We even got to ‘lo hei‘ (Prosperity tossing of the raw fish salad) at the luncheon.

What made the luncheon extra special for me was meeting Shinn who made her way down from Lausanne to pass me these Singaporean food packs. If you don’t already know by now, Singaporeans, we are passionate about our food and most can eat round the clock.  Because the Asian food in Switzerland isn’t all that fantastic and eating out is an expensive affair, we have to cook our favorite local foods.  Cooking some of these foods using the many ingredients from scratch can be quite challenging, so I often take the easy way out and rely heavily on these ready-packed spices.

I met Shinn through blogging.  She’s currently taking up her degree in Hospitality over at Lausanne.  We exchanged a couple of emails when she came to Geneva for a visit and I gave her some tips on where she should go.  We never met up but I enjoy reading all about her student life through her blog.  I thought that I will get a chance to know her properly at the Chinese New Year luncheon this afternoon but the event was fully subscribed so it was not possible for her to come along unless someone backs out.

I was surprised when I met her at the restaurant and thought that perhaps a vacant spot has freed up.  We exchanged greetings and she passed me a H&M bag filled with the above items.  The sweet girl made a trip to Geneva with her friends who were attending the lunch just to pass me these items in person.  I was really touched by the thoughtful gesture.  Firstly, for giving up her precious stash of ingredients and secondly, for braving the cold (remember Siberian winds?) to come down to Geneva to meet me in person.  I wished she could have stayed for lunch, it would have been nice to chat and get to know her a little more.

Thanks again Shinn, you really made my day with this sweet gift.  I hope you didn’t get too cold walking around the streets of Geneva.  Take care and hope to see you soon!  🙂

Watching a movie

I can count the number of things that we could do on a weekend back home, but in Geneva, this proved to be a little challenging especially when most of the stores are closed on Sunday.  While I used to live for the weekends, we now find ourselves actually planning in advance the activities to fill our weekends for fear of being too bored or wasting the entire 2 free days away.

Watching a movie should seem relatively easy except for a couple of things.  One, there aren’t too many cinemas here in Geneva.  Two, some of the movie screenings are in French so while booking for a movie, we’ll have to make sure that it’s in the original language.

It wasn’t our first time at the movies.  We watched X-Men: First Class last year at Pathe Balexert.  Getting to the cinema proved to be rather adventurous as some of the exits to the cinema were closed.  But we eventually made it to the movie just in time before the credits rolled.  We were not able to choose our seats so we ended up sitting in the front row, stretching our necks to catch a piece of Professor Xavier in action.  That marred our experience a little so we haven’t been back since.

We had planned on going snowboarding on Sunday but the weather wasn’t on our side.  So, the morning was spent on blogging and catching up on reading blogs.  It turned out that S from Schwingen in Switzerland recently went to the local cinema to catch ‘The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo’ so I decided to check out what movies were screening at the cinema she recommended for that was something that we could fill the rest of our day with.

Great, they were showing ‘Sherlock Holmes: A Game of Shadows’ -a movie that I had been wanting to catch at the Astor Film Lounge. I reserved the tickets on-line and was pretty excited about our afternoon of movie activity.

Going to the movies in Switzerland isn’t exactly cheap but at CHF 18 (approx. SG 25) for a ticket that comes with a free alcoholic beverage, I say this was definitely a STEAL!  We arrived at the cinema a little earlier to hang around at the plush lounge and enjoy our free cocktail.

The theatre was pretty neat as well.  Loved the leather seats that allowed us to recline while watching the movie.  And if you’re feeling cold, you could help yourself to some of the blankets and keep warm.  You could also order some food and ice-cream from your seat but there was no popcorn.  Darn!  Popcorn and movies go hand-in-hand, how could they not have popcorn?  Hmm, perhaps I could ‘smuggle’ my own snacks the next time?  But I guess this movie experience was soo.. good that it kinda reminded me of the Gold Class Movie experience at Golden Village back home.  Looks like I wouldn’t mind hanging out here and watching a movie on my own the next time. 😉

i sea-food

Since nothing is really opened in Geneva on Sundays, we decided to cross the borders and head back to Divonne to check out the local Farmers’ Market that’s only opened on Sunday.  I’m starting to love Farmers’ Markets for there’s a buzz in the air coupled with the colourful sights and the smells of fresh food tucked in the little stalls.

The main purpose of this visit was also to stuff ourselves silly with the fresh seafood.  I skipped breakfast entirely so that I could tuck in the seafood feast!

With the BEST family in tow, we ordered 2 portions of seafood platter made up of 12 freshly shucked oysters (Grade 0,1,2,3), Alaskan crabs and 2 sea urchins.  We even got complimentary white wine to accompany the meal.  Total bill for the 6 of us came up to about EUR 126.. which wasn’t too bad considering the oysters were super fresh and yummy!  It was my first time having the Grade 0 oysters and they were so good!

After the feast, we walked around a bit and stocked up on fresh produce before taking a short coffee break.  I guess I couldn’t resist snapping a couple of pics of doggies.  Wished we had Sparky with us.  I’m sure he would love Europe, he’ll get to go almost everywhere here!  Sigh.. but we’ll be home soon!

Well, if you find yourself running out of things to do on a weekend in Geneva like we often do, then I’ll say definitely make a trip to Divonne for the weekend Farmers’ Market.  The stalls close about 12.30pm to 1pm so you could always start by exploring the market at about 10am, do a little shopping before stopping by one of the cafes for a quick break, brunch or lunch.

My thoughts this Autumn

Winter is an etching, Spring a watercolour, Summer an oil painting and Autumn a mosaic of them all.

Stanley Horowitz

The above quote basically sums up my thoughts on Autumn for it’s so true.  When I take a walk around the neighbourhood or when we go for a car-ride, I pay special attention to the leaves and the trees for it truly is a mosaic of lovely colours which is such a beautiful sight to behold.

Can you believe that more than 6 months have passed since we’ve been here?  Woah.. why did all the time go?  The journey has been amazing with a couple of kinks along the ride which made our lives a lot more exciting I guess.

So goodbye Autumn, it has been such a wonderful experience.  Hellooo hot/humid/rainy Singapore in November and we’ll come back to chilly Winter come December to complete the rest of our journey.