It seems to be quite an unpopular idea this year to make new year resolutions.. I’ve noticed a lot of posts floating around social media about bucking the trend for putting any pressure on yourself just because it’s a new year (which I do understand), but I’ve always been a fan of pausing a little at the beginning of the year and setting myself a few targets to set things off in the right way.Read More
Oh Vienna! We both loved Vienna; it was beautiful but gritty, our accommodation was amazing and finally we were out of Switzerland and back in a country with normal prices.. We stayed in Vienna for two nights, in a rooftop room that overlooked the city and the Naschmarkt, which is a huge area for food and market stalls.
We arrived mid-afternoon after spending the morning in Bratislava, checked in, and went straight back out to explore. We looked around the flea markets, and then headed further into the centre for a few hours to hunt out one of the Easter markets I'd read about.
The Easter markets are similar in set up to the Austrian and German Christmas markets, there are goods, food and drink stalls, some entertainment.. but for the Easter market there are also thousands (literally thousands) of hand-painted Easter eggs for sale. In Europe we noticed that people decorate with an Easter tree, and hang eggs off the branches. The eggs above are all real empty egg shells (as Vivienne discovered when she squeezed one..) but we picked up a few painted wooden ones as souvenirs too.
We grabbed some foot at the market including a caramel and custard waffle for Vivienne, I had a few glasses of wine and it really felt like Spring had arrived. We walked back as the light was disappearing to our accommodation, which was hosting a party to celebrate their 7-year anniversary. There was a band on in the bar, which also had games and pool tables, and we lay on a day bed under the stairs hanging out for a while before heading up to bed.
Next next day - our only full day in Vienna - was Easter Sunday! We got up early and headed out to Prater - a permanent fairground a little outside of the centre. We started by going on the huge ferris wheel which overlooks the entire city, then a rollercoaster (Viv's eyes were tightly shut the whole time!), looked around, then wandered back to the centre. We explored a little more before stopping for lunch. Viv and I had a deal that she would try some new foods while we were away, so she and I shared Goulash, Schnitzel and Sacher torte for lunch. We weren't far from the Easter markets ad couldn't resist popping back, Vivienne had some crazy chocolate-covered marshmallow thing, before hanging out and resting for a little while playing cards because it was getting pretty windy out there.
We also headed up to the museum quarter that day, but I think the past week or so and never really stopping was beginning to catch up with us and we were starting to flag.. At the same time everything around us started shutting early because it was Easter Sunday evening, and we were both happy to head back, play pool and have a bit of an earlier night (joking.. we watched more Fresh Prince..) Viv was pretty excited to be heading to Budapest the next day and finally see David and Sylvie again..
We had a few hours before we were due to get the train to Budapest the next day, so got a quick taxi over to Hunderwasser House and village - an area designed to promote living in sync with nature. You have to apply to live there, and can't live there for long. The idea is that you embrace it then move away to spread the gospel about living together with our natural environment.. We'd left suitcases at our accommodation, so slowly walked back, grabbed some brunch, and got ready to catch the train to Budapest!
Ah! So! Here we go.. I've been so excited to blog about our trip, and finally all the editing has been done, I've scanned the polaroids in, the films have been developed and I'm ready to put it all out there..
You can see more about our plans here, but in short, we travelled to Geneva, Montreux, Zermatt, Vienna and Budapest, and did a quick few hours in Bratislava. I've decided to break it all down place by place, I'll add links for anything relevant where I can, and I'll be cross-linking to my photography blog too, where I'll be sharing a different selection of images (I didn't want to overwhelm this blog with photography-related content, and overwhelm my photography blog with family content..)
We packed up, had backpacks with snacks and our travel diaries, and Dav dropped us at the train station, which would take us straight to Manchester Airport. I'm so glad I added a full case, my romantic idea of only having backpacks for the trip were soon dashed when I realised we'd need such a range of things; we needed clothes for ski weather and warm weather, hiking boots and swimming costumes.. it wasn't ideal lugging a huge case on and off trains but definitely better than not having everything we needed.
We arrived in Geneva late on the Monday night, and by the time we were checked into our hotel it was about 10pm and too late to eat out anywhere. In the dark we walked down to the Lake and looked across at the twinkling lights, and had a little wander before grabbing a take away pizza (to Vivienne's delight) to eat in bed. In the morning we grabbed a pain au chocolat to go and I think she immediately thought Geneva was the best place ever..
We armed ourselves with cameras and a few essentials, and walked through the city up to La Jonction. I'd researched Geneva a little and La Jonction looked so bizarre and so interesting that I really wanted to see it for myself.. It's the point where the rivers Arve and Rhône join but the waters don't mix. It was a bit of a trek to get there, and Vivienne wasn't best pleased (until we found a small petting zoo at the top of the hill just before we reached this point) but once we reached the point overlooking the rivers on a railway bridge it was all worth it.
I was so excited when Vivienne showed an interested in using the camera I'd lent her for the trip - it's an Olympus Pen PL7 - and she loved going back through what she'd taken and keeps asking me to teach her how to edit.. Further down the line I think I'll blog a selection of her photos from the trip too.
After La Jonction we walked back through the city and headed towards the Old Town, which was uphill through narrow streets towards Cathedral St Pierre. There are two towers which you can climb in the cathedral, and one had a really panoramic view over the entire city. On a clear day you'd be able to see mountains in the distance but we happily settled for overlooking the rooftops, harbour and the Jet D'Eau. We stopped mid-afternoon for a drink and some chips (we didn't realise this would become a daily tradition at the time..) and wandered back through Geneva and down to the Lake.
We walked to the Jet D'Eau, which you can see above, but it happened to be off by the time we reached it, we hung out by the harbour for a little while, watching people catching fish, and hanging out in the park nearby, Vivienne loved spotting the super-cars that race each other down the streets and admiring the graffiti (I think it was what she photographed most).
We picked up our bags from the hotel and jumped on the train an hour round the lake to Montreux, stocking up first on crisps and a few treats from the shop in the train station.
Geneva was somewhere I chose to start the trip for mainly logistical reasons - it was easy to fly to and move on to where we wanted to see next; but we ended up really loving wandering around this city.
You can see a different selection of pictures from Geneva over on my blog here.
NEXT STOP - MONTREUX!
So! We're back from our Interrailing trip and we've been home for a few weeks now; the Easter holidays are over we're getting back into the swing of the normal routine.
It was *so* good. It took a lot of planning and going over and over details and checking the logistics of everything, but it went so smoothly and it was one of the most special things I've ever done with Vivienne. I'm working to put together some blog posts and organise the photos I took along the way, I'm going to be breaking the trip down into places to really go into detail about what we did in each place; but, for now, here is a short film I made of our travels. It was put together on my phone, and it's a little rough but it shows snippets of our travels and I hope you enjoy it!
Oh this year was a bit extra-special.. our first Christmas with our Winter baby, Sylvie. Our first Christmas as a family of four! Vivienne was so excited, Sylvie didn't know what was going on, it made everything that little bit busier than last year.. and it was all completely magical.
I loved hearing Vivienne telling Sylvie about Christmas and what happens ("this is our Christmas tree and we hang things on it.. no you can't pull them off!") whilst simultaneously remembering being very, very pregnant at the same time last year.. we were lucky enough to have a few days of snow which Sylvie was excited by, we went for lots of walks down into the town centre whilst being wrapped up warm, we had a 'friendmas' and pulled crackers a few weeks early, made a Christmas cake with Vivienne well in advance of Christmas day, made our own advent calendar..
In November we had to gently intervene with Vivienne's early Christmas list draft as it contained three pairs of trainers, an iPod and a Macbook Pro.. (she's eight. I *know*) She replied by saying "I know they're a lot of money which is why I've waited to ask Santa, then you don't have to pay for them." Well played, Vivienne. We had some thinking-outside-the-box-on-the-spot to do before gently persuading her that it was, in short, a ridiculous Christmas list. Fortunately she went on to revise it to something a little bit less ambitious..
As always, Vivienne's social calendar was busier than ours as she went on Brownie trips on the Santa Express, had Christmas discos and parties to attend, and we went to her school carol concert at a local church. Their school term didn't finish until 22nd which felt really late - half the excitement is feeling it build before Christmas, isn't it? But we made the most of the weekend before prepping veg and tidying round ready to host Christmas day (even if I was slightly worse for wear on Christmas Eve.. I didn't have any Christmas nights out last year due to bump so I guess it's OK..)
Vivienne was so excited this year, so much so that she excitedly carried her stocking into our room at 4.30am asking if the day could start immediately and she could start opening presents (the answer was no.. and 'go back to sleep'..) Ringing a bell to announce that 'he's been!' is a Christmas tradition in our house and my heart felt full watching the girls come into the living room on Christmas morning (even if it was still only 6.30am..) Vivienne bounded in and brought Sylvie to her pile of things before creating chaos in her corner opening things in a frenzy.
We have a few Christmas traditions but decided to add a few more this year. Last year, heavily pregnant, I was desperately trying to 'get things going' by walking as much as possible; including walking a long stretch along the beach and to the local farm shop and back - we've decided to do this every year. Vivienne and I made an advent calendar that contained a good deed, affirmation or something like 'think of three reasons you feel lucky today' for her to open each day; she had a chocolate advent calendar too.. I'm not that mean.. We also decided to start a little tradition between the girls where we'll give them a little money each year so they can buy each other a little gift to put under the tree; Vivienne picked both gifts this year but still wrote Sylvie a 'Thank You' card for hers.
We hosted Christmas dinner with my parents, sister and grandparents.. It went well, nothing got burnt or forgotten, there were no arguments.. all in all we had a busy, perfectly normal but wonderfully special Christmas fuelled by cheese, pate, alcohol, party food and leftovers (still feeling the effects at this end, well into January..)
I had two weddings between Christmas and New Year, and then the next stop was Sylvie's birthday on January 2nd - I think the actual chaos died down on about January 4th after Christmas, but I wouldn't want it any other way.
I hope you all had a really wonderful and special Christmas and a very happy 2018.