Oh Sylvie, how are you two? At the same time it feels like you’ve been here forever and also no time at all.Read More
I’ll admit, I didn’t fully know how I felt about turning 30.. it felt a bit odd in the months beforehand to have this ‘thing’ hanging over me, but when it happened I sailed through and it turned out not to be a ‘thing’ at all. I do miss a little being ‘in my 20s’ but I had nothing huge that I’d hoped for by the time I was 30 that hadn’t actually happened. After I had Vivienne, age 20, I made a little scrapbook of everything I wanted to do before I turned thirty. In it was little things like “go camping” and ”go skiing” (“go skinny dipping was also apparently important to add to my bucket list in my early 20s..), trips like “visit Las Vegas” and bigger things like “buy a house”.. I wasn’t working to the list but somehow pretty much all of it happened?!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!
Well, Sylvie is definitely not a baby any more. 'Spirited' would be one way of putting it.. 'a loveable little terror' would be another. She refuses to walk, but I'm declaring her a 'toddler'. The baby stage is well and truly over.
She seems to be learning so much so quickly at the moment; everything from trying to copy words that we say, to make-believe playing, to really understanding a few commands, like 'pass me that' or 'take your dummy out'. She has a baby doll which was once Vivienne's which she's taken a particular shining to, trying to feed it and put a nappy on it.. and watching her 'role-playing' is so wonderful. She's gentle with it and cuddles it.. In these moments you'd think she was a considered and kind little thing through and through..
Obviously the toddler years bring frustration and fury for them too as they try to make sense of the world.. she is head-strong, loud.. (I was going to type 'unreasonable' but *obviously*.. she's only 16 months old) Vivienne, hand on heart, was so placid in comparison, whereas Sylvie is not afraid to really make her voice heard.
We are so lucky that Vivienne is so patient as we make our way through this stage of giving kisses, cuddling, then hair pulling, hitting and pinching (those baby pinches really bloody hurt..). It's hard to start introducing discipline when I know she doesn't mean to hurt, or even really know what she's doing. Anyway, we're muddling through this ever-changing day-to-day life with our headstrong little girl.
The blog, recently, has been very heavy with things from mine and Vivienne's Interrail trip, so I thought I would also include a little Sylvie update, for this wonderful but often tiring stage we're currently at. All the little things she does and watching her learn honestly makes up for when she's screaming and attracting attention during 'the big shop'. Sylvie saying 'Mama' and putting her hands up for a cuddle makes all the difficult little moments melt away...
Sylvie at 16 months
Says the words 'Dad', 'Daddy', 'Mum', 'Wav' (for Viv!), "Yessss", "Cock" (for 'look', we hope..) and also, due to her Dad being a huge Boro fan ' Up Bo-o' for 'Up The Boro'.
Eats well on her own; she loves omelettes, lasagne, pasta, cottage pie, fish, vegetables, yoghurt, fruit pouches and chocolate (we're still working on the Easter chocolate!)
Role-plays with her baby doll, giving it her dummy, putting it down to sleep, trying to dress it and change it's nappy.. She tries to draw with a pen (yesterday it was all over the couch), and loves her wooden garage and cars that she got for her birthday.
Has walked four/five steps max, has taken plenty of one/two steps but 99% of the time powers around the house by crawling. She can scale a flight of stairs so quickly.. but no rush to get up on two feet.
Loves playing peek-a-boo behind clothing/sheets, and will hide then surprise you. She loves the swings and the slide, and when you pretend to chase her from room to room.
She's still constantly looking for Vivienne - she follows her around the house and will ask "Wav?" when she's at school.
Dances and shakes her head to music, and loves when we join in.
Also, I can't not mention her hair. Vivienne had hardly any hair until she was two and a half, and it was so curly. Sylvie has a mop of hair that means that she looks like a mix of Ed Sheeran and Boris Johnson if we don't tie it up.. So funny, but we still don't know what to do about it apart from making her look like Pebbles from The Flintstones!
Sleeps well most of the time, she's currently getting back molars in which is loads of fun - full screaming in the middle of the night, but hopefully we'll be out the other side soon.
Loves the bath and loves swimming. Water baby.
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!