Knowing how busy things will be next year - with the combination of IMD kicking my butt, and Little Marshmallow keeping us up every night - Ashley and I decided to take advantage of our relatively slower schedule, and treat ourselves to a couple of weekend getaways.
At this point, we've taken care of most of the basic arrival requirements: We've submitted all the paperwork to register with the Canton, we've opened our bank account, we've gotten our phone lines, and have figured out the doctor/hospital situation for whenever Little Marshmallow decides to join us. There are still a few things for us to do, but the biggest ones - namely the nursery - will require us to be in our permanent apartment, which we won't move into until later this week.
So we said to ourselves - let's go travel!
Traveling is something Ashley and I both love to do, and we've taken a lot of incredible trips together. We have no doubt we'll still take vacations and go places, baby and all, but we'll always look back fondly on all trips we've taken and the experiences we shared, just the two of us. We were happy to be able to get a couple last trips in before the baby comes!
I had mentioned Lausanne's excellent location, just a few hours away from so many interesting destinations, in my list of things I was looking forward to about living in Switzerland. Sure enough, we visited a couple fantastic spots, each less than a 4-hour train ride away. Last weekend we crossed into France and checked out Strasbourg, the "Capital of Christmas." This past weekend we spent a quick but fun 24 hours in Milan.
Strasbourg was an extremely charming place. The entire town was decked out with lights, ornaments, trees, giant snowmen and gingerbread men. It really got us in the spirit of Christmas! We spent most of our time there walking through the many Christmas Markets, which seem to take over the town. You can really feel the sense of tradition, considering some of these markets have been in existence since the 1500s. The arts and crafts on display in the hundreds of stalls were impressive (and Little Marshmallow will be the beneficiary of some toys from there!), but equally impressive were the food and drinks. Crepes, cheesy baguettes, all kinds of cookies, chocolates and pastries... not to mention the Vin Chaud, a delicious warm drink made from a mix of wine, sugar and some other spices.
Milan also turned out to be a fun city to visit. We checked out the main landmarks including the Duomo (Milan's impressive Cathedral) and the Castello Sforzesco. We had some quality pizza, and Ashley - the only coffee drinker between the two of us - also enjoyed some true Italian cappuccinos. We did a good bit of window shopping, walking down the famous Monte Napoleone street with all its upscale designer stores. It made us wonder, who buys a $20,000 dress?!? Perhaps the coolest part of our trip came when at one point we came across this huge mob of people. There were some protesters, and some TV crews, so we were a bit worried we could be at the wrong place at the wrong time. At the same time, we could hear Opera singing in the background, which left us utterly confused. We eventually managed to get out of there, and later discovered all the commotion was for the celebration of the 200th anniversary of Verdi's La Traviata, and much of Italian high society was coming into the Scala Theatre for a performance!
With these fun trips behind us, we're now turning our focus to finally moving to our permanent apartment. I anticipate that we will be pretty busy getting the baby's room ready and fully unpacking everything.