By Thursday of that week, mom and I were onto the next adventure. We met up back in Brussels after her few days on her own and headed to the airport to catch our plane to Zürich, Switzerland. This was my first time at the Brussels international airport, as I had originally flown into Paris and then took the train to Belgium. Gotta say I was impressed, European airports are quite nice. Mom and I ate sandwiches sitting on the ground and got countless stares from everyone passing us, something we thought was so funny. We got on the plane on time and had a quick flight into Zürich. The airport there was equally as nice, but it was late and we were tired (I needed a snickers bar— hangry Gina is not a pretty sight) and so we had our first and only little snag in figuring out how to get to our hotel from the airport in an entirely German speaking area with various trams trains buses etc. But, alas, the winning mother daughter team prevailed and we figured it out, finally arriving to our hotel and going straight to sleep.
Friday morning we were up and at em ready to explore Zürich. I definitely owe a shutout to my friend, Eliane, who is from Zürich and gave us wonderful recommendations for how to spend our day. We made our way across the old town area, along a peaceful river full of swans, lined with colourful buildings, trees, and a stunning backdrop of the Swiss Alpes. There were several clock towers, one having the largest face in all of Europe (fun fact!), as well as cathedrals and plenty of shopping. We arrived to the opera house and then found our first recommendation from Eliane, Café Felix. We walked into an adorable little shop filled with flowers and the smell of delicious home made goods. One homemade Swiss hot chocolate and two homemade quiches later, we happily continued our walk outside. It was a beautiful day with blue skies and sun, so we enjoyed just wandering around outside. We were impressed with the amount of VERY expensive cars in the streets. There was one point where we passed a Jaguar, Ferrari, Rolls Royce, Mercedes, and BMW, all within 5 minutes. Impressed is an understatement considering I didn’t even realize that people actually drive Rolls Royce cars on the street in real life lol. We did our fair share of shopping in the boutiques and then came upon a high little park/overlook of the city. What a view! Definitely a good time to have my big lens :). We wandered some more and found the fondue restaurant that Eliane had suggested. We made reservations for the evening and then went back to our room for a little cat nap. The perks of traveling with family and getting to stay in a nice hotel! Later in the afternoon we went to a recommended observatory bar called Jules Verne. It is a round shaped bar with a great, high up, panoramic view of the city. We had a happy hour of champagne and HANDS DOWN the greatest tomato/mozzarella salad I have ever had in my life. I could rave for days about it but I’ll spare everyone reading this the misery. After an enjoyable appetizer we headed out to make our way towards the fondue place for dinner. We ended up walking past a sunglass shop that we had been in earlier, and mom bought me my beautiful 21st birthday gift! Now I have diva sunglasses to match my haircut lol. A bit down the road we went into a Swiss handbag designer store and we had happy birthday round two: mom bought herself a GORGEOUS blue bag, Italian leather/Swiss made. Work it girl, happy early birthday to you!!! We finally made it to the restaurant for dinner and proceeded to enjoy cheese fondue with bread and oil to cook our meat and veggies. I won’t say too much here but this, Swiss people do the whole eating thing really right and it confirms my belief that good food is one of the greatest joys in life. There’s nothing like a deliciously satisfying meal to put you in a coma for the next 10 hours.
On Saturday we woke up and headed out for a day trip to Luzerne (note: not Lausanne, there is a difference). It was a bit overcast and drizzly in the morning, but we still enjoyed a gorgeous train ride over the countryside to get to our destination. Switzerland is like a storybook, it truly is all lakes, mountains, and cozy little towns. Since we happened to be in the city on the day of part of the Karnival festivals we were in for a treat right off the train. Karnival is celebrated all over Europe around the time right before Lent. I really don’t understand it much other than everyone gets dressed up in outrageous costumes and drinks in the streets with all of their friends and family, so naturally it’s a good time. Kind of like extreme tailgating haha. So we were able to explore Luzerne in the midst of this big, loud festival; it definitely added some flair to the day! There were mobile carts and wagons all theme decorated; people of ALL ages dressed up in colorful and elaborate costumes with masks; and plenty of live musical performances. We took ourselves along a self guided walking tour of the city, up all of the main roads and such. We saw a beautiful church and the famous mourning lion carved into a huge rock. (Apologies for butchering the surely important history of that.) By mid afternoon we had found the road along the edge of the city that winds along an ancient mid evil wall and overlooks the town backdropped by the Swiss Alpes. It was an incredible view, and we were pretty much the only ones on top of the place! We could hear the festival band music from below and see along the river and the mountains, into various colorful homes around us and the winding cobblestone streets. I think mom and I agreed that it was our “ah ha” moment of the day. After a lunch along the water and some further people watching along the streets, and then took the train ride back to Zürich. Fortunately, we were lucky to have just overcast weather during our day trip. But after our afternoon cat nap we woke up to cold rain for dinner. We hurried through the streets to find one of the many sushi places we had noticed the day before. After finally finding one, we ended up sitting at the bar eating edamame and hands down the best sushi I have ever enjoyed. Like I said before, Switzerland definitely does the whole food thing really really right. Sleepy off some great wine and food, we headed back to the hotel for the night.
On Sunday we got on our flight back to Brussels, but not before having a luxurious cheeseburger and French fries in the airport buffet restaurant at 11:30 in the morning 🙂 In no time, we were at our hotel in Brussels right near the airport for convenience. Mom was supposed to leave Monday morning, but impending doom back home pushed her flight a day later. So we spent the next day and a half just relaxing, with a quick trip to Liége, Belgium on Monday. We walked around Liége for a half day and then settled back in for mom to catch her flight on Tuesday morning.
So it was back to school for me until Thursday night when it was time for me to finally meet up with Julie and Julia in Brussels! But to wrap this trip up, I had a fabulous time getting to see such beautiful places with mom and having the freedom and ability to explore together over a few weekends. We took gorgeous pictures, made unforgettable memories, and even talked about seeing more places in the future. So fortunate to have such great family trips during my time abroad!