It’s buzzing!!! Buzzing with electric energy, with nervous teenagers, with anxious parents, with excitement, anticipation and the foreboding of embarking onto a new path of life.
391 new students are registering today at the Swiss university that Expat boy has decided to enroll in. Queuing to receive the welcome kit with the personalized checklist of thing to do at specific times with a campus map attached as not to get lost.
The process works like clockwork just as I would imagine the army to work in this tiny well-organized country. Moving along from one post to the next from the Swiss authorities desk, past IT, to uniform pick-up until we reach the compact - and yes, perfectly compartmented - student room that Expat boy will share for the next six months. Welcome letter and Toblerone chocolate are neatly laid out on his bed.
Watching my big boy find his footsteps in an environment that he’ll be calling home for the next four years I cannot be anything else but hugely proud of what a handsome young man he has turned into. Very agitated but nevertheless poised never loosing his Italian cool he walks through the parcour worried about what could go wrong but excited about the prospect of University life.
I observe other parents from all parts of the globe seeing their kids off on their new adventure away from home. Judging by the diversity and languages I am surrounded by it seems like the natural continuation to the International school Expat boy just graduated from.
I am happy in the knowledge that my boy has chosen the right path and that this place has not only been his goal for the past four years but it is also the perfect fit for his personality and his choice of career.
It has been a very long time since he has called his Mama for help so many times in one day and I restrain myself from taking pictures as not to embarrass him... nevertheless he will always remain my big baby boy whom albeit having his Father’s character has his Mama’s looks.
Since he was a little boy I have told him to work hard and play hard and today we have come full cycle. The closing phrase of today’s welcome letter was:
“We wish you all the best for the next 4 years: success, memorable memories, friendship... but don’t forget: “WORK HARD, PLAY HARD”
After a gruelling nine hour car trip from Paris to the Swiss Alps with heavy traffic from the word "go" we finally arrived at our destination to find the ski shop closed - meaning that we need to have our ski bindings checked the next morning before we set off for the mountain - as well as the local supermarket which basically translated into "no dinner".
A quick pit stop to unload the car and I am back on the road heading towards the next biggest Coop to buy dinner and the next day's breakfast. If you are a Swiss Expat a trip to the local Coop can evoke all kinds of vibes. For my family it symbolises all the food that we crave when living abroad. It's a guaranteed cure for homesickness.
Much to everyone's disappointment the next day it was pouring with rain. Little did that stop Expat girl's enthusiasm as she rallied the troupes to go skiing.
An hour later, there we were, on top of the mountain practically on our own with zero visibility but an unbeatable motivation, wanting to relish in that feeling when you hit the slopes for the first time in a season.
Nothing was going to stop us. We skied beneath the rain until we were soaked and our jackets were weighed down and we could wring them out. We skied until we were freezing and the water dripped inside of our googles. We skied until we had found our rhythm on the slopes and curved graciously down the hill. We skied until we had had enough...
A few years ago I would never ever had ventured out to ski in the rain. I am starting to wonder if - after living in France for seven years - the Parisian meteorological landscape is starting to get the better of us?!?
The only way to describe Paris today would be with the German proverb "vom Regen in die Traufe kommen". The French version would be "tomber de Charybde en Scylla". The English would say "out of the frying pan and into the fire" which however does not mention any rain.
For it is the rain we have been fighting for months, literally, hoping the Seine would not completely flood Paris' bridges. The river has not even started to roll back when ... the snow hits us!
Snow has paralysed most parts of Paris the past 24 hours. Transport conditions are complicated, with buses out of service, trains cancelled, metros suffering, Uber collapsed, taxis unavailable and police encouraging the public to stay at home and not use cars.
Schools are still open albeit the school buses not running and the kids are having a blast rampaging through the snow. It is cold but the scenery is unique.
And when I stop to look and listen, it is the silence that I feast on, for never has the city centre been so muffled to the point where I can hear nothing but the fresh snow crunching beneath my feet.
La grandeur et la splendeur de l'architecture parisienne
The Eiffel Tower hiding in the fog
It's a true winter wonderland
Never a man to be afraid of the cold!
A fairytale picture
When a panoramic shot says more than words
The Metro's having difficulties as well.
Hiding in the woods
La mairie de Paris is open for business
Nestling in a French bistro for lunch while the storm continues outside.
When the girls get together it is bound to be fun. What better occasion than the opening of Boucheron's exhibit celebrating 160 years of the first high-end jeweller to open a shop on the today infamous Place Vendôme?
Nestled in the courtyard of the Monnaie de Paris - a building which is worth a visit in itself - we were invited to follow the founder's footsteps by experiencing a thematic approach retracing the jeweller's creative process. Since 1858 Boucheron has embodied excellence in jewellery. "The Maison has a bold style, a free spirit and keeps on inventing the classics of tomorrow" is their slogan.
The exhibition began in the opulent Salon Chinois, where M. Boucheron (or his impersonation) welcomed us into his secret cabinet commissioned in the early 20th century and used as a place to discreetly host its top clients. Within its library, animated books revealed more about the company itself, Frederic Boucheron and his iconic creations – including the enduring Question Mark necklace that still features today – as well as the more contemporary Serpent Boheme collection, which has remained a core part of the brand's offering since its introduction in 1968. We found out how a piece of high jewellery is made, from seeking inspiration in the archives to bringing the final enhancing touches to a collection.
While showcasing 250 precious pieces, a purpose-built geodesic dome in glass and steel anchored the experience squarely in the digital here and now, the dedicated Vendôrama app, in fact, was an integral part of the experience.
The visit culminated with a set piece tailor-made for selfie-centric times; a scaled panorama of the Place Vendôme, proving that diamonds are a girl's best friend by immortalising our happy faces with a 360-degree camera coverage and silver confetti. Marilyn Monroe would have loved it!
Let experience begin...
Each visitor received a silver bullet to complete this chef d'oeuvre
Taking Victoria's Secret modelling to a whole different level
Le Salon Chinois de M. Boucheron
Peeking into M. Boucheron's orders from 1887
Finishing la soirée avec une petite coupe entre copines.
Yet another rainy day and the monotony is starting to seriously dent the Parisian's state of mind. A promotional holiday deal to St. Lucia spotted in the Sunday Times seems increasingly enticing!?! Maybe I will take a tour of the four listed greenhouses at Les Grandes Serres and meander the profuse tropical forests of the Botanical Garden this afternoon?
La Grande Dame de Fer always looks good, no matter what the weather
The Statue of Liberty might have her feet standing in water soon?
Searching for alternative entertainment to keep up the spirits.
Spot the metro above ground
Looking rather grey...
Even the Grand Palais has lost its sparkle.
Architectural buildings actually look better in shades of grey
Looking at the current tear around a sculpture from the top of the Les Invalides bridge.
The Seine in Paris has been flooding for days and is set to reach a peak of nearly six metres this afternoon. Giving in to my curiosity and ... I am honest, feeling chuffed Roger has won the Australian Open (hop Schwiiz!) ... curiosity got the better of me. Taking hubby by his hand we headed towards the Eiffel Tower and started our Sunday afternoon stroll along the river with the millions of tourists.
Roads and paths along the river have been closed off and the metro line running alongside the river has been suspended in the central section. The Louvre has closed the lower level and the Musée d'Orsay and L'Orangerie are also on high alert.
River traffic has long been halted on the Seine, which is normally packed with tour boats and owners of the city's picturesque houseboats worry their vessels might drift into the quais or the next bridge given the very strong current at which the water is flowing beneath the century old arches.
The river has not quite hit the six meter level from 2016 nor "La crue de la Seine de 1910" where the Seine reached 8,62m. Nevertheless, everyone is wondering: What will happen in the years to come?
Quais and Riverbanks are blocked off near the Eiffel Tower
The "peniche" house boats are moored from every angle.
The Bateau mouche tourist boats are unreachable by foot.
"Due to the flood, departures are cancelled today"
This Parisian resident is having a field day.
Lamp posts sticking out the water like sad sunflowers
The Zouave statue - traditionally used as a gauge to see how high the river is - has the water well up to his cape!