One of the hardest parts of living abroad is being so far removed from Big Important Things that are affecting friends and family in the States. Last week, that was Hurricane Michael. It’s been heartbreaking to see the destruction to Mexico Beach, which has been my family’s go-to beach for generations, and to the area around my grandparents’ lake house. Since I know I have a bunch of readers across southern Georgia and Florida (hi, Grandmother and Grandaddy! And Grandmother and Grandaddy’s friends!), I just wanted to say that you’re all in my thoughts.
I also wanted to put in another plug for voting in November. If Hurricanes Irma, Maria, Harvey, and Michael aren’t evidence enough of the increasing severity of climate risks, I don’t know what is. Vote for candidates who will support climate-smart development! We can’t afford continued devastation like what we’re seeing across Florida right now.
There’s not much you can do to help when you’re living abroad, so – strange as it feels – you just continue to go about your business. That meant that last week, while my grandparents were chainsawing fallen trees, I was exploring Switzerland. Colin and I had two friends visiting, and we took them to say bonjour to our favorite Alps. This time we stayed in Lausanne (which, Fun Fact #1, is directly across Lake Geneva from Évian-les-Bains, where Évian bottled water comes from), but we also took a magical day trip to Montreux, at the very eastern tip of the lake. (Fun Fact #2: To the French and Swiss, the lake is Lac Léman, not Lake Geneva.)
Between the fog over the lake, snow-capped mountains, riotous flower gardens, and the ancient Château de Chillon in the distance, Montreux was so pretty that it almost hurt to look.
Lausanne was nice, too – in particular, the views from the Tour de Sauvabelin, which is an elegant wooden observation tower in the middle of a large park – but if you’re ever headed to Lake Geneva, I’d recommend making a beeline for Montreux. I mean. The scenery was unreal. We took a train 20 minutes from Lausanne to Montreux, passing through idyllic fields and vineyards, then strolled along Montreux’s “Flower Walk” to the Château de Chillon. We spent the afternoon touring the castle, then boarded a paddlewheel boat just before sunset for the hour-and-a-half trip back to Lausanne. The trip was ostensibly for my friend’s birthday, but I think we all felt like we won the scenic lottery that day.
I still can’t quite believe I was in such a beautiful place while a hurricane was battering places dear to me – and I do feel badly writing about it while friends and family are struggling to find running water and hot meals – but I hope you know you’re all loved and are in my thoughts. One thing you learn while living abroad is how very special this world and the people in it are.