Last night, we decided it might be fun to book a train that would take us up through the mountains. Actually, the first day we were here -while I was out for a walk, I thought it might be a fun idea -and when the rest of us showed up I ran the idea past them and we decided to book.
Apparently, however, when you ‘book a reservation’ on a train here -you are only reserving a seat. Not buying a ticket! Seat reservation is only recommended during peek season -which it is not. Woops! Oh well.
We got these fancy red tags on our chairs and felt super special. So there is that!
The train ride itself went from Montroux to Zweisimmen. There were some epic mountain views! The whole journey took about 5 hours to complete I believe. It didn’t seem like that long and after walking all day yesterday it was nice to sit and relax…well, relax is relative with two small kids on board!
It was also quite funny -we met a man in the coffee shop from Australia -who had traveled to Alaska and been in Ketchikan! It was crazy to not only meet someone who spoke English, but to meet someone who had been in OUR town!
Sadly, today is our last day -we head out tomorrow, so this is au revoir, Switzerland, it’s been a treat!
Today was a great day, but that could have something to do with the fact that a few of my favorite people finally made it late last night!
After breakfast we wandered down to the Christmas market -but since it was still early and everything wasn’t open yet -we changed our plans and began a walk to the Chillon Castle. It was meant to take about twenty minutes -but with our group we ended up taking at least an hour. Or two.
It was a very scenic walk -and the trip back only took about 20 minutes.
The castle itself was nice…except we forgot to pack food and by the time we were done we were famished. So off to a little pizza joint we went. The best pizza is always from the little shops in the wall that are dimly lit and unadvertised.
Then back to the market for some hot chocolate, waffles and shopping.
We also did another round on the Ferris Wheel -because of course we had to!
Then dinner and back to our hotel. It was a full day -but a lot of fun.
I woke up this morning a little bummed out about how things were panning out. I may be spontaneous enough to hop a plane with a few days notice and travel a billion and some odd miles alone -but going to a foreign country where I don’t speak their language? That’s where I draw the line.
But I am here. And there wasn’t anything left to do but get up -and then I looked out the window and saw this:
…and couldn’t have been happier to be here. It’s seriously so beautiful!
Now I am the type of person that likes to have a plan -even if that plan means leaving in ten days for a five day trip a billion miles away. But I digress. Not having a set in stone plan for where I was going to go and what I was going to do, threw me a bit. Especially since I was already kind of reeling from the fact that I was here. Alone.
But first things first. I knew I had to get an adapter so I could charge my laptop and cell phone, and well everything really, and coffee. Because can one really start their day right without coffee? All that meant going for walk in a town I didn’t know. This could have been a disaster, considering I am direction-ally challenged. Seriously. I get lost in Walmart.
But priorities, folks.
I got up, got ready -opened the door and stepped out.
…and thus began my first day in Switzerland, solo.
I may have walked into a few doors, and may have gotten stuck in a revolving door. I may have also been called a name or two in French -I really couldn’t be for sure. The point is, I went out and ordered a coffee (to go) in what little French I knew, and got just that!
Honestly I was probably a little too excited that I had actually navigated the whole thing. And I’m also fairly certain it was straight espresso. No coffee. But it was good.
But I got that adapter. And I got that coffee. And I found my way back to my hotel.
And then I went out again -to check out the Christmas Market…and walk along the water….
I’ve never been to a foreign country alone, before. Sure, I travel alone. But I always have met up with someone. Someone who can help me navigate the roads and the languages. It was a whole new experience -this navigating alone stuff. It was also the first time in I don’t know how long that I didn’t have an agenda, or a plan, or anyone needing anything.
I didn’t have to be anywhere, had nothing but time, and was in an amazingly beautiful place. I couldn’t help but smile.
After I went for my wander I came back to the hotel for a bit. Then just as it was getting dark, I decided to go back out and check out the market at night. To see the lights and take in the sights.
I went in for a closer picture…
…and ended up buying a ticket to go on it! I think this is probably the closest I will ever get to buying an “All around the world” ticket. Maybe not tho! One can dream!
This is my “I am up so high, and I think I just might die if I look down so I will just stare blankly ahead” face.
…and then I started laughing -because I was on a Ferris wheel, in Switzerland, alone, in the middle of the night…and I couldn’t stop. It took a few rounds for me to settle down and people probably thought I was losing my mind…or had too much warm rum and maple syrup. But I was just having fun. In Switzerland. Alone. In the middle of the night. On a Ferris wheel.
“Do one thing every day that scares you.” ―Eleanor Roosevelt
It’s probably safe to say that I am set. For a few years. At least. Maybe. Maybe not. I can’t decide.
Let me explain.
A few weeks ago Amanda mentioned that they were going to Switzerland. “You should come!” she said. “Are you serious?” I asked. “Are you?” she replied. And so it began. I didn’t have a lot of time to think about it, but I didn’t need a lot. A quick look at my calendar told me I could be gone for approximately five days. And that was if everything panned out in my favor…
After securing the okay from everyone I had commitments with, I purchased my ticket and spent the next week and ½ attempting to get everything in order. It takes about as much time to get ready for a five day trip as it does a five month trip -which is really why I like to go for an extended period of time. But with Christmas, and previous engagements -being gone longer than five days wasn’t feasible. So a five day trip to Switzerland it was.
Sunday I taught Sunday school, attended church and mere minutes after the final amen -bolted out the front door, changed in the backseat of the car while mom drove to the airport -gave her a kiss and ran down the ramp to catch the ferry -which left right as I stepped on.
It’s been non-stop ever since.
I’ve traveled before. I know how it’s done. I didn’t check any bags so I could make it to the airport just ½ hour before the plane left. Perks of a small town -I arrived before the plane. I made my connecting flight in Seattle with ease, and traveled the next eight plus hours with a seat fully reclined into my lap and a guy who had taken sleeping pills, melting out of his seat into mine.
I know what to expect in the airports. I can even manage to haggle my bag into the overhead bins without any help -which is no small task when you are just over five feet. Our flight was late taxing in which meant I had to run to make it through the largest airport in England -and after a short runaround because my boarding pass was invalid -it was determined that my flight was cancelled. Due to weather. Because apparently Switzerland got snow -and they aren’t used to that.
No big deal. I got on the next flight, bought an international sim card and called Amanda. Who was supposed to meet me in the Swiss airport and together we would navigate to the hotel. Except their flight was cancelled too -and they wouldn’t be there until the following night.
It was determined that I would “Simply” catch the train in Switzerland and make my way to the hotel. In a land which I didn’t know. And a language I can’t speak. After some back and forthing -it was finally decided that no, that would not be the wisest option…and after some finagling on her part, Amanda secured me a cab. Bless her socks.
It was a fairly easy trip from there. Except after traveling for a day plus, I was wiped. As we drove through the dark streets on our way to the hotel I couldn’t help but feel a bit disappointed. It looked like another big city. Full of busy streets and tall buildings.
I arrived at my hotel with a few minutes charge left on my computer and phone -because I had sent my travel adapter with Amanda, I wouldn’t be able to charge anything. I spend ten pounds calling people to inform them I had, in fact, arrived -then promptly fell asleep.
When the sun came peaking into my room, I debated about getting up -it was, after all, early in the morning. I wasn’t entirely certain how I was going to get around in the town and having not seen anything except dark streets -I wasn’t sure I wanted to.
I got out of bed and opened the door to my private balcony and looked around….
And suddenly, I remembered why I love to travel. With no expectations.
I sat in the car, watching the rain pour down on the windows faster than the wiper blades could dare to keep up with. It was a 2 second dash into the house, but I couldn’t move. I was stuck. Thinking. In a car that smelled oddly of dog. I had just finished teaching my Sunday school class, the lesson, as usual -I think impacted me, more than it did the kids.
They enjoy the snacks and the fun pictures -I know this because they told me so. They ‘suffer through’ the lessons, more or less to humor me I think, but the main event is when they get to do their workbooks. It usually takes less than five minutes before the innocent picture has taken a turn. Today it was a donkey. A donkey -to remind us not to be stubborn -a donkey that quickly turned. One had a light saber. Another machine gone. One donkey was in an especially rogue mood -with about ten little stick people hanging off it and fire coming from his eyes. If I’m being honest, I enjoy the pictures too.
But I digress.
The lesson, most timely planned -was on the promise that the Lord will direct your paths. We looked over a handful of examples -familiar ones, Jonah, Noah and the story of Jerico. We talked about the struggles these people might have faced -when doing the right thing, and of course -how doing the wrong thing, how doing OUR idea doesn’t usually end up well. We talked about it practically, we got off on a few rabbit trails and talked a lot about direction…
But then one-story example came up. The story of Uzzah. It has been years since I read that story, and to be honest -it stumped me today as much as it did back when I first heard it. Why, I asked myself, did God take such DRASTIC measures to kill someone who was keeping the ark from falling?! He was, after all, helping, wasn’t he? I considered leaving the example out -but something kept drawing me back.
I read up on the story last night, looking at the history, surrounding verses, giving myself a little insight to the story and then presented it to my wonderful group of all boys between the sweet ages of seven and nine.
And they had questions. Because of course they did.
“But why did God kill him?” “He was just helping” “He technically wasn’t touching the ark itself -he was touching the blanket. That’s the same as touching the pole. Because the pole was touching the ark too!” We talked about the importance of following God’s instructions -even if they don’t make sense at the time. How when God says not to touch the ark -he means the blanket that might have been touching the ark too. How we need to take God’s directions seriously -and not try and justify our actions that we think might have been right when really, we know they are wrong.
We spent a long time on that story, and then it went off on a rabbit trail about donkeys and carts -because of course it did.
We ended the lesson talking about how we should be quick to ask for God’s direction -the first time, and not after we have made our decision and messed things up…and then we started drawing light-sabers and whatnot’s on our donkeys. Because hard as I try, if you give them a pencil -that picture will end up with a story. A story that has nothing to do with our lesson. Except they will try to make it relate. Because of course they will.
The original idea of the picture was to remind us not to be stubborn, like a mule. Drawing from the illustration that mules get stubborn and need to be guided with a “bit and bridle.” But somehow, I think they will remember it just a bit differently.
I stared at the rain.
Questions I have asked over the past few weeks running through my mind -wondering if I was doing something wrong, or something right, or something at all. Wondering if I am on the right path. I’ve been feeling all the big feelings lately -of guilt, and sorrow. Of sadness and frustration. And happiness. Because there is always some happiness.
But tonight, as I stared out the window -it was as if my weeks problems and questions collided with my lesson: God’s way is always right. Sometimes God’s answer isn’t my answer. But that doesn’t mean God doesn’t hear me. It might just mean He said no. And if He said no, I shouldn’t turn the other way and say yes. I should accept His no. I should accept His answer. Why? Because His way is ALWAYS right. No matter if I understand it or not.
At the end of our lesson, a few moments before they are sent back to their parents -I always ask them to tell me what they learned. They usually add in a little bit of serious with a whole lot of silly. Today their answers were mostly donkey related. Because, donkeys are cool, or something like that.
The answers varied but they all answered, in their own words -what I have been struggling to grasp for years: God knows the plan. There is no need to be stubborn (like a donkey). Ask God for direction, trust His plans, accept His answers -and don’t be a donkey. With striped blue pjs, red light-sabers, machine guns and chain link vests.
These kids might only look back and remember striped donkeys with light sabers and machine guns -but I will remember more. So much more.