Sunday, August 19, 2007

Switzerland, how is it possible???

How to fit Switzerland into a blog post? Pretty nigh impossible. Yet, here, my friends, is a taste...

Swiss swans serenely swimming- oh, yeah.
After the smoke, fumes, busy-ness and crowds of London and Paris- terrific as those cities are- Lausanne Switzerland is literally a breath of fresh air. The girls and I took the bus down to Ouchy (pronounced "wishy") and enjoyed the views of Lake Geneva and the few strolling people. Boats, birds and clouds. What a lovely interlude!

The next morning after sleeping until we woke up (no alarm clocks involved!) we took the train from Lausanne to tiny little Aigle. From here we'll board a bus for a 20 minute ride uphill to L'Abri- whee!

While buying tickets and talking about something back home in PA, this gentleman joins us, having overheard our conversation. Charlie is from Pittsburgh and is also going to L'Abri for the fall term! We team up to buy bus tickets and find the bus stop.

At the bus stop we meet two more Americans and one Canadian who are also L'Abri-bound!

After a dizzying ride up the switchbacks in a full-sized bus we arrive at L'Abri, just outside of the teeny town of Huemoz, (pronounced "way-mo").
Kate's new home, a Chalet on a Swiss mountainside.

Geraniums and satellite dishes...

This note on one of the bathroom mirrors gives a clue into the heart of L'Abri.

Kate in her new room- couldn't be happier!

This is the view from her room, oh my.
Have I mentioned that she's in the alps?!?!

A brief tour of the L'Abri buildings, we hike down to the Chalet, Farel House, where most of the studying will be happening.

The room where lectures and Sunday chapel will take place.

And downstairs is the library.

Let's not forget the volleyball court with the view!

Dinner is under way in the tiny, yet efficient, kitchen.

The dining room set for dinner also enjoys, yes, the view of the mountains!

Kate's starting to get to know the other students. Here on the patio most of the discussions center around stories of the traveling to L'Abri and why each is here.

Oh look, it's the mountain view again- can't quite do it justice...

After dinner Gabby finds the piano, lovely!

Most everyone else settles into the comfy couches and chairs in the student lounge to talk about what life at L'Abri will be like with those who've already been here. Music, warm fellowship, the alps, what a spectacular evening.

Next morning, Kate and her roommate Lizzie are ready for anything!

Kate checks the schedule. Every day will bring chores and studies.

Saying goodbye, for now. I'm thrilled that this is where I'm leaving her, she is suited for this and will flourish in this environment. Praise God for L'Abri.

Event he bus stop has a view!

On the train to Geneva Gabby spies an undone Sudoku puzzle in a French language Swiss newspaper someone left behind- yay!

At the University of Geneva Reformer's wall, a memorial to Calvin, Beza, Farel and Knox.

The giants of the Reformation, surrounded by others who were influenced by them. We had the privilege of listening in as an American Pastor lectured to a group on Geneva's role in the Reformation, filling in the historical holes in our own memories. How very providential.

A view of the lake from Geneva.

We took a boat across the inlet, sort of a water taxi. These little girls were too adorable to miss.

Our taxi.

Must not leave Switzerland without chocolate!

And Gabby gets a Swiss watch!

That's it for the trip. We had an absolutely spectacular time and are still decompressing. Our flight home was long and relatively uneventful. It's so nice to sleep in my own bed and not have anything pressing for a few days. Now to put this to bed and move on.
Praise God from whom all blessings flow!
May He continue to watch over Kate as she learns and grows.


Monday, August 13, 2007

Paris Altogether! (new and improved!)

Fitting the rest of our time in Paris will be as easy as fitting all of Paris into a 4 1/2 day visit, so you already know that it won't be a success. Here are the highlights. Lisa and Randy, you'll get a cd with all of the photos and a long conversation to explain them- a visit even, oui?

This is where we've purchased our morning croissant every day, across from the cafe' where we enjoy it with a coffee (and where I'm sitting as I take this photo).

Here's the bum we've watched set up shop each morning getting chewed out by a local lady,... he, he, he.

Le Metro!

We're off to start our day with Notre Dame,...
Or not.
This giant crowd, news cameras, barricades, giant video screen and police everywhere do not bode well for a tourist visit.

Kate asks a policeman what's going on, and he tells her that the President of the French Republic is there for the funeral of a Cardinal. We won't be seeing Notre Dame today.

So on to Saint Chapell, near Notre Dame. Very old cathedral, (sorry, details are getting fuzzy, but the brochures are all in my bag...) with amazing stained glass windows depicting stories from the Bible, from Genesis to Revelation.


This photo's for our Emmi, Milo and Baby Blue, tee hee hee...

Waiting for a special bus to take us to Musee d'Orsay.

A train station at least through WWII, (not sure when the trains stopped running there) Orsay has been transformed into a magnificent art museum for 19th Century art.

Among many artists with whom we're familiar, we saw Van Gogh, Manet, Tolouse-Latrec,...

and Monet!

Beautiful girls in a beautiful museum.

Now to the Tour Eiffel!

too big to to fit into one shot...

The tour buses to which we are not obligated! Of course, these folks are all ahead of us in line...

It's been misty and moisty our whole time in Paris, but the view is still amazing.

Pinch me, I'm in Paris with my baby!

An ice cream afterwards hits the spot!

Breakfast next day at our regular spot- pain au chocolate with coffee, oh yeah.

Choosing our picnic for Versailles...

Where the locals shop! How cool is that?!

On the RER on the way out to the Grand Palace.

Oh, my... here we go.

Out of a million photos we must include the hall of mirrors.


And the gardens too.

our view while picnicking.

Hungry and tired people.

Louis's backyard, oo-la-la.

Marie Antoinette.

So many flowers that I recognize from my own yard- cool!

The most beautiful ones in the palace grounds...

Petit Trianon, Marie Antoinette's home away from home.

Versailles mostly seen, all that we could squeeze into our brains anyway, we get back to Paris to catch up with Notre Dame.
Stained glass and sculptures.

One of the three Rose windows.

Up one side of the nave and down the other, we saw it all!

The gargoyles are each unique.

We join a million others in an attempt to see the towers, but the line is so long, moving too slow to get in before they close, and so many around us are smoking we can barely breathe. We decide that we either must take up smoking ourselves to go along with the lung cancer we are surely getting, or leave the line and see the towers on our next trip to Paris...

So we leave the line.

This is what seeing too any statues, windows and magnificence in one day can do to a girl,... don't let it happen to you!

Refilling the water bottle from one of the public fountains!

Finishing up some shopping in our quest for the perfect gifts to take home, we wind along the busy streets with a bazillion other tourists. Crowded but fun and colorful. We're not in Grove City/ Shillington anymore!

Stopping for food. After a full day and we're still speaking- wonderful!

Fed and rested, we walk along the Seine, right bank, left bank, before heading back to the hotel.

Last morning in Paris- sniff- and we savor our coffee before storming the Louvre!

Victory! Winged Victory, that is.

And the Lady herself, Mona Lisa, surrounded by her fans and conspiracy buffs.

Where to now- the Louvre is as confusing to navigate as the back streets of the city!

Four hours later, saturated with fine art and antiquities, it's time to find Montmarte and the Place Du Tertre.

Tiny little avenue of steps, there are more than a few of these in the hilly area of Paris known as Montmartre. Oh and we're just beginning!

Found it! where the artists hang out, paint, draw, and offer their work for sale. How very Paris for us! And the sun makes her first appearance since we've arrived in Paris!

What a day!

We have now made it to Switzerland, learning a lot about the train system in the process. We are exhausted, but reviving in the fresh and quiet air of Lausanne. After London and Paris it's so refreshing! I won't be able to post anymore until I'm home. Tomorrow we are off to L'Abri and the day after Gabby and I will leave for Geneva, flying home on Thursday. When next I post I'll finish the trip photos - I promise, but for now, a nap!