My first white Christmas

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Scott's flat

Flag of Switzerland  , Basel,
Thursday, December 30, 2010

           A few days before Christmas I took off to Switzerland with my friend Laura to spend the holidays with my cousin Scott, who is working in Basel, and my aunt and uncle who flew out from California to celebrate with the both of us.  We left for the airport in Vigo at 7:15 in the morning, arrived in Barcelona at 1030, and began our 10-hour layover. Luckily the Barcelona airport is huge and their Duty Free selection is rather extensive.  We feasted on both Chinese and Mexican cuisine in the food-court, had our dessert McFlurrys in McDonalds, shopped for hours, took a nap, and attempted to study some Spanish with our over-priced pocket-size dictionary we bought in the airport bookstore. At times I felt rather claustrophobic and isolated, very much like Tom Hanks in the movie "The Terminal" but Laura and I had a blast and before we knew it we were boarding our plane and taking off for Switzerland.  En Route to Basel I frantically realized I didn't know what language they spoke in Switzerland, so after asking Laura, we decided they spoke French and proceeded to learn 5 key French phrases over the next hour and a half. By the time I disembarked the plane I was excited and confident to use my French phrases and decided to show them of to the lady who exchanged our Euros for Franks. After reciting my perfect phrase of "parlez-vous anglais?" she looked at me, smirked, and in English said: “we don’t speak French here, we speak German… Swiss German.”  Whoops. Talk about a shameful American moment. Anyway, I didn’t make THAT mistake again the whole time I was in Switzerland so it’s really better I got it out of the way right in the beginning.

            The next four days we passed in Basel with hours of puzzles, lots of card games, and a plethora of cheese and chocolate. We took a stroll around the city once a day, and were met with carols on the corners, Christmas trees erected in the middle of the sidewalks, and enchanting Christmas markets. The snow capped rooftops, lights strung across buildings, and ornaments hanging in every window, made Switzerland the quintessential look of Christmas, like the whole city had just jumped straight out of a jigsaw puzzle. We tried warm spiced wine (gluhwein), potato pancakes, and gingerbread as we strolled through the booths at the market… and picked up some new wooden crafted ornaments and of course, more chocolate. 

            I woke up Christmas morning with a letter from Santa delivered to my blackberry email inbox, via PDF file from my father. I cried a bit, and felt loved from afar. Then I opened my Christmas present from my mother. Two separate DVDs. One with personal messages videotaped from all my extended family members at the previous Thanksgiving celebration out at my grandparents ranch. The second, a medley of messages recorded from some of my best friends in the world. I laughed a ton, and cried even more, but it was perfect. My heart ached to be with everyone I saw in the video and yet simultaneously felt enveloped in love. My mom, family, and friends are wonderful.

            After two fabulous dinners out in Basel at some of the nicest restaurants, we decided to stay in for Christmas dinner and cook ourselves.  Laura and I brought a little Vigo flair to the table with our Spanish tortilla we had mastered back home… while my aunt and uncle tackled the “turkey.” The “turkey” cooked fast, left lots of fat in the bottom of the pan, and when we finally sat down to eat and cut into it… it had no white meat. Confused and perplexed through the first few bite, we finally realized… we had in fact bought a duck instead, due to the fact that Swiss German is un-readable to me or anyone else in my family when attempting to buy products at the supermarket. Nevertheless, our Christmas duck was fabulous and the Spanish tortilla was a hit.  It was wonderful to be surrounded by family and share stories about past Christmases and wonder together how the family traditions were being carried out miles away back home.  I missed singing carols with my cousins, watching my uncle walk in the back sliding glass door dressed in a Santa Suit, and waking up in my new pajamas to tear open my stockings with my brothers… but this new, different, and international Christmas was memorable and a blessing.  

to view pictures from my time in Basel visit this link:
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Corina on

This made me cry! I love you Jess, and Merry Christmas and Happy New Year! We all miss you and are proud of you!

Becca on

yes i was supposed to be on the dvd love message sand of course didnt get it in time..i will make this up to you..promsie..switzerland sounds like a dream..hope you didnt spend all your money on duty free...
miss you

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