Friday, September 9, 2016

Stunning Switzerland!

Well after a week of thinking far too hard at the conference it was time for a holiday. After lots of fun at Amsterdam airport playing at the playground and watching planes from the observational deck, Freya and I boarded yet another plane to Zurich to meet up with Aaron and stay with some ex-NZ friends for a few days. Karl, Anna and Malachi very generously hosted us for several days in their countryside apartment just outside the city of Zug.
The old classic looking farm house that the apartment was in. 

Freya and 5 and a half year old Malachi got along very well. There were lots of hugs between them. Lots of good sharing of toys....especially the duplo. Karl and Anna acted as great tour guides taking us out to different places and giving us lots of tips about where to go and how to get there. Also acting as interpreters for the incomprehensible Swiss German.

Malachi, Karl and Anna going up in a gondola.

When we arrived in Switzerland it was very hazy, but after a day of solid rain the weather improved and was great the rest of our stay. We timed our trip to Mt Titlis to coincide with the best weather of the week. We got up to the Trubsee and spent the afternoon walking around the lake. The clouds still hung around and there were limited views of the mountain tops. We stayed overnight at the hotel and were rewarded with clear skies and amazing views in the morning.....and after a large breakfast we jumped on the first cable car to the top, well Kleine Titlis, to avoid the crowds. The views of the alps were spectacular...changing with the angle of the sun during the 2 hours we were at the top. We explored the cliff walkway and large suspension bridge, the ice cave and Freya experienced her first snow and sledging... She didn't want to put her hands down in the cold snow...but was very happy to slide down the slopes on her bottom.

Freya walking around the lake at Trubsee

The Hotel at Trubsee that we stayed in - very quiet in the off season!

Looking back down toward the lake and hotel of Trubsee from the Gondola

One of the many amazing vistas from the top

At the top of the cable car of Kleine Titlis playing in the snow

The crowds started to form at the time to head back down. 

It was a great week. Relaxing and active with lots of nice walks. Thankyou so much to Karl, Anna and Malachi for looking after us and feeding us and being such awesome hosts. We hope we can return the favour one day. 

Saturday, September 3, 2016

Sunny Utrecht....

A very quick flight from Aberdeen to Amsterdam and then a short train ride and we arrived in Utrecht. Everything is so close in Europe. We stayed in a little apartment with a lovely courtyard for the week. Fortunately the weather was perfect all week and Freya enjoyed pottering around the courtyard most afternoons, occasionally getting a visit from the owners friendly Bernese mountain dog. Mum and dad kept her busy in the mornings with visits to the Mifi museum, playgrounds, swimming and shopping. On my afternoons off we also made it to the botanic gardens and on a canal boat trip through and around the city.

Picnic at the botanic gardens, Freya with Nagymama and Nagypapa
Boat trip around the canals of central Utrecht

Although I had managed to make it to one day of the local New Zealand geoscience conference last November...this was Freya's first conference. She crashed the ice breaker and ate a lot of Dutch waffle biscuits and was introduced to many of my international colleagues (and friends) at lunchtimes and afternoon drinks. She was so fascinated by it all....constantly looking around and trying to take it all in. There were a few other babies and children there... But conferences are definitely not the most fun thing for a small child to be dragged around. I will try not to drag you to too many conferences in your childhood! 

It was a bit of a juggling act between trying to catch up with colleagues I needed to talk to about different projects, going to talks and trying to get around the many well as trying to spend a bit of time with Freya and mum and dad, who did a great job looking after her. Definitely not my most social conference....but I'm glad I made the effort to go and catch up with the world of paleoceanography!