Monday, November 18, 2013

A 2-week vacation in Paris & Zurich with my girlfriends.

I was away for an excellent 2-week holiday with wonderful girlfriends and since I was leaving my children and husband on their own, I was busy with the preparation 2 weeks before the trip, cooking all the necessary lunch and dinner for the family and made them into frozen 2 weeks stock, preparing checklists of chores and meals, etc. so that when it was time to leave, I left with a clear conscience :)

It was a good break for me especially since the four of us have been planning this for more than 5-6 years.. one of the girls has since then called Switzerland her home and we've all put off the plans due to the many commitments that arose since the last 6 years. I'm so glad that we finally managed to put things aside and made it a point to finally do it.

I was made in charge of the itinerary and it was such a joy to plan for the trip, doing whatever research I could from the net as the direction was sight-seeing, culture and art, and of course, lots of shopping in between. I don't really do much shopping here back home and whenever I do get to travel, I'd make sure to make the most of the deals I get from brands that can be a little costly to purchase here. So, factory outlets in the countries I visit is usually included. Am happy though that it was also the start of winter and they had very good autumn deals even in the high street. So what else could a girl do but steal the deal, right?

The best thing was to see my skin improve immensely from the good cool weather. I do believe that it was also due to the lack of stress, lots of walking, lots of fluid intake and the fact that I was almost a vegetarian there where I survived mainly on French bread and tomatoes, with the occasional salmon, crayfish and eggs. I didn't mind the vegetarian combo at all since I've been eating that way to lose weight since the past 5-6 months anyway. Hence, I didn't miss our local food at all.

Oh, we actually spent 5 days in Paris, 5 days in Switzerland and another 2 days in Paris. It was heaven!

I learnt a few things about myself and the places I visited:
1. I have more interest in architecture rather than art. Hence, I enjoyed the visit to Versailles, with more meaningful structures and sculptures and creative work of art embedded into the architecture of the building as compared to my visit to Louvre Museum. Then again, Louvre is too large to be spent just in half a day and it may not be a fair comparison.

2. Due to my interest in architecture, I was the first in the group to notice that most of the buildings in Luzern are painted to look like classic structures. Unlike in Paris where the structures are real, those in Luzern are not, if you look closely - they're mostly normal modern buildings painted to look archaic.

3. There are many many natural products with ecocert available in Switzerland. Too many that made me almost crazy for not being able to get them all at one go. I did buy one or two of the cheaper brands and I found the cleanser doing my skin extremely good. I love it and am now sad as I only got one of each.

4. Switzerland probably has the most relaxed people there and I don't mean it in a bad way. They are definitely not lax but they don't see the need to rush. Case in point, their cars will brake from 50m away when they see that you are about to cross the road, not even reaching the point of crossing. Unlike here when cars start to speed as soon as they see you are about to cross the road. Rude.

5. Everything closes on Sunday in Switzerland. We weren't aware and rushed to get chocolates on Saturday after our visit to the Alps. And shops close by 6pm on Saturday. Imagine our rush.

6. One of the oldest most complicated metro network is in Paris. Last year I had a problem understanding the system but this time, I managed to find a very useful app on my iPhone and by Day 2, we didn't even need the app anymore, especially since we stayed in the city centre, just 10 minutes walk away from the popular Champs Elysees.

7. The places we went may be so boring if we had our kids along. Hence it was a perfect experience for us girls to strengthen our friendship and share thoughtful beautiful moments together.

8. La Vallee is almost like a hidden getaway. A lot of tourists are not aware of this place and those who knew liked to compare it to Bicester Village in London. If you are visiting London, then skip La Vallee. But if your trip doesn't include London, please do visit La Vallee. I found some shops to be even better than Bicester like Burberry, Tods and Guess, and I especially enjoyed shopping in the Longchamp store there because you get such awesome deals there. But don't go there in summer because there will be too many people and the good stuff usually gets snapped up before your hands could even reach out to them.

9. Parisians would say taking a cab is expensive. But to travel in a group of 3 like us, taking a cab to and from the airport is actually much cheaper than taking the Air France shuttle unless you're staying near the train station like Gare du Nord or Gare de Lyon. Elsewhere, you'll not only be paying quite a sum, you're also forced to lug your heavy luggage up and down flight of stairs. It's such a challenge!

I used to hate the cold weather but I guess I wasn't prepared then when I was a student exchange during my teens. Now, with the many brands available in our country and Uniqlo offering heattech inners to keep you warm, I find that travelling in the cold is such a joy. I love wearing jackets and boots, and I love sipping hot drinks in the cold. The weather makes it all perfect.

I'm so thankful that my husband allowed me to go for the trip with my girlfriends and I shall never forget this wonderful journey with them ever.


emly2175 said...

awesome babe!!! u r one lucky married woman dear.. this article kinda reminds me of what me n my bffs had planned moons ago..still not materialised..

Chase Howard said...

Thanks for sharing your experiences! I am in the process of looking at some Paris vacation rentals and was wondering what some of your favorite places were? I am hoping to go over the summer since it is something that my friends and I have always wanted to do.

toughcookie said...

hi emly,
been awhile since I last chatted with you. how're things?

ya, i was surprised that dear hubby actually encouraged me to go spend time with my girlfriends although when I returned, he did say he didn't want me to leave him that long again haha....

the thing with girlfriends is, I guess everyone should make it a point to just do it. when we keep pushing things aside due to our different priorities, it will never happen. possibly this was the right time for me and the girls and i feel blessed.

toughcookie said...

hiya Chase,
glad you liked the entry. i intend to elaborate more on my stay in Paris and Zurich in two different posts. meanwhile, you may like to check for options on where to stay. if you're just chilling away with buddies and since you're all guys, you have plenty of options either to stay in Zone 1 or 2 or 3. from where I come from (Malaysia), the conversion rate is quite a big difference and I opted to stay in the city centre to avoid from spending too much euros AND time on transportation and travelling around. Plus, there is also the security factor as everywhere we went, we were constantly reminded of pickpockets. so where we stayed was crucial.