In my most recent blog post, I recounted the many events that took place over the first few weeks of the school year, in September. As I pointed out, it is a very busy time. It is also the ideal time to host visitors who are looking to see Neuchâtel and Switzerland at its most beautiful. I was lucky to share my month with three guests, all of whom are strongly connected to each other.
|Gary poses in front of the Hotel du Peyrou|
|Anne and Samantha at the same spot a few days later|
My first visitor this year was Gary, whom I met many years ago through our mutual friends, Anne and Bruce. He had been staying with a friend in Zurich, and was curious to see my world at NJC. On the second day of classes, he arrived at the end of the school day, bringing with him some beautiful weather (and a book I needed). We spent about six hours together before his return to Zurich.
|Gary and I on the school patio.|
I enjoyed showing Gary around the campus, introducing him to some of the students and several of my colleagues, and then taking him for a tour of the town. He had visited Neuchâtel briefly once before but he had missed two of the local highlights on that earlier occasion. I guess my guided tours are pretty comprehensive. I certainly have had lots of practice!
|Anne and Samantha in front of the UN broken-legged chair.|
A few days later, I travelled to Geneva to welcome Anne (that mutual friend) and her daughter, Samantha, to Switzerland. They had arrived the previous day and had begun their stay by exploring this cosmopolitan city, one that Anne and I had visited together in the summer of 2007.
|Memorial to refugees outside the Red Cross Museum|
Our plan was to first see the Red Cross Museum, then the UN building, but the latter was closed, so we opted to walk along the waterfront instead.
|Mother and daughter in front of Lake Geneva|
By late afternoon, Anne and Samantha were on their way to Neuchâtel to stay with me for the next nine days.
|One view of Neuchâtel|
|We had lunch at la Place des Halles|
Hence, I was able to share many of the special events that mark the beginning of the school year with these two wonderful women. As I had done with Gary, I took them on a tour of the city. That same day, they joined me on the boat cruise with students and their pension families, and the day after that, on the walk along the Gorge de l’Areuse.
|We wore matching mariner shirts for the boat cruise|
While I went to work during the week, they took the train to Zurich one day and to Lucerne on another, where to my great envy, they ascended to the top of Mount Pilatus to enjoy spectacular views. Although I have visited that city over four days, I have never had clear enough weather for such an excursion.
|The view from Mount Pilatus.|
|Dinner chez moi.|
In the evenings, Anne and Samantha often cooked delicious meals for me. I was definitely spoiled during their stay. On the Tuesday evening, however, we all chose to dine at the Café du Cerf, where my guests contributed to our second place showing at Pub Trivia.
|Samantha and I in front of the Bern clock.|
|At the Rosengarten in Bern|
On Friday afternoon, I was able to act as their tour guide again when I joined them for an afternoon in Bern. That evening, although we ate nearby with several of my colleagues, we agreed that the Fête des Vendanges was not our cup of tea so we all took a pass on that event. The charm of the Désalpes in Lignières on Saturday was a highlight of the week, though.
|Born on a farm, Anne enjoyed meeting the horses that Sandra boards in Lignières.|
|We arrive in Gruyères.|
|The formal garden at Gruyères Castle|
On our final day together, a Sunday, I rented a car to take Anne, Samantha and my colleague, Patti, to Gruyères; the castle and local fondue were first on our agenda. After lunch, we headed to nearby Broc, home of the Cailler factory. The best chocolate in the country is made there. An entertaining tour includes unlimited samples – although we all hit our limits pretty soon. That did not prevent my guests from purchasing several boxes of Cailler chocolate to take home.
|Samantha, Patti and Anne at Cailler|
Early the next morning, they headed off to Paris before returning to Canada. They certainly packed in a lot in while in Switzerland! And they made my life richer at the same time. A bientôt, mes amies.