Category Archives: Lausanne

This Adventure Made Possible By…


Anna Maria Esposita for finding us on the side of the road in Salerno, putting up with our feeble attempts at Italian, and magically making our luggage appear out of nowhere.  Maya, for introducing us to AirBnB in the first place…our travels will never be the same.  Our barista in Vietri Sul Mare (thank you for the doughnuts, we hope you made it to Australia!), and our wildly flirtatious maitre d’ (that wine was impressively strong!).  Fernando, for the ride to the Tiber (we’re sorry if we gave the impression that we wanted to boat back to Rome).  Pope Francis for instilling humanity into our visit to the Vatican.  University of Manitoba College of Medicine for changing the direction of our lives while sitting in a Roman burlap tent!  Jamie Pierce, for pointing us in the direction of Cinque Terre in the first place.  Kaya and Aeden for being the best roommates we could have asked for, and Sarah, Alicia, and Stacey for getting lost with us in one of the most beautiful places on earth.  And for the calamari cones.  Genius.  The Lemon Man, for delicious homemade wine with a side of really disgusting jokes, and the Pizza Man for abusing/believing in your employees (either way, you made a pizza in record time, well done!).  Pak Kashmir Doner Kebab for starting a 3-month-long love affair with kebab…and for not judging us when we came back twice in one day.  The Sprachcaffe receptionist for helping two confused travelers find a place to sleep in a language school.  Pietro for being a (very charming) walking encyclopedia of Florentine espionage.  All’antico Vinaio for your legendary sandwiches and free wine refills (no, seriously, it’s for real!).  The lovely couple who shared coffee with us on the train to Venice.  Archie & sons…your front hall will forever evoke in us a sense of oriental mystery.  The kiosco girl (and all of Vienna, for that matter) for your patience as we realized we knew literally NO Deutsch (“Card!…48?”).  The Musikverien Usher for engaging us in a Viennese musical intrigue and, therefore, much better seats!  Our Bulgarian/Brazillian (Bulgrillian?) cellist hostel roommate.  We tried to find you on iTunes but alas we were…so far…but…so close.  The Heinrich and Kress families for welcoming us so generously into your homes (and travel snacks that nearly broke the bus tables!).  Artur & Irina, we feel like we have a real home in Germany thanks to you.  Robert, Christian, and Erwin, we hope we can jam and play Dutch Blitz again one day!  Johannes for an unexpected evening of German tango (we’ll bring our dancing shoes next time).  Julia & your roommate for making us feel so at home in Köln.  Viel Glück to both of you in your new jobs!  Oma for always talking about your home country and inspiring us to retrace your Sunday walks down the Rhine.  Maybe one day we can go back with you!  Linda, dankjewel for your bikes, your lovely attic, and taking a chance on us as your first AirBnBers!  Edwin and Farah, for taking the time to hang out with us even with your wedding being a week away.  Once a WOOFer, always a WOOFer (ps come to Manitoba, we’ll take you to the snake pits!)  The stars, for aligning so perfectly as to allow us to have a lovely lunch with Dorien.  The Alma Dixons for getting us to and from Europe in the first place (Mom, your axiom of ‘would you rather have stuff or memories?’ has successfully stuck with me into adulthood) and for showing us all the places you always talk about.  The Farnham Dixons for a lovely afternoon and some authentically British fish’n’chips (sans mushy peas, thank-you!).  Wendy for taking this whole motley crew into your home and showing us around Glastonbury. Elly for introducing us to your family (I cannot imagine a more adorable kid to blow bubbles with than your granddaughter) and an evening of reminiscing about icebergs and penguins.  Pete & Patricia for the most incredible Welsh hospitality, and for driving us all over the country at all hours of the night.  Mark Hanford for keeping us simultaneously amused and not dead as we threw ourselves off cliffs into the sea (still waiting for those carpets!).  The disembodied Welsh couple whose voices helped us find our way out of the mist and back to the path somewhere on Mount Snowdon.  Jack Johnson, for being you, and for entirely coincidentally being in Paris at the same time as us.  Andréanne, for showing us around your beautiful new Swiss home.  Irene and Martin for sharing so many things with us: your inspiring work and outlook on life and faith, the truly breathtaking landscapes, and yes, the little bears :P.  Andreas and Simone, also for sharing so many things with us (like mother like son, eh?): your friends, your family, your food, your car, your bike…. That night with the giant map (and the many road trips that ensued) is still a memory that we talk about regularly!  Aric and Gabriel, for being as excited about the high-ropes garden as we were and never judging us on our (lack of) Swiss German. Joël for sharing your beautiful pays et famille. Yannick for the best duck I’ve ever tasted, and Hélène for showing us the work you’re doing to help new immigrants become self-sufficient in Toulouse.  Ron, Nicole, Aimée, Sean (and yes, Cougar) for making us recognize the name Carcassonne, even if we’ll never pronounce it properly.  Les Cabys des Taillades (et oui, de Paris aussi!) for sharing your passion for history, many hours of games (we now have our own Möllky set!), French puns, and more wine and cheese than any North American could comprehend.  Mami Caby, for a beautiful afternoon in St. Jean du Gard, and the silk scarf that’s currently on display in our living room.  Isaac and Sylvia of JUCUM Barcelona for the generous hospitality, the 2AM tour of your majestic city, and showing us what we truly believe is the best beach in Europe.  Hind, Nour, and Adam for helping us finish off the bag of snails and confirming everything we’d heard about the welcoming nature of Moroccans.  Nour, of Sahara Desert Crew, for an unforgettable few days of sights and culture unlike anything else we’ve ever seen (also, your mad photography skills. ‘Nuff said.).  Cafe Restaurant Nora, for providing a literal oasis in the desert (Nothing tastes as good as Berber pizza and Berber whiskey at +50C!) The Samnoun family for taking us in when our hostel was suddenly infested with bedbugs, and Bousha for introducing us to the madness of the Medina (and many, many friends ;)…)

And of course, contributions from VIEWERS LIKE YOU!

Swiss Bliss (äis)


Way back in February, Josh and I sat down for the first time to actually start making concrete plans for this trip. We went online, bought tickets to see Jack Johnson in Paris, and considered our trip planning done! In my excitement, I did what I so rarely do and updated my status on Facebook. The next day, there was something even more engaging than the morale-boosting “likes” from all my friends: a comment posted by Andréanne, my exchange partner from a 2004 Québec trip. Although Andréanne and I had connected incredibly well during the exchange and became fast friends, we had lost touch upon returning home and had not spoken to each other in 10 years. And yet here was her comment: “Just so you know, I’m living in Switzerland ;)”

To backpackers, Switzerland is like the steak section in a restaurant menu. It’s smack in the middle of all the other options, tempting you with its decadence, but you force your eyes to roam around it because it’s so prohibitively expensive. However, as stated so many times before, our whole goal for this trip was to pursue any connections we had across this continent. So, one sunny afternoon in July, Josh and I hopped off the Lausanne metro at the hospital where Andréanne was working as a nurse. Leaving Josh in the waiting room, I nervously rode the elevator up to the Urology department (this was thankfully a travel experience new to me), found the nurses’ desk… And there was Andréanne jumping up to meet me, looking so familiar I refused to believe it had been 10 years since I had hugged her goodbye at the airport!


We had a wonderful few days reconnecting and wandering over beautiful Lausanne, making ourselves “comme chez nous!” as Andréanne insisted.

Our lovely tour guide

An incredible thing to stumble upon: Roman ruins from the ancient city of Lousonna

Lac Ouchy (note the impending clouds of doom…)

From sunny skies to hurricane rains: getting blown away while attempting to watch the France/Germany World Cup match!

From Lausanne, we caught a train to Bern, where my uncle’s sister Irene and her husband Martin had offered to host us for the weekend.

A Swiss feast of Raclette

Bern’s bears!
Irene bear

The next day, Irene & Martin took us hiking up to Mürren, a village nestled at the feet of the Schilthorn Mountain. We spent a wonderful day admiring the Alpine wildflowers, wildlife and, of course, the majestic Alps themselves.


A lovely lunch stop

Not a bad view for a coffee break…

Trummelbach Falls: a series of 10 glacier waterfalls churning INSIDE a mountain
Is falls
Fall dark

Our evenings were spent not only devouring raclette, but also learning more about Irene’s work in raising awareness and fighting against human trafficking. Compounded with what we had learned about human trafficking in the Red Light District of Amsterdam, it was both empowering and humbling to hear Irene’s stories of horror and courage, and then to have her ask us (and expect an answer), “And what are you planning to do about it?”

There is so much injustice, exploitation, and tragedy in the world that there is a lot to talk about. But I know I can get carried away with rhetoric and forget that merely talking about injustice takes time away from actually working to alleviate it.

Hold me accountable to this! In spring, I started volunteering with the WISH (Winnipeg Interprofessional Student-Run Health) Clinic. WISH acknowledges that health is affected by social as well as physical determinants, and thus works to provide “non-judgmental, socially responsible, holistic health care to a population that struggles with poorer health than the rest of the city.” WISH is an incredible community of students, healthcare professionals, and the Point Douglas residents who together want to learn to care for each other better. I can think of no better place to lay aside my rhetoric, so feel free to hold me accountable to continuing to volunteer with these guys this fall.

A huge thank you to Andréanne, Martin & Irene for opening up their homes to us and giving us so much to think about. However, our time in Switzerland was not over yet…