If you had asked me three years ago if I would be living in Europe, I would have laughed. A year ago if you had asked if I would be working on a farm in Switzerland, I would have looked at you funny. If you would have asked me TWENTY years ago if I would be seeing my childhood neighbors (whom I have not seen or spoken to in over 20 years), I would REALLY be questioning all your questions.
The Drakes are quite the family. They are originally from the UK and South Africa. However, Jonathan’s (the Dad) work has taken them several places, including Omaha and now Geneva. I am absolutely amazed at their four children, all who know several languages and have literally been all over the world; Iceland, Russia, all over Europe, South Africa, Asia…just to name a few (and the oldest is only 25!!!) They are such a culturally rich family (They had a full on conversation about which operas they did and did not like!) that it is hard not to fall in love with them (the British accents don’t hurt that cause either).
When my mom suggested that I e-mail Carol (the Mom) that I would like to visit them while in Switzerland, I was quite hesitant. After all, I literally have not seen this family since I was about 5 years old! However, when Carol’s warm response was that they would love to have me (and that the day I received the message would be best to come), I quickly packed a bag and set off for the train station.
(Side Bar: This whole trip was quite the feat for me! I realized that while I have traveled BACK to the States alone before, I had actually never done anything in Europe solo yet! More on that later, but for me to have made it to and from Geneva by myself is nothing short of a miracle!)
Immediately upon seeing Carol (we recognized each other, despite all the years) I was greeted with the three cheek kiss rule that those silly French people do (each region has a different amount of kisses you should give per cheek!). ( Another Side note: Geneva is in the French speaking part of France so my menial amount of Deutsche didn’t get me far there! Luckily, the whole family speaks fluent French!)
It is really quite hard to explain my amazing weekend with this family. There was a certain ambiance to the few days spent with them that made it somewhat difficult to head back to the farm. Maybe it was just the “good-time summer” feeling. However, I think a lot of it had to do with the fact that despite not even really knowing this family, I felt like we were all good, old friends. (You know the ones that even if you have not seen or spoken to in years yet pick up where you left off immediately? Or, that family that you grew up with and could practically be another family member? THAT is what it felt like with the Drakes)
It will be hard to not get lengthy on this ones because we simply did so many wonderful things:
1) Upon picking me up from the train station, I was whisked away to Montreux (another city on Lake Geneva) for the famous, annual Montreux Jazz festival. This video is way too short, but check out Ben Howard, he was great!
(Did you know that the song “Smoke On the Water” (anyone who was in band with me will know this song!) is actually about the building where the concerts for the Montreux Jass Festival is held? When it burnt down, Deep Purple created a song about it. Pretty cool, hu!?)
We saw one of the best concerts I have been to, and believe me, I have been to a fair share of concerts. As if it were fate to make the weekend perfect, it was actually a not-well known artist that I coincidentally actually have heard/ like. It ended up being one of the best performances I have seen, which says a lot!
2) Giving me a map and telling me to figure out directions is about the worst idea you could think of. However, that was my only option as the family had golf plans for the afternoon so I was on my own. So, I hopped on a bike and made my way down to Lake Geneva and the surrounding town. As I wandered aimlessly around, I stumbled upon an accordion concert in a church (!?) Once again, leave it to those silly French people.
It is absolutely ridiculous how proud I was of myself to then make it back to the house at all, let alone with no wrong turns!
– The rest of the afternoon was spent reading a book by their beautiful pool. Nothing like a day of exploring a new city mixed with some relaxation. My idea of heaven!
3) On Sunday, we stopped by their little village’s “Classical Music Festival” I felt extremely out of place among all the hoity toity members drinking their champagne, but enjoyed the music nonetheless.
4) No slowing down!!! We skipped out of the end of the classical music concert to head to a friend’s for lunch. Now, let’s see if you can follow all this
The friends are:
– Originally from the England (like the Drakes), but didn’t meet the Drakes until Switzerland
– But then moved to Portugal for a while (in the meantime, the son spent his time between boarding school in the UK and I guess Switzerland, where he now resides)
– Son meets and marries a Russian, whose father is well…..a Russian Billionaire. In all seriousness, they said that Puten himself calls the dad on his birthdays!!!
– Son’s father-in-law builds BEAUTIFUL house RIGHT on the lake, but is never there. So, when the in-laws (Drakes’ friends) are in town, they are free to use it. Which, coincidentally, they were in town visiting and we got to reap the benefits of all that!
Phew! Still following? Moral of the story? We had lunch ON the lake at a beautiful mansion from some Russian high society member who wasn’t even there!!! (I wish I had taken pictures but I guess I was too side tracked by the delicious meal, great company and beautiful view)
I have to say that this weekend was absolutely perfect (I think the only thing that would have made it just a tad better would be to have had Andy with me their to experience it all).
Like I said, who would have EVER of thought that this all would have developed and that it would be such an amazingly enjoyable weekend? But, that is simply what I love about traveling….you just never know where you are going to end up, what you are going to experience and what memories will be made.