Who would have thought it - I'm writing to you today (ok this is really very mean, please forgive me) at 27 degrees in shirt and shorts with the sound of the waves in the background of Fuerteventura!
Many had expected me to head for Sweden, a few had predicted Norway, Luxembourg, Finland and France. Only Janina was kind of right with Gran Canaria, because I had a stopover on the island.
The end of my trip felt quite close two weeks ago, when I was thinking about the possibilities of how to go on. You know how the situation looks like in Europe at the moment. The fact that Switzerland was classified as a risk area from a German point of view did not make the situation any easier for me. Two weeks ago I was already struggling on my return from Tuscany, because I wanted to spend a few more days at the sea. Since I left Italy due to the unrest and increasingly insecure situation and did not drive to Sicily as planned, the Spanish mainland and France are still in a state of emergency and Greece had just declared a lockdown as well, the news from the Canary Islands that they are no longer classified as a risk area were published perfectly. I didn't want to fly during the sabbatical, but situations change and so you can ask yourself questions again and answer them different. And my option was to go home and quarantine in Germany or to fly from Switzerland. And the latter was really not an easy undertaking. But before I tell you more, I would like to review the last days of my Swiss trip with you.
I really can't complain at all - the weather was so good in Switzerland. Also my last days in Switzerland were mostly sunny and so I was heading up to the mountains again.
The last weekend I spent with Alisa. In our youth we spent countless hours together in the gym - I have been doing gymnastics for about 15 years and Alisa was one of my clubmates. Due to an injury I had to leave beam, floor, bars etc. behind me at the age of 19 and so we lost contact over the years. But I always say - many relationships are like driving a car: sometimes you share a common path for a very long time, but sometimes people only drive a part of the way with you and recognize a different, more suitable direction on the way. Or the road becomes too bumpy - some people get out, others buckle up. And so you are thankful for the distance you have covered together and the space that has become free again offers new opportunities for further "passengers". And maybe later routes will cross again. Like Alisas and mine.
And thanks to social media we never lost contact completely. Alisa has been living in Switzerland for some time now, working for Roche and most recently as a trainee in the USA, until Corona also thwarted her plans and she had to leave the country rightaway. So we had more than enough to report from the last years and looked for two nice hiking destinations.
On Saturdays I first headed for Lucerne. Lucerne, they say, is "the most beautiful". Old town lanes from the 14th century, two historic wooden bridges, Renaissance meets Baroque and a beautiful lake promenade with a view of the mountain range (except in fog, as in my case 😉). The people of Lucerne describe their city itself as follows: "Money is earned in Zurich and Basel, governed in Bern, negotiated in Geneva. But when it comes to outward appearances (money is not an outward appearance in Switzerland), Lucerne is number one". And so I strolled through the alleys, across the market and towards the Lion Monument. The dying Lion of Lucerne is carved from stone and reminds of the Swiss guardsmen who fell in 1792. And this memory is brought to life thanks to an augmented reality app on the smartphone or tablet. Film sequences recorded in the studio are integrated into the landscape on the screen while the cell phone camera is switched on. The story of the battles is told in seven scenes and revives the French Revolution. This is how history goes today. Super exciting and highly recommended.
Afterwards I picked up Alisa at the train station we went to Pilatus, Lucerne's local mountain. Either you take the world's steepest rack railroad from Alpnachstad or, like us, you take the gondola from Kriens. With its height of 2128 m you (actually) have a breathtaking view of Lake Lucerne. However, we had once again caught the sea of clouds and I don't want to complain about that at all, because you just can't get enough of it. Due to lack of time we shortened our originally planned hike to the Matthorn a bit and instead enjoyed the view more. I share this with you as always on the pictures.
The next day we wanted to be a little more active again and started earlier (especially Alisa, whose early rising in the train was almost fatal - good that the conductor woke her up 😉). I collected Alisa at the station again and we headed for Sillerenbühl. From there we went via Hahnemoos, Rägeboldshore, Alp Bütschi and Bergläger through the mountains for some hours. Compared to the previous day, the landscape showed itself from a completely different side and much more beautiful than expected. I especially liked the old mountain huts embedded in the rock massif. On this hike we met some Swiss people again, who were all very helpful with questions. One couple even offered us to take us a ride in their car, as it was a bit tight with the last gondola. But the hike would not have felt "finished" for us on the one hand and on the other hand in corona times people prefer the walk in the fresh air anyway. So we were a little bit spurred on and reached the last gondola on time.
The two days with Alisa flew by. We had so much to tell each other.
Especially in the conversations with Alisa I became aware once again how many things can change. Sometimes we get stuck in a situation and it feels as if we would have to stay in it forever. But when we look back how much has changed in just one year, two or five years, we should actually be just as aware of how many changes are waiting for us in the future.
And we should be grateful for every moment and every experience. So we both had to remember how we last met a few years ago. An incredibly sad occasion, at the funeral of a friend from our team. The moment felt so close for both of us, and yet it was already several years ago. And even though this memory feels heavy, it was easy to talk about the wonderful times we had together and to think back with a smile.
II think that is also part of this trip. A friend recently asked "Are you always well - or are there sad moments too?" Of course it's not always nice - I want to take this illusion away, because of course I'm mainly reporting about the beautiful time here. The journey itself in her presence gave me absolutely no reason for "heavy feelings". But it is time for conversation and reflection, so there is also room for memories full of fear, sadness, anger and uncertainty. And it is through Alisa that I became aware of what has happened in the last years. Good things and bad things. And the latter is for me always a "working" in the situations themselves - realizing and reflecting comes later. In moments like this journey. And that is a good thing. No summer without winter, no morning without evening, no light without the dark, no joy without sorrow - there are always both sides to life and travel. This is the only way to appreciate things. And so I became aware again how right and important this trip was and is for me this year. I think at some times you (thank you girls) saw it more than I did and I am very thankful for that, because that's how you let me continue to hold on to it.
And so, in addition to all the countless beautiful moments on this trip, I sometimes also light three candles for the people whose loss this year is still close to me, I am also always thinking about a very important person who is fighting so hard for her health these days (I am incredibly proud of you and know that you are reading this <3 ) and I am even grateful for my health, which has taken on a new meaning for me this year.
But this year is and was "another year" for all of us anyway and yes, there are these and these moments - but I am grateful for all these facets.
And that's why it was all the more valuable for me to travel further. But the way from Switzerland to the Canary Islands presented me with many hurdles. After the news that the Canary Islands were no longer a risk area, the demand for flights naturally increased. Until the day before yesterday, it was possible to travel without a coronate test result, but now this has to be paid for in the country of departure itself and may not be older than 72 hours upon entry. My problem: in Switzerland you have to pay 300 Swiss Francs for the test (which is no surprise) and the security to get a flight in the right time to get the test result was the real problem. So it was clear that I had to arrive before Saturday. Switzerland has pretty bad flight connections anyway, as I noticed when I took over the travel planning for my Swiss artists. The few flights that existed started at 700 francs upwards and mostly included stopovers of 30 hours in Madrid. And as beautiful as Madrid is, in current times I would rather spend less than more time there. After hours of searching I found a flight before Saturday with only 2 hours stopover in Madrid. So I booked this flight for quite a bit of money but knowing that it was now the best option. My car and Bertha are currently staying near Zurich airport, for quite a bit of money as well. Oh Switzerland, you could really work on that.
Yes, in the worst case, I may not be able to enter Switzerland in a few weeks and, as with many other countries, only one valid reason may be allowed. But who knows what is in a few weeks, who knows what is in a few days or hours. So far I have played it safe so often, but whether this is always the best way is not known. So let's see and think positively.
So my day started at 5 a.m. on Wednesday, and it took me two hours from Interlaken to Zurich. I had previously had to fill out various forms to enter Spain and I hoped that my great anticipation of boarding a plane (watch out for irony) would not spoil my plans in the form of "travel fever" during the "Corona temperature measurement". But everything went well! And while I was always well distracted by my friends on the last flights, this time music, a book and my three-year-old seat neighbor Mia (loudly) managed it. The only thing I really don`t need anymore were the small propeller machines.
At 7pm I landed on Tenerife and realized that I had gained an extra hour due to the changed time zone - yeah, changing the clock felt like an adventure, not quite the Australian time zone, but still! I moved into a room near the airport for one night and left for Fuerteventura the next day. No arrival in a country of my sabbatical was as special as Spain. Not only the release of tension when everything worked out when I entered (considering that I only traveled to the Canary Islands - thanks Corona), the landing at sunset with a view to the sea, the 20 degrees and Spanish language made me feel welcome right away. Oh Spain, I have missed you. How I love to think back to my three weeks in Malaga, it is time to refresh my Spanish after about 10 years.
The night was short, very short (say an hour to round it up). I was therefore all the more looking forward to Fuerteventura. Why Fuerteventura? I have been to the island twice already and this is my absolute favorite place. It's actually a rather monotonous and not really impressive island. But combined with very special memories and the most beautiful beach in Europe Morro Jable it was the perfect place for me to "arrive". Actually I would have been here with Maria this year - the well-known "actually". (Maria, in your thoughts you are there)
Unforgettable is the moment that showed me again how warm and helpful the Spanish are! I had to take a bus ride, unfortunately I couldn't book a ticket online in advance. So I hoped to be able to buy it on the bus. At the bus stop (which was in no way recognizable as a bus stop) I got into conversation with a Spanish woman. Just the joy of seeing the Spaniards realize that the effort to speak Spanish is priceless. And to my amazement, the communication worked much better than I had expected. Sometimes with hands and feet. The lady told me that we can't be sure when the bus will arrive, it's really on time only for the school children in the morning, the working population can't really tell when they will arrive at the office. And she should be right, half an hour "delay" definitely spoke for the "mañana mañana" culture. When I took out my wallet, she explained to me that in Corona times it was not possible to pay cash, I had to buy a bus ticket at the airport and load it with money. For a short moment I saw myself walking the seven kilometers with my luggage, but before I could follow this train of thought, she already explained that she would take me with her on her card. I wanted to give her my money, but she refused several times and said: "You are our guest, you are invited - the island is happy when people like you come here, because you are our existence, please come again". Wow. During the bus ride I was given some more information by the lady and at every stop she explained to me how many more stops are to come. "ásalo bien, hasta la próxima!" Yes, see you next time, I will surely come back!
The choice of accommodations in Fuerteventura was not really big, because many hotels were not prepared for the fact that the Canary Islands lose their status "risk area". So I spontaneously decided to join the Robinson Club (the Aldiana, where we stayed the last two times, was unfortunately closed). But so I landed at my favorite beach anyway and knew that a few days of sports, good food and usually interesting people were waiting for me. Yes this sabbatical is a colorful mixture of everything, but what is normal on this trip. My pick-up at the airport with the 14-seater bus made me think for a moment whether I would be the only guest in the club, just like in the bus. But I quickly gave up the idea, because I knew that the club is only 40% occupied for reasons of hygiene, but there will certainly be a few more travelers ;-)
Now I've been here for a few days and it's just gigantic - I can hear my girls saying "everything done right" in the choir again 😊 The 24 - 27 degrees finally justify my summer clothes that I packed into the bagpack. My everyday life here is rather boring for you - no mountain tours, no city trips - yoga, tennis, workouts, beach walks and good food are waiting here every day. Yes, here I have to prove endurance, in sports, doing nothing and at the bar! For the latter, the cheese fondue base from Switzerland would not be bad at all. And yes, within less than five minutes I was already fully integrated in the club here. There are a few people my age who fled from the lightlockdown, moved their "mobile office" to the island or, like me, adapted their travel plans. So I'm enjoying my days here and say thanks to Marc, Felix, Andreas, Ben, Bine, Lisa and Christian and I can't describe how happy I am here right now.
More pictures of the island and a little bit more of my everyday life will be available next week (I didn't even have my camera in my hand here, but I put some snapshots on it with my cell phone) - and I also had an unbelievable meetup by accident here. So I will let you know next week - I send you sun and a big hug,