A World Away from Home: And the Last

Our last day in Zurich, we decided to actually go hiking this time. We went on a short hike up a local mountain, and were rewarded with a spectacular view of the city and the far mountains. It really is beautiful.

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Peekaboo view along the way.

We also met up with a friend I’ve known since elementary school who happened to have moved to Switzerland recently. It was really nice to catch up, since I hadn’t seen her since I graduated high school.

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Apparently it was a bit hazy so we couldn’t see all the mountains. Still beautiful.

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Countryside on this side.

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My sister forbade me from yodelling.

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There was a nice cafe at the top.

We took our time hiking, since my sister had previously managed to pull a muscle, but it was nice not to be in a rush. It was a popular trail, and the locals also used it for jogging. Definitely felt a lot like home.

Afterwards we decided to go into the city to do a little bit of shopping. And of course, since we were in Switzerland, we had to go get some Swiss army knives! And kitchen knives. Because it was about time we upgraded from cheap Costco knives to proper knives that cut rather than squish tomatoes (no more sad salads).

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Swiss army knives.

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LOTS of Swiss army knives.

The store was quite big, and had very impressive displays. I decided to get a cute little Swiss army knife to put on my keychain, and Ryan decided to get the actual Swiss army knife. A little bit of his and hers, I suppose.

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I can’t say I didn’t get it because the cat looks like Jerry

We also got some delicious Sprungli chocolate. The white chocolate was my favourite. It wasn’t overly sweet, as most white chocolate is. And it had a hint of a grassy taste from the type of cows they use. I should have bought more than one bar. It’s not cheap, but well worth it.

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Super cute little Sprungli cows.

Then we had to say goodbye to my friend as she headed home and we wandered back to my sister’s apartment to get ready for dinner. We went to her friend’s place for a barbecue dinner which consisted of lots of meat, bread, and delicious homemade garlic butter. Also two salads and tons of ice cream. (We tried to make oreo milkshakes but ended up with a kind of soft serve. Wasn’t complaining.)

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It was a wonderful day to be out and about, and a great way to end the trip. A week was way too short, but I’m glad that we went. Seeing family is always worth it.

Now that I’m home, I definitely miss Europe, and I miss the family I have there. But it’s also nice to be back in my own place, still surrounded by family and loved ones. It’s quite incredible, to be able to have important people in so many different places. There are so many trips to be had. So many places to see, and never enough time.

Until next time, Europe.

Treasure Hunting

Nature and food. Two treasures that I love.

Christine Fichtner Quarry Rock hike

Isolated

Lucky for me, I live in a city that has a ton of both. How could I not take advantage of it?

As my first hike of the year, it was probably a good thing that I ended up going on a shorter, easier trail. (I may have huff and puffed anyway…)

My friend Miki called me up and we headed out to Deep Cove to hike up to Quarry Rock. It’s a gorgeous hike, and the view up top is spectacular. It’s a fairly popular hike, and by the time we started to head back, the trail was getting a bit more crowded.

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Feeling accomplished post-hike!

There was not a lot of wildlife to be seen this time around, but seeing a raven hanging out around all the hikers at the top was quite something. It must be quite used to humans, since it did not seem nervous at all despite having at least twenty people  and five dogs sitting or standing around.

Christine Fichtner Quarry Rock

A spectacular view.

There’s something wonderful about being surrounded by trees, secluded, away from the reaches of urban life.

It’s rejuvenating for the body and mind. It’s something that never fails to lift my spirits. The life, the energy, everything about it, I believe, brings out the best in us.

Christine Fichtner Honey's donut

How could I not?

Of course, after hiking we had to stop by Honey’s for some incredible donuts. The maple donut was well worth the trek across the city.

The weather has been incredible this year, and I plan to take full advantage of it. This means plenty of hikes and time spent outdoors.

I live in a beautiful city full of opportunities to enjoy nature. What about your city? If I were to visit, where would you send me?

 

The Hiker

She is light on her feet. Lithe, with short, white blonde hair. She floats, rather than hikes, with steps like a river’s dance over the dirt and rocks.

She wishes me a good morning, and I reply with a smile. As she passes, I notice a shopping bag dangling from her backpack. Perhaps, I think, she would go grocery shopping after hiking. But at her pace, she would finish exercising long before the stores open. And besides, why have it hanging when she could roll it up and place it in her bag?

Just ahead of me, she jerks to the side, a frown creasing her brow. “Trash,” she mutters. I can hear the sneer in her words. “Pisses me off.” She bends down and picks up an empty Gatorade bottle, abandoned by either an uncaring tourist, or inconsiderate local.

She places it in the shopping bag and continues on. I stare after her, a smile testing the edges of my lips. The morning sun flares wings from her back.

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I often hike early in the mornings in order to avoid the tourist traffic. The regular morning crew is awesome, and I’m starting to recognize faces. They’re all friendly and dedicated, and definitely admirable.

Running Water

Small rivulets splashed eagerly down the trail, gliding around rocks and over logs. Droplets went flying as small, translucent bodies swept the water along. They slipped alongside the small streams, giggling around pebbles.

Their eyes glittered as they swept past me. One patted my leg in encouragement as she passed by. Another peered through the threads of my shoes. My toes shivered and she leapt back with a tinkle, leaving behind a damp imprint.

Cool hands smoothed my cheeks as my breath made clouds. White teeth sparkled and wings fluttered, brushing through my hair as they went. Incorporeal walls of minuscule bodies dove towards me and around. A misty trail lingered as they soared away.

The residual droplets created a ripple of shivers that spread across my body. My teeth clack their protest, and I surged onwards, eager for the fiery comfort of the lodge.

Said the Tortoise

Grouse Grind

My muscles strain as I force myself over another large boulder. I grasp the root ahead of me for balance. I can feel my legs burning, my lungs on fire. Still I push on, eyes fixed in front of me. Only the sound of my own harsh breathing reaches my ears.

My old record is taunting me, laughing at each pained step I take. I nearly growl as I urge myself to go faster. I can rest when I reach the top.

Five minutes and I’ll be there.

I manage to pass a fellow hiker. Then someone passes me. I can see the light between the trees, a beacon of accomplishment. Almost there.

One more minute. One last turn.

I see a man standing at the side of the trail, stance relaxed, waiting, perhaps stopping to catch his breath.

“Don’t stop now!” I pant, encouraging. “the top is right there!”

He glances at me and smiles. “why rush,” He replies. “It is good to just be here.” A thick Italian accent lilts his words.

My steps falter, and my eyes stray sideways. Vivid greens and browns greet my eyes, and the freshness of the mountain air pervades my nose.

Don’t we sometimes get so caught up in what we’re doing that we forget the beauty around us? Competition and goals are important, but so is enjoying yourself. To try and find joy in whatever you are doing.