11 February 2016

Our European Adventure

Last August, I went on one of the biggest and best holidays of my life. My parents had been planning a three week drive across Europe for the past year, and Mr Maggie May and I were really excited to be joining them - it was going to be our European adventure! Those of you who follow me on Instagram will have seen my snaps at the time: scenes from France, Switzerland, Italy and Greece - pictures of beautiful food, idyllic sunshine, and amazing culture. 

We landed back on British soil in September, but since then, life has been a bit of a whirlwind. Over the past few months we have collated and edited photos, shared stories, and I began to write about our incredible travels. I am over the moon that at last, now life is a little less hectic, I can share these stories with you all on my blog! I really hope you enjoy them.

We had made this journey twice before, both times when I was a child, but this time was going to be different - firstly I would be old enough to remember the trip, and secondly I would be able to capture more of the views on my camera and iPhone. Disposable Kodaks were great, but I'm glad technology has progressed a bit since then...

Our trip began on the Euro Shuttle; after a quick dash around the duty-free shop and a spritz of My Burberry (a gorgeous scent that's now on my wish list), we were loaded onto the carriage, and in a blink of an eye we were there - France! The rural landscapes which greeted us were beautiful, and I'm always astounded at how quiet and almost empty the country feels. We weaved our way past fields and fields of sunflowers, admiring the many wind turbines scattered amongst them. 

Don't you think they look like grand and yet peaceful keepers of the land? At certain points it felt like us and those turbines were the only things in the world.

Eventually we found the village we were staying in, Cousances-les-Forges, where our kindly hosts, a retired baker and his wife, welcomed us into their home with a smile and, more importantly, comfortable beds.

We sank into the matresses and fell into deep sleeps as soon as our heads touched the pillows.

The next morning, we woke to the sound of a van tooting and the smell of pastries baking in the oven. I jumped out of bed and saw that the van belonged to the local baker, who was delivering a fresh loaf of bread to the house. What a delightful start to the day! We showered quickly and ran downstairs, where a spread of the most beautiful pastries awaited us. There were pain au chocolats, croissants, syrupy choux buns and a selection of homemade jams and preserves, as well as freshly brewed coffee and orange juice. It was a pretty good breakfast.

With our bellies full, we decided to have a wander around the village. The main square was quiet and sleepy, as the locals enjoyed a lazy Sunday morning. We admired the beautiful flowers, the church and the quaint cottages and houses surrounding the square, before hopping back into the car for the next leg of our journey.

^ I always like to colour co-ordinate with the local doors if I can.

As the roads began to get more rustic, we twisted and turned our way up the hills, stopping to pick up some quiches and madeleines for lunch (when in France...) At this point, I began to get more excited; we were nearing the country of chocolate, chalets and cheese fondues - Switzerland.

Before long, we had crossed the border, bought our vignette (a pass you need to drive in Switzerland) and found the first shop which would sell us some Swiss chocolate. This was my main priority...

We climbed, up and up and up into the clouds, passing meadows of cows with the bells around their necks tinkling.

Waving the cows a cheery goodbye, our ascent took us so far into the white cotton wool of the low-lying clouds that we could hardly see our hands in front of our faces as we approached our chalet. The slightly damp mountain air felt lovely and cool on our skin as we ventured onto the chalet's balcony, but we were robbed of a view by the thick white fog.

Having dropped off our bags, we then made our way blindly into the local town, where through the mist we could see the lights of some candles winking in the fog. As we got nearer, we realised we had found a restaurant, with a menu of traditional Swiss dishes, lanterns hanging from the walls, and very welcoming faces. We ordered Swiss white wine, potato rostis with cheese for my parents, steak tartare for Mr Maggie May, and a cheese fondue for me.

When it arrived, the smell of Gruyere melting with white wine made me grin from ear to ear, and I eagerly speared my first cube of bread and dipped it into the bubbling vat. It was, to put it simply, divine.

We polished off the food, and sleepily traipsed our way back to our home for the night, where we sank into comfy armchairs with warming cups of tea and the remainder of the madeleines. We had completed the first part of our trip, had sampled the delights of both France and Switzerland, and couldn't wait for the next part of our journey...


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