And so the next chapter begins. After 5 years of living in the Concrete Jungle – with 2 COVID years trapped inside 40 sq meters – we were ready for some fresh air, sunshine, space and nature, but as ready as I was, it was still so very hard to say goodbye to Manhattan. First and foremost, because of the wonderful friends we’d made over the years, many of who we didn’t get a chance to say goodbye too, due to the COVID spike and restrictions at the time. I had always known Manhattan wasn’t going to be forever, and it was clear that my 5 year fairytale with New York was over, but I wasn’t expecting to leave the USA like we did. Thankfully though, we got to spend every last waking minute (that wasn’t packing or selling) with Frank and Vanessa (Sorry Frank).
Our last night in NYC was just magic. Unbeknownst to me, Remi had booked us into a beautiful suite at the JW Mariott on Central Park South with a private balcony, welcome champagne and chocolates. After months of preparation and lead-up it was here, when I was looking at the city skyline, that it all finally hit me that it was our last night in NYC. I had a great big cry, chased it down with x3 glasses of free & delicious champagne before picking myself back up and going on a final goodbye walk around the city; down 5th Ave, over to Bryant Park and back up 6th Ave.
When we returned, we ordered our last Pad See Ew and Green Chicken Curry from our favourite Thai takeout spot while watching the last few episodes of Seinfeld which we started in the Pandemic and tried to watch it all before we left but were a measly 7 episodes too short. We were exhausted by the time the 24minute episode was up, so we said goodbye to NYC one final time, took ourselves off to bed and crashed in a heap.
The transition from the US side was intense and took a solid 6 months, but once we actually landed in Switzerland, it was (and has been so far) an incredibly smooth and easy transition – in relation to life admin. Partially, because we knew exactly where we were going to stay until we had found accommodation of our own, but mostly, because Remi had spent months and hours worth of effort working to make sure everything was hooked up and ready to go upon our arrival.
The weather has been absolutely stunning ever since we touched down. The first two weekends we spent up the local mountain – Grindelwald. We’re lucky enough to be living in the most beautiful canton of Switzerland – the Bern Oberland region. It is home to the Jungfrau – the Top of Europe, as well as her two other mountain brothers, Eiger and Monch. It is also home to The Valley of Waterfalls – which is as beautiful as it sounds – all season round. Weekend one, we went up Grindelwald on the worlds longest sled ride – which is incredibly fun, and incredibly dangerous. Weekend two, we went up the same mountain with our friend Simon, but this time down the skiing and snowboarding trails.
However, weekend #3 is when COVID finally infiltrated the Pallaras / Rageth household, knocking me down like a ton of bricks for a good two weeks – even after being triple vaccinated. Remi was and still is COVID free for the entire time. The only place I had taken my mask off inside for the entire two weeks was when I was going to the official government registry office to let them know I was living in Switzerland. When I was asked to take my mask off to be identified against my passport, the lady had a sudden and urgent urge to cough all over me while a huge gust of wind also blew from behind her onto me. I took one look at Remi and said, this is it. After surviving New York City for two COVID years, it was the remote tiny village of Faulensee with a population of 12,000 that finally took me down. After a very slow two weeks, we were back in the Mountains this weekend in Sigriswil – the village directly opposite us on the lake. Sigriswil is also home to a Panorama Hanging Bridge; something I find absolutely terrifying, and something Remi didn’t tell me we were doing.
30 minutes, two led feet and a bucket of tears later, I finally made it across the bridge.
The rest of hike was gorgeous – overlooking the Bern Oberland region and the three magnificent mountain ranges, through the fields with cows and goats. All the animals came out this week after being in their stables for winter and you can hear their bells ringing from across the valleys.