After making it onto the airplane around 9 o'clock in the morning, I managed to fall asleep before we even took off the runway. This moment was quite a feat considering how nervous I still get before every flight. The EgyptAir flight from Cairo to Geneva, Switzerland was very nice, probably one of the best I have had my entire trip (probably because I was sleeping the entire time). Mario's dad, Franco had a good point when he mentioned that this was probably due to the fact that there are so many international diplomats flying to Geneva, so logically, they would use the newest planes. Once the plane landed in Geneva, I successfully made it through customs, baggage claims, and such, when I then walked out to meet Franco. It was great to see a friendly face after about 12 hours of recognizing no one
. It turns out my flight landed a bit late so Franco and I sat down for a cup of coffee before catching the train back to Sursee. Oh, how I had missed good strongly brewed coffee and Swiss coffee culture. We took the train for about two hours back to the town outside of Mario's, but sitting on the train I was able to realize once again how beautiful Switzerland was. Going from Geneva to Sursee, I was able to see the countryside and some cities, which in some places, were still sparkling with the unmelted snow from the giant winter storm which hit most of Europe a few days before. After getting off of the train, we went to the house where I was able to see everyone again after four months! When we pulled into the driveway, I saw that Bea and the others had decorated the house for me with happy birthday balloons and banners (yes, it was still my 21st birthday at this point). I was able to get settled for a bit, and then we chowed down on some scrumptious Swiss cooking. After dinner, we hung around the house for a bit until we celebrated my birthday. We cracked open a bottle of Champagne and Bea brought out a flaming (with all 21 candles), decadent looking (and tasting) chocolate birthday cake. I opened some presents from my dad and the Cozzio's, then acquiring appropriate cold weather clothes. In all, being able to celebrate my 21st birthday in first Cairo, then Switzerland was probably made it one of the best birthdays ever. I was off to bed pretty early, though, because all of the traveling left me exhausted.
The next morning I woke up to the snowfall I had been demanding in Switzerland since I first talked about visiting Mario about a year ago. Outside the scene was gorgeous! For those who are not keeping up with dates, this day was Christmas Eve, the date where many European peoples, including the Swiss, celebrate Christmas.
After having a delicious breakfast, I helped Mario decorate the Christmas tree which Franco set up the night before. Unlike Christmas trees in the US, there were no lights on this Christmas tree, until that night where real candles would be lit. Around 4pm, we went to the local church and watched the kids mass before taking the long way back in the snow to the house. Walking back to the house was beautiful and when we got back we opened gifts downstairs with Bea's mother. Then we walked back upstairs and opened gifts. I was able to open up stuff from my Mom and Dad and the Cozzios. After all of the gift opening, we sat down to a delicious dinner, which is very similar to a Chinese hot pot. In other words, there is a broth with lots of veggies, then like fondue, but with meat, you take slices of different meat and put them into the hot broth until they are cooked. In the end, a delicious soup is made which we ate the next day for lunch.
On Christmas day, we all went tromping out into the snow for a perfect walk through a true winter wonderland. Honestly, the scenery was gorgeous, something I thought I would only see in pictures. While out, it started to snow again. After the walk, we came back in and enjoyed the soup from the night before. We hung out the rest of the day, warming up our bitterly cold extremities. For the 26th, we went to Franco's mom's apartment with all of his family. The day/night was great fun, and reminded me of when all of my family gets together for holidays. Loud and crazy, but still full of family and great times. Franco's mom lives on the other side of Switzerland, which is only about 2 hours away, making me realize how small the country really is. Also, on the way back, it was -15 degrees Celsius, talk about cold. The next day, we went into Lucerne and did some after Christmas shopping. After, we met for some delicious dessert and coffee, then we headed back home for racklette (I hope that spelling is close, but I doubt it)
. For those readers who do not remember, racklette is the delicious melted cheese and potato goodness. The following day, was the day before I had to leave and I spent most of the day packing before we had a delicious goodbye Chinese dinner at the local Chinese place. The Chinese food was delicious and much more authentic than anything I have had in the US (or Cairo). Following dinner we hung out at the house and hit the bed early because we had to be up early to go to the airport.
In the morning, we got up early to head to the airport. The day before I was getting a bit worried because a major snow storm hit the US while I was in Switzerland and I was hoping my flights into and out of Philadelphia would not be canceled. After checking my bags (which I did not go overweight on) and getting my boarding pass, the Cozzios and I headed to a little cafe for one last coffee before I trekked across the airport to my gate. It was hard to say goodbye to everyone not knowing when I would be back, but I know it will not be too terribly long. I made my way through the airport and onto the plane. Sadly, there was no seatback entertainment on the flight, but they did play Eat, Pray, Love on the screen which I had been dying to see since I finished reading the book in Cairo. The flight seemed like it would never end and I could hardly sleep. I am not quite sure if it was the anticipation of returning home or the fact that the flight was just incredibly long
. When the flight finally landed in Philly, I spent forever going through customs, and I then had to go through agriculture because apparently riding on a camel counts as being on a farm. Luckily, I had a bit of time to grab some lunch then catch my very small plane to Columbia. The plane to Columbia was another one of those where you feel like you cannot stand up without tipping the plane. When the plane landed I practically ran to baggage claim and out of the airport. My brother picked me up in my car and I drove us home.
Look out for one more blog, featuring my first weeks at home and expectations. Also, if you're still reading, feel free to let me know in the comment box. :)
So, yes, I realize that I am back in the United States now-- back to reality, if you will-- but I feel bad not summing up my last week in Switzerland.