We are lucky travelers to enjoy such a hospitable neighbor in Helena. Her house is just above ours..and even though it is so close, it’s a bit of a challenging walk up the path and around to her driveway. The snow and slush have melted due to the ice and warmer temps but there is a stretch in the shade that remains slippery. Helena had us over for a fondue dinner on Saturday night starting with champagne and foie gras, then gruyere fondue with wine, followed by a salad, then an Irish coffee. We also just had to finish the champagne bottle so we were lucky we made it back to our chalet without taking a tumble and sliding down the hill.
Helena’s house feels so much like what you would picture a typical Swiss chalet, looking over Lake Geneva and the Alps. Very cozy with a warm fire and beautifully tasteful Christmas settings. Dinner and conversation were splendid. Helena has had quite the life and we heard stories of her driving a taxi in Jerusalem at the age of 17; taking a road trip from Finland to Bangladesh with a friend (before it was too dangerous to travel through Afghanistan); and, as a registered nurse, taking a trip to the states as part of a seminar to learn more about AIDS in the eighties. She is from Finland with three sons residing in Finland and China, has traveled the world and is full of knowledge, wisdom and humor. We are so happy to have met her.
The next day, Helena took us to a market in Divonne, France, which was full of cheese, meats, fruits & vegetables, textiles…just about anything you can think of.
The scents and sights were wonderful as we wandered up and down the streets filled with Sunday shoppers. A stop at a tea room gave us a break and a chance to try cafe au lait and a donut (unfortunately, they were out of croissants!).
On the way home we stopped at a French grocery store where Helena and Charlie mulled over which wines to buy…at only 1 to 3 Euros per bottle. It's a secret place she's found to purchase her wines at a great price. We are allowed to take 3 bottles each across the French-Swiss border. Of course, on the path through the small towns back to La Chevrerie, there were no border guards to check.
This morning we woke up to another sunny day with the temps rising and the snow on the roof thumping and sliding to the ground. After enjoying a lazy morning, we drove down to Nyon where Charlie could get in a run along Lake Geneva.
Many of the shops were open, even though it is Christmas Eve, and I was able to find the perfect gift for Helena, as we are joining her for dinner tonight, along with her godson and his parents. A Christmas ham is on the menu and, if our previous dinner is an example, this one will be a culinary experience to remember.
Merry Christmas and Happy Holidays to all!