Monday, 11 December 2017

Swiss Exchange Trip Week 1 - Long Flights, Christmas Markets, and Castles

I've been working towards my exchange trip to Switzerland for 2 years. It' always been a big goal of mine, but never actually felt real. Even now as I sit on my bed listening to the Swiss rain wash away the Swiss snow writing this post it still doesn't feel real.
It was just over a week ago that I began the very long journey from New Zealand to Switzerland. There was a group of about 20 of us going, all very anxious and excited. I was mainly anxious, because I had no idea what to expect, and I came to the realization that I will be away from my family for two months, in a foreign country, speaking a foreign language, over christmas time. 
I cried packing my bags, I cried weighing my bags, I cried while I hugged family and friends, and I cried as I walked through security. I was so nervous, and by that point in time I'd had so many mental break downs I was over it. I didn't want to go. I forced myself to leave everyone because I knew if I didn't go I would regret it for a very long time.
I hopped on the plane, the first plane of many, and pretended to be excited. We flew from Christchurch to Sydney, Sydney to Dubai, and Dubai to Geneva. All in all it was about 25 hours in the air. I'd never done a long haul flight before, so I was very excited. I found the flights pretty enjoyable, sleep was uncomfortable, but I managed to get 8 hours so I felt really good.

Flying into Geneva was very pretty, we flew over snow-capped mountains, and it was 0 degrees outside. It actually reminded me a lot of Queenstown. I had somewhat calmed down over the course of our flights, but when we landed the nerves returned worse than ever. I kept thinking over and over again "I'm going to be here for two months!"
Of course everybody here is lovely, and now that I've settled in I am very happy to be here. I'm staying in a small village just out of Nyon. It's so pretty here, the buildings are much nicer than those in New Zealand. I was surprised by the pretty houses in particular, I had naively thought that all houses were the same.  The best thing about Switzerland so far is that everywhere is decorated for Christmas and it is so cozy!

On Friday my host mother, friend, and I visited a Christmas market at the Chateau de Morges. All my christmas dreams came true at this market, we don't have anything like it in New Zealand. We nibbled on roasted chestnuts and sipped Christmas tea while walking through the wooden huts.

I spotted these adorable christmas cookies, and so nearly bought one even though I don't eat sugar.
We haven't had snow in Christchurch in 5 or 6 years, so when I looked out my window to find snow saturday morning I almost cried.
Even though I absolutely loved the snow (which is sadly already melting) it was actually a bad thing because it meant we couldn't take a ferry to France, like we had originally planned. Instead we drove to The Chateau de Chillon. The drive from Nyon to Veytaux has an amazing view of the Lake Geneva and the French Alps. Although I think the castle itself has the best view.
The castle has a lot of history, you can see graffiti done by Lord Byron and the very post that Francois de Bonivard was chained to for 6 years. 

Every room had a different ceiling pattern which I really appreciated. My favourite ceiling was in the Chapel, it's very light and pretty.

I got all dressed up for the occasion, finally getting to whip out my winter sweaters and makeup.
Castles and markets aside, this week was really about settling in both at home and at school. I feel very at home here because everybody is lovely, but this week has been difficult for me. Getting over jetlag, starting a new school, and speaking a different language was hard. I had to really concentrate on staying positive sometimes. In the difficult times I had to choose to be happy. However, the worst is now behind me, and I'm very excited to be able to enjoy this beautiful country for two whole months!

Amesmames xx

Thursday, 9 November 2017

Ethique Advent Calendar

It's November, which for me means its pretty much Christmas time. I've already started listening to my Christmas playlist and planning a Christmas party for before I leave. One thing I've never really gotten into is advent calendars. When I was a child I never had chocolate advent calendars, and I certainly didn't care for any other kind. However now as I get a bit older I can see that advent calendars are great for testing a variety of different products for a much cheaper price. 
The other day when I got home from school my mum surprised me with the Ethique advent calendar! I had never heard of Ethique before, but I'm very interested in the brand now. Ethique is one of the first brands to develop an entirely solid product range. They sell a variety of skincare, hair, pet, and home products, all in bar form and can boast their prevention of 150,000 plastic bottles being manufactured and disposed of world wide. The products are all natural, sustainable, and have raving reviews, so I am very excited to give some a try.

The advent calendar has 12 sections with 12 mini beauty bars. All, apart from one, are cute little love heart shapes. They smell AMAZING! The scents are lime, ginger, lavender, peppermint, orange and vanilla. So far my favourite scent is ginger, but they are all lovely. This advent calendar prevents 3 bottles from being manufactured.

Products you can expect:

Day 1 - Saving Face, Serum
Day 2 - Foot Pumice
Day 3 - Foot Balm
Day 4 - Lavender Deoderant
Day 5 - Lime and Ginger Bodywash
Day 6 - Bliss Bar (cleanser)
Day 7 - Lime and Coconut Butter Block
Day 8 - Gingersnap Face Scrub (my fave)
Day 9 - The Guardian Conditioner
Day 10 - Damage Control Shampoo
Day 11 - Sweet Orange and Vanilla creme (body wash)
Day 12 - Lime and Ginger Bodywash

I love what Ethique stands for, and have very high expectations for the products. I hope that I find some new favourites because I would love to replace my current products with more sustainable products.

Amesmames xx

Friday, 22 September 2017

Queenstown - Winter Wonderland

Just when I thought I had said goodbye to winter, and was fully ready for summer, our trip to Queenstown almost made me change my mind! My Dad, Patrick, our exchange student, and I took a trip to Otago/Southland to show Patrick some more of our beautiful country. No one planned for it to be this amazing though! As soon as we hopped off the plane it started snowing, which was a huge surprise for all of us. We knew it was going to be cold weather, but none of us expected snow.

I was by far the most excited about the snow. We haven't had snow in about 6 years back in Christchurch. So even though I had seen some snow on the ground in places I hadn't seen it actually snow for 6 years. Driving into Queenstown from the airport was stunning. I felt like I was in a Christmas movie!

Everywhere you looked were insane views.

We arrived in Queenstown in the late afternoon on Saturday. To make the most of what little daylight hours we had we drove around Lake Wakatipu to experiece the view from different angles. 
You cans see from the clothes I'm wearing that I was not prepared for snow! I, being the overly prepared person that I am, had packed for every situation possible, but I only brought enough really cold stuff for one day.

I just couldn't believe how beautiful it was, it so felt like a Christmas movie!

Dinner that night was from Fergburger. For those of you who don't know Fergburger, it is a world famous burger joint only found in Queenstown, and is a must do if you are ever in the area. The burgers were the biggest, most delicious burgers I've ever tasted.
We spent the rest of the evening watching the rugby at a bar across from where we stayed.

We got up really early (like 6am early) hoping to see an amazing sunrise. However there was low cloud, so all we got was a drizzly walk along the water front. 

It was a refreshing way to wake up, though. I wasn't surprised to find out that Queenstown looks beautiful in the early hours of the day too. It was much quieter, and very peaceful.

We drove up to Arrowtown for breakfast since we were planning to do the Shotover jet and bungee jump later that morning. It didn't take long for the snow to start falling again, in big, fluffy flakes. We walked around a little bit, but it was absolutely freezing so we headed back to Shotover river to wait for our jet boat ride.

The snow was falling really heavily when we got there, and we were informed that our boat ride was delayed. The boys decided to go bungee jumping early. I am no good with heights, so I stayed cozy and warm sitting by the fire in a cafe, doing some study for exams.

When the guys got back we finally got to do our jet boat ride, which was so fun, but so cold. I really enjoyed it after being shut up in that cafe for so long. After that we drove to Te Anau, which is about a 2 hour drive. I didn't take any pictures, but we drove right by the Remarkables mountain range. There are few times in life where I have really felt small, but this was one of them. It's hard to think your problems are the biggest deal in the world when you can't even see the tops of the mountains next to you!

We were planning to drive to Milford Sound the next day, but the road was closed due to the heavy snow, so we were forced to rethink our plan. We decided top drive as far along the road as we could, because there are so many viewing points along that road. One of our first stops was at mirror lakes.

We also stopped and walked to a waterfall by Lake Marion. I think it's important to point out that I took just as many photos of my Dad as he did of me!

In some places the snow was up to my knees, which made for some very intense snowball fights.

On one of our many stops we were joined by a friendly Kea. I was extremely happy about this as it meant Patrick got to see one before he headed back home. I named him Arthur.

It seemed like every place we stopped was more beautiful than the last. What started as last minute plans ended up being the most beautiful and fun day of our whole trip.

By the end of the day, my shoes were soaked, and I was exhausted. We drove back to Queenstown where we bought some cookie time milkshakes (This was a cheat day for me). I chose the Malteser shake and it was way to sweet for me. I loved it but there was no way I was finishing that whole thing by myself, I only got through half of it.

The next day was our last day in Queenstown. On our agenda was the Gondola, the Luge, and a cruise of Lake Wakatipu. The view at the top of the gondola once again was stunning.

By this point in the trip I was exhasuted, I was definitely ready to come home.

We had so much fun in Queenstown. Despite the weather not being what we expected, and even forcing us to change our plans, we had a great time. I was so sad to leave the beautiful views. The trip was kind of like a final goodbye to winter for me. It's mainly been lovely and warm in Christchurch since we got back, and I am so ready for summer!

Amesmames xx

Saturday, 2 September 2017

Spring Sunday in Akaroa

It's finally starting to feel like spring! Last weekend, in particular, was lovely and warm. We decided to take advantage of the weather and made last minute plans to go to Akaroa. Akaroa's about an hours drive from Christchurch. It is a very popular tourist destination due to it's French atmosphere, beautiful views, and dolphin attractions.
I've only been to Akaroa twice before this, and only really stayed long enough to eat some fish and chips for lunch and do a little bit of swimming. But because we have our student with us we decided to splurge a little bit and do a few more tourist-y things.

We started out walking through the town, checking out places to eat and admiring the harbour. It was fish and chips that we settled on for lunch.

 After lunch we drove up one of the hills to get a better view of the town.

Later that afternoon, we booked a 2 hour cruise around the harbor with the promise of seeing some Hecters dolphins. I had thought this would be quite slow (in other words boring) until we spotted some dolphins, but I was very wrong. The whole trip was extremely beautiful and interesting, I would definitely recommend this to someone from out of town!

Almost immediately after we moved further out of the harbor a pair of dolphins came right up to the boat. We were very lucky to be right at the front, so we had the best view. Over the course of about 15 minutes 4 or 5 dolphins approached the boat. They were much smaller than I thought, as Hecters dolphins are the smallest in the world. 

This was the only photo I got of them, and its very second rate.

The rest of the cruise was less eventful, my family and I used this time to go through the many photos we had taken.

Once we arrived back in Akaroa we rushed of to the Giant's House, another famous Akaroa attraction. The gardens there are filled with amazing sculptures and mosaics. (The photos from The Giant's House are taken by my Dad)

I was pleasantly surprised with this trip, and think it's definitely worth while to come and visit. One thing I will say, though, is due to the towns small size Akaroa is more of a day/weekend trip.

I'm now preparing for a trip to Queenstown next weekend, which will be very jam packed. If you have any good recommendations for things to do down south let me know!

Amesmames xx

Swiss Exchange Trip Week 1 - Long Flights, Christmas Markets, and Castles

I've been working towards my exchange trip to Switzerland for 2 years. It' always been a big goal of mine, but never actually fel...