An abundant season of visitors.

We’ve had a recent stretch of visitors from Canada starting in early April with the arrival of my Mom and wrapping up now with my nephew Luke and his good friend on their first European backpacking adventure. It’s been a whirlwind stretch where we’ve shown off our favourite spots and discovered new places and new friends. We have not shared our best weather but sometimes one reall does need to tone down the showing off.

This also means that there is a certain level of tension in our home as I wish to create the impression that we are not vile humans who live in filth and squalor – a lie, really.

Take this conversation for instance:

Me – “Hon, can you please pick up some good toilet paper for Luke & Hayden?”

Manolo – “Are you serious?”

Me – “They’ve been staying in hostels for a month, I think they’ll appreciate some nice toilet paper.” (Note for context, we have an especially budget brand right now with a bit of a sandpaper texture to it.)

Manolo – “You really don’t understand how 18yr old boys work, do you.”

Me – “How is it that after 18 years of marriage you really don’t understand how I work? Don’t argue with me when I’m in guests-are-coming mode. Get the dang toilet paper.”

Manolo came through with 6 ply! Bless him. (I don’t even want to know what that set us back.)

In fairness to him, my guests-are-coming mode is right up there with “Airport Anna”

My special guests mode can best be described here:

Regardless, I do firmly believe that it is the arrival of guests that keeps us from living in complete filth. It’s a battle of necessity. The only time we give it a good deep clean.

But the true bliss of guests is getting to reconnect with the parts of home we miss so much. The friends and family we left behind still represent a void we’ve never filled here. After a stretch of visitors like we’ve just had, our cups are full once again.

The ease of conversation with friends who have known you through some of the biggest formative years, whose humor matches your own so well that accidentally peeing is a high probability. (Marn, she works on the streets?)

And family whose own character matches yours so well that you repeatedly catch glimpses of yourself in a way that is so reassuring and reminds you where you’ve come from.

And discovering new friends who already feel like home through shared new memories.

It allows us to exhale a little more deeply, to relax and let our guard down. A wee reprieve from being on our best behaviour, still trying so hard to fit in in our new world and not mis-step. No fear of judgement, just belonging.

To be in the company of our people.

Uncle Ken & Auntie Les, from London, Ontario. So glad they tacked on a stop in Switzerland to their latest European tour.

We left the kids at home for an adults-only tour of the Swiss countryside with dinner in Stein Am Rhein. Such a lovely evening.

There are strong genetics at play here. The kids thought Les and I were a lot alike. Photos of me and Les look an awful lot like my cousin Kristy. And photos of Les as a young girl are a dead-ringer for Helena now. Yup, we might be related…

Les, admiring an abundant Swiss flowerbed.

We may not have shown off our sunny weather, but the flowers were proof enough.

Next was a long overdue visit with my last roommates before moving to our home in Bragg Creek. Such incredible memories with these ladies.

The only way to hydrate on a 7 hour train ride to join your ladies on the Italian riviera.

Greeted by these lovely, smiley faces. Let the girls’ weekend begin.

Not a bad view from our front door.

These faces. Oh how I’ve missed them. Proof that good wine does indeed aid in aging well.

Whose idea was it to hit the bar at midnight!?

This fella greeted us in the hallway outside the apartment.

Perhaps the best memory of the weekend, arriving home late and a wee bit tipsy to find toilet paper taped to our door. (One roll for 5 women for a weekend? What were they thinking!?)

Love it when you stumble upon a grand scene tucked around the corner.

The cathedral of Finale.

So pretty, even in their slightly wilted state.

The grand interior of our place. We never did learn the history of the building. We were divided on whether it once was a sanitarium or a courthouse. Perhaps a little of both.

Two of my favourite things. Smiley Marnie and wine!

The weekend was about celebrations. Birthday festivities a plenty. But more importantly we celebrated our collective strength, courage, success and resilience.

A spectacular meal at a grotesque little place.

Evidence of a bustling seaside summer scene. Quite different on cool, gray days.

Our Airbnb in Finale. Couldn’t beat the setting or the location.

Choose your friends wisely. Look for signs of fun, adventure and preparedness. A gal who keeps a corkscrew at the ready is a keeper.

Perhaps the visit I was most excited about was my nephew Luke. Seeing in him, the same love of travel & adventure I had is so great. And wanting so badly to make sure that their time with us would measure up against the full deck of memories they are collecting.

My family were making fun of me for how excited I was. But I had high expectations on this visit – we had a great responsibility to make sure their love of travel would extend into many more travel plans for the years to come.

A rainy view to welcome the boys.

A soggy walk into town to a patio to wait out the rain. But they made it!!

We’ve posed in the same shape at San Salvatore!

The signature Lugano photo.

When in Switzerland, one must sip from a fountain.

A quick pose with the great-grand-kids in front of the Douglas.

Overlooking Lake Lugano.

Dinner stop in Mercote.

A little chilly up at the pass.

Signs in Switzerland always leave us a wee bit perplexed…are we supposed to pick up a bomb if we find one?

Imagining a life in the Swiss military.

Checking out the bunker stash.

Our luxury ride to replace their train travels for a while. As long as we continue to offer custom tours to all our guests, I have to admit that the van is coming in handy. Don’t tell Manolo.

Canadian boys in the alps.

Overlooking the valley.

A Swiss chalet up at the high mountain pass.

These guys deserve more fondue than we do.

The snow drifts up at the top of the pass. These are not small boys and this snow is well into the melt.

A grand tour indeed.

Lakeside stroll.

He’s all grown up! And so handsome. When did that happen!?

Lakeside beer in Brunnen. Finally found some sun.

At the Swiss Army knife museum – taking in a little virtual reality.

Hayden on the VR.

Luke holding a snake that’s not a snake – just under the surface was the scream of a little girl but he bravely contained it.

Graffiti, Switzerland’s one tolerated rebellion.

Hanging out with the cool big boys.

Urban surfing in Zürich.

A stroll through the viaduct.

The obligatory photo at the Zürich HB.

In the land of chocolate.

Never miss a good fountain.

Look at this good looking view!

Such good sports, posing for all my photos.

The Zürich view.

Another classic Zürich view.

All grown up but still kids at heart.

We’re going to miss these two so much. Such great guys – plenty of hope for this generation.

Our cups are full from all the fabulous visits with friends and family. We’re so lucky.


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