* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

Swiss Panoramas

How to describe Switzerland?

What makes it special? The chocolate? The cheese? Both great but it’s Switzerland’s natural beauty.

Switzerland is breathtakingly stunning. Unbelievably beautiful (and we only saw part of it).

I made the comment this past week to Michelle and her parents that the whole country should be preserved and considered as a world treasure. No joke. That beautiful. We only visited a couple of major towns and cities and those were ok. The true magic of Switzerland are the pristine rolling green hills, the massive mountains, and the glacier fed lakes. If you hate natural beauty and don’t like the outdoors then this may not be the country you want to visit when traveling to Europe.

But for everyone else, take a train ride through the mountains. Walk through the countless, endless vineyards. Hang out by one of the lakes. Stare at the many snow-capped peaks. Feel like you could almost touch the stars.

You will understand.

(click on any of the pics below for a larger view)

Haute-Nendaz-Switzerland-Condo
Nendaz, Switzerland. The view from the balcony or where we were staying.
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We were high up, but only half-way up the mountain. You can see the valley below in the background.
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We took a lift up to a popular hiking area. Tons of trails in the summer for bikers and hikers.
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A typical Swiss chalet on the side of a mountain looking at the valley below.

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The vineyard hike in Martigny. A beautiful 4-mile hike through what seemed like endless vineyards.
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I wish that was me, zip lining across the Martigny valley. It went over the valley/city.
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The city of Sion, from a 10 century Church on the top of a hill overlooking the valley.
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The interesting city of Bern. The river is far below from the city.
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Spiez, overlooking Thon lake. This whole area is crazy beautiful. Wish we had spent more time here on the lakes and in the surrounding mountains.
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The world famous Matterhorn mountain from the town of Zermatt.
* Jedd Thoughts, Other Travels

Paris in Pictures: Part 2

Last week, Michelle and I got to spend a week in Paris with her family. We visited a lot of great historical sites, museums, and places I think the film “Amelie” was filmed at. There are so many reasons why Paris has become one of my favorite cities in the world. Here are a few:

  • Amazing metro system: buses, trains, and subway systems that are efficient and everywhere.
  • Incredible diversity: Though not all areas of Paris are diverse, it seemed as if it was truly, an international community.
  • Beautiful historical buildings, museums, art: The details in the city are incredible. Everywhere you look you can’t help but wonder how they built/designed everything.
  • Awesome parks: We judge a city based on it’s public parks. Paris has some great ones.
  • Great food: A lot of things taste better in Paris. I think it did.

We had an incredible time in France. Though the issue with our bags was stressful, it didn’t stop us from having an overall, great experience (we ended up getting them on Day 9). Here are some of our posts from our time in France:

Finally, here are some of my favorite pics from our second week in Paris.

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Arc de Triomphe – probably my favorite monument. The details were incredible.
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Centre Pomp Idou – this square contrasts a century old Church with items from the Museum of Contemporary art. To me this is the perfect embodiment of Paris. The old and the modern coexisting together.
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One of a couple HUGE department stores with these incredible and ridiculous decorations. It’s a little too much for me, but you can’t help admire the amount of time and energy spent on the details.
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This is a restaurant at another department stores. Notice the different levels of detail. Crazy. Awesome.
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A street market underneath one of the metro stations. This was an amazing international scene.
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I wish I could have taken pictures inside the Sacré-Cœur. You’ll just have to go to Paris and see it for yourself. It’s beyond impressive.
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A view from a scene in Amelie where her love interest has to look down from this park.
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A beautiful park in Montmartre – a famous neighborhood in north Paris, known as a place where many famous artists used to live.
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Montmartre
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Mother Nature – the original street artist. Just a silhouette of a street light on a home that reminded me of a Banksy work of art.
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Another great example of contemporary vs historical. Street art in Montmartre.
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Crepes are better in France and you can only get butter and sugar crepes in France. Michelle is very happy that she got her beloved crepe.
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Another talented street artist.
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That national opera house. Again, another building with incredible details.
* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

Our First 7 Days in France: A Tale of Two Bags

First 7 Days

France…

Land of wine, cheese plates, cafès, beautiful parks, the iconic Eiffel tower, museums, history, art, lovers, magic…and now, lost luggage.

It started off as a typical travel hiccup. We wait at the baggage claim for an hour. No bags. Bummed but not too concerned, we make a claim, give our address to Air France’s bag service and start our adventure.

Day 1 – 3: Paris

France-Trip-2014-Jedd-and-Michelle-01What can I say about Paris? Aside from the crazy traffic and impossible intersections, I love it. Old, beautiful history everywhere you look- full of details. In the center of the city, building after building could easily be the most iconic building in a city in America. Here, it’s just another building. Michelle’s Uncle gave me the condensed history of France in our ride from the airport to their flat in Paris. Will need many years of studying to fully grasp everything he shared. Her Uncle (Michelle’s father’s brother), is originally from the States and has been living in France for over 40+ years after moving here after college. He met a wonderful Parisian woman and raised their family in Paris. They’ve been incredible hosts and introduced me to the ever-important cheese plate course. I asked, “Are baguettes and cheese each day a typical thing in France?” Answer: “Yes!” Me: “Awesome!” Continue reading “Our First 7 Days in France: A Tale of Two Bags”

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

The Next Adventure

Portland-Airport-Carpet

Au Revoir, America.

Today Michelle and I head out on a month and a half long adventure across the Atlantic to a place I’m told is called Europe. It’s the first time for me, and the first time we are traveling to that continent together. Our destination(s): France and Switzerland where we will be tourists, Help X volunteers (more to come about this), and visiting the Alps with family. The best part? We are doing this through miles that we’ve earned through Alaska Airlines (more to come about this as well).

Air-France-Double-Decker

We’ll be blogging about the whole experience (naturally) here and at Intentional Travelers, sharing pics, and hopefully capturing footage of Michelle’s ability to speak French, and my sad attempt to try.

– J&M

 

Other Travels

Colorado: Rocky Mountain Awesomeness

On our epic road trip for 2014, one of the most highly anticipated places for us to visit was Colorado.

When I was 16 I visited once and fell in love with the snow packed mountains. I think this was mainly because it was so different to what I grew up with in Hawaii. 15 years later and I was once again, captivated by the mountains, the lakes, the sun, and what seems like the healthiest bunch of people in the entire United States. I heard stories of 300+ days of sunshine and endless amounts of outdoor activities to choose from. Who knows, maybe we’ll end up in Colorado if/when we finally decide to settle down.

Here’s some highlights and great travel information from our visits to Fort Collins, Rocky Mountain National Park, and Denver.

Fort_Collins_Colorado_Travel Rocky_Mountain_National_Park_Travel Denver_Colorado_Travel

* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

Epic Road Trip 2014 Recap

Epic_Road_Trip_2014

Our Epic Road Trip of 2014 is over. For one month we traveled from Portland to Seattle; to Canada’s Vancouver B.C.; Kelowna B.C., Banff (in Alberta); back to the states to Glacier, Montana; Salt Lake City; Fort Collins; Boulder; Denver; Boise; and back to Portland. About 5,500 miles in all.

We participated in a World Domination Summit, helped friends with their backyard project, got to attend a wedding of two dear friends, went to another Continue reading “Epic Road Trip 2014 Recap”

* Life Updates, Other Travels

Glacier National Park

Glacier National Park Guide

That time we went to Glacier and fell in love (with the park that is, we were already in love for clarification). Click on the pic above or the following link to see Michelle’s awesome travel post about our time in this awesome National Park. Intentional Travelers Explore Glacier

* Life Updates, * Michelle Thoughts, Other Travels

On the Road Through Canada

Our first (of what we hope will be many) road trip through Canada took us from Vancouver B.C. to hidden gem Kelowna B.C., and then finally to Banff. Check out pics and information from our travels by clicking on the pictures below. The pictures take you to our travel blog – Intentional Travelers


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banff


* Jedd Thoughts, * Life Updates, Other Travels

2 Weeks in America After 2 Years Abroad

For the last two weeks, Michelle and I have been on a “Welcome Back”/”Reintegrate to American Culture” tour. Leaving Jamaica after our 2-year Peace Corps service, we headed to Florida to visit family, drove to Atlanta, Nashville, and Birmingham to visit friends, and concluded our trip driving to Memphis and Chicago to see more family. For a more detailed look at each stop (including pics), check out our travel blog – http://intentionaltravelers.com

As we prepared for our transition back to the states, PC staff and friends had told us there would be a time of readjustment. It might be difficult, strange even.

I laughed. How hard could it be?

It turns out, the one thing that really bothers me about readjustment hasn’t been about whether or not I fit back in being American. What bothers me is how EASILY it has been to go back to living life the way I had before…as if two years of a different life didn’t even happen. It feels as if our time as PC Volunteers in Jamaica was so long ago.

It’s only been two weeks.

Here are some observations we’ve made on our road trip since we’ve been back:

Life Moves Quickly in America (and usually in a car)
You know you were in Peace Corps when you can stare and marvel at sidewalks. We hardly had them in Jamaica. Some towns and major cities had them, but most of Jamaica does not have sidewalks. Yet a majority of the people walk. A majority of the people do not own cars. The towns and cities are not designed for cars.

On our road trip I loved looking at the layout of neighborhoods, towns, and cities. I was amazed at the beautiful sidewalks, well kept yards, and attractions. The only problem is there were little to no people walking on these sidewalks to enjoy everything. Most people drive in America (if they can). People get around here more efficiently, no waiting, and I like that. But I’ve also realized that the slower pace in Jamaica forced me to notice things, to observe and watch more. When you are driving, you’ll probably miss something you didn’t see if you were walking.

Choices, Choices, Choices
I remember a story from a former volunteer who went to a grocery store in the US after finishing their service in Kenya. They were astounded by the amount of options to choose from. In Jamaica we had an American-style grocery store and had way more choices for food and things than the volunteer from Kenya. However, I am still amazed at all the options and choices we get to make as Americans. And I’m not jut talking about food.

Where would you like to go? What would you like to do? What would you like to eat? How would you like that cooked? If that doesn’t work, we have plenty of other options.

It’s overwhelming.

It’s also a great opportunity to be thankful for the little things. I missed variety and the freedom to have so many choices. I also never appreciated this before I joined the Peace Corps. But I’ve also realized that life has become way more complicated than it use to be. Also, I’m starting to see that my ability to make good and healthy choices (as it relates to food) is challenged by my mindset of having been away. Two servings of something I haven’t had in awhile? Yes, please. Another chocolate chip cookie? Sure, I’ll make up for all the times I didn’t have it. I’m starting to see that this excuse could lead into other issues. As the great philosopher Notorious B.I.G. said, “More choices, more issues”. He said money, but same idea.

People are People
Our host mom in Jamaica would say this a lot. What she meant by it was that regardless of where you go, there are things about people that you’ll find universally. A smile will usually indicate happiness. Rude in any country is rude. Sadness and tears. Laughter and joy.

Being back in the states, though my host mom is right, there are still a lot of differences between Jamaicans and Americans. I realize that Americans keep to themselves whereas Jamaicans are more communal and sometimes too much in your face. Americans are a little cautious about putting themselves out there. Jamaicans are not afraid to sing, dance, or be loud- ever. Jamaicans we be more direct and blunt. Americans will try to find a more delicate way to say something.

As the PC staff and former volunteers have said (Michelle wrote a post about this too), this is a process. It’s only been two weeks back in the USA. Who knows what two years in the country might do to us.

-J

* Michelle Thoughts, Other Travels

Post-Peace Corps Road Trip

We’ve been in the States for a full week now! Our goal to reunite with friends and family has been successful, and we’ve been enjoying the many amenities and foods that are now available to us. It’s still hard to believe that Peace Corps is completely behind us. Although we’re enjoying our freedom and return home, it’s bittersweet. Even though we can always return to Jamaica- it won’t ever be the same as when we were living there as Peace Corps Volunteers. We’re forever grateful for that opportunity.

We are posting trip recaps with more photos from our road trip home on the travel blog: Intentional Travelers. Please stop by!