Switzerland in May – tropics and snowy mountains it’s all in a day trip.

Those of you following my personal Instagram account already know. We spend the second week on May in Switzerland, trying to speak French and mostly miserable failing. Luckily, there were a lot of things around to cheer me up about the terrible state of my French language skills.

We stayed in a little village called Nyon, on the coast of Lac Léman near Geneva. It was a picturesque town, with lots of small streets, lovely houses (both old and new), as well as a gorgeous view of the lake and it’s snow topped mountains on the other side. It even had some Roman ruins still standing.

As it wasn’t a big village and nothing noteworthy was going on while we were there, we usually took day trips to places near the lake. We went hiking on Saint-Cergue. A mountain right outside Nyon, with a terribly curvy road to get up there.  We tried to followed one of the routes laid out, but got lost. At least we didn’t see any signs anymore and it seemed like we really weren’t on the route anymore, but then it seemed like maybe we still were. We’re still not sure, but we’re happy we at least found our way back to the car. Even if it took longer than planned.

Then, we also took a trip around the lake and discovered the most beautiful places there. We weren’t sure about where we would stop. We we’re just driving the coastal route and watching the gorgeous views. Eventually we stopped in Montreux. A gorgeous, tropical-looking village and the far east-end of the lake. It has a footpath right be the lake, where you can’t come by car, which is stunning. Seriously, if you ever go there, check it out!

     

Our next stop was in Yvoire, FR. A lovely village to walk through, as it still has a medieval city center and a castle. They also have a Garden of the Five Senses there, which was great to visit. I couldn’t stop feeling some of the amazingly soft plants. And did you know there’s a flower that actually smells like red wine? The woman at the ticket counter told us, but I thought she must be overstating it. Nope. It really, REALLY smells like read wine.

Other trips we took were to Geneva, where we visited the flea market and walked about town. It was a great day, and the lake looked lovely. There’s very little else I can say about Geneva. Unfortunately we didn’t have time to visit CERN.

We did however get to see the Mont Blanc. We took a cable car all the way up the Aguille de Midi. It wasn’t one of the best days to go up there, since it was a little cloudy, but every once in a while we could look all the way down. Eventually it started snowing, which really made it cold. I didn’t mind too much though, because the whole experience was just amazing!

Have you ever been to Switzerland? What stood out most for you?

Anne of Green Gables – #currentlyreading

#currentlyreading – Anne of Green Gables by L. M. Montgomery. I’d watched the show on Netflix (Anne with an E) and loved it! So, of course, I had to read the book as well. I never had and didn’t own it neither. I already put the book in the basket on Amazon, so I wouldn’t forget about it, but I wasn’t planning on getting it. Then, Saturday, it suddenly arrived on the doorstep. Turns out, the boyfriend wanted to surprise me (and definitely succeeded). Don’t you just love the cover!?

Some of the dialogue on Netflix comes word-for-word from the book. I love it! I’ve only read the first two chapter so far though.

Recommended: (Dutch) Books About War

Since writing my post about May the fourth, I’ve been thinking about the books I have read and loved that are about war. There are a few books I’d like to mention. Some of those are Dutch books, but those are definitely worth it if you can find a translation.

First up, a non-fiction book: The Diary of Anne Frank (also originally Dutch: Het 375013Achterhuis). It’s been a while since I’ve read it, but I would like to pick it up again sometime.

I can’t go on without mentioning another classic: Schindler’s Ark, or its now more common name: Schindler’s ListI wasn’t a big fan of the book. I loved the story it told, but getting to the story through all the fact-dumping was terrible. It’s a historical fiction book, based on a lot of research. So, parts of the books are non-fiction, while other parts have been written to resemble the truth with the discretion of the author.

Then, there are a couple of fictional books, based on real wars, or even true-events. I cannot not mention Kruistocht in Spijkerbroek by Thea Beckman; children on a crusade, on their way to war. Thea Beckman has a couple of books that feature wars, such as the Geef me de ruimte4812236trilogy or the Kinderen van moeder Aarde-trilogy. Then there is The Boy in the Striped Pyjamas by John Boyne. Do I even need to explain that one? Furthermore, there is Oorlogswinter by Jan Terlouw, about a Dutch boy saving an English pilot whose airplane had been shot down.

Last, but not least, some books based on or around fictional wars. Let’s start with one of my favorites: The Hunger Games trilogy by Suzanne Collins. Another one I would recommend would be The End of Days trilogy by Susan Ee, where a war between humans and angels is being fought. Another trilogy: Shatter Me by Tahereh Mafi is definitely worth checking out. Be aware though, there are three more books in the works, so if you like it you might be stuck with it for a while.

Other books only have war as a small part of the story, but are still interesting to read. For example, 1984 by George Orwell. The country is at war with an ever changing enemy, though the people are led to believe it’s always been the same. In fact, one could question if the country is at war at all.

Of course, there are many more books that could be listed here. What are your favorite books about wars?

“If you don’t like it, you don’t have to read it.”

I’ve heard this a lot. Or maybe, read this a lot would be more accurate. Whenever someone has something negative to say about a book they’ve read, this is the go-to response: “You didn’t have to read it.”, “No one forced you to read it.” Or anything along those lines. It annoys me. A. Lot.

I get it, sure. You loved the book and you don’t like it that this other person didn’t. There’s just a small problem with this idea of not reading a book if you don’t like it: how are going to know you won’t like it if you don’t actually read the book first? Yep, you have to go through the experience of not liking a book, before you can draw the conclusion you didn’t like it.

So, any things you’ve read or heard about book reading and reviewing that just irks you? Let me know in the comments.

Confessions of a Book Blogger #10 – I like ‘snowflakes’

Firstly, I don’t actually like the term ‘snowflakes’. Everyone, whether real or a character in a story, has something about them that makes them different. That’s exactly what makes them them. It’s what makes characters seem like real people.

Sure, stories often follow people who happen to be different. Whether they ‘happen’ to fall in love with a vampire who actually likes them back, have always been a wizard without knowing it, or have undiscovered special powers.

I like reading books like this. Sure, it might be statistically unrealistic that we ‘happen’ to be following this one person that can save the world. But honestly, I don’t care! If I like the story, I don’t really care if it is about a ‘snowflake’.

How do you feel about this?

4th of May – Dodenherdenking

The fourth of May isn’t just Star Wars Day. In fact, I didn’t even know it was Star Wars Day until about two years ago. I’ve never watched the movies. It’s not my thing.

The fourth of May for me and every other Dutch person, means Remembrance Day. On the fourth of May, all victims of the Second World War are remembered. More recently 48855(2011), this has been expanded to include “all Dutch victims – civilians and soldiers – who have been killed or murdered in the Kingdom of the Netherlands or anywhere else in the world in war situations or during peace-keeping operations since the outbreak of  the Second World War.”

A national remembrance ceremony is aired on radio, television and the Internet, so everyone can follow it. There are of course also local remembrance ceremonies. The part that stands out most for me, is the two minutes of silence. The whole country is silent for two minutes. This includes train stations and airports. People who are on their way (only if it cannot be avoided), will pull over to the side of the road. During these two minutes, nothing happens in the Netherlands.

I think it’s important to remember this. To remember that a long time ago, the whole world was at war, which caused millions of lives. Personally, I also find it important to 39999remember that there are still a lot of people who live in a war-torn country and how lucky I am, that I do not.

So maybe the next time you read a book where a real or fictional war is the setting or merely a plot device, remember how lucky you are for being safe and free.

Ps. On the fifth of May, we don’t celebrate Cinco de Mayo, but instead we celebrate or freedom!

Confessions of a Book Blogger #9 – There’s one type of book I should get rid of, but can’t (yet).

It’s been a while since my last confession, but I’ve finally thought of one again. After my post last week, I realized that I’m talking all about getting rid of books that you no longer need. Especially those you don’t like.

Well, there are some books still on my shelves, that I know I should probably say goodbye to, but haven’t had the guts to do yet. These are the books that have a personal dedication in them, or a signature.

People have taken so much care to pick out these books for me and I feel heartless tossing them out (or donating/selling them). This goes against just about everything I’ve written last week, but there it is: the books I should be donating, but haven’t been able to (yet).

Any book you have trouble donating, even though you know you should?