Swiss Exchange Trip Week 2 - Basel and Saint-Cergue

I'm two weeks into the trip - in other words quarter of the way through - wondering where the time has gone! I LOVE it here! Over the past week there have been so many moments where I stop in awe at how amazing this country is, and how lucky it is for someone to live here. I don't think I could ever get used the moment when the clouds clear for just a few minutes and everywhere you look are stunning, snowcapped mountains.
I've settled down both at home and at school, and feel completely comfortable in the cutesy town. The school is very different to mine at home. The days here are much longer, but often have massive breaks for lunch. The longer lunch breaks are great, it means my friends and I can buy some nice bread and cheese and explore Nyon for an hour or two most days. 
Nyon has some super cool ancient ruins (as seen above), a castle, and other little heritage buildings which I find so amazing. We don't have very much history in New Zealand, so coming here and visiting castles and ruins that are literally hundreds of years old is so insane to me. Just imagine all the people who stood in the exact same spot looking at the exact same lake, mountains, and buildings over the past thousands of years.
I've also very much enjoyed the shopping here. There are lots of stores - like H&M, Zara, Zebra - that we don't have in Christchurch, or have only just gotten, so they are still very exciting for me. Everything is in walking distance from school, so it is super easy to pop out at lunch time and have a spree.
I knew it was going to be cold here, but I still packed lighter jackets like my leather jacket, which I can now see was unnecessary as it's too cold to wear a leather jacket by itself, and too annoying to layer under coats. I'm considering sending a box of things back home now so that I have more room in my suitcases on the way back to NZ!
During the week I get to explore Nyon, but the weekend is when it gets really exciting. This weekend we drove to Basel for the night and visited the extraordinary Christmas market in the evening, and the rest of the city the next morning.
Basel is located in the north of Switzerland, right on the French and German borders. The most widely spoken language in Basel is swiss-german, although it is hugely multicultural, I heard all sorts of languages while there. The public transport in Basel - Trams, busses, and biking - is much better than public transport in NZ, and makes it very easy to navigate the busy city.
Basel was beautiful, and completely different to Nyon. It has much more of a gothic style, which kind of freaked me out at the start. Despite the gothic building style, though, the houses were all very colourful and bright. The city itself was very vibrant, and lively.
 The highlight of the trip was the insane christmas market. The stalls went on forever. You finish one block of christmas decorations and sweet treats and think you've finally reached the end only to discover a whole unexplored street of stalls. It was very busy, and very beautiful. Every stall was a decorated, wooden hut covered in christmas lights. I could have happily stayed there for hours.

The next morning we once again visited the centre city, this time in daylight which has a completely different vibe. We munched on pretzels and roasted chestnuts and pottered through the pretty little streets and huge gothic church, the Basel Minster.

I loved this pretty street, on the way to the Basel Minster.

The trip was busy and went very quickly. One day in the future I would love to come back to Basel, and spend a longer time to visit all the historic buildings and museums. 
The next day me and a friend took a train up to Saint-Cergue for the afternoon. Saint-Cergue was breathtaking. There was so much snow! In some places we were literally wading through thigh-high snow! I've never really experienced powdery snow before. Christchurch snow is very wet/icy. I thought it was so impressive. We ended up lying down in some field watching the thick flakes float down on top of us (Which did get us wet, but we had already waded through the thigh high snow, so....). It was so peaceful, if I wasn't slowly freezing to death I would have stayed there till dark.

real life icicle!

I feel crazily happy at this point in time, I feel that every good thing that could happen for me on this trip so far has happened, and I am incredibly grateful to have this opportunity!
Check out my instagram to keep up to date with my mini adventures throughout the week, and more day to day stuff. Only four days till christmas now!

Amesmames xx

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