At the beginning of January I travelled to Geneva on my own. On my own! A trip without my hubby or my two daughters and probably the most important point; the first time I have visited since my families big move back to the UK last March. As I mentioned in previous posts, our family of four relocated from Geneva in Switzerland, to the UK after five and a half years in March 2017.
The idea and the booking of this trip happened after seeing a good friend from Geneva who was visiting the UK at Christmas. She had mentioned that a weekend was coming up in Geneva, when a mutual friend of ours was visiting and that it was also another mutuals friends birthday. It sounded like a fun weekend and I found myself saying, ‘why don’t I fly over too’?
Although I’ve stayed in contact with all of my expat friends over there, as mentioned above, I had not yet returned for a visit. I saw no reason to not go. I had only just stopped breastfeeding my youngest, and I knew that my two girls would be very happy having a weekend being spoilt by their Daddy. I was so excited about the prospect of catching up with everyone and having some time out.
As soon as I’d said goodbye to my friend, my hubby and I discussed the idea on the way back home in the car. He thought it was a great idea and was very happy to have the children. Spurred on by his encouragement, I booked the flights then and there in the car before I could change my mind! This felt amazing. Since having children, spontaneous trips are not things that crop up a lot. I immediately set about messaging my friends in Geneva and making plans for the weekend, where I would stay etc.. My trip was was only two weeks away!
I was excited, but I very soon surprised myself and became incredibly anxious about my trip. I must admit that with this spontaneity of booking, I hadn’t factored in how I would feel about leaving my two girls, especially my little one year old. My eldest is nearly four, so she was absolutely fine, but obviously my one year old was too little to understand. I had never left her for that long before, let alone been in a different country to her. My hubby obviously reassured me, and I realise that these are all normal, but irrational, feelings. I put it down to having recently stopped breastfeeding, I think my hormones were everywhere and were definitely to blame.
The closer the trip got, it suddenly dawned on me that this would be the first time that I would be returning to Geneva on my own, and this time I would just be visiting. This trip was bound to bring up a ton of feelings and emotions. I was well aware that by returning, I would be asking myself questions such as, ‘should we have moved’? and just the simple fact that I miss my friends! Despite all of this anxiety I knew that this trip away was good for me, as I needed a break and most of all I was excited. So excited to see my friends again and the weekend was shaping up nicely.
As I am usually packing for my children, as well as myself, it is usually a chore and can be quite stressful, which I am sure that many of you readers can relate to. For this trip though I actually enjoyed the packing. All I had to think about was myself.
On the day of my flight I felt so anxious. I knew that this was mainly down to leaving my children and my hormones. I left my house with a few tears, but as I was on the coach to the airport I was fine. I started to relax, and once at the airport I was able to look around all of the shops and actually have a leisurely lunch. I am normally rushing around the airport with kids, so this was just bliss. I then stocked up on my flying essentials; trashy magazines and sweets!
The plane journey was so familiar, but this time I just zoned out, read, listened to podcasts and I even had a little sleep, which couldn’t be more different to what I am used too. I was usually taking it in turns with my hubby to walk up and down the aisle with a very excited toddler, or travelling on my own with a toddler whilst over enthusiastically pulling out toys and books from her toy bag, that I had spent ages putting together for her. (Which in most cases wouldn’t even work!) I was so aware of this difference, that I ensured that I would make the most of it. During the flight, it made me chuckle to myself that I also knew all of the announcements on the plane, nearly off by heart. I really had done this journey too many times!
Landing in Geneva felt so familiar. The sight of the mountains, the lake, the little villages. It all looked so beautiful. Once in the airport, it brought back a million memories. I used to fly back and forth between the UK and Geneva all of the time and this used to be the final destination; this was once home. I suddenly felt very overwhelmed. This airport could tell a million stories about mine and my families journeys too and from here. For example, arriving to live in Geneva way back in 2011 with just three suitcases, arriving back from countless Christmase’s in the UK and feeling so home sick, then once we had started our family we had the numerous toddler tantrums whilst checking onto various flights, our first holiday as a family of three when going on holiday to Crete, the countless times waiting to collect our luggage with a toddler in tow, my first time flying solo with a toddler, girly weekends away, sitting and waiting with excitement in the arrivals area when collecting loved ones who were visiting us, arriving back in Geneva from the UK and the first time it felt like home, and then the last plane journey back to the UK with now my little family of four. So many memories and they quickly came flooding back to me.
Once out of the airport, I had to navigate my way by public transport to meet my friend at the main train station in Geneva. I had to remind myself how to get there and buy tickets etc. This made me laugh, I had only been away for just under a year! But I did notice that throughout the whole trip, I was having to just take a minute to try and remember how to travel to certain places, tram numbers; journeys that I did every single day when I used to live there. But, I remember this happening to me when I used to live in Geneva and I had no idea how to travel around London when I visited my family! Oh how things have changed.
It soon once again just felt like I lived in Geneva and everything felt so normal. It almost felt that I could just hop on the tram and go back to my old apartment. It was a very surreal feeling. I just felt a lot lighter, as I had no children and pushchair with me. Just being on the bus, tram or just walking around the city, made me remember so much of my life there, especially all of the fun things I did with my first born.
As mentioned, I had a packed weekend seeing all of my friends. I was here there and everywhere in Geneva and I noticed that now that I didn’t live there, I was seeing the city in such a different light. It was cold, but such a beautiful and sunny day. As I was walking and travelling around, I realised how beautiful Geneva really is. I guess I never really had time to look at it like that when I lived there. It was just home for me and therefore normal. I thought to myself in this moment, how lucky I was to have lived somewhere so beautiful.
My weekend was so much fun and it was just so lovely to see all of my friends again and most importantly, for it to just be so normal. It honestly just felt like I could slot right back in with them all and that I had really just been away on a long holiday. Yes, peoples lives had changed, new jobs, new babies, new apartments; everyone generally getting on with their lives. It was definitely very different to the life I had left, but my life was very different also and it just meant that there was just so much more to catch up on with them all. I realise that these are definitely friendships that you have to keep and hold on for deer life, as they don’t come around too often. I obviously missed my hubby and my girls so much, but I talked to them so much and they were clearly happy and having a great time with their Daddy.
The weekend was over before I knew it. It was a busy weekend, but I had fitted so much in and most importantly, I had seen all the people that I had wanted to see. Although, it wasn’t enough time, but better than nothing. The journey back was obviously a lot more relaxing than it ever had been before. Geneva airport is pretty tiny, so it has limited things to do, but it just seemed so second nature to know where to go to the gates, shops etc. This did make me chuckle, this trip really had been done a million times before, I remember thinking to myself!
Once I landed back in the UK it was great, as it definitely felt like I was home. I was obviously so excited to get back and see my little family. My two girls reactions when I walked through the front door were priceless. They all had had a lovely weekend and everything was in order and I had two happy little girls. My hubby had done a fab job.
I am so glad that I went back and visited. It made me realise how many people there are to visit and how important these people were and still are in my life. I most definitely miss them all, but you can still be good friends with people and hold onto the friendships without being in the same country, which to me, is all kinds of wonderful. However, I know that I can still see them, wether they come and visit me here in the UK, or I go there. The journey there and back is just so quick and easy. (Especially without kids!) and I don’t feel too far away from them. I needed to go there to realise this.
I loved the independence it gave me away from being a mummy. I think its so important to have this. My hubby was just fine with the kids. Its so easy to think you can’t do things when you are a mummy, but I can leave them for a weekend and they are fine! I can also talk to them all of the time when I am away.
The most important thing that I came away with after this trip, was that I am now one hundred percent sure that moving back to the UK, was definitely the best thing for us as a family. As I said, I do really love Geneva as beautiful as it is, but I don’t really miss the city, I miss my friends. As mentioned in previous blogs, it was great to live there and have that experience of living abroad, but it was the best decision for us to move back to the UK, closer to our friends and family here in the UK. Realising this, was a good feeling. No regrets, just happy memories. Geneva has a very special place in my heart and I can’t wait to visit again with my hubby and two daughters.
My four year old spent the first three years of her life there and I am looking forward to showing her all of the places where we went together and the life that she had there.
I can’t wait to plan the next trip out there, whether that be a solo trip again or as a family of four.
‘Till next time Geneva x