Blog Archives

Reconnecting in Geneva, Switzerland

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I love the country of Switzerland – there is something of their fine quality chocolates, wines, cheeses, watches and well just about everything, not to mention having a best friend live there. My first trek to Switzerland was in 2007, which I spent a lot of time on trains to places like Bern, Zurich, Lucerne, Lausanne, Geneva, Interlaken and other countryside views. I would return in 2009, 2010, 2014 and 2015.

I flew from Nice to Geneva in the early morning and arrived at my hotel at 9 AM. The hospitality was incredible and I was able to check in right away. This is not a common occurrence for most accommodators. I was pleasantly surprised to have a nice bath. It actually brought back memories of how from Northern Ireland I flew into Geneva to connect back to Prague and the plane had mechanical problems, so the airline put us up in 4 Star Swiss Hotels despite the flight only cost $40 CAD. The room then had a big bath, after spending most of the year in Europe at apartments and hostels with only showers, the R&R was really welcomed.

Geneva has the famous jet d’eau and is home to so many world agencies like the Red Cross, UN Palace is home to 200 agencies and the United Nations High Commission for Refugees (UNHCR). On previous visits, I have toured these facilities and opted to tour a new section of the city, visit the museums, park and just escape the chill of the air.

At the train station, Rivella (a trademark soft drink that is made from milk whey) was launching a new product and giving away their green light flavoured beverage. It was quite refreshing!

One thing about exploring a city, is you never really know what you will find or where the experience will lead you if you say yes and just dig in. I got a little lost along the way and glad I did because I ended up finding large checker and chess boards placed near the park. What really caught my attention was the little bit of ice placed outside where mostly children and a few adults were skating. I thought about the missed opportunity in Monaco, and could not pass up another so I purchased by skate rental for 2 Swiss Francs and off I went.

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I had so much fun skating, I wish I did it more. There is something energizing about having the blades to the ice, picking up speed and not falling flat. It was a wonderful way to spend time in the afternoon.

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Geneva, although a short part of my vacation, it was one of the highlights. That evening will be forever be remembered from the traditional Swiss restaurant, lovely risotto, perfect port and the ability to get lost in conversation. The starry sky and the chilly air kept for a close connection. Geneva brings beautiful memories and the morning would take me back to Budapest!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA (The Straits-White Bay North)

The Newfoundland Squeezebox – Accordion

There are many long-lived traditions in Newfoundland – one of them is our love for the music. We have embraced the accordion as a means to get those feet stepping. My friend from Switzerland is giving my Grandfather’s Hohner Squeezebox a try. For those of you that know me, you all know I do not have a musical bone in my body, despite my attempts to sing karaoke or play an instrument. I’ll continue my musical fortunes as the drummer of K’s Kitt on Rockband.

I hope you enjoy the sounds of the accordion, as I do. It is powerful how the music can just lift your feet up and down, getting you in the mood to dance a jig!

Live Rural NL –

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

A Great Viking Feast -Leifsburdir

Most likely the only place in North America where one can eat in a sod hut and enjoy a Great Viking Feast is on Fishing Point, St. Anthony, NL.

Last September 2011, I attended the final feast of the season which was a fundraiser for the local Boys & Girls Club. An incredible meal of meat, potatoes and other root crops. One will quickly notice there are no forks – simply because the Vikings did not use forks. It can be quite challenging trying to eat certain foods without this utensil. Although, one never really thinks about it until he or she does not have it. Funny how we take for granted some of the items we use daily that makes life a little easier.

As that evening progressed we were treated to theatrical performances, music, ballads and even served by people dressed up in Viking attire.

My friend from Switzerland certainly enjoy the walkabout the Leifsburdir and the view of St. Anthony in the backdrop.

The crashing waves and rocky shores are something to see as you walk to the entrance for service. If you can in 2012, you may want to dine and experience a Great Viking Feast on Fishing Point.

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Random but Fun Observations from the Urban Holiday Travels

Here are a few observances from our few days in the Capital:

It is important to Think Swiss! It seems we are consuming their culture with their chocolates, fondue, cheeses and even watches.

We could not pass this up as we passed Stokes at the Avalon Mall:

That even German‘s can like brands such as Tassimo. It became a used nickname for a brief period of time:

Even politicians have a sweet tooth! Since being elected on October 11, 2011, I wanted to have a DQ Blizzard. I am not sure why, maybe it goes back to my first year University when Dairy Queen was just down the hill. I’ve been to the city several times but never managed. After Dick’s Fish & Chips and a big roast beef supper at my sister’s house I did manage a small blizzard. SUCCESS!

There is something fun about going to a theatre and picking a random movie. We chose “The Sitter”. We did not know what it was about – storyline or reviews. After sitting in the theatre for a while we noticed it was filled mainly with women or couples – being three guys our biggest fear was this would be a complete “chick” flick. We were not disappointed, we have no expectation and I do not think I laughed so much in the theatre ever. Sometimes group laughter is the best therapy.

Only in Canada…..two drive through lines for coffee at Time Hortons

Although this past Thursday I stopped at MacDonald’s in Grand Falls-Windsor and they as well had two drive-thru lines.

Sometimes we need to stop and enjoy the simpler moments in our lives, share the laughter and celebrate randomness with friends and family.

Live Rural NL

Christopher Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

Is that Donny Dunphy or a Christmas Mummer?

Donny Dunphy is quite iconic with his jib rap, videos and musical performances. Him and Brenda have left an impression on myself and friends that lead to rounds of laughter when their names come up. He is quite the entertainer and I am the owner of his CD.  My friend’s red hair reminds me of the strands sported Donny Dunphy. However, he is  what we refer to as a Mummer or Janny.

The concept of Christmas mumming has a long rooted tradition in our province, especially rural Newfoundland & Labrador. During the 12 days of Christmas it was not uncommon to see the janny’s or the mummers come knocking at the doors asking “Any Mummer’s ‘lowd in?”

My friends from Germany and Switzerland got a firsthand experience with Christmas Mummering as we dressed up in silly clothing, with bed sheets and our walking sticks.

The jannies are getting ready?

Can you guess which one I am? I was even able to fool my grandmother this time around.

We started off with just four, visiting family, neighbours and other residents of the community. Each house a guessing game was played, dancing around to music was prominent and even a resident pulled out the accordion and played the Mummer’s Song!  As we moved along from house to house we added to our group to double in size to 8! A happy gang of merry mummers bringing smiles to the faces throughout the households, with maybe the exception of a couple of small children.

It is important to hold onto parts of culture and heritage that one feels is important to their upbringing. I will not forget the impact of mummers on my life some two decades ago. Since I was a child I’ve been introduced to the concept of mummering and firming believe it must continue. I did an interview with the Northern Pen Newspaper expressing these experiences. So each Christmas let us all make a concerted effort to keep this deep-rooted tradition alive and well in rural Newfoundland & Labrador.

For those of you wondering, which mummer I am, well, I am the one with the hump!

Experience the Great Northern Peninsula

Christopher C. Mitchelmore, MHA
The Straits-White Bay North

 

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