We are starting to really get settled and accomplished some big milestones this week:
- Our bank account, wire transfer, and money machine are finally all set-up and we could at last pay the bills that have been piling up (seriously, I was worried our daycare was just going to refuse the twins one day!)
- We got cars! I bought a used Mini Cooper from a co-worker and we leased a new car for the family to drive
- Our house in Minneapolis went on the market!
- We are figuring out our e-commerce options in Europe
- We ventured out into the mountains for a lovey day at Lac de Lamoura in the Juras
I'll have Will do a whole separate post on banking in Switzerland but it's complex and highly secure. You can't use check or pay with credit cards (you can use credit cards in stores, but the daycare, school, phone company, etc won't take it). You have to use this "money machine" with a bank card to do any bill paying transactions. And since Will is Mr. Frugal (when he wants to be) he's been playing around with different wire transfer apps to optimize the foreign exchange rates and charges. The good news is we've figured it out and feel more settled now that we have access to funds!
Here is a picture of my Mini Cooper! I love this car - it's so small I can back it up easily into our covered garage spot and I can park it in our work parking garage.
Will opted for a VW Sharan which is kind of like a small minivan. It's not available in North America but should be! It has all the features we loved about our Odyssey (3 across the middle row, auto doors/back) and a ton more safety/parking features which you really need in Europe. The best part is the built in Booster seat for ages 4+. These are on the outside seats and gives us a ton of flexibility with Paisley and the twins as they grow.
We tried two "make life easier" hacks this week. First we signed up for a trial of Amazon Prime France. Why France? They have a way better selection than Switzerland and is half the cost. Will found a "drop box" shipping location close to the boarder. You can ship your packages to their address then pick it up later. We still haven't been able to pick up the goods (they were closed after noon on Saturday) but we have high hopes. (We looked back at our Prime history and were averaging an order a week - yikes!)
We also tried Carrefour Drive this week - an online system from one of the largest grocery retailers in France. Using the web browser Chrome, which can automatically translate webpages for you, it was easy to set-up our account and navigate the site. It got tricky trying to search for items, since I'm viewing the website in English (but its actually operating in French) I would forget and search for the English word and come up with nothing. Once you build your list you then you drive to the store during your selected "pick up" time. The concept is good and when it works it would be great. Unfortunately for us their food shipment from the distributor was late so I had to wait 30 minutes which made me late for dinner at a neighbors house. The hardest part was interacting with the kiosk to log your order and tell them you're there for pick-up. It was all in French so I had to use the google translate app with the camera to real-time translate then switch back and forth to my email for my order details to enter in. Moral of the story? I NEED TO LEARN FRENCH!
Finally, we spent Sunday checking out the Divonne Market and then heading into the Jura Mountains for a picnic and bike/hike at a lake. The market is amazing - it winds through the centre of Divonne and we only had a chance to see a fraction of it. We spotted several rotisserie chicken vendors that have potatoes roasting under the chicken dripping and declared that along with Friday night pizza (and Saturday pancakes) Sunday will now be rotisserie chicken and sides from the market!
After the market we loaded up and headed into the Jura mountains to a small lake - Lac de Lamoura. We brought a picnic and the kids got to do some real "mountain" biking.
The twins were so tired they fell asleep in the car and we let them sleep in their car seats for almost 2 hours after we got home!
Today Paisley declared that "she is never leaving".
When I asked her what she meant she informed us she is never leaving Switzerland!