My hands are buried in my pockets as the Audi winds through the road carved out of the mountain. My eyes are closed and I’m reflecting on the day that has brought me to tears and we are only two days into our trip. Clive and I have been staying with his cousin Michelle and her husband Bernard in Geneva. They have been fantastic hosts and we’ve had a wonderful time visiting them. We’ve eaten very enjoyable home cooked meals, napped, worked out, visited with family over dinner and took pleasure in the company we were in. They welcomed us into their home and family which made the transition from leaving our lives behind a little easier. On Valentine’s Day, Michelle planned an excursion to Cailler Chocolate Factory followed by a trip up to the lovely town of Gruyere. Learning the art of making Swiss chocolate was definitely a fitting way to spend Valentine’s Day. We learned the history behind Swiss chocolate, toured the factory and even got to sample some of their pralines. I think I’ve died and went to dark chocolate heaven!
We leave the chocolate factory and ascend into the town of Gruyere. No cars are permitted in the town, so we park just outside and walk up the cobblestone street. Michelle explains that visiting this time of year is ideal because you don’t have to fight against the crowds. It’s a pleasure to visit the romantic and medieval town during the off season. As we reach the Chateau we are greeted by snow peeked mountains and lights of the distant town. We stood in silence as we admired the beauty all around. The sun slowly dipped behind the mountain and was soon replaced by the moon. I inhale the cold air into my lungs and exhale. I witness my breathe as it escapes my body and forms a fog like appearance outside of my lips. I’m catch myself fully in the moment and express gratitude for everything and everyone in my life. I’m so unbelievably happy. I get wrapped up in my emotions and a tear finds its way down my cheek. Michelle suggests that we must try some fondue before we leave. We decided on, Restaurant le Chalet de Gruyeres where the boys share fondue and Michelle and I ordered a lovely salad. Of course, I snuck a few potatoes and indulged in dipping my bread into the delicious cheese. On the way to the car, Clive and I walk with unmatched cadences down the cobblestone path and through the sleepy town of Gruyere. We never celebrate Valentine’s Day, but today I turned to him and wished him a Happy Valentine’s Day. It sure was a day to remember.
The next day, Clive and I rented a car and set off on a 9 hour drive to La Rochelle, France. Our boat, Jelani was waiting for us at the Marina. We had scheduled to meet up with our representative, Baptiste, from Atlantic Cruising Yachts. He has had the responsibility of looking after our boat since placed in the water. He’s also been working on our behalf with Fountaine Pajot and Uchimata in order to ensure the hand over runs smoothly. We checked into our lovely AirBnB situated in the center of town and decide to grab a light dinner and a glass of wine. Staying in the heart of La Rochelle was fantastic, we didn’t have to walk too far in order to find a great restaurant. We stumbled into a busy wine bar and ordered local red wine and charcuterie. We had more wine than I’d like to admit, but we thought a celebration was in order. We are finally here and tomorrow is the day we’ve been longing for. We rose from bed early with anticipation to get the day started. Today is the day! After a few espressos, we’re ready to head to the marina. We’ve been waiting to meet Jelani for nearly two years and the day has finally arrived. I’ve imagined what it would feel like stepping on board for the first time, hugging Clive and letting him know how proud I am of him. Once onboard, Baptiste hands me the keys and tells me to unlock our new boat. The next few hours we spend with Baptiste getting a tour of each room and going over all of the systems. He and Clive signed some paperwork and the deal was finalized. We officially took possession of our new home, Sailing Vessel Jelani on February 15th, 2019.