The long haul

It’s 5am Swiss time, 1pm in Sydney. The baby’s been awake since 2 and we cut our losses at 4 and all got up. On the plus side, the apartment is unpacked and rearranged (and every power point and cord licked) and a list is written of things we need to pick up today. On the downside, the bags under my eyes rival the shipping container.

Twenty two hours in transit was never going to be pleasant (and that’s flight to flight; not including getting to our new home at the other end), but even with our small monster in tow it was better than we’d anticipated. We were in the extremely fortunate position of being flown over business class, and when choosing fights we tossed up between the one with an on board nanny versus the one with a stand up bar. If you’re in any doubt as to which we chose, you don’t know us at all. In our defence, the bar was an absolute godsend. Not only because both she and I are used to sending her to sleep while I jiggle her in the bjorn with wine in hand (note: only when we’re out and about, but it’s been a world of farewell lunches lately), but because it gave her some much needed crawling and exploring space. Our game plan was to work in four hour shifts with her in an eat / play / sleep cycle. Of course it didn’t work out exactly like that, but over 14 hours she got 4 small naps; enough to keep the edge off, and miraculously other than some gorgeous giggles, she made not a peep.

The bar was awesome, but surreal. A friend of mine once went on a five day train journey in Eastern Europe. One night, unable to sleep, he made his way down the train to the dining cart. It had come alive at 3am and became an impromptu bar, with a range of fellow insomniacs, seasoned drinkers and harried parents. He said it was a fabulous night, and in the morning it was almost as if it hadn’t happened, a surreal dream. Our bar felt a little like that. We boarded the plane at 6, and at about 7 I walked down through the sleeping cabin to find, at the end through the curtain, a bustling little oasis.

There was Mr Travelling to Barcelona To Invest A Rich Woman’s Money (he drank bubbles), the Harvey Norman Sales Conference Guys (rum and cokes all round), Ms Kindle And Smiles But No Conversation (beer), and Adelaide’s favourite, Mr London On Business With A 5 Year Old At Home And Never Too Busy To Wave To A Baby Or Play Peekaboo (I liked him too, as he moved from bubbles to white to red to beer and then a cheeky gin). We were Family Relocating To Switzerland, and after Tim’s shift in the bar Adelaide had waved and grinned at everyone there, endearing herself to all and pretty much everyone knew our backstory. Like any bar, there were a few jerks (Mr Half Tanked ‘Do You People Speak English’ and Ms ‘What Does It Take To Get a Cup of Tea Around Here’) but by and large the camaraderie was rich and the stories – and wine – flowed freely. It made pleasant memories for a flight that could have been the stuff nightmares are made of.

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The second leg wasn’t so great, but it wasn’t hideous either. We were all knackered by then, and she grizzled a little as the flight commenced. Tim’s trick was to block out all visual stimulation and bounce the heck out of her in the bjorn; it worked and we all caught some zzzzs.

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IMG_5354We landed in Zurich at sunset. I was focusing on ensuring her wee ears popped so wasn’t able to see much out of the windows other than clouds and lots of green; by the time we’d made it out the other side the sun had set. We were met at the airport with a ‘Roche’ sign and were taken to our new apartment in Rotkreuz (a town we’re likening to the Canning Factory Town, or the Abattoir Town – apparently the majority of the people who live here work at Roche).

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The apartment is great. It’s open plan, spacious and clean. It has weird sliding doors and tilty windows, the beds have large spongy European pillows and separate duvets; little differences that distinguish life from the familiar. We’re across the road from the train station and although I’m used to the hustle and bustle of Marrickville, the clock tower that rang every 15 minutes throughout the night last night really threw me (that, and my non sleeping baby). We were welcomed by one of the relocation staff and there was a settling in hamper, which after we bathed and fed the baby was how we refreshed ourselves.

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Next up – we explore. We’ve a shopping list (vegetables, please!), and some basic chores to do. We’ll check out the Canning Factory Town this morning and head to Lucerne this afternoon. That, and find all the coffee.


In related news – here’s a list of the things we took for the bub on the flight…and  how they actually worked out.

  • Nappies. More than we think we’re going to need, and then a few more on top of that. Just to be safe.
    Verdict – took way too many. We used five or so and had 20 with us. However, I’d bring them all again because they’re compact and the last thing you want to be without. It also means we’re OK here for a few days. 
  • Wipes; as above. On her first flight, there was an epic incident by another bub on the plane. It effected the baby, both his parents, and the poor unsuspecting stranger sitting next to them. The embarrassed, flustered mother came and asked me (the only other mum on the plane) if I had any spare wipes and I gave them all we had for the cause. I’ve never travelled short since.
    Verdict – didn’t need to crack into the large pack, but again I’d bring them.
  • Change of clothes – three full sets for her, and two shirts / one pants each for us. See above (although we don’t have a set for the stranger, who was the one who really needed them).
    Verdict – (arguably) didn’t need them for us (although as Tim pointed out in Dubai, I was covered in baby muck) but did use a change for her. Would have been better to have different climate clothes – I’d packed for winter but Dubai was a whopping 40 degrees.
  • Food, of course. She’s still breastfed so that will help, but also needs meals and snacks. On the advice of a well travelled friend, I made up a ziplock bag for each meal with the food, a spoon and a bib in each. It breaks my heart a little but she really loves the puree pouches, and as long as she’s eating I’ll be happy (slightly resentful for all the time I spent cooking meals she rejected, but happy). I’ve got a savoury and a fruit pouch in each bag. I’ve also packed fresh fruit (banana, pear, kiwi – her faves) and an avocado, as well as a few rusks and rice crackers for crunching and spitting out all over the floor. The airlines don’t have a limit on liquid amounts for kids so I’ve also got two bags of frozen milk and a bottle and sippy cup, in case she fancies either.
    Verdict – way too much food, and we didn’t even use any of the airline’s purees. However, the rusks and crackers came in handy for keeping her occupied and although I hated giving it to her, a custard on the way down guaranteed she’d swallow (sugary sugary goodness) when she wouldn’t breastfeed or take the bottle. 
  • Medicine slash toiletries. Nurofen and Panadol for pain relief if needed (she has no fangs yet and I am convinced they will arrive on the flight, because how else could it be any worse?). Fess for a blocked nose and chest rub, both just in case. Barrier cream and a nappy rash cream. Hand sanitiser, for us. A thermometer, again just in case. (Sadly, no phernergan. The doctor looked at me like she should call child services when I asked her if I could dose the girl up. Guess that’s a no, then.)
    Verdict – would definitely take again. Used the creams and some nurofen for her wee ears; and even though we didn’t need it all I’d hate to be looking for it. 
  • Her sleeping bag. It’s optimistic, I know, but we hope she may actually catch some zzzs at some point during the 22 hour transit.
    Verdict: HA!! It lined the bassinet in which she barely slept. Useless.
  • Baby bjorn, because we can jiggle her at the bar if she doesn’t.
    Verdict – indispensable. Got her to sleep in it more often than not, and much better than the pram when in transit as hands were left free. The slight proviso I’d make is that something that blocks out other distractions would be good – Tim whacked a blanket over her and that did the trick in the end. 
  • Toys. These include a quiet book (which she’s a bit too young for, but it’s gorgeous and we’re hoping somewhat distracting), two Sophies (for teething), a few books, a few non-musical (and hopefully therefore not too annoying) rattlely things. Also, again on the advice of the seasoned traveller friend, a bag of balloons for hotel rooms and transit. She’s already had pretty good milage out of one here so it’s a win already.
    Verdict – meh. Some were useful, but she has the attention span of a goldfish and is more interested in moving. The airline actually gave us some toys for her as well, and she got excellent milage out of a toothbrush. However, I wouldn’t risk taking none but I’d cut down the number.
    This view is disputed by Tim – he loved the toys the most. He’d plop her at his feet and give her one toy; when she (quickly) got bored he’d rotate around with others. Reckons this killed an hour at a time. 
  • Noise blocking headphones. Tim’s manager gave us these as a gift for her – he is a well travelled man with two kids and swears by them. I rather think it’ll be everyone else who needs them.
    Verdict – didn’t use for her as she had some with the seat, however we’d bring on other trips to test them then. 
  • A muslin wrap. Not sure why I’ve included this – she’s no longer swaddled and cannot stand being covered when she’s fed (not that I cover her, but just in case I feel uncomfortable). I have vague ideas that it could be useful for covering her bassinet or similar.
    Verdict – we could have used this as the light / visual blocker with the bjorn but it stayed in the carryon. I was also wearing a scarf which took care of any potential modesty issues. I’d not bring it again, even though it’s kinda like my security blanket from her early days.

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