{Fair Trade Friday} Matter Prints

matter1I love the conscious fashion community. It is made up of people across the world who are committed to creating beautiful things in meaningful, impactful ways.

I also love textiles. I might be a middle school teacher these days, but I still hold onto that same passion that drove me to secure that apparel and textile design degree I got almost 10 years ago.

I love travel, too. I’ll be in Cuba soon for a quick getaway with the husband, and that will mark my 20th country!

And as you know, I love India. Our adoption is coming along great, and the day that we will be in India to bring her back home with us is drawing nearer.

When Matter Prints reached out to me about a collaboration, I knew it was a perfect match, and I’m excited to tell you why I have fallen in love with this brand.

When Matter Prints was founded a couple years ago, they set out with a 3-part mission: “to foster designer-artisan collaborations, inspire consumers to value provenance and process, and pioneer industry change and sustainability for rural textile communities.” (Click here to read a little more about that on their webpage.)

These pants are their Sideswept Dhoti.  Inspired by the traditional Indian dhoti pants, it has an updated and modernized silhouette, and I have not one thing in my closet that is so unique. I love them.

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Unique not only in design, but also in manufacturing. The fabric was handwoven by artisans in a rural part of south India called Pochampally. They were then stitched together in Delhi, and this one pair of pants created 74 total days of employment for artisans in vulnerable communities.

Matter Prints pants come in only 3 sizes, but they are designed with generous give and a really clever way of folding and tying that makes them easy to fit many body types. I love the way this asymmetrical side-sweeping style creates a large pocket on the right side.

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As with any clothing manufacturing process, leftover fabric is inevitable. Why throw out perfectly good, beautiful textiles?

Matter takes leftover fabric and create garments for the littles! This #MatterMini dress that Evie is wearing is one of the two that came in the #MatterMini bundle. matter6.jpg

If your kiddo is in a constant growth spurt like mine is, then you’ll love the adjustable straps, and the fact that it can be worn as a dress before converting into tunic-length to wear over leggings.

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In addition to these #PantsToSeeTheWorldIn, they also offer jumpsuits, tops, and even scarves that are skillfully crafted, assembled, and shipped (for free!) to you. Your purchases arrive in a cotton drawstring bag and then packed in a sturdy Tyvek envelope “for your creative reuse”. And do you see that little stripe of red stitching on tie? These are the kinds of the little details that make me fall in love with a brand, and I hope you do too.

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Matter Prints is a socially motivated lifestyle brands that creates travel ware that tells its own story, and in doing so connects communities to meaningful opportunities. Learn more about them on the Matter Prints website. Though I was compensated in product for this post, all thoughts are completely my own. 

All photos by Lily Rimmer except for the photo of the packaging.

{Morocco} Jardin Majorelle

Our last full day we headed back out of the Medina to see the Jardin Majorelle, famous for its electric blue walls and infinite varieties of succulents and cacti. It has been open to public since the 1940s, but it has become especially famous in the last couple of decades for being the Moroccan getaway for Yves Saint Laurent.

The first time I remember hearing anyone talk about visiting Morocco was when I interned at Cottage Living magazine back in college; the decorating editor said Marrakesh was “the Paris of Africa.” I had spent several days here before we went to the Jardin, and up until this point, though I loved Marrakesh, I had trouble understanding her conclusion. But then we went to the Jardin…and I got it. 

I’ll let these photos speak where my words will fail…

Maroc3aRequisite Travel Blogger/Travel Instagrammer photo I forced my poor husband to take 100 versions of…
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Maroc1aMaroc6a Maroc7a Maroc8a YSL created these collage posters each year, and the Jardin has a gallery that displays every one of ’em. So inspiring. Maroc9a Maroc10a

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After spending the morning in this little oasis, we grabbed an amazing lunch next door at Kaowa, and did some shopping at 33 Rue Majorelle. Everything at the shop is made by Moroccan artisans; I had this gorgeous place on my Marrakesh to-do list for a while, because I had seen other Instagrammers post photos of their loot. I picked up the sweetest little handmade stuffed camel for Evie. Kaowa does a great burger, but they’re famous for their juices and smoothies. They also have a gelato cart waiting for you just outside the Jardin!

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And this, friends, concludes our time in Marrakesh! I have one post left for this trip, which will be a short one about the few hours we spent in Madrid before heading back across the Atlantic. Thanks for following along for our first trip to Africa; we had an incredible time in this beautiful country, I can’t wait to have the chance to return one day!

{Morocco} Journey in the High Atlas Mountains + Ourika Valley

The Marrakesh Medina can be a dizzying place, so taking a day to visit the Ourika Valley in the High Atlas Mountains was a no-brainer for us. Our hotel made the arrangements, and we had a private car pick us up right at our Riad the morning we went. I think it was about $50 or $60 for the entire day, not including what we paid our Berber guide to help us up and down the mountain. (Which you can’t get up there by yourself, so definitely hire one of the locals!)

Maroc7 Maroc8Tourism is their biggest industry, and you will stop at an Argan oil maker/shop. But don’t worry, the oil is amazing and really expensive back home, so just enjoy your 20 or 30 minutes in a traditional Berber village, eat the samples, and enjoy the mint tea they’ll make for you. This sweet girl let me try my hand at cracking open the Argan nuts, which I was hilariously inept at doing.
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IMG_8772Maroc12 Dozens of restaurants dot the banks of the river en route. Work with your driver to make sure you eat a safe place; there are few refrigerators here 🙂Maroc13 Maroc14A small glimpse into traditional Berber life.
IMG_8777Maroc15The hike up to the waterfalls is beautiful and rewarding, but not easy! I wish I had packed some better shoes, but with the help of your local guide, they’ll literally carry you if you’re worried about making a misstep and twisting your ankle!Maroc17 It takes about 30 or 40 minutes to go up the mountain and see the largest of the Ouzoud Falls, but you’ll be rewarded with mint tea, beautiful scenery, and break from the heat! Maroc18 Maroc20 Maroc21 Me and our local Berber guide. This guy was awesome, I wish we were Facebook friends!Maroc22 Maroc23 Maroc24He was also our personal photographer all day, and had a knack for pointing and clicking at random times along the trail.
Maroc25 We enjoyed a traditional lunch on the riverbank, and it was a delicious and this picture is terrible. Maroc26

Final Morocco post coming up soon: my favorite place, the Jardin Majorelle!

{Morocco} Inside the Medina

After a night on the floor of the Geneva Airport and a quick cheap flight over the Mediterranean, we arrived in Africa. Our first visit to the continent, which would have been our 2nd if the Egyptians hadn’t overthrown their president when we planned to go in 2010! The airport was bright and modern and the immigration line moved pretty efficiently, and I was surprised to see that he stamped the next to last page in my passport instead of at the front…until I remembered that Arabic reads from right to left! Fun fact for the day.

We arrived at our beautiful Riad a little while later, tucked a few alleyways deep in the east side of the Medina, near the Bab Ailen gate. Riads are old mansions turned small hotels, and it’s the only way to go if you want an authentic experience. 
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The housekeeper, Namja, was a highlight of our stay. She made wonderful food, taught me some words in Arabic to help get us around, walked us to the main street so we didn’t get lost, and was always there to greet us with tea after a long day of exploring. When I messed up our airline reservations, she literally held me while I cried in frustration and exhaustion!

How beautiful is the traditional breakfast they served us every morning! Fresh baked bread and Moroccan pancakes served with honey and jams, and fresh squeezed juice and coffee to wash it down.

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Riad Ailen is new to the competitive riad scene in the Medina; it was a great price and the hospitality can’t be beat. You can read my review on booking.com here, and I meant every word I wrote!

After settling in at the Riad and securing a handmade straw hat, we set out on a mission to wander around the Medina. It’s tough to know where to start. The Marrakesh Medina is a 12-mile walled circuit that was built in the 12th century, and inside is a dizzying maze of streets and alleyways of shops, artisans, amazing food, weird smells, awesome smells, lots of shouting, museums, and more. The centerpiece is Jemaa el-Fna, the large open square that is hub of the city and a living, breathing UNESCO World Heritage Site. (Btw, this post will focus only on the Medina and isn’t necessarily chronological like the rest of my travel posts.)

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I really had one thing on my Marrakesh shopping list, and the rest of the things I picked up were just details. Again, an adoption budget doesn’t leave you with a lot of room for shopping. But I have wanted a Berber wedding blanket since I knew what they were. My precious mother handed me $100 the night before we left on our trip and told me she wanted me to get one. What an amazing lady who understands me so well!
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What is so amazing to me about these blankets is the almost incomprehensible detail, all done by hand. Berber tradition holds that a woman, leading up to her wedding day, would arduously create patterns of sequins on one side and weave traditional Berber patterns on the other. When she was happy with her husband and all was well, she’d wear the blanket with the sequins facing out to shine in the sun. If she was upset with her husband and wanted him to know it, she’d wear it with the woven patterns facing out. It’s very easy to spot the authentic ones from the new, mass produced ones. The reproduction is the one next to my right food that is bright white and machine-made of cheaper cotton, whereas the authentic ones are handmade of a thick wool and are darker shades of off-white and tan. Some other dead giveaways to a reproduction are the strips of Berber weaving that traditionally are on the back are instead on the front, it’s lightweight instead of heavy and bulky, the patterns of sequins and tufts are too symmetrical, and it’s missing the two black pieces of twill that the bride uses to tie the blanket around her shoulders.IMG_8743

Let me tell you, I can haggle a price. And I love doing it. After popping into several shops, I struck up a great relationship with this man, Fouad Mejbar. He had a great sense of humor and we had a lot of laughs throwing prices back and forth at each other. Two days later I happened to walk by his shop again, and he immediately remembered me and came out and gave me a hug (and of course told me to come back and shop!) What I also loved about Fouad is that he didn’t try to pass off the new ones as the old ones, even if he gladly would have sold me a reproduction!Maroc4 I reigned victorious with this beauty, and for just $80, which I thought was a totally fair price. IMG_8744Below is a photo of his shop, Chateau Berbere. He is located at 4, Rue Moussaine and you can email him at chateauberbere@live.fr. IMG_8745We shared a cab one day with some lovely British folk who later walked us to Souk Zrabi and suggested tea on the roof of cafe they had really enjoyed. Sure the souk is touristy, it’s what it’s basically there for these days after all, but it’s wonderful.

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The view. Dang. Maroc45 Sometimes you just have to sit and look.Maroc44The iconic spice pyramids of Morocco!
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Maroc50 And some escargo for your dining pleasure.
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A few more of my favorite daytime Jemaa el-Fna photos before we change gears to night time at Jemaa el-Fna:

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Gotta love that you can’t swing a dead cat in the square without hitting an orange juice stand or a place to get a big dish of tagine.
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And then there’s Jemaa el-Fna at night. It’s when this place really comes alive. Dozens and dozens of restaurants pop up with traditional Moroccan food, calling to you in whatever language they think you might speak.

Pastry carts are pushed by peddlers who practically shove tongs and a box in your hands for you to pick out your favorites. Henna artists get a little more pushy, snake charmers play their flutes a little louder, and the history of the Berbers stay alive with storytellers passing down centuries-old legends.

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In addition to securing my wedding blanket, I also really wanted to get a henna tattoo. I wish I could have opted for one that covered my whole arm, and maybe I could have haggled down to a cheap price for a big one, but there was something about this artist that made me want to just let her have the price she first asked for. Or maybe I was just too tired to bargain. A little of both probably. There are dozens and dozens of henna artists all around the square, and with us being a slow time of year, I was happy to pay her full price.


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Maroc28When it’s time to find a place to eat, there are SO. MANY. CHOICES. And if I can just say, don’t be one of those people who is scared of eating street food. First, it’s tradition and you’re not really doing Marrakesh if you don’t eat here at least one night. Second, if these restaurants were making people sick, do you really think locals and tourists alike would flock here every night?

Each stall has a designated employee whose sole job is to wave menus and try and get people to sit down and that their stall, and not one of the other 60 stalls serving the same thing. “Same sh*t, different stall!” they say. After wondering around trying to make a decision, we decided on stall #100. The guys who work here were so nice and we loved talking to them about their city. I wish I could remember this guy’s name, he had us laughing so much that we came here two of the three nights were in the country!

IMG_8883He jumped into most of the photos we took, or just snapped a selfie. Like ya do.Maroc33Maroc30A

This delicious spread, plus a complimentary glass of mint tea at the end of our meal, set us back about $8.
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They insisted that we stand up here and get our photo with them, the chef even plopped his hat on my head. I hope we can make it back one day to see these guys again; even if they don’t remember us, they are great ambassadors for their city and we won’t forget them! 
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Of course we ended dinner with a box of pastries from one of the passing carts! And goodness I loved my henna. She sprinkled glitter across it when she was finished. We basically speak the same language.
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Maroc56So, the Marrakesh Medina. It is awesome, as you can tell. I pray that I can go back one day when I’m not on an unfortunately tight budget so I can shop myself into a coma.

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To keep this post realistic, I also have to say that before you go, make sure you read up on ways to keep yourself safe while you’re there. Petty theft and scams aimed at tourists are rampant. Even as savvy as we are, we almost got into trouble one night when we got turned around trying to get to the Square and a kid started following us, insisting he was personally walking us confused tourists to our destination, then threatening us if we didn’t pay him for his troubles. But a little common sense goes a very long way, and as long as you don’t act like a moron, you’ll be safe and have a great time. Insist that an employee at your hotel or riad walk you to the Square at least once, and take photos of landmarks between your hotel and the Square to reference; it’s inevitable you’ll make at least one wrong turn!

Stay tuned for the next post from our time in Morocco, which will be about our day trip to the beautiful Ourika Valley!

Try The World Box: France

My parents got the best birthday gift for me…a subscription to Try The World, a bi-monthly box filled with culinary goodies from allover the world. While the actual box was for Japan, I got the France box as a bonus and it absolutely didn’t disappoint. I was able to take most of the products from the box and incorporate them into the easy three-course meal you see below. Read on for the recipes, and a video of the unboxing at the very end. (Which is kind of silly and something I’ve never done before, but I was having a good hair day.) If you’d like a code for $15 off of your subscription, please email me at malindakay@ymail.com and I’ll get it right to you!
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TryTheWorldappThe first course is kind of complicated so try to keep up! You’ll need a wedge of Brie cheese, a big smear of the Peach-Apricot Jam, and a crusty baguette as the vehicle for getting the French goodness into your face.

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This easy dish preps in 5 minutes and requires almost no clean up.

Chicken Paillards with Whole-Grain Mustard and Sea-Salted Roasted Tomatoes
1/2 cup olive oil, plus more for covered the tomatoes
2 tablespoons whole grain mustard
3 garlic cloves, peeled and diced
A splash of apple cider vinegar
A couple pinches of sea salt, plus more for the tomatoes
2 chicken paillards (a chicken breast cut open like a butterfly)
1/3 cup of bread crumbs (make some from stale bread by whizzing them in the food processor)
3 or 4 tomatoes, quartered
Fresh chives, chopped

Preheat your oven to 450 degrees.
Combine the first 5 ingredients in a shallow baking dish; gently stir with a spoon until it comes together.
Add the chicken and coat with the mustard mixture.
Allow to marinate for 10-15 minutes.
Sprinkle the bread crumbs evenly across the top.
Add the tomatoes quarters; brush with olive oil and sprinkle with sea salt
Bake at 450 degrees for approximately 15-20 minutes, until cooked through.
Garnish with fresh chopped chives.

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If you watch the Unboxing video below, you’ll see that the lavender honey was the product I was most excited about, and it was as great as I thought it would be. To make this, I simply softened some vanilla ice cream and added the honey. Be sure to add the honey in a slow, thin stream or else the ice cream will harden it into a lump. After mixing the two ingredients thoroughly, pop it back in the freezer to firm. If you don’t want to wait, I’m sure it would be just as delicious drizzled on top! Since the Palet shortbread cookies were a little crumbled upon arrival at my front door, I decided to just crumble them a little more and eat them as a topping.

The only items I didn’t use were the tea and butter caramels, but only because they stand on their own! Follow along with me on Instagram for a sneak peek into the Japan box that will be here soon! And don’t forget to email me at malindakay@ymail.com for $15 off!

{Switzerland} Lausanne

Our last day in amazing, magnificent Switzerland was spent in the French-speaking town of Lausanne. (That’s pronounced lo-ZAHN by the way, and you better make sure you’re saying in right!) We had been planning to go to Bern, but a quick read in Rick Steves’ book made me change my mind at the last minute, the clincher being that THE OLYMPIC MUSEUM IS THERE! Did you know we are Olympic fanatics?!

I spent most of the great train ride through the western Swiss countryside trying to brush up on my conversational French and Zack spent most of his time catching up on Go Call Saul.

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A couple hours later we were stuffing the lockers in the train station with our backpacks and taking the local public transit down to Lake Geneva. Literally, down. Lausanne is a steep lakeside town and once you get on their public transit at the main train station, you are halfway between “uptown” and “downtown.” It’s kind of disorienting to be standing there, because the train is actually on a slant. So weird but very cool! Like most other Swiss cities, your Swiss Pass covers your public transportation.

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We decided to go “down” town and grab a bite before heading to the Museum. The lakeside is just beautiful! Full of skateboarders, people playing on huge chess boards, and little food stands selling gelato and sandwiches. It kind of has a boardwalk feel, but in the way that a town that straddles France and Switzerland only can feel. From what we would tell, the food stands are definitely the cheapest lunch in town, but there is a Co-Op grocery store a block down where you can grab some picnic provisions. We had a couple of Caprese sandwiches and they weren’t too bad at all!

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And there is a countdown clock to the Olympics! Oh my goodness, I can’t wait for Rio!Swiss51

And then: The Olympic MuseumLe Musée Olympique. There was much rejoicing. We. Love. The. Olympics.

Admission to the museum is included in the Swiss Pass, although just walking around the grounds is inspiring enough. The steps and columns are engraved with the city and year of each Olympiad.
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You can even take in some beautiful artwork while trying your hand at the 100-meter dash!
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The statue of Pierre de Coubertin overlooking the eternal Olympic flame and Lake Geneva is pretty awe-inspiring. It was cloudy the day we were there, but on a sunny day, he must have a great view of the French Alps! IMG_8723

To enter, you walk under a high jump bar that is set to the height of the men’s world record.

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The inside is filled with beautifully curated memorabilia, a living history of the games, and even hands-on exhibits and activities.

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Upon seeing the autographed basketball from the 1992 Dream Team, I decided to record the following for hometown celeb Charles Barkley:

Anyway, of course Atlanta was our favorite Olympiad! I was in middle school when the next city over from ours hosted in 1996. I remember taking a field trip to Atlanta in the 6th grade and seeing them finishing up all of the venues. We even went to the Japan-Italy Mens game at Legion Field here in Birmingham, since the soccer games were played here. I also vividly remember a men’s soccer team walking around the Galleria shopping mall one while I was there with my best friends for my 12th birthday. I don’t remember what country they were from, but I remember gaping at them as they walked by and the smiles we got in return. Whew.

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If you’re anywhere near Lausanne while in Switzerland or the Swiss-French boarder, then GO TO THERE! You will love this charming little lakeside town and all the fun that comes with it being the home of the International Olympic Committee.

Au revoir Olympic Museum, and thanks for a wonderful afternoon! Can’t wait for Rio 2016!Swiss57And au revoir Switzerland!

LS15We took a late train to the Geneva Airport, got there about 11pm, and napped on the floor until 4am when we could check in for our flight to…Marrakesh! “A right bonkers vacation,” as a British lady we met in Morocco who lives in Lausanne told us! (And we’re quite proud of that!) LS8

I also want to give a shout-out to my TOMS Nepal boots, that kept my feet warm and toasty in the Swiss winter weather! (Good travel tip: waterproof your shoes before you go so the snow doesn’t get your feet wet!)

Sadly I have no photos of our time on the floor of the Geneva Airport, but I really wish I did, because it was quite the experience! (To sum it up in case it could be good advice for anyone else: we are pretty rugged and cheap when we travel, often opting for hostels and picnic lunches when we’re abroad. RyanAir had a cheap flight from Geneva to Marrakesh so we knew we were going to fly out of there to get to Morocco, but it left first thing in the morning, and to stay in Geneva for the night would have meant getting an expensive hotel room in France and paying a hefty taxi fee to pick us up around 3:30 am and take us back across the boarder. Not to mention that our rail passes only covered Switzerland, so we would have had to pay for a taxi from Geneva into France late at night too. What’s 4 hours on the floor of an airport when the alternative is 3 hours in an expensive hotel room the next country over? It would have cost us something like $225 when it was all said and done, and we just couldn’t justify that at all! The Geneva Airport is closed from midnight to 4am by the way, so it’s nice and quiet, and filled with other budget backpackers who are doing the same thing. Get there a little before midnight, grab a quick snack, brush your teeth in the bathroom, and a few hours later you can rest up at your next destination!)

Anyway, to wrap it all up, Switzerland was amazing, clean, friendly, filled with wonderful history and beautiful scenery, and worth the expense it costs to stay there, even for a few days. And I hope these blog posts have helped give some ideas on how to save money while you’re there! Please feel free to leave a comment if you have any questions at all and I’d be so happy to help! And feel free to check out my posts on Zürich, Mürren and Gimmelwald, and Lauterbrunnen,

{Switzerland} Mürren and Gimmelwald

After a good night’s sleep in Zurich, we hopped aboard the Swiss rail system and went from Zurich to Bern, Bern to Interlaken, and then took a regional train up the mountain to our home base of Lauterbrunnen. The town of Lauterbrunnen is situated in a valley of the Swiss Alps, surrounded by the peaks of the Jungfrau, Eiger, and Mönch (Young Woman, Ogre, and Monk) on one side, and the beautiful towns of Murren and Gimmelwald high above on the other. When you look down through the valley, you see beautiful waterfalls made from the melting Alpine snow. Honestly, look at this place:

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We’ll come back to the Valley in the next post! Our first priority was to eat as fast as we could and then head up the town of Mürren. We used the Swiss Flexi Pass to get around Switzerland, which was good for any 3 days over a 4-day period. Since we activated our passes that morning in Zürich, we wanted to take advantage of that day of travel to take the cable car up to Grütschalp and then the train over to Mürren. (Just a travel tip for those planning to go to Switzerland: I never could quite get my head around the Swiss rail system till we were there and actually using it. You hop on and off whatever train you need, and on your first trip the day you use it, you write in what day it is, and that activates it for the day. A person then comes around and checks your pass to make sure your date is written on there.)

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Mürren is quite the hub for winter sports, and when I tell you we were the only people not in ski gear, I’m not joking. Many people take another cable car all the way up the Schilthorn where there are some great winter sport parks, or up to the Piz Gloria rotating restaurant that is famous for the James Bond film, On Her Majesty’s Secret Service. Given our news of adoption and the resulting tight budget, we opted to not shell out all the extra cash that a ride up there would require. But it’s ok, because staying down in Mürren was plenty spectacular! Here I am posing with my new friends Eiger, Mönch, and Jungfrau.

photo 2We loved just walking through the streets of Mürren. It was also our starting point for our hike down to Gimmelwald. We stopped at this little fountain and refilled our water bottles with some ice cold Alpine water, something that costs like $3 a bottle back in the States. You’ve got nothing on this, bottled Evian.
Swiss22 These signs were all around town; they pointed you toward various areas and gave you an estimated walking time. The local senior citizens walk these trails and their time is used as a gauge for how long it takes to get from point to point. Swiss23 These next few photos are ones we snapped as we walked down the streets of Mürren to get to the trail to Gimmelwald:Swiss24 Swiss25We don’t get a lot of snow in Alabama, and we had a lot of fun throwing snow balls at each other. Swiss26Sing it with me: “Edelweiss, edelweiss, every morning you greet me. Small and white, clean and bright, you look happy to meet me…”
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Swiss32 I love this photo of the bright red wooden shoes hanging on the side of this house. My friend Tara told me that traditionally there is one for each family member. Love that.Swiss29 The hike from Mürren to Gimmelwald was one of the most spectacular things we have ever seen with our own eyes. 
Swiss31 Swiss33photo 1Swiss30As we approached the village, it honestly looked like something from folklore. There are only 130 residents who live here, and it is not accessible by roads. There are only 2 ways to get here, by either taking the train to Lauterbrunnen, the bus to Stechelburg, and then the cable car up to where it sits at 4,500 feet. OR, take the cable car from Lauterbrunnen to Grütschalp, the train to Mürren, and then the 45 minute hike down to here.
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I of course have the tendency to pet random animals on each and every trip we take, so when we met these friends as we entered Gimmelwald, I had to say hello!
Swiss32 copy“Guten tag, sheep!” Swiss34

This little guy is an award-winner, and its owners even posted information about him. Or her. I don’t remember, but if you happen to find this post and know its name because you’ve been to Gimmelwald, can you post it in the comments?photo 3 I don’t know if this is just Bernese tradition, or if it’s leftover from Christmas, but most of the homes in the region had their windowsills decorated with pine boughs and cones, candles, and gnomes. Which is incredibly charming, you know?Swiss35When I wake up in the morning and look outside, I see 3 empty lots. When the 130 people who live here wake up in the morning and look outside, they see this. I guess the view makes up for how remote it is! Swiss37 These are about half of the houses. Each one holds two families (they are divided right down the middle), and they are only allowed to paint their shutters brown or green to maintain the traditional look of the village.Swiss38Hiking down the Alps makes ya thirsty. Pension Gimmelwald is a great place to stay if you are sleeping in town, but it’s got a great little restaurant too. We were the only people there that day (and not just at the restaurant…the English ex-pat who was working there for the season was the only other person we saw in the whole town), and we had this little perch all to ourself.
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A hot chocolate for me…photo 4And a cold glass of Rugenbräu for Zack. I mean, can you believe this place? Swiss40

And we could connect to their free Wifi and FaceTime with our Li’l Bit! Oh my gosh, we missed this little goose so much.

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As I said above, we were pretty much the only people in town that day. The people who live here work hard in the fields, preserving their very traditional way of life. Since they spend their days farming, a daily commute to Gimmelwald isn’t very practical, and the residents are smart enough to see how catering to tourists can be incredibly lucrative, The Honestly Shop was created! It’s the first unattended self-service shop in Europe. It’s filled with Swiss flags, locally made goods, even a few antiques! To purchase something…Swiss91You take an envelope and write down the items you’re buying, then leave your money inside. I love that Zack felt he should take advantage of the “comments” section. And I also love that the envelopes are stamped instead of printed. Honest to goodness, this is the most charming place on the planet of Earth. I totally get why Rick Steves is obsessed with this place. Swiss90A little more of Gimmelwald…
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photo 3I can’t suggest these two little places on the map enough! If you’re using Lauterbrunnen as base like we did, it’s a really amazing half-day or so. I hope and pray we have the opportunity to return, it is without a doubt one of most incredible places we will ever see.

Next post: our time in Lauterbrunnen, and more specifically, the wonderful people we met there!