WHO: Suzanne Blake, 52, of Medfield.
WHERE: Switzerland and Italy.
WHEN: 11 days in July and August.
WHY: "To attend the wedding of a former client," said Blake, a life and executive coach. "She's American, and he's Swiss. I supported her in this long-distance relationship, and I had promised her, 'I'm going to dance at your wedding.' " Blake also visited a friend in Italy.
GOING SOLO: Blake had looked forward to going with her husband, but a work commitment got in his way. "I was really disappointed, and then I scrambled to find a friend to go, but no one could," she said. "Although I'm a seasoned traveler, I'd never traveled alone except for work. So although I was looking forward to the wedding, I was apprehensive."
ARE WE THERE YET: The first day could have gone better. "I flew into Zurich and got on a train to Interlaken. They didn't tell me I had to switch trains. I ended up going an hour and a half out of my way. Then I was so worried about falling asleep that I had to set my cellphone." At the hotel, it got better. "The bride's family, from Texas, were so warm and welcoming. They sort of adopted me."
CHILL THRILL: "The first day there her father took us to the top of the Jungfrau. You take a bus and then a train, 11,000 feet up. You're really in the clouds. You pay like $150 to go up the mountain," Blake said. "There are ice caves and sculptures at the top, and we ate up there. It was expensive, but a blast."
MOVING NUPTIALS: The wedding was in the village of Beatenberg. "They took us up in a bus to this church way high in the mountains overlooking the valley. It was spectacular. Then the bus took us down to a boat and we rode across the Lake Brienz. Two hours later we were back in the mountains in this beautiful stone hall."
LOST: As part of a later outing with two of the bride's relatives, "we took a train 2 1/2 hours to the French side of Switzerland to go up the mountain to Caux to this famous restaurant, but it wasn't open," Blake said. They also visited Lake Geneva and the famed Chillon Castle, where Blake got separated from her friends. "I lost them in this huge, multilevel castle. I was feeling anxious, but finally I thought, what's the worst that could happen? I'll have to find my way back. After I finally let go, they appeared."
SILVER LININGS GALORE: Before visiting her friend near Florence, Blake stayed in Venice. She was annoyed to discover her room had a shared bath. "I was upset, but the reward was, when I went into the bathroom and opened the shutters, I could see gondolas below me and the men were singing tenor. It was spectacular." At her friend's, she opted for time in the hill towns over museums. "The trip taught me so much about letting go of my expectations and helped me practice what I preach," Blake said. "I practiced embracing new opportunities, and all my initial disappointments turned into wonderful surprises."
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