Monday, March 23, 2015

Zooming Around Zürich

Our last stop in Switzerland was Zürich. I drove the kids (minus Alexander) on a quick day trip up to Zürich from Lucerne. Why? Why not, I say.

Clocks of Zurich

Here is a reason why. Clock towers with spires.

Zurich Switzerland

Another reason? Those clock towers are on a sparkling river. With swans. What more do you want? 

That clock tower with the green spire is part of the Fraumünster church which was founded by Louis the German, a grandson of Charlemagne. The actual building isn't that old, but that is some history.

And if those reasons aren't enough, how about this- Zürich ranked #1 in a several publications for having the highest quality of life. It's also the wealthiest city in Europe. Cha-ching.

And this one is the Grossmünster, built in 1100 AD. Legend says that Charlemagne founded this monastery. It's said that the Fraumünster and the Grossmünster have a bit of rivalry going on as to who is older and more influential in the city. Does being founded by Charlemagne or by Charlemagne's grandson make you more important? Hmm... You decide. (And then let them know because they are still kind of bickering about it today.)

Zurich Switzerland

Another view of fabulous Zürich.

Swiss National Museum

This is part of the Swiss National Museum. It's not that old, having been build in 1898. 

Swiss National Museum

But just because it isn't that old, doesn't mean it isn't photo worthy. Anything with a turret is photo worthy I think.

Lake Zurich Switzerland

Zürich, like most cities in Switzerland, is nestled on a clear, alpine lake. This is Lake Zürich.

Zurich Alps

The Alps are out on the horizon, and barely visible, but not more than a 45 minute drive outside of the city to wonderful mountains.

It was a warm day in July and the kids were dying to go swimming. They had to settle for putting their feet in the water. We didn't have swimsuits with us, after all.





I knew it was only a matter time before someone ended up in the water.

And then there were two. All I can say is you really haven't been to Switzerland until you've swam in the lake in your underwear. Or less.

Auf Wiedersehen die Schweiz!

Friday, March 20, 2015

Swinging Through Switzerland

Okay. This post is going to have random pictures I took through out our vacation in Switzerland. Some of them I can't remember where I took them because I am a horrible procrastinator when it comes to blogging. Yeah, this trip happened nine months ago. At least I haven't passed the year mark. Yet.

Swiss chalet

Like this place. I don't really remember where it was. Some days we really drove around. So just accept this photo for what it is, a pretty little chalet in Switzerland somewhere.


And this place? I am totally drawing a blank. But isn't it cool?

Now this place I remember! This is a view of the Jungfrau mountain from the village of Lauterbrunnen. The Jungfrau is one of the most recognizable mountains in the Alps. This section of the mountains happens to be in the Bernese Alps. 

This is where it is at.

Staubbach Falls, Switzerland

This is one of the great sites of Lauterbrunnen. Staubbach Falls. 

Staubbach Falls, Switzerland

You can hike up and stand behind the falls, and of course get all wet and misted with the water. But what a great view of the Jungfrau and the surrounding hills.

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Here is view of the peaks across the valley from Staubbach Falls. You can just barely make out the drips of water in the photo from the waterfall. Time standing still...

Swiss Chalet, Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Look at this place. Doesn't it look almost like a fairy tale building? Swiss chalets are my favorite.

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

This is the gorgeous valley of Lauterbrunnen. The Jungfrau was feeling a little shy this day and was hiding behind clouds. 

Jungfrau Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Every now and then the clouds would lift a little and she would peek out at me. Jungfrau, Jungfrau, won't you come out and play? 

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

Behind that great mountain is a large glacier and in the summer part of that glacier melts. This slate-colored water is filled with glacial runoff. And it was cold!

Lauterbrunnen Switzerland

One last shot of the towering cliff face from the valley of Lauterbrunnen. 

Now come more pictures that I really have no idea where they are except somewhere on a little highway between Lauterbrunnen and where we were staying in Lucerne. Love that turquoise water. It too is turned this color by sediments in the glacial runoff. When the light hits the water it is refracted by the sediment into this tropical color.

This picture here makes all the long drives, meals from gas stations, bathroom stops along highways, and sleeping in strange beds worth it. I love that I can show these four wonderful kids a small corner of the world. And I love that they love to see it as much as I do. 

Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Living It Up In Lucerne - Switzerland

Our week in Switzerland marches on!

We were staying in Lucerne, or Luzern in German. Lucerne is in the German-speaking section of Switzerland but I feel much more comfortable typing it with a C. It just looks weird with a Z. Sorry German spelling.

So we were in Lucerne. Here is where we stayed.

Lucerne Switzerland rental

This is our beautiful Swiss chalet complete with hardwood floors and a sunporch right outside of downtown Lucerne. Yes, it was as expensive as it sounds.

Lucerne is located in the middle of Switzerland right on the banks of Lake Lucerne and the Reuss River.

Lake Lucerne

Our little (expensive) Swiss chalet was near the water and we had to walk around the lake to reach downtown Lucerne. It was raining that day, but nothing, not even rain would keep us from exploring Lucerne.

Lucerne Switzerland

The city of Lucerne straddles the Reuss River, and because of this fact there are many bridges that connect the two sides of the city.

Chapel Bridge Lucerne Switzerland

Let me introduce you to the most famous of Lucerne's bridges. This is Chapel Bridge, built in 1333. Much of it had to be replaced when sections of it burned in 1993 because of a discarded cigarette. Tsk tsk, you naughty smokers!

Lucerne Switzerland

Beautiful riverfront Lucerne. Even though it was raining and cool, I was so impressed by this quaint little city nestled between mountain peaks on the banks of a sparkling blue lake. But. Let me tell you what I was not impressed with. The cost of stuff! Because it was cool, the kids asked for hot chocolate from Starbucks. We ventured into the Starbucks and I proceeded to drop over to fifty American dollars (after conversion from the Swiss Franc) on four hot chocolates and a latte. Yep. Each one was over eight Swiss Francs. At this time the exchange rate between the dollar and Swiss Franc was pretty close so it's not like I didn't know what I was spending. Sorry kids, no lunch for you. Hot chocolate is going to have to cut it.

Lucerne Switzerland

As the rain persisted, we walked around sipping our liquid gold, I mean hot chocolate and lattes. Even in the rain, Lucerne is very walkable city. All the sites are easy to reach on foot.

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucerne Switzerland

Lucernen Switzerland

The sun was coming out so we decided to revisit the Chapel Bridge.

The way the sun hit the moss covered roof was just right. It lit up and glowed. It almost made up for the fifty dollar hot chocolate. Almost...

Did I mention that the German name for Lake Lucerne is der Vierwaldstättersee? That means "Four-Forrested-Cantons-Lake." (Switzerland doesn't have states. It has cantons.) Isn't Lake Lucerne just a little bit easier? I think so. I wonder how you say "Dear Asian tourists, please don't try to pick up a swan."

Friday, January 16, 2015

Scootering In Scuol - Switzerland

After our beautiful stop at Flüela Pass, we pushed on to our first night in Switzerland in the small little village of Scuol. Scuol, pronounced shkwol, is in the mountainous, eastern region of Switzerland.

It is a tiny village full of dairy farmers, river rafters, hikers, and skiers.

Scuol Switzerland

This is the view from downtown Scuol. Not bad, huh?

Scuol Switzerland

Or there is this view. Everywhere we looked we were surrounded by towering granite peaks. It was breathtaking. As beautiful as Scuol was, we weren't there just to partake of the views. Alexander and Ashlenne had a date with some white water river rafting.

Scuol Switzerland

Here they are! Suited up and ready to get wet! Want to raft or hike here too? Click Engadin Adventure to see what they have to offer. (Great company with English speaking guides. They gave Alexander and Ashlenne the ride of their lives!)

My two younger ones, Aidan and Andre, were too small to raft. The river was running too high and they had a weight and height restriction, so I had to find an activity for them to do. The guides directed me over to a company that rented industrial grade scooters that you could ride down the mountain on.

Scuol Switzerland

Here are these two! Suited up and ready to ride! But let me back up a bit. Before we got the scooters, I had to rent them from the chairlift operator who spoke absolutely NO English. My German has come a ways from when we moved here, but my vocabulary lacked the word for scooter. The operator and I went around and around in circles in our complete lack of understanding each other until he went and grabbed a scooter and brought it to me and said "You?" To which I said, "Yes! Me! Ich möchte!" As I pointed at it. Scooters rented.

Scuol Switzerland

This is the view from the summit of the chairlift looking across the valley to the mountains.

Scuol Switzerland

The mountains at this time of year were bursting with wildflowers. A sweet, clover like smell hung in the air as we whizzed past the meadows.

Scuol Switzerland

Scuol Switzerland

The entire trip down the mountain takes about an hour and a half, but it took us longer because we stopped often for pictures and snacks. Nothing like a Capri Sun and string cheese on the side of a mountain in the Alps among the wildflowers on a day like this.

Scuol Switzerland

It was one of those days where you think to yourself, "I will never forget this. I will never forget this place. I will never forget how this place made me feel. I will never forget the mountains, the flowers, the sunshine, or the smile on my children's faces."

Scuol Switzerland

Scuol Switzerland

Through out these meadows, there were cows grazing. We could here the clanking of their bells ringing out through the trees, making milk for all that yummy Swiss cheese.

Down at the bottom we found little waterfalls made from all that snow melting up at the top. It was a fantastic day. I felt a little bad that Alexander and Ashlenne missed it. But not too bad, they also had a great day.

Photo credit - Engadin Adventure
They had a fantastic time themselves on the river, roaring down the canyon on waves of white, frothy water. Life in Switzerland is good.

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