Tuesday, July 31, 2007

Day trip-Giessbach Falls

On Saturday we took a day trip to the Berner Oberland (one hour from us), to meet up with Matthias' crazy (in a good way) Aunt Nelly. We drove to the beautiful village of Iseltwald and then took a boat across part of the lake of Brienz to the Giessbach falls. Afterwards, we walked all the way back to where our car was parked...along a lakeside trail. We walked for about 3 to 4 straight hours...not bad at all for a 4 year old! This region is so insanely beautiful, it's easy to see why the tourists love it.

Tomorrow is the Swiss National Day (their 4th of July)...and everything is closed and everyone has the day off. We're going to Lauerz early in the morning to meet Matthias' family and go to a farmer's brunch (it's tradition to go to a farm and partake of various foods made with their products). Then a bit of playing at the lake and then a barbecue and fireworks. Should be great!

Sunday, July 22, 2007

No. 5: Proximity (Swiss Top Ten)

Switzerland is in the middle of Europe...so it's close to everything. Yesterday, we took a day trip to Freiburg, Germany (photos above) and it took us about an hour an a half by car. Some other day trip or long weekend possibilities:

Paris 3 hrs (by train)
Milan 3 hrs (train)
Munich 4 hours (by car)
Lyon 3 hrs (car)
Marseille 5.5 hours (train)
Berlin 1 hr 15 min (plane)
Barcelona 1.5 hrs (plane)
Amsterdam 1.5 hrs (plane)
Prague 1 hr 20 min (plane)
Genoa 4 hours (car)

You see? And with the increased popularity of cheap airlines like Easyjet...flying has actually become cheaper than going by train much of the time. Lucky me! So many potential daytrips...so little time! If you fail to see the wonder in all of this, please consider that some of you might be lucky to hit Bakersfield in the amount of time it would take me to leave my home in Switzerland and be sipping a cafe au lait on a terrace overlooking Marseille's sunny harbor or order a Hefeweizenbier at Oktoberfest in Munich! Do I do these things as often as I should...no. But I can. If I want. And I will...eventually. :-)

Sunday, July 15, 2007

Random Sunday outing photos

No. 4: Multilingualism (Swiss Top 10)

I guess the language thing pretty much goes without saying, but still...it is one on my very favorite things about life here. Switzerland has 3 official languages (4 national languages when including the tiny romance language Romansch), the canton and even the town we live in has 2 official languages (German/French) and each and every sign indicates this. In one morning, I may sit down in a cafe and be greeted with a "Bonjour Madame" and proceed to order my coffee in French, then go next door to check out a couple of library books in Swiss German (Bernese dialect to be precise) and then to grab a magazine at the kiosk and speak High German (as in Germany German) with the foreigner who like me, has made Switzerland their home and has given up any short-term hope of mastering the Swiss dialect. Also, regardless of what someone greets you in, you can choose to respond in either one as dictated by necessity or whim and chances are, that person will speak either language flawlessly. So at present, both my German and my French are improving daily....but at a certain cost to my English. It seems there just isn't enough room in my Kopf/tĂȘte/head for all that vocabulary....something's gotta give.

Thursday, July 05, 2007

No. 3: Architecture (Swiss Top 10)

The medieval charms of Europe are pretty much undeniable...it's what draws most of us North Americans to the continent in the first place. Switzerland is certainly no exception, with plenty of red-tiled rooftops, old houses huddled together inside protective city walls, pedestrian squares...usually home to the bi-weekly market which has been taking place for a thousand years or more. The photos above were taken on some of our weekend day trips within the last 3 weeks. They are of 3 different villages in 3 very different regions (different languages included!). Our recent trip to California really helped to drive home just how eternally charming the architecture here is...and how lucky we are to be able to feast our eyes on it every single day. :-)

The 3 villages: (Murten, Auvernier, St Ursanne)

http://auvernier.ne.ch/ (only in French)