Friday, March 21, 2008

February flew by!

When I broke my ankle February 8th, I expected I would have plenty of time during my recovery to catch up on all those "sedentary" tasks, including blogs... but obviously that didn't end up happening! One thing that has kept me occupied is having friends visit, which I really enjoy - Every time someone visits, I am reminded of all the little things that are different here in Switzerland than in the U.S. -- things that we have already gotten used to and didn't even realize it.

One example is the way that sandwich spreads are sold in tubes here, like giant toothpastes made of ketchup, mayo, or mustard as our friend Michelle displays below. Tomato-flavored toothpaste, mmmmm...
Our history with Michelle and her husband Kevin goes back a looooooong time. Kevin went to high school with Jeff and me, and Michelle was my college roommate while Kevin was Jeff's. All four of us got married right after college, and now they have two boys ages 7 and 11 who are our godsons. So it was great to get to spend some time with them again.

On their first day here we did a walking tour of Zurich...I was really happy to be able to participate in the walk since it had only been one week since my ankle surgery! Can't even tell, can you - those special Swiss shoes just blend right in...We were glad that they came prepared and brought their own Pop Tarts, since I haven't been able to find those anywhere around here (so it was a special treat for us too!).
Trains are definitely the way to travel around Switzerland. They bought the Swiss Pass, which provides unlimited train travel (plus trams/boats/buses & discounts on cable-cars/funiculars). It's the perfect thing for getting around the country, especially for a family, since you can move around more than in a car, and plus it's just fun to ride trains.
And not having to drive makes the parents really happy!
We took a day-trip to nearby Einsiedeln, where we found a few hills to hike up, up, up...
The view from the top is always worth all the climbing...
After that big workout, it was time for some traditional Swiss fondue. We had just bought our first fondue pot, so this was our first attempt at the famous Swiss meal...
We might a slight adjustment though, and added some vegetables in addition to the bread (don't tell our Swiss friends!).
Later in the week it was time for some skiing in the Swiss Alps. At Flumserberg, there is a cable car that takes you literally straight up the mountain to get to the ski area. Just don't look down!
One thing about Swiss ski areas is that the T-bars are much more common than in the U.S., instead of chair lifts. And it doesn't help too much when the T-bar operator is giving instructions in German: "Sitzen Sie nicht hin!" (Don't sit down!) Oops, so the first try didn't go so well...
It eventually got easier, although sometimes the bar just wouldn't cooperate...
In the end everyone survived the T-bars and enjoyed a beautiful sunny Swiss day at the slopes.
Notice Jeff laying down on the right side... Guess it's just habit after all those years of snowboarding (!)...
On another day we took a trip to Bellinzona, in the Italian section of Switzerland. There it seems you are constantly being watched by castles on the top of the surrounding hills...
We walked through one of the castles, where you could spy on the castles on the other hillside...


Just like Italy, one of the best things about the Italian section of Switzerland is the food, mmm... Buono appetit!
On our way back to Zurich we stopped at a grocery store to pick up some food for the rest of their stay. It's funny how in a foreign country, even something as basic as grocery shopping can be quite entertaining, just observing all the different foods available. Here's one that we're glad they have a picture showing what it is just in case one isn't fluent in German yet...
Kids especially notice and are entertained by all the little different things. Here's one - there are free-standing restrooms that are available in various places around here (I've also seen them in Paris), kind of like porto-lets but with running water. It looks like an elevator out in the middle of nowhere, and feels like you're in a time machine when you go inside and push the button for the door to close (especially if you're 7!). It's lots of fun to try to push your big brother back into it right before the door closes and the whole thing fills with spraying cleaner fluid (I heard a story of a friend who got stuck in one while the spray went off and it doesn't sound like a pleasant experience!).
Toward the end of their visit we spent some time looking at old pictures from our college days... Hey look, there's a picture of your mom funneling a pony keg while your dad adds more Golden Grain to the punch in the trash can... (ha ha just kidding)
It was a great visit, and we loved sharing everything here with you. Y'all come back, ya hear!

5 comments:

Sandy & Dick said...

So that's why you've been off blog for too long! You've redeemed yourself with the great pics and storyline to go with them. I just sadly finished my tube of 'moutard' this week, darn it.

Sending big Easter hugs,
Sandy
xoxoxo

HaleyD said...

The sites are beautiful, the food looks scrumptious, and the friends must have been fun! I'm glad your surgery went well too.

Anonymous said...

Hi! It was such a fantastic trip. We've loved sharing our stories and experiences with everyone back home. We had a fabulous time learning about the history and culture, and it is always wonderful seeing you two! Thanks again for a great time!!
Kevin, Michelle, & the boys

Sean said...

Looks like a great time had by all, by what else would one expect from daGrants?

I want to see castles when I come back!

i8chocolate said...

What a great post! Looks like a truly special time with dear friends. Now you got me all excited...We can't wait till our visit with da Grants;)