Saturday, July 2:
We arrived in Switzerland after a 2.5 hour delay in Heathrow Airport (London). It was nice to be welcomed in Zurich by our friend, Viviane. We raced to catch the next train to her house. After a 50 minute train journey, we continued on a city bus for 10 minutes and then a 10 minute walk uphill to Viviane’s suite. The area that she lives is called Wollerau and is a very posh area. The cars in the neighbourhood all seem to be Jaguars, Porches and Mercedes.
Sunday, July 3:
After a restful sleep, we began our sightseeing! We drove in Viviane’s red Mini Cooper to a nearby town (Einsiedeln) where they were holding a Schwingen Fest. This is a traditional Swiss sporting event in which grown men put on a pair of baggy shorts over their work pants and ‘wrestle’ in a ring of sawdust. The winner must force his competitor to the ground so that the shorts touch the ground. Each fight lasts 6 rounds. The weather was very hot and we all got a bit of a sunburn on our faces.
From the festival, we continued on to Rapperswil, a historic town along Lake Zurich. We walked around the walls of the fort and poked around the castle. The view was beautiful from the top of the Fort.
Monday, July 4:
We left the house early to catch a train to Lucerne. From here, we boarded a boat that is part of the Swiss rail system. We enjoyed such a lovely boat ride in the sunshine across Lake Zurich. We laughed at how the Swiss seagulls (which, by the way, look different from Canadian seagulls) kept following the boat hoping to catch some food from the passengers. We exited the boat and caught a cable car up the mountain. The ride up was so steep and continued for about 30 minutes. At the top, the views of the Swiss landscape were breathtaking. In Arianna’s words, “I felt like I was at the top of the world!” Arianna was hesitant to ride the cable car as it seemed old and rather rickety. However, we all braved this next mode of transportation. After a stop at the top for a snack and photos, we chose to ride a gondola down. We laughed as the staff crowded a huge group of tourists in the gondola. As it began to descend, the whole crowd started to laugh and scream in fright. Each time we went over one of the cable towers, the tourists cried out in surprise.
Again, we boarded the boat, the train and the bus for the return journey back to Lucerne. We toured the old city and climbed the city walls and the clock tower. The views were spectacular and we loved the old city.
For dinner, we went to a Swiss restaurant that included a show of Swiss traditional music and yodelling. Cameron and Viviane were so brave to sing/yodel on stage.
This was a great day as travelled on many modes of transportation and saw such a variety of sites. (Bus, train, boat, cable car, gondola)
Tuesday, July 5:
We drove to Zurich and enjoyed a walking tour a la Viviane! She is an experienced tour guide and knew the best sights to see in Zurich, including a half price bakery called the Ass Bar. (Don’t worry, it means something different in Swiss German). The chocolate dipped croissants were absolutely delicious!
We spent four hours at Alpamare Water Park. Cameron and Arianna especially loved the water slides, while Viviane enjoyed relaxing in the pools. My favourite water slide was one where you ride on an tube that fits three people to go zooming down a slide in the dark. It reminded us of Space Mountain in Disneyland but on water.
Wednesday, July 6:
We drove up one of the mountains in theSwiss alps (Flumserbergvaduz) to try summer roller tobogganing down the mountain. We were nervous at first to ride the chair lift up the mountain, climb on a small toboggan (either individually or in pairs) and start zooming down the track. Cameron was so brave and eagerly climbed aboard and started his descent at a rapid speed. Arianna and I rode together, laughing and screaming the entire way down the track.
From there, we continued on a drive to Liechenstein where we got our passports stamped in our quest to travel to many countries. We carried on to Feldkirche, Austria to visit Scholss Shuttenburg (medieval castle and museum) and to enjoy a schnitzel for lunch.
Thursday, July 7:
We started out the day with a drive to the northern part of Switzerland to see the largest water falls in Europe, the Rheinfalls. We took a 15 minute boat ride that took us right below the water falls. It was scary to get so close to the waterfalls but we hoped the boat driver must knew what he was doing!
From here, we climbed back into Viviane’s Mini Cooper and continued on to Laderach Chocolate Factory. Hmmm!!! We toured the factory which included a stop at three chocolate fountains. (Dark, milk, and white chocolate) Since we had missed lunch and it was now close to 2pm, we were all so hungry. That chocolate sure hit the spot!
We finished the day relaxing at a beach near to Viviane’s house. Cameron and Viviane were brave to swim in Lake Zurich (it was too cold for me!).
Friday and Saturday, July 8-9:
Off to France we go! We drove to Colmar, a small medieval town. We rented an apartment on through booking.com but had no idea how this would work out. The apartment turned out to be a really cute place in the heart of the village. It was up three flights of creaky, crooked, old stairs and overlooked the village. We toured the village and soaked up the French atmosphere. In the morning, Cameron, Arianna and I found a bakery to buy some chocolate croissants (our new favourite breakfast treat!). We took a little train tour through the town to learn more about the history of Colmar.
Sunday, July 10:
We waited in the dark outside of Viviane’s suite for our 4am taxi to the train station as the bus didn’t run that early. The 4:37am direct train to the airport arrived at the exact time. I love the Swiss trains that run so efficiently! We boarded the small commuter plane by taking a little shuttle bus across the Tarmac and walking up the stairs onto the plane. Our flight was uneventful and we were glad to see Peter waiting right outside the arrival area. We arranged our rental car and found our way to Amersfoort, our ‘home’ for the next few weeks. I was impressed that Peter could navigate the unfamiliar roads and a new manual transmission car after missing a whole night’s sleep and travelling for nine hours.
Now, our Dutch adventure begins!