Archive for the 'Travel' Category

Adelboden – ds Bärner Oberland isch schö-ö-ön.

We said goodbye to Mum and Dad today. It was a bit tough, especially as the boys love them so much (and of course so do Dan and I). They are such wonderful parents and grandparents.

But before they went we (the two boys and I) were able to spend a few days last week in the Swiss mountains with them. We went to a place called Adelboden which is situated in the Bernese Oberland. Such a beautiful region, also home to the famous Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains.

We spent our time walking and gondola riding and whizzing down mountains on trottinetli (scooters). Noah just loved it, sitting in my Ergo down the hill. As soon as I stopped he would yell – ‘go Mama go’ and ‘faster, go faster’. Toby stood on the front of Papi’s scooter and enjoyed it just as much. We did a day trip up to the nearly 2000m high Engstligenalp which was so so great. Had a nice flat walking path suitable for prams & wheelchairs. What blows me away about Switzerland are the ‘wanderweg’ everywhere, even up incredibly steep mountains and over the ridge and down the other side. No problem for the Swiss, perhaps that would be a problem with a pram though!

The scenery is incredible and there is something to be said for the mountain air. It is truly good. And healthy. The hotel we stayed at – Alpina – was great, we found out it was part of the Christian hotel network in Switzerland and had good food and friendly service.

It won’t be long before we will have to find another mountain to climb. It is addictive.

Here is a little Swiss folk song I learned in my time in Adelboden. Still not too sure about the meaning of it but something about a girl called Lisi Vogel. It is supposedly written in Bärndutsch – which is the dialect spoken by Swiss in the Bern region. A wee bit different to the Aargau Swiss German.

Wen-i nume wüsst,
wo ds Vogu-Lisi wär.
ds Vogu-Lisi chunnt vo Adelbode här.
Adelbode liegt im Bärner Oberland.
ds Bärner Oberland isch schö-ö-ön.
ds Oberland, ja ds Oberland, ds Bärner Oberland isch schön.
ds Oberland, ja ds Oberland, ds Bärner Oberland isch schön.

Rest for the weary

Women who choose the profession of motherhood, a profession that is supposed to be more stressful than a top management position (except it is a 24/7 job!), are legends.  I am currently trying out this profession and man, it is tough.  Up until we moved to Switzerland I had always been working, part or full time.  Then we had grandparents, aunties or friends around to babysit when we needed a break.   Now we have none of that, not even preschool (the kids don’t start preschool till they are 5).  I am a wee bit embarrased that I find it so tough at home with two young boys, considering there are heaps of mums with more kids than me doing an amazing job with great love and ease.

Anyway, I was allowed a break – thanks to my wonderful husband and generous Grosi.  My mum, grandmother and I (three generations of women!) spent two wonderful days and nights at a wellness hotel in Sigriswil, overlooking the mountains and the Thunersee.   We soaked in the pools, had massages, went for walks, ate four-course dinners (healthy of course!).  It was great to spend time with my mum who is soon heading back to NZ and my wonderful Grosi.  It snowed too, just a hundred metres up from where we were staying.   A bit of a change from warm days in Tuscany a week earlier!

The Leaning Tower of Pisa

Since Pisa was on the way in our trip down the west coast of Italy we thought we would pop in and check out the Leaning Tower from which Galileo conducted his famous gravity experiments! It is a beautifully crooked tower situated next to an amazingly huge cathedral and baptistry. The tower isn’t as crooked as it once was. A few years back they corrected it and brought it back about 45cm and in May 2008 they removed tonnes of earth and announced it stable for another 200 years.

The rest of Pisa isn’t too exciting, a bit dirty and run down.

Lunch in Cinque Terre, Italy

I have heard from countless people about how beautiful Cinque Terre is. It is made up of five colourful villages. Each village seems to be balanced precariously on the edge of cliffs and on rocks with incredible views of the Mediterranean Sea. On our way down to Roccette we made a side trip to one of the villages. All the five villages are beautiful and we chose Vernazza (the fourth village along) to go have lunch. Wish we had taken some photos of the gelato and pizza we enjoyed during our stay in italy because the selection is incredible and so so nice! You will just have to go and try it for yourself I guess….

By the way, don’t drive to Cinque Terre, go by boat or train because the roads are crazy narrow and windy, but then you get some pretty good views! At one stage we had to reverse up a steep, narrow road to make way for an ambulance coming the other way. Fun and games!

It would be great to spend a week there checking out all five villages and climbing the crazy hills covered in vineyards. Maybe another day!

Five days in Tuscany

Wow. We just spent five days in Tuscany, Italy, at the beach. What a beautiful place! We travelled over 700 kilometres on the Swiss and Italian ‘autostrada’ and went through 70 tunnels (we counted). Our Fiat Bravo 1.4l turbo, six speed manual was really a great hire-car too.

We staying in a place called Rocchette in a wee bungalow, the most amazing ‘camping ground’ I have ever seen. Check out the picture of the pool below. Incredible. We went with Vineyard Church (Aarau) for their annual Autumn holidays. We would have loved to stay longer (the rest of the church stayed a full week) but had to get back to Aarau for my grandmother’s birthday party and my dad’s arrival from NZ. So of course a very good reason to return home (to cold, rainy and even snowy Switzerland).

We had perfect weather, the Tuscan sun shone for us every day. Went swimming in the clear water of the Mediterranean Sea. Played volleyball, football and of course ate pizza and gelato. The Italians are cool, very relaxed lifestyle, a bit too relaxed when it comes to driving! Very kid-friendly too. I read they don’t have babysitters there because they take their kids everywhere with them, even late at night.

The ancient seaside town of Castiglione della Pescaia was just down the road and has an amazing hilltop fortress. We thought it was ’empty’ like many of the other abandoned buildings and ruins all through Italy. But we discovered it is still very much alive with local people living in the absolutely beautiful houses and castles behind the wall. The town is also famous for its stunning slices of pizza!

If we are still around this side of the world next autumn I reckon we will be heading down that way again. Will post again soon with some pictures from Cinque Terre and Pisa which we visited too.

Switzerland is beautiful

One of our reasons for spending some time in Switzerland was to have easy access to travel to many other countries in Europe. A few problems though:

  • my list of 100 places I want to see (outside of Switzerland) is hard to narrow down to just a few.
  • now that we have an apartment to pay for, we have little money to travel.
  • time – we are getting busy with everyday activities…
  • I have another list of 100 places I want to see in Switzerland alone!

But I am content just to hang out in Switzerland. I cannot get over how beautiful Switzerland is. I mean, I just go by bike around my house and I am blown away. On Friday, we headed out to Schinznach (your favourite, Simon!) to a thermalbad and ‘kurhotel’. Royalty used to come from far and wide to soak in the thermal water. We also went for a walk along the Aare River, seeing snow covered mountains and castles in the distance was so cool. Part of the coolness of it all is the way the Swiss look after their country, with beautiful gardens and fields and walking / biking tracks absolutely everywhere for all to use. And I love all the history too.

Thank you God for allowing us to experience this beautiful country.

Germany – driving fast on the Autobahn

We are so privileged to be able to travel around and see the sights of Europe. The boys went to England last weekend and yesterday we headed out to Germany. We hired another Mobility vehicle and took it over the border to Freiburg. Germany is beautiful. Love the big open roads and loads of trees and countryside. We were driving in the Black Forest region.

The recommended speed limit is 130 (unless otherwise stated) but there really is no speed limit. And I am cruising along at a 130kph and feeling a little guilty with my NZ brain telling me that I was going to get a ticket for going over the 100 speed limit. There were plenty of Audis, Porsches, Land Rovers, Maseratis and Ferraris – along with the odd family wagon – overtaking me at speeds of around 200kph. I got up the guts to go 170kph at one stage but with the whanau in the car, thought it wise to slow down a bit. It did make for a quick and stress free journey though. I found the German drivers very courteous and patient.

Freiburg is beautiful. We had a look through the Münster and ate some beautiful fruit from the Farmers Market. The boys played in the Bachle. At one stage a German lady wandered up to me very deliberately. I wondered if I was going to get a telling off as Noah was splashing around in the bachle water. But instead she told me how there the bachle ran all through the city and to let my kid splash all he wanted. How cool is that!

We then headed up to Titisee in the Black Forest region. A beautiful spot (lake) which I had once visited when my most excellent and talented sister-in-law lived in Freiburg. I wanted to show Missie and Simon. They fell in love with it. We had to have slice of Schwarzwalder Kirschtorte and looked at all the cuckoo clocks for sale. Just wish we had more time there.

Missie and Simon leave tomorrow back to cold, wet and stormy NZ. We will miss them, especially Noah, who has become quite attached to Simon.

A perfect stay in Zermatt

Everyone tells me that the Matterhorn is renown for always being covered by at least some cloud. I have to say that we saw the Matterhorn in all its (rare) cloudless glory. Wow. We took the train (well 4 different ones) to Zermatt – the village at the bottom of the mighty Matterhorn. We had the most perfect day and took a few photos of course. Missie and Simon headed up over the glacier to the Kleine Matterhorn and I headed up to the Schwarzsee with the boys (under 3 year olds aren’t allowed so high up the mountain).

Spent the night at the Jugendherberge Zermatt, another perfect part of our perfect stay in Zermatt. Quite awesome. View of the Matterhorn out of my window, breakfast and dinner included in the less than CHF 50.- per person per night. Only the steep hill and gazillion stairs to get up to the Hostel were a bit of a killer.

Anyway, I will definitely do a post on the service and hotels here in Switzerland. Of course, I have to being a hotel & service qualified fanatic (or is it critic!?).

Playgrounds on trains

I just want to say a huge thank you to whoever invented playgrounds on trains. You deserve a medal. I must say when travelling the 3.5 hours to Zermatt, it was great to have at least one leg of it with the kids entertained by some body/thing else but me. On alot of the ‘double decker’ trains one carriage has a playground complete with slides and activities for the kids. Great stuff.

Anyway, it beats sitting opposite that grumpy lady who scowled at me every time my boys made a sound. Sorry, but can’t really expect them to be quiet all the time. Especially the Noah, who squeals for joy whenever he sees another train.

Jungfraujoch & Grindelwald

We did the tourist thing and headed up Jungfraujoch while Missie and Simon and Alana are here. We went beginning of last week and spent a night in Grindelwald, one of the most beautiful wee towns, at the foothills of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau mountains. We had an amazing time in spite of the not so great weather. The Jungfraujoch bahn is steep and goes though mountain rock to 3500m. Incredible. It is the highest railway station in Europe and has breathtaking views of the mighty Aletsch glacier (on a fine day that is!). Here are some photos:

on-the-way-to-jungfrau feeling-a-wee-bit-dizzy-at-the-very-top in-the-ice-caves missie-and-simon-and-aletsch-glacier oh-baby1 snowing-on-jungfrau view-of-grindelwald-from-train2 grindelwald grindelwald-missie-on-scooter