Well-Kept Travel Secret?

ImageAirstream Trailer – Wimberley, Texas

How would you like to stay in a castle in Galway, Ireland for the night?  How about a treehouse in Thailand?  A vintage beer barrel in Turkey?  These are some of the more extreme and unique examples of what is available on AirBnB.com.

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We have used AirBnB a few times and have been very happy with each place.  The first time was a houseboat on a canal in Amsterdam, then a two-bedroom flat in the center of London, and a week-long stay in a 3 bedroom apartment in Paris near the Louvre.  Most recently we used them for our interim housing when we first arrived in Zurich.  Each time, the location has been great and we’ve had use of a full, working kitchen for the same price as a standard hotel.  And for a large family like ours, this resource has been a godsend.

 

 

Have you used AirBnb?  Would you ever try any of the more exotic offerings?  🙂  We are getting our summer travel plans in order right now — Milan?  Paris?  Barcelona?  The world is a big and wonderful place, isn’t it?

Swiss Post :: For the Most Discerning Customers in the World

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Swiss Post, for the Most Discerning Customers in the World.  Maybe that’s true, or maybe not.  But, there’s no doubt they do things a little differently than in the US.

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Until I had to send a signed contract to SwissCom, our internet provider, I hadn’t mailed a single item in Switzerland.    We had read that basic bills can be paid at the post office and the idea of trying to figure out how to ask and what forms to bring has kept me from making my first trip.  My sweet next-door-neighbor Astrid gave me the low-down on how to mail a letter after watching me stare in puzzlement at our mailboxes for a good five minutes.  There is no little flag or clothespin to attach a letter.  No drop box in sight.  The closest mailing station like the one above is down the block.  

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And with Swiss efficiency here is how the mail arrives at our door Monday – Saturday.  A sweet little motorcycle with a cart attached to the back!  I suspect that up in the mountains they use a different vehicle, but each day it brings a smile to our faces to hear the bike approaching.

Love, and National Poetry Month

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I misspoke when I wrote previously that the Tonhalle Orchestra is the reason that we are living in Switzerland.   The real reason we are here is because of this man.  

Please note:  This man is entirely modest, and despite the necessity of being the center of attention while performing, might not enjoy the spotlight with regard to what I’m about to write/say.  If this post disappears within a few hours, you’ll know why.  But write on, I will….

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We were young and probably not a little bit foolish, but determined and blissfully in love.  As I recall, Peter’s mode of transportation in the day was a bicycle.  I think he had a Driver’s License, but it didn’t matter.  He worked at a movie theater at the time and always smelled like butter.  Who doesn’t love butter?

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He invited me to watch him perform the Tchaikovsky Violin Concerto with his high school orchestra and took me to lunch afterward.  That was it.  I was head-over-heels for the guy.  He makes me laugh — like, deep belly laughs and smiles until my cheeks hurt, and he surprises me with flowers and love poems and ice cream.  He is an amazing, sensitive, and generous-with-hugs father to our four kids.  

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He is the one that has made this life that we share possible.  He does it with grace and integrity and perseverance, a good (and often wicked) sense of humour, and love.

And because the world needs more love, and it’s National Poetry Month, here is something lovely that was tucked into my laptop case this morning.  It is beautiful and should be shared.

 

Since We Loved

 

Since we loved, – (the earth that shook

As we kissed, fresh beauty took) –

Love hath been as poets paint, 

Life as heaven is to a saint;

All my joys my hope excel, 

All my work hath prospered well, 

All my songs have happy been, 

O my love, my life, my queen.

 

Robert Bridges

1844-1930

 

Swiss Chocolate

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When I hear the word ‘Swiss’, a few things come to mind:  Banking, all things dairy/cows pasturing, and chocolate.  

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Why bother with false modesty — the Swiss are the best chocolatiers in the world.  It’s just a fact.  🙂  And the Swiss are quite serious about it.  You can take a chocolate train to a Swiss dairy and castle, visit any town or city in Switzerland to visit a unique chocolate artisan, and even bathe in it.  (Which actually sounds pretty awesome.)

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Peter played an Easter gig in a neighboring village and as a gift they gave him a small satchel of their specialty chocolate pictured above.  Outside the service was a huge round table literally stacked with thousands of dollars worth of Lindt chocolate to celebrate the end of Lent.  He was able to restrain himself, but there were a few university students that definitely pocketed some chocolate.

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“Nine out of ten people like chocolate.  The tenth is lying.”  (Graffiti scrawled on a wall)Image

We have been having a great time eating our way through the chocolate aisle at the grocery store.  It’s become one of those staple items along with bread, milk, and eggs.  And while some things are definitely more expensive than in Minnesota, others, like chocolate and wine, are less costly.  And soooooo good.

 

 

 

 

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Behind our home is a walking path that leads to the village-next-door:  Oberreiden. 

Last week, while the weather was kind, Peter and I took the littlest ones for a walk to visit the sheep and chickens who live in this charming little pasture.  

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Sebastian and Angelique rent this little farm from a retired ‘Bio’ farmer who owns the entire 100 or so acres.  Sebastian has a 50-year rental agreement (from what I could understand) and uses the land to raise a little bit of this and that.  Next week brings a dozen more baby chicks.  

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I love how open green areas are incorporated near to the villages.  From almost wherever you are, there is a park or pasture nearby.

We are really loving having this space just minutes away — a heartwarming slice of home.  

And Ellen, as she does in so many ways, forges her own path.

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Check out the broom selection.  I love it, but how useful is the old-school broom?

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This broom may, or may not, sweep up Cheerios underfoot.  

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Axes and mauls

The store is pretty typical if you are used to shopping at a Lowe’s or Home Depot.  If you are used to shopping at Menards, this is not the place for you.  Here, at Coop Bau + Hobby, everything is laid out in a precise and orderly Swiss fashion — and you can’t find an aisle filled with old candy and beef jerky.

But you will find:

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A nice selection of bicycles (anywhere from $200 to only $7,000!)

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A pretty decent liquor and wine selection with INDIAN TONIC WATER!  🙂

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And, in the garden center, you will find everything you need to grow your own lemon tree or olive grove!

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Quinn in front of the Lucerne train station.

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If the sky had been clear, beyond the bridge on the horizon we would see Mount Pilatus in the background.  Maybe next time!

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These outdoor drinking fountains are everywhere.

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A charming outdoor cafe / restaurant.  Okay, these are everywhere.

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The kids had a great time spotting all sorts of stuff in the water.  Thank goodness, that wasn’t mine.  Though I was constantly holding my phone with a death grip so to avoid that fate.

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Quinn wasn’t so lucky.  😉

ImageOur barn loft in Minnesota

This past week my husband’s parents made the long journey across the pond to visit us for 10 days.  This was my father-in-law’s first transcontinental trip!  No small feat.

We had a wonderful time seeing the sights and I’m especially happy that they were able to experience Zurich and get a sense of what are lives are here.  

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While we are getting back into our groove, I am reminiscing about friends and family back home.  (Okay, not just reminiscing, but missing.)  The pictures above were taken in our old barn loft.  Some dear friends made the trip out to our little farm, and while we prepared dinner the kids found baby kittens in the hayloft.  We spent the next hour cuddling kittens and talking while the setting sunlight streamed into the barn.

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Lucerne, Switzerland :: Part I

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Frohe Ostern!

Yesterday, Easter Monday, we hopped on the train to Lucerne, Switzerland.  The trip was much faster than we expected — Quinn brought along his new UNO card game and we barely had time to try to decipher the rules in German before it was time to pack it all back up!  The sun was finally shining after a week of gloomy, gray skies which made it a nice day for an excursion.

There was so much to see, but first I want to share some photos of the Franciscan Church in Lucerne.  The ‘Franziskanerkirche’ has remained almost entirely unchanged since being built in about 1270.

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Check out this massive pipe organ!  The photo doesn’t do it justice.

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And the photo above is the bellows to the pipe organ.  Before electricity, the bellows needed to be operated by hand and often churches would use children.  When the organist needed more air, they would sometimes indicate by pulling a chain and the children would either pump by hand or by jumping on the platform!  Isn’t that great?  

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I was almost done touring the cathedral when Jillian came up to me and asked if I had seen the ‘corpse’ in the side chapel.  I didn’t believe it, but ….

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There he was, Saint Celestine, encased and shrouded in jewels.  Sorry if this offends anyone, but the whole thing was definitely creepy.  And he had a very Captain Jack Sparrow look about him,  which only confused me emotionally.  The only time I’ve been this up close to a preserved body was at the Science Museum of Minnesota.  Have you seen the Egyptian mummy?  As a kid it terrified me!  

What would you think if you came across something like this?