Switzerland. Where do I start with Switzerland?
We came here primarily to visit friends. Friends we made in the St Kilda Botanical Gardens 4 years ago when the M Family were living in Melbourne for Mr M's work. Originally only intended to be in Melbourne for 6 months they ended up living around the corner from us for over 2 years. We both had small boys six months apart, Big L (their son) and the Z man often played together in the park and Mrs M and I often ran into one another at the local cafe, so a friendship was born.......which in turn brings us here to Switzerland.
The generosity and hospitality of the M family has been overwhelming. We have loved exploring 'their' Switzerland and getting to appreciate what they love about this country. They live in Biel, (or Bienne, Switzerlands largest bilingual town), north/west of Bern on the incredible Biel lake. We were greeted with homemade apricot & hazelnut cake, apparently a Swiss specialty. Since then home cooking, bike riding and swimming have all been part of our daily summertime routine here. The weather has been 'hot' which was totally unexpected, 32-35 degrees everyday...and humid. So, being close to the lake has been a blessing and we have enjoyed experiencing summer Swiss-lake-style. The M's also have a new addition to the family and Little L, who is 1, has been an absolute joy to meet. She is a smiley faced, strong willed, fair haired Swiss sweetheart, who we have all grown rather fond of. Big L & the Z man, unable to speak the same language, have done remarkably well communicating in the universal language of play. There have been moments of frustration but for the most part they have managed to communicate brilliantly through this medium.
In between days of down time chilling out by the lake with our friends we have taken some fantastic day trips.
I was about to say that the trip to Bern would be on the top of our highlight list for Switzerland so far...but....it's almost impossible to pick one thing. The LF in particular LOVED Bern and we both took great delight in floating down the Aare river (check out a BBC clip of the notorious Aare swim here). The starting point for the Aare swim is at the Marzili riverside pool a brilliant free outdoor swimming pool at the foot of the Parliament buildings. It was so much fun that we were compelled to return the next day sans Zman (thanks to Mrs M, Z man was happily Geo chaching back in Biel) and do it all again. The colour of the Aare in summer is so inviting. Being glacial water flowing from the alps the temperature is a refreshing 19 degrees. I even dared myself to jump in from the bridge on my second return!! Whoohoo, so exhilarating. If you ever make it to Bern in the summer time be sure to put it on your list and take your togs.
We took a day trip to the beautiful medieval town of Gruyere, the land of cheese. Where, we dipped into a cheese fondu, toured la Maison du Gruyere cheese factory and wondered around Chateau de Gruyere. It's a gorgeous pedestrian town which reminded me a little of San Gimignano. That night we stopped off at Mr M's parents for dinner in the Swiss countryside where we each made our own homemade pizza and ate alfresco while the kids jumped in and out of their blow up pool. We learnt about the ATC, discussed Mumma M's novel which she is writing for her grandson, took a tour of their impressive vegie patch and consulted the 'flat lady' (iPad) on matters far and wide. They have a traditional Swiss tiled stove in the living room which I fell in love with....though it's probably not so practical for our Australian house. It was a lovely evening and wonderful insight into the lifestyle of an interesting and welcoming couple. The drive home at sunset was rather spectacular too. Beautiful pink skies highlighting Swiss fields and stunning mountain ranges.
On Saturday we drove to Schyinge Platte 2076m (near Interlaken) where we caught the cog train halfway up and hiked the rest of the way taking in the sensational mountain ranges of Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau as we climbed. It took us 2 hours, with 3 children on a 35 degree day.....there were a few serious melt downs ..... but we made it! (To all my lovely hike buddies...Switzerland is officially on the bucket list....along with Norway.... and the Camino de Santiago.)
There was SUP boarding, a small incident with a shop lady resulting in some serious 'shizen', summer sewing, silly sniggers every time we drove past Wankdorf, recipes shared, loaves of Zopf eaten, plenty of Nutella and more lakeside swimming. We ate all our meals outside on their deck except the very last, when thankfully the heavens finally opened and relieved us of the humidity, so we retreated indoors. We stayed a week and we were so generously accommodated by the M's. A big thank you goes out to the whole family. Big love. We'll really miss our mealtimes and afternoon swims with you guys. xxx