Wednesday, July 27, 2016

rain, fog, chocolate, and beauty all around (Switzerland part 2)

My sister-in-law Anita (who is Swiss) planned our Switzerland itinerary.
She had planned our trip with all of us Eyre girls (back HERE) so incredibly perfectly that I begged her to help us figure out the perfect things for Dave and I to do with our kids.  Ok, and I really didn't beg, because that girl was happy to help and she planned it all out to a "T."

Of course, the main goal was to hang with her and my brother and their daughter and to be in their world for a little bit.  But the first half of our time there was spent exploring so we could spend time with them when my brother didn't have to work.

Anita reminded me when we were in the planning phases that what you can see of Switzerland depends so much on the weather.  Those gorgeous Alps are pretty darn hard to see when they're socked in with clouds and rain.  But the weather was so perfect last time we were there I crossed my fingers that we might luck out again.

But the weather didn't cooperate very well for our gondola-riding, Alp-hiking adventure plans.  In about every city we visited the weather report looked like this as we were planning things out for the next day:

It's funny that people's first response to that is "oh I'm so sorry," because with or without rain and clouds, that place is GORGEOUS.

And you want to have something to go back for, right?  :)

I had seen Switzerland in the sun, the alps showing of their faces in all their glory and it made my heart swell, but this time it made my heart swell just as much.  It was just different. 

I'm telling you, you can't go wrong in that place.
Of course, Anita, being the super-spectacular trip planner that she is put an alternate "rainy-day" plan on our agenda.  So we took it and headed to the Swiss chocolate factory one of the days.

We drove through the most stunning countryside to get there.

I'm sure I would have driving my family crazy with all my gasps and ooos and ahhhs about all the beauty surrounding us in every direction but they were right there with me in awe too, so it all worked out great.  There were random waterfalls spilling out of some of the velvety-green mountains and we stopped at this one to dance a little bit.
They were dancing so much we kind of missed catching the pretty waterfall behind them, but it was there.
...and it brought on some pretty nifty dance moves.

After all those rolling hills of green velvet we arrived at the CALLIER CHOCOLATE FACTORY which truly filled the air with a pretty luscious chocolate aroma.

The only picture I have of the tour is the chocolate tasting room at the end where we got to taste all kinds of deliciousness.
Too bad Lucy didn't like that part too much.


By the time our tour was over the rain had lightened up so we had to soak up a gorgeous field across the street.

 Lucy really wanted to do the "jump" sometimes but was happier doing a front jump.
 Oh man I love these girls of ours.

Then it was off to our next stop:  Zermatt.

This was a little bit of a mistake on my part because in talking to Anita about the plans I thought everyone should surely see the Matterhorn.  I mean, it is pretty famous and all, right?

She agreed that it is pretty spectacular on a good day so again we crossed our fingers for good weather.

But you saw my little screenshot weather above, right?  

Yeah, I think that was the night before we headed for Zermatt.

Also, I read this in our little guide book the night before we left:

But we had our airbnb already paid for so off we went.
We took a little detour to explore LAKE GENEVA in the French part of Switzerland.

Oh man it was just like we were in France.
We stopped at CHATEAU DE CHILLON which was pretty beautiful.

I had to capture the flowers growing out of a wall where we parked the car:
That doesn't happen much in the desert :)

Then we drove and drove and drove through that long valley that leads to ZERMATT.
 We kept seeing little patches of blue sky just hoping the weather might change:

We got there just in time for the sun setting somewhere beyond the clouds and had dinner at this really delicious spot:

We weren't overly impressed with that place, not just because we couldn't see the Matterhorn.  It was like a deserted ski town under construction.  In it's defense, I'm sure the beginning of June is right in between seasons for them and they were probably trying to get things ready for summer visitors and cleaning up after the big ski season, but I think this is the prettiest thing I saw there:

Despite not being in love with the not-overly-impressive town, we had a pretty interesting family discussion about the church and how and why people believe what they do.  Dave read us an article that spurred a lot of thoughts.  I love that our kids are old enough to have discussions like that.

We played scum back at the hotel and enjoyed our kind of funky 70s room that night:)

Claire and I took a little walking date to the town square in the morning.
That part was pretty beautiful too.  I LOVE all the churches in every town square.

We sat there and talked as we waited and waited to see if THE MATTERHORN might just pop out, but this is as blue as it got where it was supposed to be:
Darn it!

We had plans to take the gondola up to it's base, but we decided the weather didn't merit that so we just turned around and headed back on the train to get back to our car and see some other things.
(Zermatt is a car-free town so we had to park in the next town over and take a steep train up to where we stayed.)

On our way down the mountain on the train, a guy came over and commented that he was impressed with our small amount of luggage, especially considering we were traveling with all these girls.  We hadn't seen or talked to an American for a while and as we got talking we found out that he happened to go to the same high school as Dave did and he and his wife (who he was on an anniversary trip with) were in the same ward (church congregation) with Dave's cousin in California.

How's that for a small world?  So crazy!

Had to include them in a little family selfie as we said goodbye at the station:

Next stop was my brother's house!

We were so excited to see them!

And we were also excited to see this en route:

We had a little fiasco driving because our little navigation device told us one thing, and then a couple hours later told us to turn right around and go another way...which added hours to our trip.

So we stopped to get situated at a gas station where we bought a real map and found out that our original route included a pass that was closed for the winter until the next morning at 8:00 am.  

Are you kidding me?  How crazy is that?

So we figured out a way to get on a "car train" to go over the pass and got on the road again.

Dave took an "emergency stop" when he saw this cool suspension bridge called the GOMS BRIDGE:

Can you even stand how breath-taking this view is?

 This field of flowers on the other side was pretty stunning as well.
 I love this picture:
Social media has taken over even in a field in the middle of Switzerland.  I'm sure they were doing very important things like trying to figure out which picture to post on Instagram.  Ha!
 It was a good little detour for our afternoon drive.

I was thinking the train over the pass would be a great way to catch the vista between the mountains but it took us right through a mountain so not quite as picturesque as one would think, but after sure was pretty: 
Oh boy.
 Check out these hairpin turns below:

And finally we made it to my brother's little town in time to have these smiling faces welcome us from their balcony:

 Whoa what a joyous reunion that was!

We went on an evening walk up the mountain behind their home.

 Even though it started pouring.

And played a pretty great game of scum to finish off the night right there in their great little kitchen.
Nothing like spending one-on-one time with siblings and their families.

Especially when there are nine kids and when you're all together it's sometimes hard to get a word in edgewise.

The next day we hit LUCERNE.  It was raining (sometimes pouring) so we opted out of the trip to the Alps from there, but we soaked in that beautiful wet city with people we love so much.
These two cousins sure bonded well.
 I especially loved hearing all kinds of imaginative stories Claire made up for her in the car.

These girls sure adore this uncle who used to live right by us.

We loved checking out the Chapel Bridge ("Kapellbrucke) which was first built in the 14th century.

It was burned in the 1990s but has been restored.)  It's the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe and gets it's name from St. Peter's Chapel which is close by.

There are paintings in all the little trusses on the inside which reminded me so much of the walkway at the Summer Palace in China.

 The architecture in Lucerne is so beautiful.

We visited the Hofkirche which was gorgeous as well...
 ..and happened to have a wedding going on inside.

We checked out the "Dying Lion" on our way out of town too:
That is a memorial which was carved in remembrance of Swiss guards killed during an attack in 1792.  It is pretty impressively huge.

That night we had a great little barbecue back at Tal and Anitas...

...and played cards all night.

That night was one for the record books that will be remembered fondly for years to come as the night when Lucy ruled as "President" six consecutive times in a row.
Yes, you can bet that she was pretty excited about that.

Claire somehow taught her to say "Boom, in your face!" with a huge smile across her face as she put down her last cards with a huge arm flourish.

We might need a little lesson on good sportsmanship but her excitement was almost electric and had us all laughing pretty hard.

Tal and Anita fed us well.  Here's the breakfast Anita laid out each morning:
Pretty delicious stuff.

We also made our own butter.
Yep, Anita is pretty domestic I have to say!

On our last day in Switzerland we headed out to "Heidi-Land."

Now, just that name alone connotes a teeny bit of cheesiness, but we were pretty excited about it.

You see, the girls and I had read Heidi before we left:
(Actually we were still at the tail-end of it at this point), and at every mountain we saw throughout our Swiss adventure Claire and Lucy exclaimed, "that looks like Grandfather's Hut!" over and over and over again.  So much so that Elle was saying it in jest by the end even though she never read the book.

(Have I mentioned how much I love that book?  Read it if you haven't!)

Heidi Land is in the town where the author (Johanna Spyri) based her famous story (it was written in 1881 and is known the whole world over).
 Claire was pretty excited about this little side trip.
And Lucy insisted she needed a picture by herself where they recreated the place where Heidi made up her own bed.

There was a little museum and a little house all with pretty original Swiss things (kitchen food prep, food storage, beds, cradles, etc.) from the time when Heidi was written.

It was made extra interesting to me as Anita told us all about each thing and explained that she had a lot of the same things in her own family's little cabin up in the mountains growing up.

We had lunch at this cool little pit stop Tal recommended and then headed to FLIMS where Anita grew up.

This was not on our original itinerary but I pushed pretty strong to go there because we had loved it so much when we went before for MFME.  It is a magical place I tell you!

I had talked it up to Dave and the kids so it could have been easy for them to feel a little over-hyped but they were blown away and it sure lived up to their expectations.  

I mean, this is the lake she came to as a kid:
Wow, right??

We took a lot of pictures because how could you not?

We didn't have a whole lot of time so we were thankful for this handy-dandy elevator thing to get us up and down.

We went to take in Anita's home she grew up in one last time since they're selling it.

We felt a lot of joy about that awesome spot, and I LOVED that my kids got to see where she grew up.  Her "back yard" is my favorite part:
 ...and theirs too.

I was so grateful for the opportunity for these kids to get to their aunt's roots and see the wonder of why she loves living in Switzerland so much.

On the way home we were graced with a gorgeous rainbow out the back of the car. the clouds parted and let us in on the faces of the gorgeous mountains that surrounded us.

Pictures could never do that drive justice but had to try a few.

We ended our Swiss adventure with a delicious dinner at Tal and Anita's.

...and a few rounds of scum, of course.

Now go get a little finger massage to ease out those cramping fingers from trying to scroll through that mass of pictures because if you made it through, you deserve it!  I think these are easier to find later if I don't break them up into too many posts so thanks for sticking with me if you made it this far.

On to France!


  1. Such beautiful pictures!!! Those mountains are so big! You're definitely selling me on visiting Switzerland some day. :)

  2. The scenery is too beautiful for words!

  3. I am such a mountain girl This is making me itch to go to Switzerland! I would choose a mountain trip over a beach trip any day

  4. what an amazing trip thus far!!!!! the scenery is spectacular!!!! we sure live in a beautiful world!!!! thanks for sharing these lovely photos of switzerland and your "spectacular" family!!!! xo

  5. Switzerland looks so beautiful! I love how green it is and although I'm sure the clouds, rain and fog were not ideal for your trip that also makes it look beautiful.

  6. Switzerland, looks like a dreamy place in our world.

  7. So glad you got to share that place of wonder with Dave and the kids! Thanks for showing us many many things that we haven't seen....yet! We'll be back many times as long as that family lives there! We are so blessed to be able to do that! Loved every picture. The jumps kill me!

  8. Would love to hear how you inspire your children in a spiritual way. Love that you have a lot meaningful talks in the midst of everyday life. If you ever want to share a post on your tips on developing spirituality in children I would be all over it. Struggling on how to tap into my kids innate way of connecting with God. Thankfully my girls are still young, so there is time and some maturity will help. As for now, my five year old laughs during prayer and thinks God is not real.


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