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.
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.
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.
By the time our tour was over the rain had lightened up so we had to soak up a gorgeous field across the street.
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.
But we had our airbnb already paid for so off we went.LAKE GENEVA in the French part of Switzerland.
Oh man it was just like we were in France.
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 :)
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.
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:
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.
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.
Can you even stand how breath-taking this view is?
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!
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:
And finally we made it to my brother's little town in time to have these smiling faces welcome us from their balcony:
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.
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.
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.
We visited the Hofkirche which was gorgeous as well...
We checked out the "Dying Lion" on our way out of town too:
That night we had a great little barbecue back at Tal and Anitas...
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:
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:
(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).
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.
We took a lot of pictures because how could you not?
We went to take in Anita's home she grew up in one last time since they're selling it.
...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!