The perfect 7-day Itinerary for a week in Central Switzerland.

Last fall (I keep telling you it’s the best time to visit) my Sister-in-law and nieces came for a visit and had the best time- here is what we did!

Except for arrival day these are in no particular order because each one can be done in one day traveling to-and from Ennetbuergen. Obviously the days you visit Lauterbrunen and Hike would be enjoyed more in Sunshine weather, so try to plan accordingly.  Also a list of alternative ideas are at the bottom.

Arrival Day (Thursday):

When arriving from a long flight most people have the inclination to sleep -(I always need a nap) be careful  no to nap to long and stay up till evening if possible – this will help you re-set your clocks. If you can just walk around the village-


 ennetburgen church

  • Check out the church – yes its okay to go inside, and even take photos, just be reverent and respectful.
  • The graveyard behind the church is lovely
  • The seeplatzli park on the lake front is a must do even if you don’t have small children its lovely to sit at the benches overlooking the lake and watch the swans.
  • Stop at the only place in town to find Gelato.
  • Take a boat trip (check for schedules) from the “ship stop” in Ennetburgen just past the Gelato place and make sure to sit on the outside balconies for fresh air.
  • Take a walk up on the top of the Burgenstock (click here for suggestions).

top of burgentock viewsmap

Day 2 (Friday):

colmar

Spend a day (or a day and a night and another day) in Alsacs- Colmar and  Riquewihr, France Click here to see 40 of the last storybook towns.

Day 3 (Saturday):

engleburg

If you don’t stay in France try checking out Engelberg…… Lots to do!

Day 4 (Sunday):

touring lucerne tour in lucerne
Tour Lucerne-

  • Visit the local LDS church for services in German and with English translation. Service begin at 9:00am.
  • Although Sunday isn’t a market day and the shops are closed- it can be a perfect day to walk around the city for a tour. I give a really good tour that takes about 2 hours. For walking tours in English or German meet at the train station but book in advance and check the schedule for seasonal availability. For market days you’ll have to visit before noon  on Tuesdays and Saturdays. Shops stay open a little later on Wednesday and Friday evenings.

Day 5 (Monday):

meggan

Interlaken area is a must do, and the most popular tourist area in Switzerland. Lucky for us it’s only about an hour by car or 1 and a half by train. I always recommend the train because the ride takes you through beautiful mountanin scenery, that is best enjoyed on a train where you are free to walk around an take photos from the windows.

trummelback copy

  • My favorite place in the Bernard Oberland has to be Lauterbrunen. This picturesque valley was the inspiration for Rivendale -Tolkins magical land of the elves in the Lord of the Rings Trillogy. It’s a great place to bring a picnic and take a walk to – Trümmelbach Falls.
  • From Lauterbrunen catch a mountain train to Murren or Wengen.

swiss flag murren

Day 6 (Tuesday):

trotti bikes

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Day 7 (Wednesday):

Head to the french region- its a lot to pack into one day so get an early start!

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  • Visit the chocolate factory in Broc . We like to visit the Chocolate factory first then head to Montreux to tour the castle.
  • The Castle Chillion in Montreux-  it is beautifully situated directly on the lake. My favorite part was the dungeon! There are lots of lake front restaurants in Montreux but you’ll be on a bit of a tight schedule to fit all three of these attractions into one day so I recommend bringing a picnic an enjoying it by the castle.
  • Then head to Gruyere (one of the 40 storybook towns left in Europe). Click here to see what there is to do . I have been to the cheese factory- home to a little museum exhibit,  but the real pleasure is just to walking around this walled village soaking up the beautiful views. My children played on the ramparts of the city walls for over an hour, using their imaginations to travel back in time. Watch the sunset and have dinner under the stars.

gruyeres

Some alternative ideas:

  1. Alpamare- This is a really fun waterside park- go in any weather. Buy tickets online so you don’t have to wait in lines- plus it’s a little cheaper!
  2. Stein am Rhein- I haven’t been yet, but I want to go and it has come recommended often.
  3. Basel Zoo- Basel market is great too- make a day of it and hit both places, they aren’t far from each other and the trams in Basel are fun and easy to use.
  4. A day in the Italian Canton  of Ticino:
  • We love the beach in Ascona (its free).
  • Locarno is fun to walk the promenade.

 

 

 

 

 

Spanish Birthday Cake

DSC_0426On my Birthday “Week” I had a few of my friends (and old neighbors) come over for tea. Sonia (who is famous for her cakes) surprised me with a special cake in my favorite color! Not only was it beautifully perfect to look at but I loved it and so did the kids!!! I think it would be a good cake for brunch- especially if you skip the frosting and served it with fruit? Or just sprinkle the top with cinnamon and sugar before baking- which is the traditional method,  but it really tasted better with aquamarine icing and sprinkles!

sonia and grandmother

Sonia explained that this cake recipe was passed down from her Grandmother who grew up in the Valnecia region of Spain. She said they did not have ovens in their homes so they could mix up a cake and bring it to the neighborhood bakery and pay a little money to have them bake it. Perhaps I wouldn’t be baking so many sweets if I had to take it somewhere to bake? Maybe thats why dessert used to be for a special occasion? With all my New Years fitness goals I am cutting way back on the treats but this cake is on my splurge list- in my defense, it has less than a 1/2 cup of sugar. I think the subtle cinnamon and orange flavors make it feel like perfect comfort food for the winter weather.

Sonia’s Spanish Birthday Cake

  • 2 eggs
  • 100 g sugar
  • 50 veg oil
  • 50ml orange juice
  • 125 ml Milk
  • 200 gr flour
  • 1/5 package of baking powder
  • lemon zest
  • 1 tsp. cinammon

1. mix sugar and eggs

2. add other liquids

3. add powders and zest

4. pour into a greased 9inch cake pan

5. bake 10 min @ 200 C and 25 @175 C

 

New Years Gingerbread houses

cover shot

As a child I was enchanted by gingerbread houses. I don’t remember ever making one.
I even have a Pinterest board of beautiful candy crusted gingerbread houses that I admire.

Many years ago I swore I’d never do this with my kids again.
I decided it’s a non-kid project.
Some how I found myself unable to resist the lure of gingerbread kits at a shockingly fantastic bargin again ( thank you ikea) because it was on sale after Christmas. Of course the candy (which I also bought at IKEA) probably cost $20!

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We tried again for New Year’s Eve and I watched my son suspiciously have accident after accident that caused pieces to break, after each time he would say ” oh that’s okay, I really just want to eat it”. (He’s pretty transparent).

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Determined to have a result that reflected some representation of all my effort, I sawed pieces on to new shapes and created a cute cottage and shed.

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My daughter, on the other hand, may have provided me with the hope I need to continue this tradition forever. She picked up the tweezers and patiently placed sprinkled by sprinkle into the window box ” planting colored flowers”. I admit it, it was a proud moment for me, just imagine what she will be able to do in a few years. I like to think that it’s good practice for surgical skills. A doctor in the making.

Axel turned 10 ~ Birthday Interview

axel is a beautful child4

So I should have posted this two- yes T W O months ago (I’m a little behind on this here blog) but here it is for your viewing pleasure. The following video is not as riveting as some of the more entertaining ones we post, but it’s part of a tradition that will be a treasure for the future. It may be a good idea for your family to adopt. I ask the kids the same set of questions every year and someday it will be really interesting to see how it all turns out. As Axel is now entering the stage where acting cool is important, it seems like his reaction to the camera is a little more stiff, and lets face it my narration is pretty boring too. But for the grandparents and Axels friends it will be interesting. Pop some corn and kick back to enjoy 7 minutes of documentary film making.

Gulf Coast Sunshine and Swiss Snow in Aug. – 2014

 The problem with waiting six months to post about your summer vacation is that many of the details are lost to memory. Thankfully I started a post in August, just after the first snow. I hope I haven’t left out any highlights…

AUG. 2014- “Snow on Sunday helped me come to terms with the sad fact that summer time in Switzerland is over. I mean it’s mid August after all. Back home people are complaining about the temperatures passing up 100F. I wish they’d trade places. I also realized that if I dont try and catch up on my summer I might not have lovely memories to go back and enjoy during the dark cold October winter. So I am back to work and cant wait to do some braging about the kids, the beach, and tell you about how spending nearly a month with my parents has me wanting to move next door- I couldnt be more suprised either.”

learning to sew

In the evenings or rainy days we stocked up on craft supplies and the kids spent their time doing old fashioned activities like learning to sew, making up puppet shows with their cousin, and mowing the lawn with a lawn mower. You might be thinking that lawn mowing isn’t so old fashioned but here in Switzerland there is very little space for personal landscaping. Most of that is likely done professionally and the few private lawns are often taken care of by robotic lawn mowers. They are fascinating to watch! Because we live in the land with extremely high labor cost, robotics are very popular. My children have no chance to learn to mow lawns for pocket money, unless they are at Grandpas.

puppetshow

Of Course we spent most of our time at the beach.

great view of watercolor beach

Wouldn’t you?!

burried in sand

kids everywhere

We made new friends, and played all day…

sudden downpour

even when it rained.

williams twins playdate copy

We hung out at the beach with old friends,

watercolor beach

and with cousins who met who came  all the way from Arizona to see us at Grandpa’s house .

happy day

kids backs

We had fun watching the air-show and fireworks at the Destin harbor on Rhonda’s new boat- Unforgettable!

boating with rohnda

 And most importantly we visiting with family that wont be around forever.

group shot2

group shot

grandma pruitt and Wayne2

lunch with carolyn and bob

Axel love list copy

Sophia's love list

New Year 2015

snowy landscape

Hello and Happy New Year. 2015 is looking good. I thought I would peek my head up and let you know that we are still alive and better than ever. Our 2 year anniversary since moving to Switzerland is sneaking up on us quickly, why just this week my husband Spartacus began the paper work to renew the annual permits. There is no end in sight, which of course is good and bad. I had 2 wonderful trips to the States the year and both times wished I was moving back, but then I returned home and felt content and happy here too. I realized ~ life is just good.  Chronologically speaking I have a lot to catch up on~ for the sake of posterity of course:

  • A few details about summer vacation.
  • Tips for finding a flat in Switzerland.
  • Moving to a new house and tips for successful moves in Switzerland.
  • Cleaning a flat and passing inspections in Switzerland.
  • The perfect Swiss Itinerary for a week in Lucerne.
  • Nates wedding~ I have a new little sister.
  • Southern California I love you.
  • Gabes 10th Birthday interview
  • Spanish Birthday Cake
  • Munich at Christmas
  • Christmas Vacation in our own back yard

Which brings us to Resolutions and starting a-new and all those wonderful things we strive for in the beginning of the New Year. Funny enough- last year I learned a lot about chilling out and watching TV at night- haha. This year I am cracking my but back into action (literally with my first Cross Fit class this morning. And man-oh-man how I am paying for that right now. Why doesn’t the pain show up on the scale with in hours, thats what I want to know! ). As usual I seem to struggle with balancing the should do’s with the want-to-do’s and the if-I-could-only-do’s against the must-do’s.

Monday I made 12 freezer meals to use on work-out mornings and German class mornings. I would post about it but there are so many people out there putting out better information. Maybe I will just accumulate the list I made and link the recipes etc. I do find that many of these freezer meals are too lacking in the crunch of  fresh veggies so often find the ones that are truly the most time saving ready-to-eat-when-you-get-home- a little boring or unhealthy, I suppose I will be paring them with a lot of salads. I hope to get that taste v/s time thing figured out too. I have a month of meal planning done and now to keep up with posting for moxiblog plus my monthly commitments to livinginluzern.com, painting, church work, and there is the whole family needing my attention occasionally. I don’t know how other woman manage full time jobs too? And just in case anyone else is reading this, I want you to know that this last paragraph was mostly just for me to remind me, once-again, to work on balance and priorities. I am totally aware that everyone has busy lives and I so much admire others for all the hard work and good they do in the world.

 

 

 

Painted Bird Series

photo 2

There are so many things I need to catch up with you about but this by far the prettiest! I am posting 7 of my new acylic paintings. My sweet little birds are 6×6 inches and look especially beautiful in groups! I am pricing them at $50 each plus shipping from the states through end of November- just in time for Christmas! I will be posting some more “wintery” selections later so check back often! TO order email me! Or comment on Facebook.

robin forward on aquaRobin on Aquamarine

lavander crested aquabird on peachLavender Crest on Peach

yellow bird on blueBig Bird on Blue

bluebird on greenBlue Bird on Green

hummingbird on peachHummingbird on Peach

hot pink black birdMagpie on HotPink

robin looks left on blueRobin Looking to the Left

Coco turns 5

coco the birthday girlWe spent Coco’s Birthday at my brothers home in Virgina.

old farm houseHe lives in a beautiful 100 year old farm house with my dear sister in law and 7 beautiful and brilliant children.

reluctant guest

My brother the gentleman farmer and somewhat reluctant birthday party guest.

My kids love visiting because there is always something to do and some one to do it with, and so it is a natural choice to spend your birthday here because its always a party!

cousins- someday jack may regret the streamersAnd can I tell you that it was the easiest birthday party I ever threw! No sending invitations, no waiting for RSVP’s, no wondering how many to plan for or stressing about decorations and games.

annie cute!There were classic sack races and bound-to-be-classic balloon-wedged-between-body-train game, we video taped wet washcloth relays where it was passed from foot-to-foot through teams of players. We laughed so hard the home movies are too shaky to share (and I have some pretty lame production skills as it is!).

sack race 2

party games3Thanks to the nieces and nephews who did the decorating and organized games, all we had to do was order a cake. I called the bakery and asked for rainbows and princesses, it was everything Coco had dreamed of.

bday cake 2

 MooshkaTotsDoll1-nwm

 

The best find was these cute Mooshka dolls that she picked out for her birthday. Have you seen these things? Are they all the rage back in the states? I LOVE THEM!

 

 

 

The party was held in the garden with sparklers and loads of cousins, so pretty much a perfect day.

perfect daySeveral of the cousins were at an unfair disadvantage during the games, having to compete while under heavy doses of Benadryl because they had contracted a bad case of poison ivy at the waterfalls on July 4th. I’m still counting my lucky stars we somehow avoided that! And do you see how cute the homemade crowns turned out?!

close up of cute kidsAnd just in case you want to know all about Coco watch her birthday interview. It’s packed with hard hitting questions and musical dance numbers. I think 5 suits her!

Lauterbrunnen and Trümmelbach Falls

Visiting Bernard Oberland (also called Bernese Oberland) is a must do for anyone who comes to Switzerland.
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golden rail express

train ride

For a special treat we love to take the train (golden rail) through the mountain pass and into the little town of Interlocken Switzerland. Usually though we drive the short hour and are always spellbound by the views along the way.

brienz_

 It is easy to spend the day wandering the streets of Interlocken but from one of its two train stations you can get to many many enchanting villages in the surrounding area. Lauterbrunnen is arguably one of the most beautiful and often visited destination. Lauterbrunnen is situated in one of the most impressive trough valleys in the Alps, between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks. With its 72 thundering waterfalls, secluded valleys, colourful alpine meadows, the Lauterbrunnen Valley is one of the biggest nature conservation areas in Switzerland. It is from here I recommend my visitors began discovering this region.

lauterbrunnen-200

When you arrive in Lauterbrunnen via train or car you will see Staubbach Falls. I have never been to the top of the falls but I think there is a way to do it? It is beautiful to see from the bottom too!do you see waterfall_

Lauterbrunnen is a tiny village and with only one main street it is hard to get lost. You follow the paved road and the marked signs to Trümmelbach Falls for a day inside a cave waterfall. Bring a picnic and stop along the way.

TIP: If it’s hot bring plenty of drinks.There are lots of tourist in the area but unlike disney land Switzerland does not capitalize on every money-making opportunity for concessions.

The walk through the valley is a long and constant jaw-dropping view of the worlds most beautiful alpine Valley, perhaps one of the most beautiful places on Earth.

swiss house 2

There are chalets dripping with geraniums at every turn.

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Barns and cows and every Swiss cliche can be found in this enchanting little valley.

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Along the way there are many mountain inns and even a cute campground. A friend of mine recommended it highly and it’s certainly a less expensive way to visit the region.

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swiss grave yard

Be sure to stop at the grave yard and admire the swiss tradition of planting flower beds at the grave of ancestors (so much better than silk arrangements don’t you agree?).

amazing view!

Once at Trümmelbach Falls you will pay the entrance fee and make your way to the elevator up. Once you are lifted into the mountain you will still have plenty of stairs to climb so be prepared.

falls tryptic

spiral falls

It is the perfect attraction for a hot day because the glacier water pouring through the falls is icy cold and the whole cave like area feels like it has air-conditioning!

“Being at Trummelback Falls has been one my life’s best travel moments. Words cannot describe the excitement to experience being inside a mountain and seeing 20,000 liters of water falling down per second.- Chitra Agarwal”

Photos do not come close to the real experience- it makes you aware of your insignificance compared to the power of nature. Impossible to explain – you must visit yourself!

Highlights of Lauterbrunnen Valley:

  • Isenfluh – is one of the typical Swiss mountain villages and yet it is special. The access is via one of the few road loop tunnels and above the village the brows of Eiger, Mönch and Junfrau come into view.
  • Trümmelbach Falls near Lauterbrunnen: one of the wildest glacier ravines in Europe with the ten waterfalls of the Trümmelbach hidden amongst the rocks.
  • Staubbach Falls: on the edge of the village of Lauterbrunnen. The water plunges almost 300 metres from an overhanging cliff face. It was the inspiration for one of Goethe’s famous poems.
  • Schilthorn: on the trail of James Bond. Visitors to the Piz Gloria revolving restaurant at 2970 m can enjoy the view of 40 mountain peaks and 20 glaciers.
  • UNESCO world heritage themed trail in the depths of the Lauterbrunnen Valley, the first themed trail in the Junggfrau-Aletsch-Bietschhorn world natural heritage site and devoted to waterfalls, alpine farming, power stations and mountain hotels.
  • Kleine Scheidegg : impressive view of the north face of the Eiger and the four-thousand- metre peaks of the Jungfrau and Mönch. Also the starting point of the rack railway to the Jungfraujoch.
  • Jungfraujoch (3454m): the Jungfrau railway has been plying its way through a 7-km-long tunnel to the ‘Top of Europe’, the ultimate excursion destination in the Bernese Oberland, since 1912

Paris- 5 Favorite Things

I just have to warn you now. I have just a few more things to say about Paris so I don’t forget.

1. Street entertainment

bagpipe player

We love the street entertainment in Paris. You can always find really good performers at Pompidou Museum.

street art

I thick they are actually organized and maybe licensed or something. There seems to be some organized rotation of acts…
not exactly an impromptu street performance… I digress.

mimeswide

Another great place to see free acts is the area around Notre Dame there is some renown gelato shops (We loved Berthillion and Pozzetto) in the neighborhood and this is a great spot to sit, and eat ice-cream.

 

musicians everywhere- played guitar behind his back

 On the Metro there are always someone playing music

one of the love lock bridges- just east of Notre Dame

gellato face dancing

 2. An hour sitting in the grass under the Eiffel Tower, reading and acting like locals!

eiffletower hour

So I am really proud of this one because we brought books in bag packs and then just found a lovely spot and sat in the sun and enjoyed an hour- A WHOLE HOUR of quite bliss. And there were tons of sales guys walking around trying to get people to buy little statues of the Eiffle tower. They circled and circled and asked EVERYONE EXCEPT US if we wanted to buy one. I am sure its because we looked like locals but if there was another reason than so-be-it, just remember if you want to avoid being hustled at the Eiffel Tower- than bring a bag of books and sit your little family in the grass and just read!

more boats

3. The boats at Luxembourg Garden- This is a no brainer, ever tourist and local in Paris comes here to watch people. I snapped a few shots of Street Fashion at the Park on the weekend.  The kids pushed boats around for a half hour and I snapped shots of what the french (& tourist) are wearing. The days of high fashion on the streets seem to be gone, but here are my top picks.

best women picks

1. I love the platform heels the wash on the jeans and mostly LOVE the layered necklaces and especially the tassel one!
2.The Bermudas, navy jacket with gold buttons, big navy bag and ballet flats.
3. A mix:  bad top half and a really cute bottom half- I love the long socks and the chunky ankle boots.
4. I thought the short sleeved puffer paired with jeans was really cute!

cute kids2

Love all the classic separates sans-cartoon characters. Love the colored sneakers.

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1. Love ruffles. 2. Love horizontal blue stripes. 3. So chic!

french family

This lovely little french family was the epitome of classic french fashion! Navy leather shoes, and the barret! Oui!

man best dressed

 The men in Paris were routinely stylish. 1. Horizontal stripes are a french classic.
2. This cute old man had on a tan suit and an overcoat so its hard to see how perfect he wears french casual.
3. The trick seems to be the classic sport coat paired with just about anything.
4. The Navy sport coat is a staple in Paris.

love the hat

I captured this shot the next day at the market, I love his hat- and with feathers people! In Paris the men know how to accessorize!
I saw scarfs and hats and jackets and colored socks. I adore the sharply dressed old men.

orangerie 3

4. Guided Tour- So I really love guided tours. I love learning hundreds of years worth of history in the place were it happened. Versailles was great but I could have done 30 more hours of history in 4 days… my traveling companions may not have been so eager. Paris is full of interesting things to learn about, last time we were there I did a fantastic tour of the Lourve, and next time maybe I will have time for more.

formage

5. French Markets- The french just know their market culture. Everything about their markets scream ambiance.

fish

 We have a thing for fish at the markets, there are such fresh and beautiful varieties. I’ve never seen langoustines for sale in America they are delicious! Specked flounder, squid, sardines, snapper, octopus everything fresh from the ocean.

meat

 The charcuterie is delish, the meat all tied up beautifully makes me want to cook, the roasting meats made me want to eat and the pig tails and pig feet made me want to snap photos that prove every bit of the pig aint just for rednecks in south Alabama.

beautiful eggplant

produce

6. Food- gelato, pastries, fish tocos and great big burgers- the food in Paris is Delicious! Try to avoid places that have menus in book format with laminated pages (like Dennys or IHOP) and if they offer the menu in 3 or 4 languages thats a dead giveaway to try and find something… more intimate, more local. Look for chalkboard menus, recommended restaurants and big crowds of french people reading french papers and talking in french- those are probably good places to eat.

bread

pastry art