Hike Bannalp


Bannalp is one of these small quaint mountain top areas that offers the perfect combo of just about everything you can ask for when you hike in Switzerland.


And when I say everything, I really mean super sick views! The photos above are what it looks like on a sunny day. The lake water is an amazing shade of glacier green.

This is a hidden gem, for me at least, because I have been living 15 minutes away for a total of over 5 years of my life (do I get a little break because they weren’t all consecutive?). You drive through one of my favorite enchanted swiss valleys on the way there, a short 7 minutes from the main highway connecting North and South. It is the route to Engleberg, a quintessentially-Swiss mountain village tucked into the alps. Oberrickenbach is even smaller and more authentic because its still a secret to tourist. Just before you start to make the climb in altitued and swerve around all those nausea inducing switchbacks, you take a left in Wolfenschiessen (translated as wolf shooting) and make the climb into the little tiny (farmer town) of Oberrickenbach. By the way on your way out, do not pass the Gasthaus Post Restaurant (Dorfstrasse 4 6387 Oberrickenbach) with out stopping for fondue. It really is the best place to share a pot of flavored cheese with a friend, or many!

PROPER DIRECTiONS anreise_klein

There are 3 gondolas up to the top of the cliff that forms a wall at the end of the valley, theres really no way to miss them because the road just ends. Take your pick of trails and decide which is a most strategic landing spot and then off you go. Warning: The gondolas up to Bannalp are private, translation: they do not offer a halbtax discount. I think its kind of expensive, but if you have a few hours to spend hiking take a one way and hike down- it saves a little money and is good for you!


A few weeks ago we picked one such route and promised a friend with kids who was going with us that this was a “gentle decent” and that her double knee replacement should be no worries. That was before we accidentally left the map at the bottom of the gondola station and decided we could figure it out. I had been there for a short hike before and there aren’t a whole lot of choices so I felt pretty confident.


We did the circle around the lake for a warm up and took some beautiful photos of the moody clouds that were so inconsiderately blocking our views, when Sparticus serendipitously ran across  a discarded map along the trail, and confidently proceeded to guide the way.

I wonder if you can tell where this story is headed yet? (Yes I blame him). We found our self headed down hill, as in a pretty steep downward mountain trail that was wet and extremely EXTREMELY muddy.

I have never seen a swiss trail in such bad shape. There were workers on it trying to make repairs while we struggled to stay upright and dry. There were a few times when I had to tell my self to “pick up those feet soldier” because I was going to sink in the mud if not, and more than once I felt like I was stepping out of my shoes that were cemented into the mud- squish squash squish squash.



The boys loved it and scampered ahead of us, occasionally slipping in the mud to see how dirty they could get. It didn’t take long (about 2 minutes in) for me to start voicing my concerns about the direction and our guide. He was not appreciative about this line of questioning and threw the map back in my direction landing in the wet mud. But determined- I fished it out and of course- I WAS RIGHT. We were not on the path we had planned and instead on a treacherous steep path that weaved around the shady side of the mountain range.


Too far gone, we pressed on, and on, and on. We were mostly happy little hikers because the weather was cool, and we had no rain and lots of friends to keep us entertained. AND THE VIEWS!!!




At least hiking through the shady muddy wet forest did provide for some moss love.


I have to make a few confessions, I have not been working out at the gym (or elsewhere ) in months. Work and home life are consuming. I was incredibly sore after that hike. I can not say that it’s only from being out of shape. I think that the trail was in such bad shape, my muscles must have had to compensate more than normal to just keep from sliding down the mountain. My friend who did the hike with us also complained about the pain for days after, thats my story and I am sticking to it!





No pain no gain. I will be back after snow season to check out the “right trail”.

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):


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):


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):


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


Day 7 (Wednesday):

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

Chateau-de-Chillon-Castle-Montreux- copy

  • 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.


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.






Lauterbrunnen and Trümmelbach Falls

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

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.


 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.


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.


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


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.

amanda in lauterbrunen3


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

Gardens of Versailles 101

family photo caos1This is a little glimpse into the reality of traveling with kids. Most of the time it looks like this, which is fine and can even be fun if you are outside in a 2000 acre garden. Versailles was a good way to kill a day in Paris. Especially with beautiful weather touring the palace was not a temptation. Even if you do not know all the history or hire a guild to walk around and teach you about Versailles, anyone can enjoy wandering around, renting little row boats, or having lunch at a cafe in the gardens (which are surprisingly good and priced very average). Visiting the gardens are free, so just visit and enjoy it. Heres the main things to know about the gardens of Versailles:

luis 13 statue at versailles

 Louis XIV/ Sun King

Since we had a guilded tour of Versaille I am now an expert. The statue just above is at the entrance before the golden gates. This dude is Louis the fourteenth. He inherited the thrown at the ripe ole age of FIVE and lived a long time~ 77 years. His reign of 72 years and 110 days is the longest of any monarch of a major country in European history. He is the man responsible for the lavish palace and gardens of Versailles, the perfume industry in France and perhaps the beginning of the economic recession the eventually led to the French Revolution, quite a legacy. The most interesting thing I know about him is that he had only a handful of baths in his entire life, which probably explains the popularity of perfume.

9 million dollar reproduction fence

At Versaille everything that glitters IS REAL GOLD. There is gold leaf on the entrance gates and embellishing the central palace. This kind of lavish spending became a bit of a problem for starving peasants. During the French Revolution the people tore down the gates (probably cashed in some gold) and for many years there were no gates at all. About 10 years ago France approved construction for replica gates that cost about 8 million dollars! France brings in more money in tourism than any other country in the world so pouring some of it back into popular attractions is a good idea.

all the gold is real gold leaf

dragon fountain 2

dragon fountain 1

apollo rising fountain

Water Problems / fountains that are never on

Louis the 13th fancied him self the sun god apollo and so there are many beautiful sculptures sitting in pools of water. People say they are fountains depicting mythological scenes, especially showcasing the god Apollo. We never witnessed a single fountain turned on because they only turn them on a few times a week and I think you pay extra to see that, or click here to get the idea. At the time they were built the whole plumbing system what quite an engineering marvel, but even back then they never had enough water to activate them all at the same time. And the same pipes and infrastructure is still in place today.

this is what its like trying to do paris with kids

trees all in rows

French Garden Design/ Formal and Ordered

Versailles is full of great examples of classic French garden design. Formal, symmetrical, nature conforming to man.
winter fountain

summer fountain family

orangerie 1

The Orangerie is my favorite part of the garden.

I love the patterned lawns but also I imagine when the citrus trees are blooming the walk through the garden must smell so sweet!


orangerie 4

By the end of the day this is how we all felt.

this is how sophia felt at the end

part of versailes with arch
arch of versailles modern_classic

TIP: Snacking my kids through a long hike or a long day of walking and listening is my best strategy. Sometimes I bring chewy candy that keeps their mouths busy but I also make an effort to pack healthy snacks like nuts and squeeze fruit. These applesauces had funny faces that kept the kids amused for days, but I like them because they are portable and easy to pack.

axel and squeezy fruit faces

Heres a little video about our day at Versailles.

Windmills and Friday Links


No week of posting about Amsterdam would be complete with out a few Windmill photos.


Even the modern ones are beautiful to me.

lots of modern windmils too

I can’t wait to carve out a week or 2 one summer for a relaxing trip to the Netherlands, because doesn’t this place just scream.. SLOW DOWN!?

This weekend we will do some long walks, and bikerides which is really one of my favorite things to do on the weekend, especially after a long busy week : Axel spranged his wrist and is almost helpless, Sparticus was in Germany for a aviation conference, everyone is suffering from a little hay fever and, well, we are all worn out from sunny days in the sandbox, & playground. We are still on the hunt for a different flat with no luck, but since we are traveling and outside playing so often lately I’m not obsessing about it as often. Fathers day is coming up and of course schools almost out in the states and we are counting down the last 4 weeks of school before we hop on a flight stateside for the summer. Here are a few inspired links to check out over the weekend:

  1. Heres a project I can relate to.
  2. These kids and their story made me cry.
  3. Here is a list of cute (except for the tie, its ugly, don’t make goofy ties) homemade Fathers Day gift ideas.
  4. Sorry, another list but look at the last one– I think we are so doing this!
  5. Here is a new-ish Ted talk about parenting anxiety- have you watched it? It might make you feel a little better.



Keukenhof and Noordwijk~ Among Europe’s Must do Attractions

flower sign

I love visiting Botanical Gardens. I have been luck enough to live near several really impressive ones over the years – Long wood gardensbelingrath gardens, Missouri Botanical Gardens and loved to visit especially when the tulips bloom and the cherry blossoms blow good luck though the air.

petals fall under cherry trees

petals fall under cherry trees2

under the cherry tree

The world famous Keukenhof doesn’t try and be the biggest, it doesn’t have to advertise much, it is just the mother of all tulip gardens. Its only open for about 7 weeks, from the end of march through the end of may. People, buses and trains full of people, descend upon the tiny farming village for 7 weeks a year. The tourist invade the tulip fields (of course we did) for photos and the Keukenhof welcomes them with the efficiency and precision of a swiss watch. From parking to ticketing to feeding the massive amounts of guest, you’d never know that this is just a temporary-seasonal operation.

flowers everywhere2

The question of the day was “where to start?”.

big landscapes

Kuekenhoff is world famous and must be geographically located in the absolute perfect spot on earth where bulbs thrive because they are not only abundant but perfect. I didn’t see a wilted, drooping, scorched, or dead bulb in sight.

beautiful dark purple mascari too

beautiful coco


There were simply acres and acres of color (mixed with a whole lot of tourist).

flowers everywhere

Even with the massive numbers of people around I never felt crowded, Its like a huge park with room enough for everyone and their cameras.

flower petals in canal

flower petals floating in canal

We studied the weather for days and picked the afternoon with the most sunshine to visit, it was lovely.

rows and rows

montage flowers

The kids got to pet baby animals.

coco and lambs

petting zoo


I got to talk to a peacock.


What tulip garden in Holland would be complete with out a windmill? Not this one.

complete with windmill


There was a playground just in case you needed a break from sitting and looking at flowers.


playground 2

There was also a shrub maze that fascinated Axel but it wasn’t blooming so I didn’t take any photos of it. The GIANT cotton candy however was very impressive. I use the kids begging as an excuse to buy it and “share” with me. So pretty much the Keukenhof thought of everything.

giant candfloss

a little bit heavenly

Oh and there were swans, and fountains and ponds too.

swan too_


beautiful whites

beds of color

plantings between rocks

almost as big as her head

The tulips are almost as big as Coco’s head!

hydreangea macrophylla

Some of the hydrangeas were much bigger than her head.

hydreangea dress coco

river of mascari

And when Keukenhof closed at 7 pm we decided to stop a million times to try and photograph the unbelievable fields, miles and miles of fields packed with rows of colorful flowers.

mom and me and the tulips

rows and rows!

tuplip fields at 7-00pm

tuplip fields at 7-00pm 2

coco in field of red2

And I couldn’t resist jumping out of the car time after time to stand in the middle of all those flowers and snap a few shots of my baby girl- who of course wanted to pick them for her teachers, and for her friends, and the neighbor, and the bus driver, and the nice people at the grocery store, and, and, and. 
coco in field of red3We drove until the road ended at the Atlantic ocean in a town called Noordwijk and what we saw made me cry a little.

beach path

It was beautiful wide sandy beaches.

so happy to see the sea

sparticus at sea2

beautiful beach boy

It looked like it could have been Florida, or South Carolina, it was the most familiar looking place I had seen all year.

coco running from sea

And we ran through the warm-ish sand with bare feet for an hour until dark. And we loved it, and we had missed it. And we sent silent wishes across the big Atlantic Ocean to our loved ones on the other side.

running to camera

And it was a perfect day. Amen.

me at beach

Amsterdam Flower Market & Canal Tour

flower market cut flowers-forget me not_1
A visit to the Amsterdam Flower Market is worth your time especially if you are looking to purchase any variety of bulbs for your garden back home or if you are interested in Canibis starter kits.

pot kits

pot seeds

canabis lolipops

Of course the kids wanted lollipops the minute they spotted them… only 5 Euros for 6!

 The market host vendors of cut flowers, stunning mixed bouquets and 100’s of varieties to buy and mix-match yourself.

flower market bouquet

flower market cut flowers

But the bulk of the market is dedicated to Holland’s bulb business and while tulips are certainly the most famous I think the Amarylis stole the show. The size of these bulbs were impressive- I once purchased a giant double white amaryllis from a specialty “boutique” grower I lived near. It was beautiful. I remember the bulb seemed bigger than any of the discount kits (that include pots and soil) you can purchase at christmas time. This bulb was expensive- may 20 bucks?! These bulbs make that one look like a wee-baby-amyrilis bulb. In the photo below I set a 2 euro cent on the bulb to give it some perspective (its a little larger than a quarter) I know its hard to get an idea about how big these suckers are but trust me. AND the price…. 4.50! maybe 25% the cost I paid for the wee-one.

giant amarylis bulbs

incredible bulbs and incredible prices!

Giant Alliums are impactful but also expensive… not at the flower market- you can buy 3 for 5 Euro, normally you could order these 3 for 25-30$. A good price for 100 mixed quality bulbs would be at least 30$ in Amsterdam… less than 7.00 Euro! Oh how I wish I had a garden.

flower market 2

venus fly trapThe only souvenir we brought home is Axels new pet, a venus flytrap. It is growing in the window ledge and has 5 leaves now. It might just come in handy during the summer because we have no screen and no air-conditioning and the house flys are abundant (thanks to the cow manuer being sprayed all over the fields).

canal tour at train station

Next stop was the canal tour which is touted to be a must-do whilst visiting Amsterdam.

canal boat2

There are lots of different tour operators but the prices seemed to be consistent.

_axel is a beautful child3

Axel could almost reach up and steer the boat from his seat in front.

canal boat

We boarded a full boat and chose a seat up front- unfortunately the trick is (TIP) make sure you get a seat that the windows open up for good photo opportunities– sadly ours did not. I spent the whole tour trying to shoot photos over the guy behind me’s shoulder and he was not overly cooperative. All in all the tour leaves room for improvement, the recorded “guild” was hard to hear and its always tricky trying to time a tour with a recording. It’s a super touristy attraction and a nice chance to rest and see some beautiful examples of the typical architecture. 

love high contrast

I love high contrast trim and Amsterdam did not disappoint.

love high contrast and unique architecture

hooks on houses for moving in

Notice the big hooks on the tops of the buildings, these are used to hoist furniture up to the windows instead of trying to bring it up through narrow staircases. They are on all the houses in Amsterdam but also often seen in many larger European cities with narrow multistory houses. 

LOVE!!! archetecture for canal house_1I loved this row of houses, from the uber-traditional to the more modern designs, all playing together nicely side by side. And speaking of modern, along the harbor amsterdam’s new EYE is a architectural landmark, inside is a large cinema and eateries.

amsterdam eye_ cool architecture

amsterdam architectureHotels and Condo’s along the harbor are also home to great examples of big modern statement to the cities progressive ideals.

advertising on your houseboat helps pay rent

The most fascinating part of the canal tour was the house boats docked one after the other along the canals. There are a limited number of “slips” and none to be added so if you want to live on a houseboat in the city you practically have to wait for someone to die. I loved how some of the boats used there prime tourist real-estate to sell advertising space… we did not visit the cheese museum, it somehow felt wrong, disloyal to our host country Switzerland. But I could really see my self living in the Netherlands… at least April- October. 

Marken Island & Tiny Fishing Villages/Neighborhoods North of Amsterdam

more houses and street signs

hanging laundry pennants

Marken Island Is a small island (now connected to the mainland by a narrow causeway) just about 20 minutes drive north west of Amsterdam. It is easy to find on a map and can also be reached several times daily by tourist boats as it is a popular destination for tourist seeking a representation of traditional dutch architecture and lifestyle. For some time during the later 19th and early 20th centuries, Marken and its inhabitants were the focus of considerable attention by folklorist, ethnographers and physical anthropologist, who regarded the small fishing town as a relic of the traditional native culture that was destined to disappear as the modernization of the Netherlands gained pace. Today the town reluctantly welcomes many visitors daily who walk or bike through the island to see the old lighthouse, visit the wooden shoe factory/museum, and eat at one of the quaint restraints by the marina.

wooden shoe shop

Notice the old dead tree covered in carved wooden shoes to the right of the bridge. It was a little creepy.

 cute use of wooden shoes

wooden shoe shop with museumleft: shoe museum display center: Coco sporting souvenir painted wooden shoes right: impressively ornate carved wedding shoes


pastoral landscape with sheep

Pastoral European backdrops that once provided inspiration for Dutch landscape artist are at every turn.

baba black sheep

painted grout, details!!!

The painted details on individual houses are what separate one from another, while otherwise very uniform in style and color palette. I love the shutters and the white grout striping and the fence post tipped in white!

marken is drawbridge cananls montage

A traditional dutch style lunch of fish and chips called Kibbeling, tomato soup, (real) dutch apple pie and lemon aid was served at a cafe dockside. While waiting for the food I snapped a few shots of the family, the lighting was pouring into the window just perfectly.

daddys girl

kids and I

hot tomatoe soup2_1

hanging laundry


houses with matching outbuildings

We wandered around snapping photo after photo of the beautifully painted wooden houses with sharply contrasting white trim. Some where striped with white and green and others a solid shade of dark green or grey. The architectural review board must be very rigid but I admit that the uniformity adds to the charm. And the grassy yards dotted with shaggy little sheep, color pennant flays hanging across canals and alleys, beautiful tiny little fences doted with colorful flower-boxes, laundry drying in the breeze and children in waistcoats running through the brick streets make this village a peaceful postcard-perfect afternoon destination for long walks along the sea.

why white stripes_ beautiful but work!!!

darling houses- imagine constand painting

flower boxes on fence

beautiful sailboats

gables and harbor

long prominade lined with wildflowers

coco & dad

boys dressed in waistcoats_

For second-dessert we ate poffertjes- mini little dutch pancakes cooked in a hot iron mold and served up by a nice dutch couple in traditional outfits.

mini pancakes

mini pancakes_1

Outside of Marken Island there were example after example of lovely little cottages with traditional dutch details. In Switzerland we have beautiful old dark wood chalets and a multitude or rather sterile modern multifamily housing. I was daydreaming of a dutch cottage for days: painted shutters and little animals dotting the front yard, chicken houses that match the rambling little fairy tail cottages they are built next to, painted birds over windows and doorways, lace curtains and heart shaped wreaths, gates and fencepost and dutch doors and flower boxes and intricately carved gabel trimmings held my fascination as we drove and drove through charming little hamlets.

little houses with ornamental gabels

decorated gables

charming cottages

esparalles trees

Someday I am going to train espalier (a technique to train any type of plants to grow flat against a wall or fence) trees to line the sidewalks in front of my cottage too.

a few entrance details

painted details

little houses with paver streets2

I love the brick roads and sidewalks that seemed to line all of Amsterdam and its surrounding area.

duch gable design on facade with hiped roof_

Check out the traditional dutch gable detail that exist as a sort of dormer facade- breaking up the boring hipped rooflines.

houses with cute shutters and chickens in yard

farm animals in the yard2

look at all the decorative painting, colors, texturesI should have driven back to this property and taken proper photos, but just look at the painted trims and shutter details!

fairy tale house with little outbuildings

This photo absolutely does this little fairytale cottage in justice. The rambling assorted outbuilding and house additions were all matching down to the dog house and chicken coup. What might have looked like a hot mess is totally darling!

solo 2

I could have stayed here into the last warm days of autumn content to take photographs and long walks, paint like the old dutch masters and maybe even learn to shear sheep… but as you know that will have to wait for another season in life. In the mean time I think meeting up with a couple of girlfriends to properly explore the seaside and put a dent into the shopping opportunities that Amsterdam offers is going to have to be a priority next year!









Prominade in Locarno

_palm trees mountains and forget-me-nots

 We visited locarno Switzerland last week for a day of wonder and peace!

boats montage

prominade near marina with kinder

views of city montage

Locarno is located just to our south about an hour and a half away, just on the other side of the Gottard Pass. The Gottard can be a very problematic traffic risk, particularly this time of year when sun seekers are heading south at the slightest encouragement from weather apps. This was our excuse for packing a picnic, loading up the scooters for a day out in the sunshine.

how europeans spend weekends

how Europeans spend weekends

 Ticino is the Italian Canton in Switzerland so it feels like you have driven into another country but in reality it still benefits from Swiss organization, and Swiss standards of cleanliness, but unfortunately it adheres to swiss pricing as well! A pizza will run you at least 10-20 Euros and is intended to be eaten by one person.

playground montage

nautically themed playground complete with a trampoline and a ship.

In Locarno and along many of the lake front villages of Maggiore there is a long promenade usually lined with beautifully landscape park space, sometimes with playgrounds, swimming areas and almost always scattered with cafe’s. It is a perfect weekend escape to just let the children play while relaxing in the sunshine.

montage flowers locarno

2 cute weasles

Just to the east of Lake Maggiorre is Lake Lugano (maybe 1/2 hour distance) and again to the south and crossing the border to Italy (another 1/2 hour) is the more famous Lake Como (home to a Mr. George Clooney). If you like to visit castles Bellinzona has 3 and is situated perfectly between the two lakes (Maggiore and Lugano). Ascona is another village (smaller) worth a mention and is not far from Locarno. Their Lido (beach space) is quite nice and totally free of charge. From many of these villages you will also find places to rent small boats for an afternoon on the lake.

bike event


check out the unicycle!

Unknowingly we arrived in town on the same day as the bike fest. Locarno blocks off the streets and people come for miles around to bicycle, roller blade and scooter their way through the streets. I want to make sure we bring the bikes next year (first weekend in April). It is a common sight to see Europeans enjoying their parkspaces on a sunny weekend; they lye in the sun reading books and snacking while the children play along side. We like to add in a couple of scoops of gelato for a perfect ending to the afternoon and as a reward for a long walk along the beautiful lake side promenade.

prominaden 3

prominade again

gilato montage







Mountain Playgrounds perfect for some fun and relaxation.

Near our house there are a few great mountain playgrounds with nearby restaurants and scenic hiking paths. All are accessible by public transportation, however if you prefer to take the car you can park at the lifts. A few on this list can even be reached with-out the gondola, just park your car nearby the playground and walk.

Our top 2 favorites are with in about 10-15 minutes from our flat in Ennetburgen.

Stockhutte– -is open from 8:30 to 12:00 / 13.00 – 17.30 clock / descent from Stockhütte 12.50 clock
Weekend-continuous operation.

buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free

We love stockhutte for many reasons, it’s close to our house, we enjoy renting the trotti-bikes, they have great walking paths, the kids can spend hours on the playground, and they have a large enclosed rabbit pin where you can go inside and play with the bunnies.

playground montage

TIP: If you aren’t from around here you and the kids might love trying some of our favorite Swiss soda’s. Try a Rivella- Blue or Red are the kids favorites (you don’t want to know what its made from), Beckenried’s Orangemost (orange soda made in a nearby village), and Apelshorle is my favorite because it’s made with real apple juice and is not terribly sweet. 

Wirzweli-is open from 7:40 until 6:20 and cable cars run every 20 minutes.

Buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free


 Wirzweli has a fun playground with a large “tree” house, a pine cone slide contraption, teeter-toters and slides and all the normal trappings of a good playground, I wrote about it here. There are large grilling areas if you prefer to picnic and a restaurant if not.

  TIP: The ice-cream sundae’s at the restaurant are delicious and the kids are probably satisfied playing while you watch them from the deck of the restaurant. Lucky for me, my kids usually prefer a popsicle which is far less expensive. 

*also note -May 23  the lift and Playground open for the season (prior to that you can take a bus up to the restaurant and walking trails) There are usually plenty of parking places near the gondola and if you take the train there is a shuttle from the station to the gondola, or enjoy a short walk.


Three more favorites are with in about 15-25 minutes from our flat in Ennetburgen.

Seelisburg– is open from 8:30 until 6:30 during warm weather.

Seelisburg can be reached by car, or bus from the stans train station. It is a senic drive. Lake Seelisberg is between the mountains and is filled with stunning turquoise water. There is a playground, BBQ place, Kiosk, Beach Volleyball and toilets. You can rent deck chairs and rowboats. There is also a Camping site which you can use if you decide to stay:). I think there is a small entrance fee of about 4.50 vhf adults and a few franks for kids, they also have a family deal that with 2 paying adults and kids are free.



Bruni– is open from 8:00 am until 6:00 pm may 24- Oct. 19, and from Oct 19-Nov 23 8:20am -5:00 pm- cable cars run every 20 minutes. Park in the large lot in Engleburg next to the Gondola, or take the train to Engleburg and walk or bus to gondola.

Buy a Gondola ticket:

  • adults are 18 chf- with 1/2 tax 9chf
  • kids are 9 chf -with Junior Card Free

trampolin at bruni

climbing wall at bruni

There are lots of kid oriented activities at Bruni other than just the playground. I wrote about it here. My family loves the summer time toboggan run that reaches speeds of 40 km per hour and is 660 meters long. Click on the link for pricing and details.

Spielplatz Grotzenwäldli– is open from 7:40 until 6:20 . The snow is usually melted by May and thru October.

Getting there:
Spielplatz Grotzenwäldli
6390 Engelberg
Tel. 041 637 15 58
There is some parking near by, but limited and be prepared to walk.  If you decide to take the senic train ride to Engleburg you can ask their about public transportation options, or enjoy the easy walk up to the park, roads are not usually high traffic and on a nice day the mountain views are stunning.


coco on bridge

The Park is one of the more unique and delightful in the area, I wrote more about it here. It’s kiddie heaven! Lots of room for playing, with a little lake to navigate rafts on (rafts are provided-just borrow from the dock- no fee), suspension bridges to cross, towers to climb… There are grill pits for those who want to still the hunger they’ve worked up being outdoors. This playground has a lot to offer, and the kids are sure to love it!

Tip : Pack a swimsuit in the summer necessarily (or change clothes ) a , because only about 50 cm deep lake will your kids guaranteed to dropped fountains entice .

* also note: The Robinson playground Grotzenwäldli is privately maintained and exemplary maintained. The necessary expenditure is financed by donations. It is therefore requested to make a small contribution in the respective point for the barbecue wood used .


TIP: Its also worth noting the the senic train that runs between Luzern and Engelburg offers a kids “scavenger hunt” promotion from June- October. You simply have to pick up a form (available at the train station, before boarding the train) and fill in the answers along the way. You only have to have a handful of answers correct to redeem the prize and it applies to trips taken originating in Luzern, Hergiswill, Stans, Dallenwill and other stops along the way. The prize last year was a treasure chest filled with lots of goodies from stickers to chocolates!