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

Photo Class Birthday~ in English


row of houses with text

When I gave myself a photography class Birthday gift, I thought it would be a perfect date night. I could learn something new, and my un-interested husband might pick up enough skill to take a photo of me and the kids occasionally. For weeks I looked forward to our Christmas time photo class, but my daughter came down with a nasty virus the night before class and my husband took on the job as nurse for the day.

me snapping photos

I met Andaleeb Lilley, Photographer and Living in Luzern Sponsor, to improved my technique, learned about ISO, Aperture, Shutter speed, White Balance, composition- how to adjust it, and why I need to. Andaleeb is easy going, and made complicated technical concepts simple to understand. She shared the perfect amount of intro-info to get me excited and eager to try out the new tips with out feeling the slightest bit overwhelmed. We wrapped up in coats and headed outside the studio to apply what I had just learned. It was fun and the hands on portion allowed me to have the professional advise to capture some of the beautiful scenes we see everyday in Switzerland. I know my friends and family back in the tropical deep south (South Carolina USA) adore seeing the uniquely Swiss scenery and being able to experience a snowy Christmas through my images.

I mean look at this little shed with antlers-THIS IS FOR REALS!

b_w shed closeup_1

How bout this row of mill houses in Baar?! SO cute with frosted trees, red painted houses, and chimney smoke sending puffs into the air. I wanna live here!

row of houses wide

If I didn’t have sick kids back home I can imagine taking a stroll through the forest snapping away at the frosty grass and trees with my sweety, and a thermos of hot coco~ how romantic!

bridge directional sign

Andaleeb shared a great tip about a shop near Zurich where you can get your camera serviced, buy equipment, and rent lenses. Check out Profot if you need a recommended camera shop.

It is this time of year, when I take the time to reflect and set goals that I am eager to take classes and spend time focusing on improvement. If your looking to get to know your SLR camera better, improve your photos, and capture beautiful memories I recommend spending a few hours with Andaleeb, for 120 chf you get a great intro, some great snaps, and you get to meet a terrific lady who is an asset to our English speaking community!

Andaleeb Lilley Photography

Tel: +41 79 654 4115


Christmas Traditions Everyday in Switzerland~ Friday Roundup


photo by Lovonne Burrow

photo by Lovonne Burrow

Some weeks life seems impossibly busy and exhausting with very little to show for it, how does that happen? There is definitely no shortage of Christmas Activity here in Switzerland. The snow is covering everything and we have even seen patches of blue sky this week! Samichlaus comes to our house tonight, and I don’t mean while everyone is sleeping, I mean to actually interview the children and access how they can improve some of their behaviors and talk about what things they are doing well at!!! This is a country with accountability! I love it!!!!

Sami came to town in the UMZUG (parade) last Saturday night. Her is a video from a nearby village Umzug– don’t be alarmed by the guys wearing white pointy hats and white robes carry torches. The video is only a short clip but normally Santas enterage includes the Smutzli this video explains his purpose and origins:

Here in our village it was a long processional of lantern carriers and bell ringers. He has been visiting speil gruppe today and leaving little treats for the children. Axel has heard that all areas of Switzerland have their own Samichlaus- there are many of them. It appears that he is a man of the cloth since he dresses like a catholic priest and made a speech last week on the steps of the church after the parade. I couldn’t understand his Swiss German so I am a little out of the loop. The parents of the children in town receive a paper ( a cheat sheet of sorts) that must be filled out for Sami so that he can have talking points, then we dropped it off at the little candy/newspaper stand in the village where Sami goes to collect the sheets and make appointments. We got a telephone call from him on Tuesday and were shocked to learn that he has picked up some English and will be able to talk to us in both German and English. He will bring treats for the kids and we hope to see some clean bedrooms today!

Other things that are keeping us buzzing with Christmas Spirit is the Free Cookie making at the big shopping center near us. They take the children over 3 and help bake, and decorate a box of free cookies!


I always imagine this Christmas tradition of family cookie baking to be one of the most happy and memorable of the season. In my mind its a Norman Rockwell painting, the fireplace is lit, the house smells of cinnamon, the tree is glittering with handmade ornaments. Mothers smile wearing the perfect share of red lipstick, high heels and a beautiful pressed white apron. They cradle a lovely ceramic bowl in one arm and calmly stir the concoction into a lovely cookie dough. The counter-tops are clean and magically free of the giant mess that seems to be inevitable with a baking experiment that includes the children’s help. The cookies come out of the oven at the perfect golden brown and the frosting and candies are applied with artistic precision. My attempt at the tradition have never born the stress free smiling version of this fantasy but I still try every year. And this year Landerpark allowed me to stand smiling in my heals and red lipstick while I watched professionals cover the kids in plastic aprons and carry them through a painless process stress free! My kitchen is clean and I am smiling. Not to mention the word free is rarely used in Switzerland so we get pretty excited when we hear it!!!

The kids and I also took the train into Luzern on Wednesday (that’s the day all kids get out of school by 11:30) and we went to the Christmas market and walked around drinking warm Christmas punch and looking at the decorations in the city. It was a perfect afternoon because the sun came out and the skies were clear and you could see beautiful snow covered mountains all around. We lingered in the book shop to warm up and then headed rode the train back to the village while snacking of freshly made chocolate filled “berliners” (they aren’t Krispy Kremes but they’ll do in a pinch).

day of the donut 2009

Since this post is full of links I only a few good ones for the weekend:

  • Motivations for my work out 
  • I know this is probably old news in the states but we have watched this video a 100 times- amazing!!!! Does this kid have a scholarship yet?
  • This looks so good and with a name like Christmas Crack it must be addictive too!

Finally let’s not forget the reason for the season:

Tomorrow we travel to a few nearby villages with reputations for some very special Christmas Markets (here too), it will be a fun way to spend the day. I wish you were here! What are some of your families favorite traditions that put you in the mood for Christmas?

Räbliechtli Um-zug

raebe_12Happy Monday! We are waking up to a very crisp morning, last night it snowed down to 500 meters, which is hard for most of my American friends to quantify, so lets put it this way, the Eiffel tower is 324 meters tall. So we almost got snow in the valley. It’s a perfect situation because everywhere we turn it looks like a winter wonderland, the sun is shining (as it usually does after a big snow) and best of all the sidewalks are clean and there is not brown slush all over the roads.  Last week our village had the annual turnip carving for the Räbliechtli Um-zug~ Which is a turnip light parade.

axel Räbliechtliumzug

sonja Räbliechtliumzug

some of cocos friendsWe met one of our neighbor friends at 5:00 and walked over to the Catholic Church in the town center, to be there by 5:15. The walk takes a normal adult about 3 minutes but we were walking with two 4-year-old’s so that slowed us down a bit. At the chapel we sat quietly for a few minutes where some guy talked about the origins of the tradition- but my German/Swiss-German wasn’t good enough to understand it. The children all sang a little song about the light parade and we all lined up outside to get on with the show!

torches and bells

waiting for police to cross the street

Kayla and Coco

It’s a cute little tradition for the young children of the village to make a carved turnip lantern and march around while some of the older kids wearing white robes ring bells to lead the way. A few ladies in charge carried torches and made sure the kids stayed behind them by stretching a rope across the road.

coco and village children


hnaging turnip from stroller

The turnip carving is a little like a Jack o lantern but small and portable.

lanterns on sticks

lanternsIn different Canton’s in Switzerland they put the carved turnips on sticks but most of the lanterns at our parade where hanging with wire.

Here is a clip on how the lanterns are made:

After the parade everyone met back at the school yard which is in the center of town and ate hotdogs and “turnip tea” which turns out to be a fruit-herb tea. I love learning about these very Swiss traditions and sharing them with you- this is real Swiss village life!hotdog time

sophia Räbliechtliumzug


valley near Engstlenalp Switzerland.moxiblog.comA few weeks ago, in a rush to hike before the snow came and hiking season ends, we spent the weekend at Tannalp. To do this you go to the lift up to Melchsee-frutt in Kantone Obwalden, then you walk for about an hour the rest of the way (unless you have tired kids, then plan for 3). There is a kiddie train that takes passengers for a fee, but we came to hike so no cute little musical train ride for us!

cow parade panelsOh yeah, on the way to the lift, we ran into a cow parade, these cows were coming down from the mountain and headed to Kerns to march down the street and have every one cheer while they walk to the barn and to eat hay all winter, it’s hard work but somebody’s got to do it. Every time we passed a small herd we pulled over and enjoyed our own personal parade. It doubled our drive time, but the view was amazing!

the whole family!Here we are, on our walk to Tannalp, check out the backpacks, they are on all of our backs- they contain all our stuff for the weekend, we are almost just like real backpackers only we aren’t carrying food, tents, or sleeping bags.

walk to tannalp

a little blue sky


where we are goin 2better

wood pile

swiss window box

swiss flowers purple

flowers in braid

fall color grows on rocksThis is the fall color. It grows on rocks everywhere. Weird little plants but cool.

fall colorThere’s not a lot of fall color around here, most of the trees at this elevation are conifers. But what we saw was lovely.

tannalp room 2Here’s a shot of our room at Tannalp. The kids loved all the bunk-beds. I should tell you it was an awesome time. The cost was great- for Switzerland. It included dinner (roast beef, potatoes, red cabbage, dessert) and Breakfast ( fruit, cheese, meat, bread, typical Continental breakfast) Bunk-beds in a private room, and even though the bathrooms and showers were shared it was cool, kinda like camping, only with out the hassle, and with hot showers, and well… actually not really like camping at all. All this for about 75 chf adults and 35 chf for kids.

waterfallThis is the hotel at Engstlenalp, It looks nice from the outside. I imagine it’s posher and more expensive than what we were looking for but the location is IDEAL!

we hiked here. englestalp- theres a hotel



farm house in mountainsOccasionally on our hikes in the mountains around here you run across the summer alp farm homes and barns. I am so curious to see what they are like on the inside. SO Hello SWISS FARMERS- Feel Free to Comment up an INVITE! I’ll be happy to hike up for tea.

family minus me

cute heart doorIsn’t this door to die for- I think I want to build a barn for my horses someday (because someday I will have horses) and when I do I am going to cut out a little heart on the door.

flower and cow poopBet you can’t guess what this is all about? I hope I can remember this forever. Its a cow-pie. It’s the prettiest little purple flower – the only one in the field- growing right next to it -probably because of it. I hope with all the crap I put up with, that I will bloom too.

best crossOK, this is one of my favorite images. On nearly all the mountain tops you will find wooden crosses. It is a sweet tradition. I can’t help but feel in awe of the whole scene.

englseeenglstalpsee_I couldn’t love these kids more than while stopping for a break. They wanted to pull out their BOOKS! Books people- I have little readers, who when choosing what they were going to have to carry on their backs for 2 days- chose to bring books. AND to quietly – QUIETLY ( I almost never get to use that word when describing them- especially simultaneously)  read when we are sitting in this beautiful big open space way up in the alps of Central Switzerland. I could have sat here for hours, but it started to sprinkle, so we put on our raincoats and walked in the rain for the next few hours. We felt really tough by the time we got back to the Melchsee Frutt lift.

earned suckers- best break

love this all alone on top of world-RETOUCHSpeaking of the lift, check out the fog in the photo below. We are above the fog, as we descend from the mountain in the lift we enter the fog and rain and it was really cool to be above the clouds.

above the fog looking down at cable cars in fogNext time I want to hike all the way to Engleberg – check out the 4 lakes hike.

axel is fall color

i try to remember he is 8I try to remember he is only 8.

me all doneFinally, just to prove I was there I am including this photo. Just remember I am 40, I have been hiking for 2 days, and I practically camped last night. Photos like this remind me that I am not in my 20’s anymore and maybe I really need to get some expensive wrinkle cream. But for the price of wrinkle cream I would rather be hiking for the weekend!


Sauser Season

sauserI am not an expert on Switzerland, but I have lived here just long enough (including the few years I lived here a long time ago) to notice what’s different and appreciate some of its most unique treasures. Years ago I discovered Sauser at a dinner party hosted by an old friend. Knowing that I do not drink alcohol she thoughtfully provided a seasonal specialty called Sauser. It comes into season the first weeks of September and sticks around for about 6 weeks, give or take. It is the first press of the grapes. It’s a delicious grape juice that is ever-so-slightly bubbly,very sweet and very “grape-y”.

I love the seasonality of food here in Europe. Which is why the distinct changing of seasons brings with it a feeling of celebration. Sauser marks “Wild” season, the time of year when wild game is served with mushrooms, and truffles and chestnuts and for us, a tall glass of Sauser. Sauser doesn’t last long though, because its unpasteurized, and must be kept refrigerated. It is sold with-out a lid on it, and is simply covered with the foil top like a wine bottle with-out a cork. This allows it to “breath” and, I am guessing,  for the natural fermentation not to build up too much pressure. If you wait too long its not Sauser anymore, but on its way to becoming fermented. Unless of course you purchase the pasteurized version which can be kept at room temperature and I suppose, indefinitely? I bought my first bottle today so I don’t know if it taste as good, but email me next week if you are curious.

You can purchase it at Getranke Luci in Stans, or ask your local getranke if they carry it. *TIP: Because there is no lid or cork, the bottle is prone to spills. Make sure you pick up a wine box at the getranke -with dividers to hold is safely in place during transit. If you are reading this from another country in Europe, Sauser is Italian so I am sure it can be purchased in Italy and elsewhere. If your reading from the states, it’s a (one of many) good reason to come visit in September.

What’s so expensive about Switzerland?


I get asked what makes Switzerland so expensive. I usually just answer with some information about properties values and rental cost. Today I thought I would share some grocery comparisons.

First lets talk bread. I may have mentioned how this is one of the best parts of Europe. It is what keeps me carrying around those extra pounds. It really deserves a lot of credit, trust me. Today we had sandwich rolls made from some of the stuff in the basket on the left. Delicious twisty bread we call it- sort of like a chewey, crusty, baguette. Also pitured are braided pretzel bread, and whole grain rolls with dried fruit (perfect for breakfast). The braided loaf is affectionatly known as “Sunday bread” because it’s beautiful sweet white chewey buttery bread that you should only eat on Sunday. All that bread was about 10.00 chf=$10.72. I think that’s pretty comperable to something I would pay for a good bakery quality in the states.

Then there’s great quality produce. I love it, I think it’s better tasting, fresher, riper, more local, so yes we are spoiled. But I think we pay a little more for it.

  • celery: 2.70chf=$2.89
  • tomatoes: 1.20chf =$1.29
  • sweet Potatoes: 3.65chf=$3.91
  • borccoli: 2.05=$2.20
  • mellon: 3.50 chf=$3.75
  • kiwi: 1.80 chf=$1.93
  • lemons: 2.70chf=$2.89
  • oranges: 3.70chf=$3.96
  • appels: 1.85 chf=$1.98
  • pears: 1.75 chf=$1.88
  • strawberries: 3.95chf=$4.23
  • bannanas: 4.50chf=$4.82

In most of Europe the milk is UHT, its somehow made to store at room temperature for long periods of time. Some brands taste better than others. I buy a whole pack (6  one liter cartons) for 7.80 chf= $8.36, its cheaper than fresh, the kids cant tell a difference, especially on cereal. It does not have to be stored in our tiny little fridge, so that’s a real win for us. A litter of fresh milk is 1.50chf=$1.61.

The swiss are proud of their eggs, they are probably better for me- I haven’t figured it all out yet. They are over 5chf for a dozen, I have been buying the cheaper imported ones for about 3.95chf=$4.23. They also keep these on the shelf in the supermarket, not in the cooler. They are all very fresh. Once they start to become less fresh they turn them into boiled eggs, dye them pretty colors and sell them for 2.95chf=$3.16. They eat a lot of eggs here, I suspect because the meat is terribly expensive.

SO ready for the kicker? I purchased the pork roast for 24.85chf=$26.63, it was on sale for half off! Normally it would be 41.05! The turkey breast I purchased at the discount grocery store called LIDL. Lidl is like an Aldi. It is reduce groceries but you don’t always know what they are going to have and what you can count on buying. There prices make it worth going at least once a week and making a second trip to the normal supermarket. I bought the turkey breast for 10.50chf=$11.25 , normally it is 14.99chf= $16.06. The turkey will make 2 meals and frankly we have just cut back on the amount of meat we eat, which is healthy anyway.

One of my favorite non alcoholic options for a party drink or special occasion is REMUS- a bottle cost 4.95chf= $5.30.

Well, what do you think?  Except for the meat I think most things are pretty comparable for the quality. But I know friends who became vegetarians for a year (almost) because they refused to pay such high prices. I really miss Press and Seal, brown sugar, shortcuts like rice mixes and french onion soup mix. Sometimes I can’t find cilantro (called Koriander here) at the market and forget about fresh salsa. Some things are just hard to give up!

* Prices are based on today’s exchange rate.



Webster Chalk paint powder day 2 GIVEAWAY!

finished dresser_1

Yesterday I featured the dresser/vanity in Coco’s room. Eventually I will get around to showing you an entire tour of our little flat, and the reason why this dresser is not distressed will seem obvious, but once I was done painting it seemed so boring. Today I want to share with you the detail painting on the dresser – the monogram. I used a little of the Webster Chalk Paint Powder mix (2 tbls. Websters Powder, 1 tbls. water mix and add to 1 cup latex paint), and added just a little red acrylic paint I had in my art box. I did a quick search for a monogram typeface on the internet and found this, you can download it for free! I went on Graphics Fairy site and found a wreath of leaves and put the image together in my graphics software. I printed it at the size I liked for the drawer.

sophias dresser transfer closeup

I colored the back of the paper with a pencil, taped it into place and started tracing.

transfer closeup-peel back.moxiblog.comYou can see from the image above how the pencil transfers onto the drawer. This transfer method is quick and easy for me, especially here in Switzerland where I am VERY limited on equipment like overhead projectors and specialty transfer paper products. It works great, is fast and cheap, but the graphite does not wipe off easily and it does show through the paint a little if you do not cover it really well. I actually prefer my overhead projector for a job like this:(.

monogram round one finishedNext with a tiny little paintbrush I began applying the color and shading and it just got more and more carried away. I wish I had a photo of the whole dresser to compare it, but I instantly knew that the design and style was just too much and too small and overworked for this utilitarian piece of furniture. SO I painted over it again and the next day I started over.

monogram round two

I increased the size of the monogram, and removed all the wreath graphics, then I printed, penciled in the backside, taped it on and traced it. After I traced I mixed more paint (there was plenty of white left) and I used my smallest detail brush to paint the monogram. I dont think you have to be artistic at all for the monogram, just trace the lines and fill it in.

final monogram detail

If you look closely you will see it’s not PERFECT, and is definitely hand painted, but when you see it as a whole it looks great. When we get ready to leave and I sell all the furniture in the flat, it will be simple to paint over or to add the new lucky child’s monogram!

Coco before and after dress.moxiblog.comer

Now for the GIVE-AWAY INFO:

Do you have an old DIY project you have been wanting to try? Not sure about a big investment in time and money? This sample will make at least 2 cups of paint and I did all of this weeks projects with just 2 cups! It goes a long way. Make sure to visit the Websters Chalk Paint Powder site and leave a comment in this post. Tell me what you want to paint, give me a refinishing tip, or tell me you subscribed to the RSS feed! Friday winners will be randomly selected and I will contact you for your mailing address.
Good luck.

Running next to a brook

SufjanJimmy-H-Brook digital art

SufjanJimmy-H-Brook digital art

3 thoughts:

•I love my run app

•I am a night person

•I thought to my self (for the first time since I have been here) that I will miss this when I am gone. Are you wondering what IT is?

Tonight I went for a run with my lovely encouraging British friend Get Running. She has done the couch potato -5k program with me a few times. She is always so encouraging at just the right moments. She has the loveliest accent but knows how to appreciate the silent moments during a physically challenging run~ starting from ZERO and trying to get back into shape- again! She can’t see me so while I am self conscious during my exercise routine, you know when its really hard, and I make really painful facial expressions, and I sweat A LOT, I spit and pant and groan and want to quit and she never judges me. She just tells me what kind of time I have left and how great I am doing and what we have to look forward to. She reminds me how far I have come and that always makes me feel like I can go further. It’s a great app, did I tell you I LOVE IT?!

While Get Running and I were jogging I had a MOMENT , it felt like I could keep going and going for much longer than my friend Get Running was asking of me. I looked around at the majestic mountains surrounding me, and felt so wonderfully tiny. The darkness was coming, and no one was around and I didn’t have to feel self conscious about my muffin top jiggling or the sweat dripping off my forehead. I noticed the light that was left in the sky and even though I could not see the sun, I could still see that glow in the sky that makes me feel like I am not alone. It’s such a perfect time of day to run. Yes, I’m tired at the end of the day because I am a mom and moms work soooo hard. But I AM A NIGHT PERSON. I feel more alive at night, my kids wear me out, but once they are in bed and I know that I am off work and I can peruse my own interest, I usually get re-energized. I love the description in Stargirl (by Jerry Spinelli) “I liked the feeling the moonlight gave me, as if it wasn’t the opposite of day, but its underside, its private side”.  I ran next to the little glacier fed brook and felt the cool air rise from it and heard the soft trickle sounds over my own breath and I was so glad to be there at that moment enjoying the peace and anonymity of this place.

I ran to the end of the path and turned back toward home. As I entered the main street of our village my run ended and I walked the last 5 minutes home for a cool down. I passed a few other people walking, I heard cheers from the soccer field in the distance. The bus passed me by and the lights of the butcher and the post office and the luxury furniture store glowed as the darkness set in. I felt completely safe ( low crime is a wonderful advantage of living in Switzerland), no need to look over my shoulder, I was awake and alive and felt at peace. For the first time since I arrived, I thought to my self I will miss this feeling when I am gone.

I want to remember this because I WILL MISS IT.

4 countries, 4 days, one 4-year-old~Neuschwanstein castle

lighting candlesSummer vacation is finally here! The last day of school for Gabriel was a week ago Friday. We promptly left town and drove to Munich Germany to visit friends and see their city. We drove through Austria and the tiny country of Liechtenstein and did a lot of shopping and sightseeing in Munich. Prepare for massive photo dump.

summer castle munich~plaster work

This is some amazing plaster work inside the “summer castle” on the outskirts of town. summer castle munich~interior

And the painted ceilings and gold trims help you remember you are visiting a Palace.summer castle munich

Here is a shot of the Palace from the outside- It wouldn’t all fit but originally there was a grand canal the dropped off visitors almost right in front of the steps. They arrived in gondola style boats- It must have been very impressive. olympic park 2

The Olympics of 1972 were held in Munich and the Structures are still beautiful and modern looking. olympic park munich

munich city

Beautiful ornate buildings are everywhere downtown, lucky for Munich (and tourist), most of its architecture survived WWII bombings.part of walled city

This is one of the original entrances leading into the walled city. Today of course the city has spilled well beyond the original gates but these are massive remnants of its past. Can’t you just imagine horses and guards and peasants everywhere?beautiful church

You can’t go anywhere in Europe with out tucking into a few churches and enjoying the cool, quite, peaceful awe inspiring art work that suddenly surrounds you.

city building

The cityhall building is impressive- covered in sculpture.

memorial for us troops

In the cityhall building there are a few inscriptions marking important historical dates. I found this one to be particularly beautiful. I memorializes the liberation of Munich from the Natzi’s on April 30 1945 by the US Military. dragon on building

I suppose the sculpture, particularly at lower levels is caged to protect it*. The details on the buildings gave me a sore neck from looking up all day- amazing! * My girlfriend the authentic Bavarian HAUSFRAU let me know that the caging is to protect the sculpture from the birds that try and roost and nest on them (and their droppings).


We shopped for Dirndls, these beauties are very traditional examples that are hand sewn in Munich. A 3 piece outfit at this store was about 800 Euro!

hitlers city military post

This square was made famous by the natzi regime. They required anyone who entered or passed the square to salute. It was a favorite stage for Hitler to make speaches from. On the day we visited the city was setting up chairs and equiptment for an outdoor classical music concert.

bakery Agh yes, and the bakeries…

We hung out at Beergartens in the evening and afternoons, ate authentic food like brezles and weisswurst for breakfast and the kids played together with-out arguments for days!

beer garden

yes, these are whole fried fish that are being sold at the beer garden

yes, these are whole fried fish that are being sold at the beer garden

beer garden kids with treats

tired neglected sophia with melting icecreamThis is Coco at the end of a VERY long day!

We had authentic Bavarian strawberry shortcake for Coco’s birthday cake, made by an authentic Bavarian Hausfrau.

bday cake

sophia bday girl

It was wonderful!

PART II~ Neuschwanstein

We planned a “long-way” home to stop and see the castle of Neuschwanstein (disney castle) as part of Coco’s birthday celebration. She says she wants to be a princess (“the real kind with a castle”) when she grows up. The castle is exactly what every young American girl imagines.

castle shots of postcard

ok yes, this is a photograph I took of the post card we bought- haha. The day we went was a little overcast and I didn’t feel like hiring a helicopter to take me up for this money shot.

castle shotHere’s how it looked to us.

view of castle

It’s situated perfectly on the side of a mountain with amazing views of the valley below. We purchased tickets in advance on-line  and were sooooo glad we did because when we got to the ticket-reservation center there were LONG lines (kinda like Disney World but with out the hospitality and efficiency).We arrived in the small town that exist primarily to support the castle tours in the area (yes there is more than one amazing castle to visit but we only did Neuschwanstein) and could see that this was a popular tourist destination, not only for Americans but also for Asians as well. There were tour buses and large groups everywhere. At first it is a little unclear what line to stand in when you have reservations in advance but it does not require many minutes of inpatients to start looking around and realizing where the short que is. Once you have your tickets and assigned time  it will take almost an hour to get to the castle. Because two of us were feeling really bad from a cold virus we opten to take the public bus. Once again we were frustrated with the LONG line and the seeming inefficiency of the system. Round trip bus fairs were about 3 Euros (purchase at machine while in line), and if we were not feeling really under the weather I would determinately have taken the nice shady walk up to the castle. We waited forever, so I find it hard to believe that it is any faster to take the bus. After we got off the bus there are other hiking paths that take you over a beautiful bridge and provide more amazing views of the castle – I recommend doing that after your tour because the assigned times are rather strictly enforced.We still had a nice brisk 10 minute walk to the entrance after the bus stop and I saw a few signs warning ” “guest with disabilities would have a difficult time”. I do not know what accommodations they make but I know that our tour took us up many steps – at least 100. There are lots of photos and information on-line about the castle but I really just wanted to chime in that of all the castles and palaces we have visited over the years, this was my favorite.

neuschwanstien castle dave and kids

neuschwanstien castle 2

silly daveAt the end of the castle visit the fresh mountain air and knowing we were finished with the lines put everyone in a Jolly mood.

Everyone who enters the castle is on a guided tour, I think this is extremely helpful in understanding context and pointing out details that otherwise would have gone unnoticed or been not understood. While only a tiny bit of the castle was finished and is allowed open to public it was still impressive and enjoyable. The kids behaved well and every one had a good time. The tour is worth it but the exterior of the castle is really the magnificent sight, so if you do not want to wait in lines and spend the money on tickets I recommend taking one of the nice hikes around the castle and taking lots of pictures from many angles.

After the castle we visited Fussen, a charming old historic town with lots of cute shops and tasty restaurants. village 2


I would have enjoyed more time here but was feeling so sick we simply ate and were on our way home. Our princess had a happy 4th birthday and one I hope she will remember.

eating bday lolipop2