So, once upon a time a Colorado family took a break from their careers and moved to Switzerland for a year and hijinks ensued. Our year in Basel ended June 18th when we flew out of Zurich back to the states, complete with 14 pieces of luggage, 2 car seats, and 54 weeks of memories. The van we hired to shuttle us and all that gear to the airport arrived early in the morning. As we loaded it up, neighbors came out to the street to say goodbye. We wished we had gotten to know them better earlier on in our stay, with some relationships not fully forming until a couple months before we left. It felt as if we were leaving too soon, that we still had unfinished business there. But, looking back now it is clear that we had a very full year with new friendships and memories we treasure. Here are some of my (Barry’s) favorite things about our year: Continue reading
We were a bit weary ahead of our trip to Norway, knowing that we had a full schedule of planes, trains, buses and boats packed into five days with two kids that we would have to motivate to keep up. What young girls wouldn’t want to visit Norway, the land that inspired Arendelle the mythical country featured in Frozen? Ours.
We casually mentioned to friends and family back in the states last November that we were heading to Ireland in March for the kids’ spring break. Within a few days, three people had booked flights to meet us there. Turns out, most of the people we know in America are part Leprechaun and have been waiting for an excuse to visit their motherland and gather more lucky charms. We wanted to explore the Atlantic coast and were able to find a great house to rent that fit all of us on Dingle Peninsula.
“I can’t wait to go to Hamsterdam!” our four-year-old exclaimed shortly after we booked our late-March weekend trip. And while a city full of giant, fuzzy rodents driving clear plastic balls to work or walking around town through colorful tubes sounded awesome, we had to break the news to her that Amsterdam did not have an “H” at the beginning of it. But (almost as cool?) there were going to be tulips. Millions of tulips, maybe gazillions. Tulips in every color: blooming here, blooming there, blooming like they just don’t care!
In the late 1980’s in America there was a drug store chain that changed their name to “Osco.” Nobody in corporate did a foreign language search on the word “Osco.” Turns out it sounded just like “Asco” which translates to “disgusting” in Spanish and sales suffered in markets with Spanish speaking populations. In the present-day world of the internet, you would think that companies do a bit of international research on their brand, but perhaps they should also employ some teenagers to check for international slang meanings? Or maybe they shouldn’t, because, really, do we want to live in a world with an “Ass Bar Bakery” or do we want to live in a world without one?
As we’ve been wandering around Switzerland and western Europe this year, we’ve been compiling a few of our favorite examples of German/French brands that translate into American English slang.
“What is that yellow circle emoji in my weather app next Friday?” Barry wondered out loud as he scanned the ten day forecast for potential places to do a weekend trip. “The sun.” Jana replied. That’s right, a sunny day was being forecast for a weekend in February in Bellinzona, Switzerland. Within an hour, plans were finalized for a quick trip down into the Italian-speaking, and slightly warmer, region of Switzerland. Unfortunately, the next day that forecasted yellow circle emoji was replaced with a cloud. We went anyway–there are palm trees there, how cold could it be?
Beginning the first Monday after Ash Wednesday each winter, the normally reserved Basel-folk don masks, grab their piccolos and let their freak flags fly for exactly 72 hours straight. Okay, by “freak flags” I mean lots of marching, confetti and satire – this is Switzerland, after all. Basel’s Fasnacht is said to be the largest carnival in Switzerland and dates back to, at least, the 14th century (many city archives were destroyed in the earthquake of 1356, so it is hard to say exactly when it began here). Continue reading
“Aaaaaawww, I HATE Germany!” our four year-old yelled as we sat down on the train to Germany with, presumably, many Germans within earshot. She probably meant, as she almost always does, “I HATE doing whatever you are making me do that is not eating gummy bears.” After promising gummy bears after we got there and ate lunch, she really started to warm up to the country once more. We hoped our German train neighbors didn’t speak English (fat chance) or at least had encountered a gummy bear-addicted child in their own life (ours is well-documented: Our Finicky Four Year-Old Traveler). We were on our way to spend a (rare) sunny February day in Freiburg, Germany, which is only a half-hour train ride from Basel into the Black Forest region. Continue reading
Grindelwald is a mountain ski town in the Swiss Alps, not to be confused with the dark wizard of the same name from Harry Potter. At just under four months since our last trek up past Interlaken, we were (well at least Mürren-snob Barry was) having majestic-mountain withdrawals and Grindelwald seemed the perfect place to entertain our family visiting from the States the week after Christmas. Continue reading
It is hard to believe we are half way through our year-long career break / sabbatical / rat-race-escape! While most of our posts have been about places we have traveled to, we haven’t shared much about life in the town we live in – Basel. Since summer turned to fall, we have traveled less and spent more time here going to school, exploring the town and learning about its traditions. Continue reading