A Weekend in Bellinzona, Switzerland (with kids)

“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?


Castlegrande overlooks one side of Bellinzona’s old town

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Basel’s Winter Carnival (Fasnacht)

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

A Day in Freiburg, Germany (with kids)

“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

A Winter Week in Grindelwald, Switzerland

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

Life in Basel So Far

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

Colmar’s Christmas Markets

Imagine a well-preserved medieval village on the borders of France, Germany and Switzerland that transforms each December into a Christmas wonderland with such fanfare you’d think Clark Griswold did the decorating. This is Colmar, and to jump-start our Christmas spirit we spent the first weekend of December here, and it turns out we weren’t the only ones wanting mulled wine and macaroons. Continue reading

A Weekend in Vienna (with kids)

A wave of horror washed over me as I glanced across the aisle of the airplane I had just sat down in and noticed my aisle mate had crazy eyes.  OK, the person was a four year-old girl sitting, unattended, with her shady older sister, but she had crazy eyes, nonetheless.  The crazy eyes were accompanied by a howl and kicking legs as she and her sister rejoiced over their bags of airplane-shaped gummies the flight attendant had just handed them.  With this level of crazy before the cabin door was shut, I was sure she would either barf all those colorful gummies up mid-flight or charge the cockpit in a sugar-fueled hysteria.  A second wave of horror hit me as I remembered I was responsible for both of them, was outnumbered, and this was probably going to be a LONG flight.


“No ma’am, I have no idea whose kids these are”

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