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

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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.

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

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A Day in Neuchatel, Switzerland (with kids)

Lake Neuchatel is the Jan Brady of Swiss lakes.  Despite being the largest lake that sits entirely in Switzerland and sporting medieval towns and Swiss-French vineyards on its shores, tourists clamor for her more popular sister Marcia Lucerne. Sure, Lake Lucerne is attractive with her covered bridge and tall, gondola-accessible peaks and is one of maybe two Swiss lakes most non-Europeans/Americans can name (Lucerne! Lucerne! Lucerne!). But, with a bit of attention and effort, Lake Neuchatel and her namesake village will show you sparkling personality and charm, without Lucerne’s crowd-drama. Taking advantage of unseasonably warm and sunny October weather, we corralled the kids onto the train for the 90-minute ride to Neuchatel from Basel. Continue reading

Hassle At The Castle (Neuschwanstein)

“Ma’am.”

“Do you think it’s warmer inside? It’s a bit cool out here.”

“Er, Ma’am” the tour guide tried again.

“Maybe a hat for C since she’s been sick?” my mom continued unaware she was holding up the line until she removed her backpack from her back and placed it instead on her front.

“Mom, you need to do what he’s doing.” I pointed to another person with a backpack.

“Why on Earth would it make any difference?” she wondered aloud. Continue reading

Our Finicky Four Year-Old Traveler

Part of the goal of blogging about our adventures during a year-long sabbatical/career-break in Basel, Switzerland is capturing and preserving precious family experiences for us to look back on years later. But, near-constant traveling can get old for young kids who see no point in visiting another city, cathedral, castle, or posing for yet another photo. We thought we would start a collection of pictures showing those moments when the idea of getting to spend a year in Switzerland traveling around Europe was lost on our four year-old–so we can use them to embarrass laugh with her when she is older.

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Zermatt’s (un)impressive altstadt

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A Day Around Zurich (with kids and…Trump?)

We realized four months into a year-long career break in Switzerland, that we hadn’t really spent any time in Zürich, the largest city in the country. Sure, we had arrived into the airport there after an 11-hour flight and zombied our way through customs and onto a shuttle bus, but we knew there had to be more to this city than “Arrivals 2.”  Turns out Zürich is beautiful, like every other Swiss city we have visited!

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Who has four thumbs and haven’t seen each other in 16 years? These guys! Fraumünster is in background.

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In Search of The Abominable Snowman in Zermatt, Switzerland

If you grew up in southern California, you probably associate the word “Matterhorn” with Disneyland, not Switzerland.  That giant, man-made mountain with fake snow plunked right down in the middle of the park and visible from every freeway that runs through inland Orange County.  And, if you went on that ride back in the day, you encountered the Abominable Snowman.  His red eyes peered at you through the darkness, he roared as your bobsled zoomed past and when you were ten years old you snuck your slingshot onto the ride and pegged him with a nickel.  Not that last one?  So, I’m the only juvenile delinquent here? Continue reading