Reflections On Our Swiss Family Sabbatical

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

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

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

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

First Day of School in a New Country

I had been dreading this day for months.  Imagine your first day at a new school where you don’t know anybody and you find it hard to understand what your teachers and classmates are saying because you don’t yet speak their language.  Sounds like a bad dream, perhaps the one where you look down and realize you forgot to put on pants that morning as you walk into the classroom.  I was scared for our two girls to have to experience this as part of our family sabbatical in Switzerland.  But, amazingly, they were not as intimidated as their parents were (and H doesn’t like to wear pants, or even clothes, anyway so that part would be no big deal).

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“Who’s excited to start school in a new country?!” At least 1.5 kids are.

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