Lucerne, Pilatus, and the week in review

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Friday, September 17, 2010

It's been a good week over here. Now that we are starting to settle in, the kids have their items from home, and the home schooling has started, we are able to get a grasp on how our next 14 weeks will go.  A big task of mine is getting the kids out to meet other people, and feeling comfortable around kids who do not speak German.  They still feel like they are doing something wrong if they are out and about during the standard school day.  They also worry about every little Swiss rule we may be breaking.  It’s funny, Kayley feels like the Swiss German kids will make fun of her because she does not know their language, but the moms I have talked to say it is quite the opposite.  English is spoken by the educated groups in Switzerland, and many kids will feel embarrassed that they will not be able to converse in her language.  Try convincing an 11 year old that she needs not be self conscious though. 

I think we are getting some reprieve from homesickness, though according to research I can expect a second bout in a couple of weeks.  Alexander has stopped begging to go back on the airplane each night.  Though I’ve talked with my mom more, I really miss having contact with my girlfriends.  We have had terrible internet connection issues, coupled with the time difference, and the busy busy busy feeling I have every day; it’s been hard to connect.     Back home school has started, and the girls certainly miss being a part of the daily conversations and dynamics in their classrooms, but word of tough times amongst the 6th grade girls has travelled all the way here.

In many ways the distance is already giving us perspective.  We played at a park this week that truly was picturesque (German Park with our new friends the Dalmas Family); large field in the shadow of a town clock tower with a truly awesome wooden playstructure to explore.  There are see-saws and climbing apparatus like you would never see stateside.  Sure, kids fall and get hurt, but you play at your own risk.  Everytime they get on a seesaw one of my kids gets hurt.   They have been learning an important life lesson called Suck It Up and Move On (thanks kyosa Leah). 

There is also a giant sandbox at most playgrounds.  It is always covered, and most come stocked with toys to play with.  When you are done playing you simply cover the box and make sure the toys are put away.  Even in dear old Forestbrooke the toys would be lost, or thrown up in trees, or the cover would be mistakenly left off and cats would overtake the box.  But here it works.   

From recycling, to parking, taxes to toys, people don’t try to beat the system here the way they do back home.  It’s a refreshing perspective, though I know that part of the reason it works is because neighbors are quick to take watch, report wrong behavior, and that can result in hefty fines.

So some perspective, for us.

Some of our perspective came from a mountain top last weekend.  Even though he is a tough guy blackbelt, Brian is a bit altitudinally challenged.  Still, he agreed to a third trip to Mt. Pilatus in order to share the experience with his family.  It was a gorgeous sunny day, and a trip to Lucerne is just what we needed to appreciate the beauty of our surroundings.  Once we made it to the mountaintop, by hanging cable car, we right away realized that our shorts and fleece jackets were maybe not the best option.  Alexander was too cold to even try to explore, and see he and his daddy sat happily inside while the girls and I hiked and explored every ledge that we could.  They both feared it and loved it.  We picked at the rock up high enough to be surrounded by clouds, and marveled that we were still standing on solid earth.  We climbed high enough to see a group of blackbirds that lived high enough that they relied on humans for food, and so were not at all afraid of us.  We spotted a tiny church on the mountainside, and thought about the devotion it must take to attend services there every week, even in the snow. 

Once we got about way down the mountain, it was easier for Alexander to hike around, and he loved exploring a little foresty area while the girls tried their first extreme sport:  Luging on a mountainside.   Really it’s giant slide that weaves in and out and around the side of Pilatus, and you ride down on a little wheeled cart.   "Awesome," according to Serena.

While in lovely Lucerne (before hitting the mountain), we had ice cream, walked the old restored bridge, went to the Jesuit Church to light a prayer candle, and found the Lion of Lucerne.  It is a giant lifelike lion chiseled out of the side of a mountain in front of a reflection pond.  When we found it, the area was serene and quiet.  It was rather breathtaking and we took lots of pictures.  As we were leaving tour groups were arriving by the busload

We were so hungry on our way home that we stopped at the first place we could find after coming down the cold mountain.  We found a pizza place  called Pizza Pronto, and quickly ordered drinks and pizza.  The pizza was soooo good, very Roman style Margherita pizza, yumm! But the English speaking owner told us that the2 small tables were really for waiting, and that he was not licensed to serve us inside.  We took our food and drinks out and made an impromptu picnic in front of the building, much to his delight. 

Other fun this week included a new Art and Drawing class for the girls.  They love the chance to develop a skill that will come in handy with our picturesque surroundings.  I think I will ask them to draw the cows today.  During the class at the nearby community center, Alexander and I were able to burn off some steam in the toddler room upstairs.  Swiss moms are in general stay-at-home-moms, and they seem to have lots of options for getting out and feeling supported.  This community room full of toys was also full of all sorts of moms and tots visiting and playing.  Open hours are all day long, and its free!  There are many other classes to take – very not-free.  I have 2 nights out in a row to end the week.  Something that will probably not happen again during our stay.  Last night was a Spouse’s Dinner for Holcim spouses (did I mention this kind of reminds me of The Firm).  A nice group of 10 or so internationals at a traditional Swiss restaurant.  Almost everyone had some sort of $30 plate of sausage and potatoes.  It was nice to meet a few other folks in my type of shoe (I was wearing my brown crocs at the time, so this is truly only a figurative term), though most were here for long term placements, and there commiseration was much larger than the issues we are having personally.  I did connect with a few other moms, though, and will follow up with them.  I also executed my first solo night time attempt at public transportation.  Piece of cake.  J

 Tonight I have a Bowling Outing with the ExPats group that I found online, and tomorrow Family Adventure continues to the capital city, Berne, and nearby Gruyere.  Itinerary:  4 hours in the car, astronomical clock, Einstein’s House, Bear Pit, Cheese Tour, Chocolate Tour, and Castle.  So Sunday, obviously will be our day of rest!
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Comments

Aunt Nancy on

Angie, You are doing an awesome job of writing. Very interesting. Hope the family is doing well.

pano.mamalou on

Wow, you are really getting around! It is a thrill to read how much you are taking in, and your perspective on it all! I don't think you'd ever get me on the luge! or on that cable car! or on that mountain! Seeing the pics of it is way more unbelievable than I imagined! Holy cow, what next! God bless you everday, Love Mom

Aunt Dee on

What a thrill every time I open your blogs to read and hear about all of your adventures. I feel like I'm there with you but really wishing I was.LOL. Keep them coming and continue to enjoy it all. It's like the trip we took to Spain. I'll always remember it because we seen so much that was alot different there than in the states and I just loved seeing the different things. I love you.

Kyosa Leah on

I am just now seeing this. I am so pleased that my influence has gone international! I love reading all the family blogs. It sounds like you are all indeed having an adventure. Please tell the kids I said hi! (and suck it up...)

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