My mom writes again!
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Where I stayed
the Smith's Swiss House
Well, today is my last day in Zurich, visiting Angela, Brian, Kayley, Serena, and Alex in their beautiful home in Zurich! It has been quite an experience and one that I will never forget! I didn't have a chance to write every day, they had me very busy. First, their home is so beautiful, four very spacious bedrooms. The guest room had my name "Pano" on the door as a welcome, and each of their rooms also has their names scrolled European style on their door. Kayley and Serena share a room near one end of the house, with their own desks. Alex has his own twin bed in the same room with Angela and Brian, who have a huge low European king sized bed. Beautifully decorated very simple and stylish. There are two bathrooms, and four levels. The entrance level is the foyer, the dining room, kitchen, and Angela and Brian’s bedroom, and the bathroom. Parquet flooring with radiant heated floors throughout the house make it very comfortable in light colored blonde wood. The second level is the fireplace and gathering level where we play Uno and Candyland and email family and friends. The third level is the TV area, very spacious, where Alex has his trains, castles, and toys. The fourth level has a dressing room (lots of room for clothing), the girls’ suite, the guest room, and a bathroom with the Jacuzzi and shower. It’s all very IKEA looking, and with a mini frig in the bathroom!! I’ve never seen so many white closets spaces for everything to be kept neat. The pace of life is so much easier, with public transportation with bus and train so near. The busses are very modern and beautiful, made by Mercedes Benz! Even some of the city trucks and garbage truck are built by Mercedes Benz, Quality and beauty and craftsmanship is their style, and they are proud of their work. You pay at a station to take public transportation, but no one checks to see if you’ve paid! It is just known that if you don’t pay and they ask, you will be fined. So people are on the honor system. I wonder how that would work in America. The streets are very narrow, and I am very proud of Angela for being able to navigate through these European cities. Although Angela has received a speeding and a parking ticket while I was here, it was at places she has not been to before, and it is hard to know every traffic rule from city to city.
So, to recap, since I came her arriving on Friday from the Zurich Airport, here is everylast thing that we did. We drove into Zurich, took the Polybahn and went to Grossmunster Church-- 280 stairs to the top overlooking the city—had a pretzel from Octoberfest, and made a wonderful German style dinner at home.
Saturday, we went to the beautiful French town of Colmar in France about 2 hours away, and took a mini train tour, visited little Venice, and had crepes and dinner along a beautiful city street.
Sunday, we made homemade chicken soup, and zucchini bread and banana bread, and then went to the beautiful Catholic Shrine in Eichindeln for evening Mass. It was the shrine of the black Madonna who appeared after the shrine had been burnt down 4 times. It is a monastery from the year 850 for monks who fervently prayed.
The church was spectacular and Kayley and Serena and I lit candles for all of our family and friends. This was my favorite place to visit, the interior of the church looked a lot like the churches in Rome, with carvings and paintings-- very elegant.
Monday we went to Luzerne with the Kids and visited the Transportation Museum. Brian’s company, Holcim, sponsored a great play area for kids to get into cement digging of pebbles, cranes, and shovels and rakes to pretend to be builders of cement things. Very exciting for Alex! Kayley and Serena rode around on the scooters, and they all went on trains boats and airplanes that were kid accessible. Very cool place for kids! We came home and made pizza and spaghetti for dinner, with rolls. Mmm.
Tuesday, we went to Rhine Falls, crossing over into Germany. No border patrol stopped us ,we just drove through! The Rhein Falls were the largest Water Fall (by quantity) in Europe, very dramatic and beautiful. We had lunch at a lovely restaurant overlooking the falls, and then went to Aldi’s in Germany for great deals on food and clothing! Much better prices than in Switzerland! I coaxed Brian and Gigi to go out to dinner, while the kids and I stayed home and played Uno and Candyland. It was great for them to get a chance to go out on the town alone!
Wednesday, we went swimming at a nearby community in Zurich called Oerlikon. At their community pool, Kayley, Serena and Alex all swam and had a blast. Kayley and Serena jumped off a 5 meter platform!! Brave ones, and Angela thought she could, but didn’t have the nerve to jump. Needless to say, Alex and I watched safely from the sidelines! Then they brought out about ten humungous blowup jumping play toys for the kids to play on, and Kayley and Serena had a ball thrashing about three boys inside one of the blowup platforms. Alex loved the kid area, and so did I. We went home and I make BBQ Chicken, and mashed potatoes and green beans for dinner, and Angela brought home a traditional Black Forest Cake, which was heavenly for dessert.
Thursday, while Brian was at work, the kids and Ang and I went to the Lenzberg Castle, which was beautiful. More steps for Pano, ugh, but well worth it! So many rooms filled with knights and armor, and very old kitchen utensils that Alex loved. Dress up time in costumes, and we made swords and armor out of cardboard. When we got home we made chicken and rice, salad, corn and apple strudel for dinner with ice cream. Mmmm
Friday, Brian took the day off work, and we made crepes for breakfast again for the third day in a row. Kayley and Serena loved my home made crepes (much better than the ones we got in France!!) filled with raspberry jam, apricot, and Alex’s favorite on anything, Nutella. We went to Konstanz, and German city about an hour away, and went shopping in a nice mall, and ate yummy Chinese chicken and mango! We took the ferry ride on the Bodensee to a small village called Meersburg which had another castle to wander through; rooms and secret passageways. Very authentic, and the real deal! It was on the Largest Lake in Germany, also overlooking the Alps. The ferry also carried cars to the island. We went to a quaint little Italian Restaurant on the way home, very authentic also. Yumm. Two glasses of wine, and Pano was out the rest of the way home!
Saturday, my last day here in this beautiful city. We made crepes again for breakfast, and then we went into town on public transportation, the bus, which was less than one block away to walk to.
We took the Mercedes Benz luxury bus to the market square where they had fresh fruits, vegetables and cheeses from neighboring farms.
We went shopping and got Serena a pair of brown dress boots, very stylin! Kayley already had a pair of black boots, so they were both stylin! We shopped around a bit, and took the bus back to their home so we could have lunch, and Alex could take a nap. While Alex was napping, Angie took me across the street to meet the cows, and get some fresh milk. The farm across the street has about 50 cows and goats, how refreshing to see country living so close to the city. Then we visited with Anita, their neighbor downstairs and she helped me print my boarding pass to return home in the morning. So sad to leave.
This has been a very wonderful opportunity to spend time with Kayley, Serena, and Alex, Ang and Brian. They have adjusted pretty well to living here, with all of the language barriers, and have seen a whole different way of life from what we are used to. America has it’s good points, and Zurich has it’s good points. One of the most interesting values, is that the pace is much slower here, and people take more time to be gracious and cordial, and explain in very courteous tones of voice what it is that you are asking about. They are much more laid back, and it seems more trusting and not fearful of being ripped off. It is a quality that I wish we could adopt in America. I think that the use of public transit saves a lot of time and money. Most people have tiny cars, and only use them when public transit isn’t convenient. Although the cost of living is high, they are very much more conscientious of how they use energy, electricity, water, and because things are built well, they last longer, and don’t need to be replaced as often. I am sure that Angela will love to be able to use a clothes dryer again, and get some fluffy towels, but you do get used to it. It is not as bad as it seems. The colors of the trees are beautiful in October, and they don’t celebrate Halloween, but they do have parties for harvest, and I brought them a pumpkin carving set because they have none to be found here.
Tonight we are going to go to an English Speaking Catholic Church nearby, and have a final dinner out, my treat for a lovely week that I will never forget! Aufweidersein, Smiths, I love you and this was a wonderful experience for your Pano. God Bless you! I will be going home to America tomorrow morning! See you soon!