It’s hard to believe we have now been traveling for almost 11 months. The time actually seems to fly by. Okay, there are some days that drag on, but for the most part, it’s crazy to think that Japan was way back in August of last year. We still have our roll ons, although Gracie’s is now double strapped after the zipper broke last week. Can’t bear to part with it since the girls have been collecting stickers at each country. Her backpack zipper broke as well and a new backpack was purchased – tough week for Grace, but we continue on.
We have accumulated much more it seems. We left for the Paris airport last month with everything packed up as usual only to find that the bags needed to weigh 10 kilos each (which isn’t very much by the way. Our luggage is on average about 12-13 kilos and we are living slim). One new duffle bag and some reorganizing and we were off. The only problem is that somehow the duffle bag was still full when we left Vienna and again when we left Lucerne. How does that happen? We didn’t buy anything new – I don’t think. Lucky for us, we had some friends heading to the states with empty bags and filled one up with our stuff. Honestly, I don’t know what we would have done. Dave would have refused to lug an extra duffle any further 🙂
We are nearing the end of this journey, which is bittersweet. The girls are dying to get home, Claire would keep going if she could. She even said the other day that she thinks it will be weird to be home again. It has been so amazing seeing the world and showing the girls what else is out there. Different people, different food, music, culture, ways of life. It has been an extremely eye opening experience and one I hope they look back on. I think Claire will remember all of it, the twins maybe not as much. But I do think that without them knowing it, the decisions they make going forward will be influenced by this experience.
As I write this, we are on a train heading out of Switzerland. Switzerland is a the most beautiful country. I remember loving it when I came after college and it still does not disappoint. The towns and villages are quaint and the beauty is staggering. It was a busy week, but actually seems like we were there a long time.
Here are the highlights:
MY BROTHER, MATT – While we were in Paris, we were surprised to find out that we were going to cross paths with my brother, Matt. For the last 11 summers he has come to Switzerland to lead treks in the Swiss Alps with the company Alpine Hikers. One would think we would have known we were going to be able to see each other, but we literally found out about a week before we were leaving Vienna. Luckily we were able to switch a few things around and we met him for a day in Lucerne. We were all so happy to see him! It had been almost a year! Uncle Matt was a good sport listening to all the girls stories and looking at each piece of art. You know you’ve been around each other too long when you can’t wait for someone new to talk to!
Lucerne is a cute town with the typical Alpine architecture. What really got us was just how beautiful it was. The town sits right on the lake with the mountains towering above it. We had an amazing view of Mt. Pilatus right from our window.
Uncle Matt took us to a Glacier Garden -Gletschergarten – which I would highly recommend if you ever go to Lucerne. The girls really enjoyed seeing the glacier pot holes from the Ice Age, fossils, crystals and rocks, plus there was a really fun mirror maze at the one point that was over 100 years old!
The best part of our time with Uncle Matt was that when we looked at his itinerary, he was going to be in the small town of Mürren up in the Swiss Alps for two nights. I had been there in college and was excited to show Dave and the girls this part of Switzerland. We figured we wouldn’t have the chance to do it again, so we headed up there and we are so glad we did. That might be one of the most beautiful places I’ve ever seen. (Hallstatt rates up there as well). Up in the Alps you really feel like you are on top of the world.
There is something about towns with no cars that are so peaceful and relaxing. Murren is not easy to get to, a tram takes you up and then a little train makes you into the village. And this time of year it is filled with hikers looking to get a great day on the mountain.
The pinnacle of our time with Matt was the day hike we took. I would say it was about 5 1/2-6 miles and the girls were troopers. The weather was amazing the few days we were there, so we lucked out. The wild flowers were in full bloom, which is a site to see. We also walked amongst the Swiss cows – their huge cow bells ringing. We literally felt like we could have been the Von Trapp Family and we did break out in “The Hills Are Alive” a few times. We stopped at a hut way up the mountain where we enjoyed fresh cheese and butter that were of course made from the cows we had just seen – truly farm to table. We ended at the best park – set high on the mountain top – where the kids had a blast. If hiking is something you like to do, this is the place. You can’t beat the beauty or the feeling like you are experiencing something few will ever have a chance to see. It’s like a hidden secret. Contact Matt and he will set you up! Alpinehikers.com
We were sad to see Uncle Matt leave, but he set us out on a journey down to the Lauterbrunnen Valley for our last day where he said we had to see Trümmelbach Falls. The Lauterbrunnen Valley is called the valley of 72 waterfalls. It reminded us of Yosemite Valley in California.
The Trümmelbach Falls are 10 waterfalls inside a cave that you access via an elevator. They carry about 20,000 liters of water per second from the glaciers above. The sound is deafening, but such a cool thing to see.
THE KELLY FAMILY
Another great stay was in the cute town of Basel with my college friend Shannon and her family. They have been living there as expats for the last 6 years. We were glad we were able to connect and see what their experience has been. It was the perfect stop and they were the perfect hosts. The girls were ready for some time with others kids and got along great with Blake, Jenna and Kate. We hit the park with a water area and a zip line – the girls were in heaven! We swam, the kids played Minecraft, did art, basic kid fun and went to one of the girls favorites museums – The Basel Paper Mill – Basler Papiermühle. A super cool museum in an old restored building that was once a paper mill 500 years ago. You get to see the history of papermaking, printing and writing. The girls were able to make their own paper, practice writing with quills, type on typewriters (remember those?) and make marbled paper as well. Claire was in heaven and said it was the best museum she had been too!
Shannon also set us up with a teacher the girls used to have who does tours of the Basel for children. We loved meeting Miss Jean! The girls were super excited to find the next clue she gave them and learn about the city in the process. We took a water ferry across the Rhine River during the tour, which was a cool experience. You are on a small boat that is “powered” by nothing but a steel cable and the current of the river.
We were happy to have time to catch up with Shannon and Tim over some great barbecue, which is one thing we have all been missing since we last really had a bbq in Australia. We had fajitas, salmon, and kebabs – Dave and I were in heaven.
Family and friends all around the world – how lucky we have been! Makes this experience extra special.
Next stop – Germany