April 18, 2009
Cathédrale St. Pierre in GenevaPost 9/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 15th, 2009
Our final sight-seeing stop in downtown Geneva was St. Peter's Cathedral. We paused for a drink in a crêperie/café that looks up to the spire, then went in and climbed the towers for a perfect view over the city, the lake, and the Salève mountain we'd climbed the previous afternoon. I am so thankful for this first visit to Geneva since we moved to Zurich 9 months ago. My brother has been up to see us at least three times already, so it was time to sneak a trip in myself. We enjoyed dinner with him and my niece as well while we were there. Here ends my spring break travel blogging. Time to get ready for guests coming over for dinner!
Geneva: The Jet d'Eau and Flower ClockPost 8/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 15th, 2009
The first night in Geneva, we had dinner with an old friend from high school, and her husband (who cooked up a wonderful storm), and we got to meet their baby for the first time (Isabel the beautiful). Jason and Emily and I all enjoyed holding and cudddling her (7 months old).
The 2nd day of our trip, we made our traditional pilgrimage out on the pier of the Jet d'Eau in the Lac Léman (Lake Geneva). It spouts 140 meters into the air. One can feel the spray even if the wind is kind and blows away from the pier as we walk by...
Then we trotted along to see what flowers were currently in the famous Flower Clock: 100% pansies at the moment, mostly lilac-colored. Made me smile, since purple is my favorite color...
Hiking the Salève Mountain in France Overlooking Geneva, CHPost 7/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 14th, 2009
On the 2nd week of spring break, David had to work, and so I took the kids on my own on the three-hour drive down to Geneva, to see friends and family and enjoy the francophone part of the country, and my old hometown from age 2 to 17.
The first thing we did was to take the téléphérique (cable car) up the Salève mountain (which is just over the border into France), admire the views of Lake Geneva with the Jet d'Eau, and the region, and then hike down. It took us 1h40 to hike back down. It's my favorite hike in the world, for sentimental reasons as well as the varied terrain. It has meadows, forests, stone steps, steep switchbacks, rocks, streams, and great views. And it's a manageable length.
Pretty Swiss HighwaysPost 6/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 8th, 2009
So we were gone from home on this trip for three nights, and visited four countries. On the Friday, we had
- breakfast in Italy,
- lunch in Switzerland,
- passed through Liechtenstein in the late afternoon,
- and had dinner in Austria.
Sounds crazy, but it's really very easy in Europe to do these amazing things. The countries are so much smaller than on some other continents...
On the way home from Austria, we passed through Liechtenstein again, then had lunch in St. Gallen, Switzerland, and rode the highway home again (we live only 1h30 from Austria, 1h15 from Liechtenstein).
Here's a view from the highway, and the amazing Walensee seen from a rest stop (we needed to get a book from the trunk for the kids).
Feldkirch, AustriaPost 5/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 11th, 2009
We hadn't booked anyplace to stay for the 3rd and final night of this 4-country trip, as we weren't sure whether we would want to stay in Liechtenstein, Austria, or even stay another night in Italy. It ended up that we pushed on into the very western trip of Austria, and we were glad we did. Feldkirch is the first town one reaches, and it's a lovely, quiet place with a nice Saturday market and a little castle on a hill. Our Tom-Tom even provided the name of a local hotel: the Alpenrose. Great little place with a non-smoking dining room (across the hall from the smoking one), friendly staff, and delicious food. And two rooms awaiting our arrival, across from each other.
The next morning, we strolled around the village market offering abundant flowers and little animals carved out of wood or fashioned from twigs, and of course local edible produce. Then we investigated the castle, and took a hike in the nearby wooded hills, enjoying a devotional time surrounding the Resurrection and how Jesus shares His abundant Life and power with us.
Emily looking over Feldkirch from the castle entrance ramp.
I liked these flowers growing on top of a stump. Identification, please? I have such talented floral-recognizer-readers...
David in an Austrian hilltop meadow, overlooking two or three countries (Switz, Liechtenstein, Austria).
Vaduz, LiechtensteinPost 4/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 10-11th, 2009
Having left Italy, and had lunch back in Ticino (to get one last taste of the delectable Italian-style food before re-entering the Alemanic region in which we live), we drove north through the San Bernardino Tunnel to cross the Alps again (most passes were still closed due to snow), and made our way to Liechtenstein. A first for all four of us. This is the second time we have all four entered a new country for the first time together :-) We did Andorra together back when we lived in France three years ago.
Liechtenstein is so small that one can drive there, decide one would rather move along and find another place to spend the night, and 20 minutes later be in the next country (Austria). Which is what we did, but more on that later. We saw the Prince's castle, Vaduz Castle, right on the hill overlooking the capital.
It was two days before Easter, so we saw this nice sign wishing us a Happy Easter in German (Frohe Ostern), as we drove towards Austria.
We clambered around on a ruined castle (Obere Burg, Schellenberg Castle) and then admired the view. The mountains and peaceful quiet in those parts were striking.
P.S. On the way down to Ticino from Zurich, we had taken the Gotthard Tunnel (17km long). It was nice not to have to retrace our steps but to continue the adventure with new routes.
Lake Como, ItalyPost 3/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 10th, 2009
Ducks along Lake Como.
We only stopped for a few minutes at the edge of the lake. We hadn't looked up how to find George's place or the filming spots from Ocean's Twelve or Casino Royale or Star Wars: Attack of the Clones (where Anakin & Padme get married), but it was fun to be on the same lake.
It was pretty and calm, but too hazy for good photos of the lake and surrounding mountains. The hills go up steeply from the lake, and the whole lakefront that we drove along was built-up with little buildings, villas, restaurants, walled gardens...
We stopped for a drink, then drove away to the west of the lake, up the steep hills and across the border back into Switzerland.
Lago Maggiore, Italy
Post 2/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 8-10th, 2009
About 4 hours south of our Zurich home is Lago Maggiore, in Northern Italy. We were nowhere near the earthquake zone. It was a restful time with delicious food and beautiful views, including palm trees and islands in the lake. David and I took a cable car up the nearest hill for a longer lake view, and a walk around an alpine flower garden which had yet to enter its prime. A nice walk with my beloved anyway. Later the four of us enjoyed REAL pizza and pasta in a local casual restaurant. So fresh and flavorful.
Castelgrande in Bellinzona, Ticino, SwitzerlandPost 1/9 of Spring Break Travels: April 8th, 2009
On our way south to Italy in our car, we stopped off in Ticino, the only Italian-speaking canton in Switzerland. The capital of Ticino is Bellinzona, which has three castles all in close proximity: Castelgrande (appropriately, the largest), Montebello, and Sasso Corbaro. We only toured Castelgrande, but observed the other two castles from that vantage point.
My son wrote a Battleship Game you can now play!
You are hereby invited to try out his Battleship Game.
If you win without wasting too many shots, you can be listed on the high score page!
It's fun having a teenaged son.