Spring Break in Switzerland!

Then suddenly it was time for Spring Break! Katarina and I left at around 2:00 in the morning and flew to Istanbul. We had window and aisle seats hoping for an empty seat between us, but a nice looking man came to sit between us. He and I ended up talking the entire 3 (or so) hours to Istanbul. He is Kuwaiti and works for a bank here. We talked about so many things. Then Katarina and I had a long wait in the airport at Istanbul for our connection to Switzerland. There were tons of teachers and families from ASK on the flight with us to Istanbul and wandering around the airport. We hung out with Brenda and then we were on our way. Zurich was another 2-3 hour flight. Even though the airport is at least an hour away, Katarina’s Uncle Tomas, his wife Mariana, and their two girls, Valeria and Gillian came to pick us up. They have a beautiful home in Buchs St. Gallen, and Katerina and I each had a room of our own. It was lovely to have arrived. They have a view of the bucolic countryside with mountains covered in snow jutting up along the horizon. The castle of the old town sits on a hill and makes a picturesque view out one of the windows as well. It really is an idyllic place. The town is quite small.

Waldenburg Castle

Waldenburg Castle

cool building in the old city

cool building in the old city

chair in the doctor's waiting room at the castle

chair in the doctor’s waiting room at the castle

crests painted on the wall in the castle

crests painted on the wall in the castle

vineyards and forest surrounding the castle

vineyards and forest surrounding the castle

looking from near the castle back towards the Schwendener house

looking from near the castle back towards the Schwendener house

The next morning was overcast and rainy and we couldn’t see the mountains any longer. I decided to take it sort of easy, so we walked up to the castle and threaded our way along the streets in the old town. I took an audio tour of the castle and Katarina chatted with the woman working in the small coffee shop. My ticket included a tour of the “Snake House” just down from the castle, so I went through that as well.

Snake House

Snake House

Then we walked back down by the lake and ‘home.’ It was too late in the day by then to really squeeze in a train trip elsewhere, so we relaxed. The next day was Easter!

Easter baskets

Easter baskets

We got up and watched two excited little girls search for their Easter baskets, then we all piled in the van and headed for Liechtenstein. It was snowing pretty hard as we climbed into the mountains on the other side of the Rhine. We stopped at a ski place and had a lovely hot drink, then wound back down to prepare for the feast that afternoon.

ski slope in the snow in Liechtenstein

ski slope in the snow in Liechtenstein

People started arriving at about 4:00 and though they spoke a little English upon meeting me, the conversation was entirely in German. In the end there were 12 adults and 4 children. We were served rabbit stew, lamb, and veal, two salads, and three desserts with wine for every course. It was really delicious!

I got up and out the next morning to head for Lucerne.

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne originally constructed in 1333

Chapel Bridge, Lucerne originally constructed in 1333

Katarina had course work to do, so she didn’t go. I took the train and then went to the visitors center where they mapped out a walking tour for me. Since it was Easter Monday all the museums were closed, but I walked by them all and across and 14th century bridge with paintings on the arches in the roof commemorating wars and peace and lost soldiers and heroes.

Chapel Bridge,14th century covered bridge

Chapel Bridge,14th century covered bridge

17th century paintings depicting historical events from Lucerne

17th century paintings depicting historical events from Lucerne

the Reuss River from the Chapel Bridge

the Reuss River from the Chapel Bridge

Then I wound through the old town to find the lion. It commemorates soldiers lost during a war in the 12th century. It is a dying lion and is a really melancholy statue.

The Lion Monument, commemorates the Swiss Guard who were massacred during the French Revolution

The Lion Monument, commemorates the Swiss Guard who were massacred during the French Revolution

I wound back down by the river and had a little lunch and then continued my tour by crossing back over the Chapel Bridge and returned to the train station to go back to Buchs. I loved Lucerne.

Mount Pilatus across Lake Lucerne

Mount Pilatus across Lake Lucerne

We had booked tickets on the Glacier Express from Chur to Zermot before we left, and so we were up early to catch the train to Chur. It was a long day aboard trains, and the Glacier Express moves at glacial speed, so all told it was about a 9 hour trip. There were windows all around on the Glacier Express and we were served a very tasty lunch, which was included in the fee.

Glacier Express

Glacier Express

from the Glacier Express on the way to Zermot

from the Glacier Express on the way to Zermot

Little town nestled into the hillside (from the Glacier Express)

Little town nestled into the hillside (from the Glacier Express)

So many of these little towns passed on the train

So many of these little towns passed on the train

We arrived in Zermot in time for dinner, and we decided to eat at our hotel. It was really good food. The next day we were up and out to see a bit of Zermot

Zermot town center

Zermot town center

small chapel in Zermot

small chapel in Zermot

(doesn’t take long, it’s a very small town) and board the cog wheel train up to Gornergrat.

the Matterhorn

the Matterhorn

There are spectacular views from the top and the train was full of skiers heading up for another run. We had a little drink and then headed back down the mountain.

The next day we caught an early train through Bern, where I stopped and did another walking tour.

Parliament building in Bern

Parliament building in Bern

Clock tower in Bern, modeled after the one in Prague

Clock tower in Bern, modeled after the one in Prague

I saw the outside of Einstein’s house. The bears were not in residence, so I didn’t walk down to the bear park.

Decorations above the outside entrance of the Cathedral in Bern

Decorations above the outside entrance of the Cathedral in Bern

The Cathedral in Bern

The Cathedral in Bern

I arrived back in Buchs in time for a last dinner with the Schwendener family. I got to have some fun drawing with sidewalk chalk and jumping on the trampoline with Valeria and Gillian. It was a blast!

Next morning we were on the train to Zurich and the airport and then the flights through Istanbul and home. We arrived around 2:00 in the morning, and didn’t get back to the apartments until 3:30 a.m. Home sweet home!