A Sad Ski Season?

Skiing is the winter sport to do in Switzerland.  I am sure this comes as no surprise, given that the country is covered with mountains and hills of all shapes in sizes.

During my first winter in Switzerland, I learned that when it comes to snow fall, it is described in terms of how many meters it has descended.  For example, snow fall is at 800m.  Zurich sits at about 400m above sea level.  You know to expect snow in Zurich if the snow fall is at 400m.  Pretty simple, and why fabulousness begins at 400m.  🙂

Well, minus a bit of wet slush that came down yesterday, there really hasn’t been any snow – at least not at the sea level I tend to hang out around.  I am all for mountain visiting just not for sporting it up on skis.  Many of my friends are big skiers, though, so to them, this has been a bit of a sad ski season compared to years past.  There are an entire website and app dedicated to reporting snow in Switzerland, and while today the conditions are reported as “good” overall, given it’s January, it’s taken longer than normal to get here.

The website and app are actually pretty nifty because they not only cover the general weather conditions, but also the depth of the snow and detailed information about the ski lifts.  Included as well are the details for downhill skiing, plus cross-country skiiing, tobogganing and hiking.  If I were into physical activity, I would be totally stoked by all of this.

But for me, I prefer to sit atop the gorgeous mountains, sun shining down, with a beer in my hand.  Why risk the injury?

Happy Skiing, everyone, and here’s hoping for a great rest of the season!

April, the Month of Visitors!

April was such a magnificent month for Tony and I.  Not only was the weather great (at least most of the time), but we were lucky enough to have  4 different groups of amazing, important people in our lives visit and spend time with us.  I was never so excited to wash sheets and clean house than in April.  I couldn’t wait to make the bed for my new visitors and stock up with the snacks they most desired.

Visitor #1 – Henry – Father-in-Law Extraordinaire 

I absolutely adore Tony’s dad and aside from my brother, he was our only other familial visitor since moving to Europe.  He stayed a long weekend with us on his way back to Chicago from Poland.

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The weather was absolutely perfect for his visit.  We were able to show him the beautiful Old Town with the sun shining off the lake and mountains in the background.  Given that Henry is from Poland originally, he truly appreciates that special something that Europe has to offer, and Zurich was no exception.

We also took him to Luzern, which was my first time – finally! – to visit Mount Pilatus.  Tony had taken all of our previous visitors to see this city and I was happy to experience it for myself.  I have a whole blog dedicated to this marvelous place, and I was really happy my father-in-law was with us.

One of the final things we did during Henry’s visit was learn how to make his world famous goulash.  It was chock full of lean beef, onions, garlic and fresh, wild mushrooms from Poland.  It took about an hour to make but was well worth the wait.  We capped it off with some dill & cucumber salad and went to bed with happy bellies.

I was very sad to see him to depart but it was such a treat to share our new home with such an important member of our family.  As Tony escorted him to the airport, I started prepping the house for visitor #2.

Visitor #2 – Melissa & Dan – Sorority Sisters by Chance but Friends by Choice

I have been friends with Melissa for about 12 years – we rushed our sorority house together back in 2001 and have been very close since then.  Her husband Dan and I have known each other almost as long, and we share many….interesting….stories from our college years.

Melissa’s sister is studying in Lugano and so she and Dan, knowing we were in Zurich, planned a trip to hit up Milan, Lugano and Zurich.  They wanted to visit with those they knew, hit the slopes, and see some of the beauty central Europe has to offer.  Who could blame them?

Their time with us was the last leg of their journey, arriving Friday afternoon, and so we knew we had to maximize the good time in Zurich.  Unlike Henry’s visit, the weather for Melissa and Dan was cold and rainy.  That didn’t stop us from showing them the sites.

Friday night was beers and Thai food.  We invited out our Zurich friends Katie and James to join us because we knew they would all get along and the more, the merrier.  We bar hopped along Langstasse and I had such a great time catching up with Melissa.  I had last seen her at Christmas and it’s always the best to grab a brew and just chat.

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We slept in the next day and grabbed our umbrellas to explore Old Town Zurich.  We wanted to ensure they saw the authentic part of Zurich since we had spent the previous evening hanging in the seedier part of town.  The mountains were hiding but we still got to see the lovely cobblestone streets and eat an authentic Swiss lunch.

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By the time we got back later on we were exhausted!  We rested up and then headed to Fork & Bottle for a late dinner.  I was sad to take them to the airport the next day – I had such a great time showing Zurich to my friend – but I knew I’d be seeing them again soon.

 Visitor #3 – Heather – Best Week of Work Ever!
My third visitor wasn’t actually staying with us – my supervisor, Heather, was in town visiting our office and I was beyond excited to show her my new home.  Moving to Switzerland was a big change in not only my personal life, but in my work life, and I have always been so thankful to her for allowing me to embark upon this amazing opportunity.  Now that Tony and I were settled, I could show her what Swiss life was really like.  She was staying in Old Town (noticing a theme?) and we quickly got into a morning routine where I would scoop her up at Paradaplatz and we would head into the office together.  She experienced the glory of Swiss train travel and  it was nice to get some time together to just catch up in a way that telephones don’t always allow for.
But it wasn’t all work, of course.  We worked hard during the day, but I introduced her to as much Swiss as could be squeezed in!  Monday night was a nicer dinner at Park Hyatt Zurich.  Wednesday was fondue – of course!  And Thursday was a casual dinner with mountain views for her last night.

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Visitor #4 – Sara & Mathieu – My Favorite French Friends

April was coming to a close, but not without one last surprise visit from our Parisian friends Sara & Mathieu.  They were our original European friends, and have been so generous to let us stay with them on numerous occasions when in Paris.   We were thrilled to finally be able to return the favor.

They arrived late Friday of Easter weekend.  We went to bed not long after but got up the next day ready to explore the city.  Take a guess where we started….Old Town!  The weather was not cooperating – again – but such is April.  We wandered around the city and I was so excited to discover that my favorite Parisian stores were hidden off a street I had never explored.  Leave it to my friends from Paris to help me find these gems.

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For dinner we ate at The Bite – a burger restaurant that we were excited to try and couldn’t get a reservation for until everyone was gone for Easter.  We ended the night back on Langstrasse because it’s too much fun not to share with others.

Sunday was Easter and when they were flying out – we had brunch at Fork & Bottle as the weather had turned for the better, and sat outside in the gorgeous sunshine.  We almost didn’t want to leave, it felt so nice.

It was another successful visit and I was sad once again when taking them to the airport.  As the train doors closed and I waved good-bye to our last visitors, I realized that all of the visits had followed the same agenda:

  • Excited!  Make the house up and get the bed ready
  • Explore the city – Old Town, Langstrasse, pics by the lake, Mars Bar, Fork & Bottle
  • Relax at home
  • Take back to the airport
  • Be sad

But after such an amazing month, I know I shouldn’t be sad.  I truly enjoyed sharing my home and my new city with those I care about and actually find myself bored as there are no visitors to look forward to!  So?  Who’s next?  Zurich is waiting for you!

 

Loving Luzern

My father-in-law arrived in Zurich yesterday to spend the weekend with Tony and I.  We have both been beyond excited and thrilled to host him, as he is the second family member to visit us.  (hint hint, Mom and Dad)

Today it was finally my turn to accompany Tony to Luzern.  Over the last year, Tony took all Zurich visitors, whether ours or friends of ours, to Luzern and up Mount Pilatus.  Now Tony was taking myself and his father.

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It was such a clear day and the city is absolutely adorable.  We didn’t spend too much time in the town as we wanted to head up the mountain as soon as we were able.  Given how close Luzern is to Zurich, I fully intend to return and spend more time just eating and shopping my way through.

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We headed to the bottom of the Luzern train station to buy gondola tickets and made our way to the base of Mount Pilatus.  There are two legends about Mount Pilatus:  One relates to a dragon that supposedly lived amongst the mountain and had healing powers.  This is why you will see a dragon associated as the logo of Mount Pilatus.  The second myth relates to Pontius Pilate.  It was said that he committed suicide for the guilt of having Jesus Christ killed, and that his ghost rests in the tiny lake at the bottom of the mountain.

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The gondola ride up was one of the scarier ones I’ve taken, but once we were at the top, knew it was totally worth it.  The smaller gondola we got on first was fine and felt like being on It’s a Small World at Disney World.  But we transferred to a larger gondola to go up to the very tip of the peak, and this ride up was such a steep incline.  My mind played tricks on me and it felt like we were going to crash into the mountain for most of the trip up.   My illogical brain wouldn’t let me look down for long.

The views were absolutely stunning, but no surprise right?  When have the snow-capped mountains ever disappointed?   There were patches of clouds near us that were almost touchable and the way the sun cascaded through the clouds gave the impression you were walking in Heaven.

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I also made sure to snap some #ootd pics while we were up there – I mean why not?

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Swiss Missus is wearing:  Blazer from H&M//Jeans from Paige Denim// booties by Seychelles

I was a combination of relieved and sad to head down the mountain.  It was so magical and lovely, to actually be standing on top of the world.  I am very thankful I got to see a little bit of Heaven while on top of Mount Pilatus.

Want to visit Luzern?  Trains leave Zurich every 1/2 hour from the HB and tickets run about 40 CHF for those without a half-tax card.  45 minutes later will find you in this beautiful city.

Interested in Mount Pilatus?  When you arrive at the Luzern train station, head one floor below to the SBB office.  Ask them for a round trip bus ticket and round trip gondola ride to Mount Pilatus.  This will run about 80 CHF per person.  Leave the train station through the main entrance and take bus #1 towards Kriens-Obernau – depart 15 minutes later at the Kriens stop and follow the signs that say Mount Pilatus.  You will soon run into the Gondola station.  Stop at the ticket counter to exchange your tickets and off you go!  You will make one gondola transfer to get to the very top.