Tuesday, March 31, 2009

Marilyn's Walk in Cham

Today our adventure was somewhat stalled due to the electrician coming here at 11 am, but we made the best of it. Instead of putting Geno down for a nap at noon, I decided to take Marilyn and Geno into Cham to walk around the lake, play at the park, and see the swans, birds, and ducks that tend to congregate along the lakeside.

Geno enjoyed the birds and trying to imitate their sounds as well as going up and down and up and down the twirly slide. Next time we will need to bring crackers or bread to feed them. If he lost sight of Grandma Marilyn, he would look for her until he found her. Very cute.

Marilyn even got into the child like spirit of things and jumped on one of the rocking horses as well. Although it was a less activity based day then the rest, it was still enjoyable to be outside in the fresh air.

Once back into Huenenberg, we stumbled upon a Claro Fair Trade store which was run by many women in the canton of Zug that donate their time to run the store. They had goods from all over the world and ranged from toys, jewelry, and food. Great find. We will definitely go back there when Geno is at school tomorrow. Here's the site: Claro Fair Trade

Monday, March 30, 2009

Crystal and Marilyn in Zurich

Marilyn and I decided that we would go into Zurich to do some sightseeing, shopping, and lunch. We jumped on the train around 11:30 and arrived in Zurich around noon. Once off the train, I knew that I needed to turn right instead of left. Why is this important you might ask? Because if I turn left, it will take me into the red light district and already having stumbled upon it once obliged never again. I guess I am just a modest small town girl.

We then took time to see the sights, the trams whizzing by us, and the hustle and bustle of the city. I hoped that iIwould be able to find the old part of Zurich, known as simply the the Aldstadt, but was having trouble finding the river that I knew would lead it to me. I decided to ask a group of teenagers and they told me to jump on tram 5. I chose not to jump on a tram and continued looking. Sure enough, we ran into the old part of Zurich by looking and following the cobblestoned streets.

We stepped into one of the famous chocolatiers in Switzerland known as Tseucher. The way in which the chocolate is decorated is art in itself. I bought Marilyn four different kinds of chocolate bars, one in particular with chili peppers which is common here.

We decided to eat at the Zeughauskeller and were pleasantly surprised by the ambiance and the food. We opted for the signature Swiss dish of rosti with veal and mushroom sauce which was good. According to a Frommer's review, "This mammoth restaurant, dating from 1487, was once an arsenal; its vast dining room now seats 200. Large wooden chandeliers hang from cast-iron chains, and the walls are decorated with medieval halberds and illustrations of ancient Zurich noblemen. Generous portions of traditional and tasty Swiss dishes are served with steins of local beer. Owners Kurt Andreae and Willy Hammer say that patrons consume some 30 tons of potato salad a year. Hurlimann draft beer is poured from 1,000-liter barrels. I believe it is a must, if you are ever in Zurich. Here is the link: Zeughauskeller.

Mother/Son Trip

On Thursday Morning March 26th, Marilyn and Nick were out the door by 7 am, ready to start their mother/son trip to Lyon and Marseille France. They backpacked it by way of train. Their first destination: Lyon, France. When they finally got off the train, and were looking to find which direction to go next, they were stopped by two young girls with clipboards that asked if they would be so kind as to donate some money to the Disabled Childrens Hospital. Both Nick and Marilyn obliged and were filling out the forms. immediately thereafter, the french police came up to them and one of the girls bolted while the other one was caught and put in a choke hold. The policeman uttered in French that this was a scam and he wondered if Nick had given her any money which he hadn't. Marilyn's first trip to Europe and this is how France welcomes her.

They then proceed to find their hotel and take in some sights. The next day, they took a funicular to the top of this hill to see the Bascilica of Notre Dame. Nick swears that this is the most beautiful church he has ever seen. As you walk in, you are completely drawn in by the beautiful murals throughout the church created with very tiny tile mosaics.

Not only was the church amazing, but the aerial views of Lyon itself were spectacular. they decided to descend the hill by foot which had beautiful views as well.

The next day, they were back with their backpacks strapped on them headed for destination: Marseille, France. Once they arrived, they checked into their hotel and did some sightseeing and shopping. They stumbled upon an art exposition by Bernard Buffet that was amazing. He believed, as many do, that art is something that must be felt. Here is a link to his artwork: Bernard Buffet. Nick said that his favorite painting was of a painting titled Transvestite Skeletons. They looked around to see if any of his posters could be bought, but no such luck.

Marilyn and Nick also had the opportunity while in Marseille to take a boat tour. It is here that they saw several remnants of fortresses as well as a prison that was actually highlighted in the Tale of Monte Cristo. Once off the boat, they took a hike around the lake and took some beautiful pictures of coral and rock.

Overall, I think it was a great trip for them.

Marilyn's Arrival in Zurich

Marilyn arrived on March 25th at 6:45 am at the Zurich airport. She and Nick arrived on my doorstep at 8:30 am. Since we told Marilyn that she needed to stay awake to get used to the time change, I decided to take her into Zug for some sightseeing and shopping.

We walked around the old cobblestoned streets of Zug and spent some time at the Zug Castle. Marilyn saw some of the old cannons used to protect the fortress as well as several old buildings, fountains, and architecture from the 1300's.

When we returned home, Geno was very excited to see her. They spent time cuddling, coloring, and reading. Coretta was also very excited to have Marilyn with us as well. For a women suffering from jetlag, she did pretty well for her first day.

Thursday, March 26, 2009

Washing Machine Breakdown

My washing machine has been broken for a while, and was unsure when it could be fixed, so this weekend I found myself back in time washing them by hand. I filled up the bathtub and began scrubbing, rinsing, soaking. Coretta made sure to let me know that this is how everyone washed their clothes before electricity. It took me about three and a half hours and by the time I was done, my fingers were all wrinkled up.

Today the washing machine guys came and rang my door promptly at 8 am. They came up and began unscrewing things and in a few minutes, came to me and asked, "Are you missing anything?" I looked at him puzzled while he handed me a ripped up sock of Coretta's that must have been blocking the passageway. We laughed.

They then proceeded to tell me that they switched the language from German to English and thought that might be helpful to me. I am sure they had a good laugh at my expense. I know I did.

Wednesday, March 25, 2009

Marilyn's Arrival...

Marilyn arrived at our house yesterday around 8:30am. We sat around and talked a little bit and then I decided to head into Zug with her to have some Thai and do a little sightseeing/shopping. Once to Zug, she was amazed by how fancy and decorative all the candy shops were. We had a fabulous lunch and then off to the old part of Zug.

Once there, I took her to the Zug Castle and down by the lake. Poor Marilyn had trouble adjusting to the time schedule. She looked so very tired.

Today, she and Nick were off to the bus stop at 7 am to start their mother/son trip to Lyon and Marseille France. I will post more pictures when they get back on Sunday.

Monday, March 23, 2009

Medeival Sword Fighting

Coretta and Geno were sword fighting in the hall today. These swords were purchased by Grandma Earnest at the Koenigsburg Castle. Although Geno is a little clumsy at first, he gets the hang of it, and accidentally clobbers his sisters finger. Here's a couple videos of their duel.

Sunday, March 22, 2009

Geno My Little Helper

Nick didn't think that Geno's hair was short enough so I got out the trimmer and attachments and made it shorter. It worked out well to work on it while he watched Mickey Mouse and ate his snack.I think it finally looks good now.

Today he was helping me clean with the broom. He is such a sweetheart. he took the broom and was pushing it along the hallway.

Date Night

Last night Nick and I went out to dinner and a movie. The place we ate at was in the aldstadt area in Zug. The restaurant is called the Rasthauskeller. Nick had lamb chops and I had some of the spiciest Thai curry in my life. We spent time talking and drinking good wine. It was nice to have alone time.

Although Coretta has a hard time seeing us go out, Nick explained her that if we nourish our marriage the better parents we are. Afterwards, we went to the Clint Eastwood movie Gran Torino. I must say that in a way this movie made me nostalgic for my old Saint Paul neighborhood in the States. Overall, great night out with the best man in my life.

Saturday, March 21, 2009

Coretta's New Haircut

Today the family went to Zugerland to do a little shopping, eat lunch, and have Coretta's hair cut at Coiffure Weibel.

While I waited for Coretta to be done at the hairdressers,
Nick and Geno went to the sport shop.

When Coretta was done, we all went to eat at Migros Restaurant. The kids both had chicken strips and fries Dad had veal stroganoff, and Mom had steak. It was great to be out doing something together as a family. After lunch we did a little shopping and Coretta got a pair of new sunglasses and a purple butterfly sundress.

Nadine, our hairdresser, even put in two french braids on the side for her. Coretta was very happy with the results. Here are her before and after shots.

You look great Coretta.

Friday, March 20, 2009

Grandma Marilyn Comes to Switzerland

On March 25th, Grandma Marilyn will arrive at the Zurich airport. We are very excited to see her. We have not had the chance to see her since summer, so it will be great to have some quality time with her.

We plan to do some shopping in Zug, visit the altstadt area of Zug and Zurich, take in the views of the Zug castle, and visit the mountains while she is here.

On Thursday morning, March 26th, she and Nick will be boarding a train at 7 in the morning and spending time both in Lyon and Marseille France. Although the train ride will be long, the views of the landscape should be breathtaking.

Lyon will be great sightseeing and museums and Marseille, being on the french riviera should be sunny with amazing views. I was reading that Marseille was one of the hot spots for Picasso, Renoir, and F. Scott Fitzgerald. Since Marilyn is coming from Las Cruces, New Mexico, she will appreciate the warmth. The picture attached is of Marseille. Can't wait to see you Marilyn!!

Geno in his own words

When Nick came home he was impressed with the haircut I had given Geno, but said it could be a little shorter. With that said, I got out my trimmer and attachments and cut it down a little more. Now I just need to learn how to shear Charlie the dog.

Geno is becoming more and more independent and is able to communicate with a limited vocabulary. Today while Geno was eating his lunch, I videotaped him saying some of the words he has learned. Enjoy.

Thursday, March 19, 2009

Geno's Home Haircut

This morning, I brought Geno for a haircut at the Coiffure Weibel in Zugerland, and although I tried everything, he would not sit in the chair to get his hair cut. I asked her if I could hold him, and she said no.

After two years of fighting with Geno to get him to sit for a haircut, I went to Migros Electronics, and bought a hair trimmer and accessories for 69 francs.

Nervous, and unsure if I could actually do this, I put Geno in the height chair, turned on Winnie the Pooh and Mickey Mouse and started the trimmer. He is so afraid of it, that he moves around and pushes my hands away. Needless to say, it was not an easy task.

Although it is not completely perfect, I know that I will get better at it. Here's some pictures with his first home haircut.

Wednesday, March 18, 2009

Sunday--a Day of Rest

In Switzerland, Sundays are truly a day of rest. Everything closes except for things in recreational places and it is typical to see families out and about with their kids.

We decided to take a family walk down to Cham and walk around the lake this past Sunday. We stopped at the park there and allowed the kids some time to play. It is very clear that Geno really looks up to his big sister, insisting that she hold onto his hand and play with him at the park.

The play area was built to resemble a big ship which had ropes to climb, a bell, and even a slide. Geno has finally mastered the slide and we took a video to capture this moment. The only problem we encountered was trying to get him to go home. Enjoy!

Coretta's Piano Recital

Coretta had her first piano recital yesterday and it went great. Mrs. Pauli had her go through her lessons and then after wards explained to me the importance of reading music, knowing the notes/not just playing by ear, and rhythm. She stated that Coretta shows an eagerness to learn and is a good student. She stated that Coretta has a good ear and can hear a song and play it. Although this is a trait some students don't have, she would like to see Coretta reading and understanding the notes she is playing. Since October, I have seen great improvement in both note recognition, tempo, and confidence.

She then had Coretta play a few songs for me and she also did a couple of duets with her teacher. As part of the music program, they do what is considered a review. Since the tuition is covered a third by the canton, a third by the music school, and a third by the parents, they like to have documentation on the progress of each individual. I found this particularly interesting and now know why the price seemed so cheap. She stated that she would like Coretta to continue taking lessons and believes that Coretta's progress should progress even further. Keep up the great work Coretta. We are ever so proud of you!

Thursday, March 12, 2009

My trip to Mount Pilatus with my Parents

The day before my parents were scheduled to fly back to the United States, I decided to take them up to Mount Pilatus for some fresh mountain air. Although the weather was not completely ideal, it was still a great experience.

Geno, Dad, Mom, and I jumped in the car and drove to Mount Pilatus at 10 am and started our ascension up the mountain. Here you start with a smaller gondola and then take a bigger gondola to the top. Never in a million years did I ever think I could get my Mom up into a cable car attached only to a cable, but I did, and she loved it. The views up to the mountain were beautiful and had aerial views of mountains, lakes, and villages.

While boarding onto the second gondola, my parents lost their tickets. In order to proceed to the gondola, you need these. My Mom decided she would just jump the fence until I showed her that this would be a 100 franc fine. We then made sure to get them two new tickets. Thank God for receipts and proof of sale.

Once up to the top of Mount Pilatus, there was lots of snow and blowing snow. We proceeded though the carved out mountain path that resembles a cave where we had great views and learned a little dragon mythology. It was said that many years ago, the Swiss people would not dare to venture into the mountains because of the evil spirits and dragons they believed lurked in those parts of the region. It wasn't until the British came and wanted to venture into the mountains that the Swiss started making it accessible by trains, gondolas, and cogwheel trains. In fact, one of the steepest cogwell trains is on your ascension to Mount Pilatus.

After our tour, we decided to have lunch at the restaurant that is shaped in a circular tower that is attached to the mountain. We ate German veal bratwurst with french fries and enjoyed the panoramic views. It was a great end to a very memorable trip with my parents.


My Mom and I backpacked our way to Lugano which is the Italian region of Switzerland for two days and one night. The day of our adventure, we left around 9 am from the bus station, caught a train to Zug, and then jumped on the CIS train to Lugano. Along the way, we saw beautiful lakes, mountains, villages, goats, chickens, and cows. The train ride was approximately two hours.

Once we got to Lugano, we got off the train and proceeded to find the funicular which would bring us down the mountain to the center of the city. This however proved to be somewhat difficult. When we found the train station information center, the attendant pointed in a general direction, but made no sense to us. I decided to ask a student who was trying to get surveys completed for Amnesty International. He spoke enough English to point us in the right direction. We found the funicular, payed 2.20 CHF for two funicular tickets and descended down the mountain.

Once down, our hotel, The Dante Swiss Hotel was right there. It was around noon, so we thought we would at least try to check in, and if we couldn't, we would just walk around. To our surprise, our room was ready. The man told us that anything in the mini bar was free of charge and that the breakfast buffet in the morning was free as well. When we went up to the room, it was quaint and beautiful. We even had real linens for our face and could choose our type of pillow from five different types.

Once we were settled, we decided to venture out and see the city. We saw several grocery markets positioned along the cobblestoned streets as well as many boutiques and shops. The real highlight was finding our way down to the lake where there were magnificent views of mountains and lakes.

Although the boat tours that we hoped to take were not running, the parks and walkways by the lake were amazing. We stumbled upon three extremely old churches which we took pictures of. It was amazing to see all of the old murals painted on to the exterior walls of the church as well as the intricate and ornate altar pieces. We got some wonderful pictures of that as well.

We then ate at many Italian restaurants that were just as amazing as the scenery. We chose to have lunch at this cute little spaghetti store and chose the spaghetti with mushrooms, sausage, and fresh greenery on top. It was great. My Mom did notice that wherever we went, we only had male servers. Interesting observation I thought, and all servers wore dress pants, vests, and bow ties.

We also ate dinner at another great restaurant called Argentino's where I had a spicy Italian dish and my Mom opted for the bratwarts, potato croquettes and spinach. We again were not disappointed.

Overall, great destination, great food, great sight-seeing, and great conversation. I had a great Mother Daughter trip.
Here are a few more pictures from our trip as well: Lugano Trip and Lugano Trip Part 2