Wednesday, January 13, 2010

Location #8: Switzerland

I am finally getting to the last few Excellent European Adventure posts, nearly four months after the fact. I would pretend that it was all for your sake, and that the sheer number of photos would have been too much for you to handle, but it's not really true. It's not you, it's me. I am just slow sometimes.

To remind you where we left off in the trip, the last European Adventure post was of our dreamy Swiss Railway Journey. After the nearly day-long railway meander through Switzerland with our friends Stella and Matthias, we stayed at their home for a few days, in a typical Swiss village near Bern called Zofingen.

The center of the Zofingen is called the "Altestadt" (old city) which features all of the traditional architecture and historical paintings shown above. Below, straight down at the end of this cobblestone street in the Altestadt is Stella and Matthias' apartment. They live on the top floor of the white building in the sunlight. Talk about killer location...

Here is Matthias in the kitchen, working his magic as usual. I can't tell from the photo if this was the night he and Stella made an incredible real-deal cheese fondue for dinner, or if this was his to-die-for pumpkin soup, but in any case, we ate like royalty every day we were there. Below is our breakfast. Matthias is a computer genius and created a webpage for the local award-winning bakery, so every morning he walked down the street and came home with the newspaper and a selection of award-winning fresh breads for the day. Mmmmm...

Zofingen is gorgeous. We went walking one day through forested paths behind the village where Stella and Matthias go mountain biking, and we wound our way up a hill to a park area with large enclosed areas with animals! There were a lot of deer and wild pigs, and children poking bread through the bars.

On our way down the hill back to the house, we passed through an apple field of sorts, with apple trees from all over the world... I decided sadly that I would not be a good candidate for a Swiss girl. Everywhere we looked someone was growing something really tantalizing, and although I'm a stickler for honesty in nearly all cases, there is a part of me that sees lone apple trees as a commodity grown for the public to enjoy. It's my recessive "Eve" genetics showing their colors...

The next day Marcos and I called it a rest day, and instead of taking a train to a neighboring city, we borrowed the bikes and explored the area...

Grape vines herded up the corner of a barn. I didn't eat any (promise), but had to get a photo because their form was so beautiful.

Our last day in Switzerland was spent traveling slowly back to Munich, Germany. First, we stopped in Bern to visit the Swiss Temple (the first LDS Temple built in Europe), which was an interesting experience, as the official languages of Switzerland are German, French and Italian. We had to wiggle through communication with people who didn't speak any of the same languages we did, but with a little patience, hand gestures and our made-up Italian words, we did just fine. What a great experience!

We thought that coming into the Temple with our backpacking backpacks would be a bit awkward, but we stashed them in a corner of the lobby and nobody seemed to mind. Wearing nice shoes and carrying a hikers pack was the story of the day.

Next stop: Zurich. Below, Marcos enjoyed breathing in the air of the world center for banking, and the cultural center of Switzerland. Since 9/11, security at railway stations has been tightened, but in Zurich, as with all big cities we passed through, we were able to pay for a locker to hold our big packs while we wandered around the city for a few hours. Many locker rooms required that you send your packs through a scanner before they would accept them.

Not a very interesting photo, but it needs to be here. See those two drinks? They were fruit smoothies from Starbucks, and we paid about $18.95 for the two! I just looked up Zurich, and was not surprised to read that Zurich is the world's sixth most expensive city, right after Hong Kong. We loved Switzerland; I was enamored with the scenery and quality of food, and Marcos was enamored with the popularity of the iphone and the quality of food, but it was without doubt the most expensive country we visited. In Hawaii we call the cost of living the "Price of Paradise" and surely Switzerland is in its own way a bit of Heaven on earth.

Thank you so much Stella and Matthias for being wonderful hosts and friends, and we can't wait to repay you the kindness when North Carolina, Sao Paulo or Hawaii come up on your travel itineraries!


Headle said...

This is my dream. To live in Switzerland. Ohhhh...just beautiful Metta!!!

Drew and Alicia said...

What awesome pics!