Saturday, September 21, 2013

A weekend in the Swiss Alps Outside of Zurich

With Ian off at a "stag party" in Manchester, I was left with the question of what to do with myself for a weekend alone. In the end, the solution was simple and beautiful. Why not spend it with my family who recently moved to Zurich? (Tough life - I know.)

yellow shoes dress woman flying
Ready for my flight out of Tegel

We had missed them on our last visit  to Switzerland, and after a year in the country they pretty much had the Swiss expat life down. They've already completed stints abroad in Germany and Iceland when my cousin was in the military, but had now been transferred to Zurich by his wife's company. This whole "transferred by the company deal" sounds pretty sweet with lots of amazing benefits.

Once again, I see that we are clearly doing everything wrong.

Zurich from the air
Flying into Zurich Switzerland

Adorable Family

I was immeaditly immersed in conversation about our family - talking about our shared history, ridiculously exaggerated Ball lore  and heritage. Even better my cousin shared our grandmother's and great-grandfather's passports and travel documents in their immigration from England to California, USA. (Little did America know what they were letting in.)

UK Imigration card and passport to the USA
My Grandmother's immigration card & British passport

View from their balcony

They actually live in the suburb of Wädenswil a short (20 minute) train ride away. Picturesquely located next to the trailing lake, their 2-level flat was so Americana that I immeaditly felt at home.We caught up on family news, and then they set about impressing me with their new glorious country of residence.

Real Swiss cows!
Flumserberg Switzerland
The grass is really that green.

They were extremely disappointed in the cloudy weather and that I couldn't see the Apls in all their glory, but I was impressed nonetheless. I felt like a kid again as they cooked me an American-style breakfast, drove me around the breath-taking countryside, and took me on an exhilarating toboggan ride down a mountain. What's that you say?

The tin toboggan or "Floomzer" on Flumserberg is am impressive ride. You leave the resort area of working dairy, ski shop, restaurant and hotel on a ski lift taking you up, up, up the mountain.

rainy Swiss gondola ride

Like your own self-contained roller coaster, you strap into a car with a basic brake. And then - you're off.

The ride up the mountain takes about 15 minutes while the ride down is only 3-5. It was gorgeous as we soared around corners, metal screeching.

(The only caveat is that they let me go just after someone and I had to slow down multiple times so I didn't run into her. Give yourself some room so you can really fly. )


Despite the poor weather, my family braved taking me downtown. It was pouring. Not just wet. Raining so hard it was bouncing up off the pavement and soaking our feet. We're from Seattle. We can take the rain. But this....this was something else.

We weathered (literally) the storm and walked around the city, from the Hauptbahnhof  to hopping on one of the stylish trams to the lake.

Swiss transportation

Swiss train station transport

We ducked into an Italian restaurant as a temporary respite from the downpour. As we chatted, I thought about the city. I wasn't surprised by how beautiful the city was, and felt sad all over again for the Berlin that used to be. The narrow streets, teetering old buildings with dates from the 1400s, and cobbled walkways are the Europe Americans dream of.

I was surprised by how cool the city was. On a rainy, dreary Sunday night, bands were playing and  windows promised the quirky & unique.

bars in Zurich skeleton

The next day, we met again downtown and my cousins again impressed me with a very Berlin-esque outdoor cafe/garden/stacked rail car site and the shopping at Frau Gerolds Garten. Über hip, I was delighted by the setting and sudden burst of sunshine.

mermaid in a rocket ship art

Hip eating in Zurich Switzerland
Frau Gerolds Garten

We walked along toward the shopping and came across this beautiful display of umbrellas hung in an alley way with an installation of cows taking up an entire wall. Perfectly weird.

funky Switzerland

Im Viaduct offers more than 30 shops below the railway and it a beautiful architectural site all on its own. On one side there is a peaceful park with old men laying bocce and children running and playing. Shops are small and trendy and I enjoyed shopping, talking, and taking a million pictures. My cousin enjoyed teasing me about "finding the best angle". At the end there is a market hall with basic groceries as well as luxuries like gummy tarts, cheddar cheese(!), fruits, wines, and meats.

Expat in Switzerland wishlist: cheddar cheese
Swiss candy Market Im Viaduct
Gummi Tart

A quick visit, it was perfect. I re-connected with family, found out more about our history, and discovered a new appreciation for the not-so-stuffy Swiss.

aerial Fernsehturm Mitte Berlin
...back to Berlin.

More pics of

Flying Solo: Weekend in Zurich


Check our our previous trips to Basel and Bern or see all Where We've Been & Where We're Going.


ifs ands Butts said...

Family in Switzerland? Now that's my kind of hook up. Looks like such a special weekend!

ebe porter said...

Thanks for the comment @Butts! It was just too beautiful. And it's true - pretty fancy hook-up!...until I get back to Berlin and my real life.

Samantha Dorn said...

I love Switzerland. Amazing photos and those umbrellas are so cool!!

ebe porter said...

Agree that Switzerland is pretty lovely Samantha. Now if only we could afford it.... :)

We're Back in Berlin Ja!

We're Back in Berlin Ja!
ebe & ian at Yak-toberfest 2008