Thursday, February 24, 2011

Hallo von Buchs!

We finally saw the sun yesterday after 3 days of rain and/or snow. And who knew that we were surrounded by the mountains!Graham and I haven't really done too much other than walk around main street (and visit the same bakery every day!) while Daddy is at work. Although, Graham and I have both made a new friend! I met Kathy - one of Bob's colleague's wife and Graham met Jack - their son. I guess it's really the first time that Graham has really hung out with anyone close to his age (Jack is 13 months old). I'm not sure if Graham really knew what to do - other than to stare at him! We took a nice little walk today to the lake:
That's a castle by the way, up on the hill. And the village below is really cute and it's got some really old buildings! There's just something amazing about wooden shingles! I wonder if they laid them a piece at a time. Kathy mentioned that some of these places still have wood-burning stoves! Can you believe that?!

We also spotted a weird looking duck on the lake. It almost looks fake!

We didn't visit the church, but here's a glimpse of it:

The bells seem to go crazy (i.e. chime continuously for a long time!) at 11am and 6pm. And at other times, you just can't help but count the number of times the bells are rung so you can figure out what time it is!

By the way, yesterday we had a little "incident". See this little wooden mumu cow toy?

Well, I was letting Graham gnaw on it during our walk and all of the sudden, I started to hear him choke. I looked at the toy and noticed that the cow's ear was missing! I put my finger in his mouth to find the ear (which actually you're not suppose to do!)... and of course, the ear wasn't in his mouth. Thankfully I had read a little thing recently about handling a baby choking. So, I flipped him 45 degrees upside down and gave him a couple firm whacks on his back. And blaaaahhh..! His lunch and yes, the ear came out! Kathy said I did not panic and reacted really well. I'm just glad that Graham didn't turn blue. I wonder if I would have reacted the same way!

Well, thankfully all is well now. Looks like we'll be saving the toy for a later age/time :-)

Monday, February 21, 2011

Off to Liechtenstein - Part II - Lucerne

Once we got into Lucerne on Saturday night, we checked into a hotel and just roamed around the old city. The city's old bridge seemed like a popular spot for a picture opportunity:
The views of the Alps are still spectacular in the city:

Funny enough, Mommy picked out the same restuarant that Daddy ate at the last time he was here!

The next day, we ventured into the old city again to take some pictures. There were some neat fountains and amazing drawings/paintings on the walls:

We also decided to walk further into the old city to see the old city's wall. It was unfortunate that it was drizzling and parts of the route was not very stroller friendly. We actually had to turn around and when we decided to take a little short cut through a field... let's just say that it wasn't Daddy's brightest moments. Thankfully we walked away with just some muddy shoes and pant legs, and muddy wheels on the stroller!

And thankfully we were able to spot a water tap along the way back to the car. Once that was all settled, we got ready to continue on with our drive to Liechtenstein. There wasn't too much to see as it was really just wet and rainy. We did go through a lot of tunnels:Now that we are in Buchs, we haven't really done much. The weather hasn't been all that great. We woke up to snow this morning:

And even more snow in the afternoon!

Graham and I are having such bad-hair days anyway, so probably best to just stay indoors :-)

I've been trying to entertain Graham as much as I can while we're in the hotel room. I've even busted out the new toy that was reserved for the trip home!

Graham is learning to stand and hold himself up everywhere and anywhere he can in this hotel room. Needless to say, he has earned a new "stripe" today! OUCH!

Off to Liechtenstein - Part I

Well, technically we aren't in Liechtenstein, but we are very close! We are in a nearby town called Buchs - still on the Switzerland side. All we have to do is basically drive (or walk) across the river/bridge and we're in Liechtenstein where Bobby's company is headquartered.
It was a really fun trip driving over here from Lausanne. It did take us a while to get out of Lausanne (due to map reading difficulties... haha!) but we managed (and are still married!!). Before leaving Lausanne, we did decide to see the Fondation de l'Hermitage - a 19th century home that was converted into an art Museum. Unfortunately, both Bobby and I were a little bit underwhelmed by it (the building) so we decided to just hit the road. Once we managed to get out of the Lausanne vicinity, we drove into beautiful countryside with terraces of vineyards and old (and huge!) lovely farm houses.It was a little tricky getting onto the autobahn/freeway going towards Lucerne, but once we figured that out (about an hour later!), we were making good progress and decided to drive up towards the mountains to have a peek and stay overnight. The view of the Alps are amazing everywhere you turn and during a pit stop, we found some yummy ice-cream! The Swiss have some creamy cows around here. Ha ha!
We ended up staying the night at a little hotel called Rustica in a little village of Inden. And I mean REALLY little - population: 120! It took us perhaps a mere 10 seconds or less to drive from one end to the other end of the village and even still, the town actually had one set of traffic lights! Nonetheless, at just over 3,700 ft, the views were gorgeous!
Bobby imagined that THIS would be the place where we would retire because they speak 3 languages here - German, French, and Italian! So during dinner and breakfast the next day, I would be speaking to the owner/waitress in German and Bobby would do so in French! And the ladies would change language accordingly. Amazing! As for Graham - they would always say "Cuckoo! Cuckoo!" or "Ciao ciao" to him. Those two phrases seem to be the universal baby language here. By the way, Graham's waving skills are improving quickly! He actually waved to Bobby when he returned from work today. Too cute!

The next day, on our way down the moutain, we spotted a guy running up the mountain... CRAZY! Then, we spotted an even crazier guy going up the mountain on his rollerblades and ski poles!!! Anyhow... apart from those distractions, the views again are almost postcard-like!

Our challenge soon begun... we had to determine how to drive up north to Lucerne. We were hoping/guessing that the "passes" or roads would be open through the mountains but as we got closer, the signs confirmed that all passes were closed! BUT... We ended up stopping in a loooong line of cars for a ride on the rail (Furka Pass). We weren't exactly sure where the train was going so we asked the people in the car ahead of us and they mentioned that it was a detour that bypassed the "passes". AWESOME!!!

See the little red cars on the rail (wheels) and the dotted lines? The train took us from just south of Oberwald to Realp. What a neat concept! You actually stay in your car and you drive it onto the train! We had to wait over 1 1/2 hours to get on the train but the 20 minute ride was well worth it. We really didn't want to back-track all the way back to Lausanne! We were able to take a family pic:

And Graham was able to play in the car while we waited: Here we are getting on the train:And into the tunnel! The tunnel was over 15km long or just over 9.5 miles! And it was soooooo dark! Graham actually fell asleep on my lap and we decided to just buckel up once we hit the road again. (Ok, Grandma... you'll have to pretend you didn't see this next pic! :-)
The views were just as spectacular on the other side of the mountain...
And the roads were winding going down!
Graham woke up just before we got into the city limits of Lucerne. So we pulled over and buckled him in his carseat. :-)

Sunday, February 20, 2011

More pics from Lausanne and Geneva!

While Daddy was at work, Graham and I decided to venture out to see more of Switzerland. This past Tuesday, we went to visit the Olympic Museum of Lausanne - where among the displays were the different/interesting torches from past Olympics, all the medals (the medals were so much smaller back in the days in Athens in 1896!), and attire/gears of some previous Olympic winners. It was pretty neat! Unfortunately, we did not spend too much time there as Graham was rather cranky. I didn't even get to finish my lunch! When we got back to the hotel, Graham was feeling a little bit better as he got to play in the children's playroom at the hotel:
The following day, we headed into Geneva by train. It was a 45-minute train ride and Graham was asleep for almost all of the way. We were in Geneva to meet up with my ex-boyfriend and his wife. Long story short, I dated a German guy when I lived in Phoenix who was training to be a pilot for Lufthansa. And now, we're meeting up in Switzerland almost 10 years later!
After meeting at the airport/train station, we strolled along Lake Geneva then had a really nice long lunch at a fancy restaurant - D'Angleterre.
Thankfully Graham took a nice little nap so I was able to enjoy (and finish!) my lunch. Then, we took pictures by the Jet d'Eau - Europe's tallest fountain. Too bad Graham is not going to remember it!
After walking into the city and along the busy streets of Geneva, we stopped for some coffee... and a little nap, of course.
After the nap, we headed back towards the airport/train station and said our good byes. It was really great to see both of them! The train ride was a lot quicker going back and after a quick dinner purchase of salami on a baguette, we were ready to head back to the hotel in Lausanne.

The next day, on Thursday, we started out the day by trying some "Poulet" or chicken (pureed) that I had bought from a local pharmacy here. And nope! No likey!!! I don't blame him... it didn't smell very good!
Look at all that cereal that Graham did NOT finish! After breakfast, we took a bath. Graham was starting to get so stinky!
He sure loves the water! And he loves to take long naps after!As you can see, Graham has his travel crib on the side, but he loves sleeping on the big bed. Hope he doesn't get spoiled by the time we get back to the US!
After the long nap, I finally decided it was time to give another try in registering my local phone/SIM card. Graham and I hopped on the Metro train and got off at Lausanne-Flon - about 4 stops away. When I arrived at the first Migros (a local supermarket here) that I saw, the guy told me to go to a Migros that's a little bit further down the street, by the cinema. So, off we went again... and when I did see the cinema, I walked in the Migros take-out to get, yes,... another salami on baguette. The cashier did not speak English but I got as much as "electronics". SOOOOoooo... into the shopping complex! I saw another Migros supermarket and decided to try my luck in there, but then suddenly, I saw a sign for "M-Electronics". AHHHhh...! Finally!!! I think I figured what all these people were trying to tell me! And sure enough, when we went into the Migros Electronics store and the guy was able to activate my SIM card! Phew!
After a quick look around in the mall and cafe au lait for me and cereal for Graham, we were to meet Daddy at the next train stop. It was a rather nice surprise to know that Daddy was done early! After picking up the rental car, we had dinner at a restaurant close by to the hotel. Graham is starting to get really difficult to handle during dinners. Let's just say he gets bored really quickly and his throwing skills are improving dramatically by the meals!

The stroll along the water was nice after despite the cold. We finally got Graham to wear a hat! Of course, I bought a hat that I could tie around his chin :-)