Thursday, July 30, 2009

For Dom

In the town next door, there is a large cathedral, known as "The Dom." The above is a picture of it. We figure it must belong to the one and only Dom, also known as the best home teacher ever.

This is Dom's bus stop. We've never actually ridden a bus to it, but we should. We always take the tram, which, unfortunately, is not named after Dom. It should be.

This is the street sign--translated it means "Dom's Street." Isn't Sarah cute?

This is Dom's pipe organ. Apparently it is quite famous. We should go hear a concert.

This is Dom's donation box. We, of course, donated.

This is Dom's fountain. Most fountains in Switzerland have drinking water in them, so you can fill your water bottles. Not Dom. Strictly for beauty. Curses, Dom. Be generous with the water!

This area is known as Domplatz--or Dom's place. The buildings on the side are actually government offices.

This means there is no driving on all of Dom's property.

Monday, July 27, 2009

Random Swiss Thoughts

You bring your own bags and bag your own groceries at the grocery stores. If there is nobody in line behind you, the cashier will sit (all cashiers sit, rather than stand--makes sense to me!) and stare off into space while you bag your groceries. Not a finger will be lifted to help. It's just not part of their job.

Swiss German is a bizarre language. Really. It's not written. It's not formally taught in schools. You can write it, I suppose, but it's not. Formal communication is done in high German. Books, newspapers and television shows are in high German (because the latter require a script and so can't be done in Swiss German, because it's not written). Radio is sometimes in Swiss German--more ad lib, I guess.

And speaking of language, there are huge amounts of snails and slugs around her. When it rains, the sidewalks are full of them. (No worms, incidentally.) The German word for slug is translated literally as "naked snail." I find this highly amusing.

I did not find it highly amusing when--several weeks ago--we came home late at night find a bat in our apartment. He had flown in through an open window (no air conditioning=open windows) and brought his dinner with him--a naked snail. Fortunately for us (but not for him), I whacked him with the door when I came in, injuring him. This enabled me to catch him in a bucket. He got flung over the balcony and undoubtedly became snack food for a local cat. It totally creeped me out, though.

Jason and Sarah have now been to every tram stop in the Basel metro region. I have not. It doesn't really bother me that I haven't done this.

Everybody proclaims that they don't like pretzels, but when I hand them out on a long trip, boy does everyone love them.

Saturday, July 25, 2009


We walk. A lot. In fact, we have no car. We keep talking about buying a car, but we haven't done it. So we walk.

And I've worn out shoes. These two have been thoroughly destroyed. And now I need new shoes. And Megan isn't around to take me shopping.


Plus, in European sizes I wear a 42! Doesn't that sound monstrously huge? It's so traumatic.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Just for Zoey

Zoey, come and visit us and we'll let you do this. We just won't let your mother watch.

Thursday, July 23, 2009


This is the post where, upon reading it, you book your vacation to Switzerland.

Jason took Tuesday off work and we decided on an adventure. We headed to the town of Murren. In order to get there we used the following public transportation:

Tram from our stop to the train station
Train from Basel to Spiez (SBB train)
Transfer to a new train to Interlaken Ost (BLS train)
Transfer to a new train to Lautenbrunner (Berner Oberland-Bahn)
Cable car
Transfer to another train to Murren
Ride a Furnicular up the mountain.

Then we did everything in reverse to get home (except for the Furnicular--we hiked down).

I know this doesn't sound thrilling to you, but it was. Largely because we sprung for FIRST CLASS train tickets. Lest you think these are like airline first class tickets, let me explain. The seats are nicer, and there are fewer people there, but otherwise, they are pretty much the same. Sarah, however, who is terribly susceptible to marketing, thought this was the best.thing.ever.

This is Sarh in her luxurious first class seat

Daniel decided to spread out and take a nap in his. We are grateful for this.

There was a children's adventure trail, which Sarah found (after much whining). It was awesome. However, this did not sooth her mother's nerves which were still on edge after all the whining. I spoke with a friend today who said, "Oh, you are just like the Von Trapp Family, hiking in the alps." I agreed, but with the caveat that if we were the Von Trapps we would have been captured by the Nazis because they would have been able to hear the whining all the way from Salzburg.

The cows are kept in with electric fences. The electricity isn't that strong. I know this because I forgot it was electric and grabbed at a fence to catch my balance. It felt kind of like stinging nettle. Unpleasant, but not deadly. Thankfully.
I hate to admit it, but this was actually the second time I've done this. Not on the same trip, though. I'm only stupid enough to do it once per hike.

This is Jason on the trail.

This is a close up of Jason on the trail. Notice his Nordic Walking Sticks. We rented those. This resulted in people thinking we were actually Swiss and speaking in Swiss German to us. Heh.

This is on one of the train rides home, but it's of Daniel's favorite hiking activity: Drinking from the camel back. He loves it. Loves, loves, loves it. In fact, he have to forcibly stop him from drinking--or chewing. Unfortunately, my mouth piece currently has a big bite mark in it.

This is Daniel in his backpack. It's all kind of high tech. The only problem is when he goes to sleep, he kind of slumps down and it looks like we're hiking with the headless baby.
My camera is lousy, so I don't have good quality photos of the Alpine meadows, but they are amazing. It is so stunningly beautiful, we can hardly stand it. We did ask ourselves why anyone ever leaves Switzerland.

We'll probably be able to answer that once winter comes.

Wednesday, July 22, 2009


Every year, Basel hosts the Basel Tattoo. This is a military band/drum corp competition/performance. It's supposed to be a competition anyway (from what I understand), but I didn't see any judging.

Anyway, we shelled out an exhorbitant fee (don't ask) to attend the dress rehersal. We chose this because it was at 5:00 pm and the performances were all at 9:00. I'm sure it looks a heck of a lot cooler in the dark.

There were lots of bands and bagpipes and Irish dancers and a weird hunting thing with a bunch of dogs who didn't eat dogfood until given a signal. Daniel managed to fall asleep in the middle of it, which was amazing since he wakes up if you so much as crack his bedroom door.

Basel has a precision drum team called Top Secret. This video is of them performing. In fact, this was at the performance we attended. How can I prove that? Look closely and you'll see us. At the beginning, Sarah is sitting apart from Jason and I. Daniel was snoozing. It was very windy, so at the end, not all of their drumsticks lit up.

We are on the right hand side of the screen; Sarah is next to the stairs.

Friday, July 17, 2009

Mount Pilatus

While Grandma was here, we decided to do something tourist-y and headed to Mount Pilatus. There is a small lake, where (supposedly) Pontius Pilate is burried. They say he's still a bit crabby over his ill advised decisions so he sometimes stirs up the water on good Friday. They also say there are dragons on mount Pilatus, so take it for what it's worth.

Anway, there are three ways up Mount Pilatus. One of these is hiking, so we used the other two methods of ascension and descension: The Cog Railway and the Cable Cars. I lack good pictures of both, but they were very cool. You should come to Switzerland and see for yourself.

We saw real Alpin Horn Players

And cliff jumpers preparing to jump

And cool scenery

Daniel's favorite part was the chairs. He could have spent hours doing this:

Rules, rules and, um rules

Forgive me for not rotating pictures. My computer is broken and I'm using Jason's laptop and I don't want to install photo editing software on his computer. He probably has it somewhere, but I don't want to go digging. Just turn your head a little.


Anyway, Switzerland is a country of rules. And these are the most amusing ones. The one below is a rule list posted along the Rhine river in Basel. It's a wonderful place to walk, but as you'll notice by looking at number 4, it is not a good place to relieve yourself.

Then there's this one. Admittedly, this picture was found in a museum, as part of the exhibit. But still, someone had to actually make the poster.

And here is Daniel breaking the above rule.

My little travelers

Jason's mother visited us for two weeks. She has a bad knee and we have no car, so we walk a lot. I hope she still loves us after we dragged her around Switzerland. At least, she didn't start swearing at us as we said, "Just one more walk up and down the Rhine!"

She left on a Wednesday morning. Rather than sending her to Zurich by herself, the children and I accompanied her on the train. We left on a 7:30 train, so it was filled with business travelers. I think they all groaned when we boarded. But, just take a look at how good my little commuters are on the train!
Fortunately, all went well; Grandma made her flight. Hopefully, she'll forgive us for the extra knee damage and come see us again.`