Wednesday, September 30, 2009

Pretzels and Macaroons - delicious!

Thank you God for another beautiful day of sunshine! Another day of exploring Zurich. We started off with a playgroup, then a quick trip to a department store near the Bahnhofstrasse. We didn’t think we’d be out so long today, so we were without snack for lunch, and left to buy a quick little nibble. This led me to my new favorite snack in Zurich… the soft pretzel with yummy goodness inside. As we were passing by a little lunch stand, I noticed these huge pretzels were sliced in half as a sandwich. I do love my pretzels, so I stopped and found a pretzel with Brie! Bread and cheese- yes please!

It was big enough for Ella and I to split, so we took it to a near by grassy square, right in the middle of Bahnhofstrasse (it’s ‘the place’ to be, all the money, all the bankers, ritzy shops line the street, great for people watching.) We devoured our new delicious treat, and Ella ran out her energy among the fountains and people – doing her little dances of ring around the rosy, making the proper Swiss people chuckle.
Then, with another quick stop at the carousel, off to the library. However, I got sidetracked by the thought of a delicious new chocolate shop that I had recently read about in Peclard, in Altstadt, is a darling tea and pastry shop that was recently remodeled and opened in March. I have fallen in love with macaroons, and that is exactly what we treated ourselves too. They are very popular here, very colorful, daintly and the perfect little sweet treat.

The lady behind the counter was very kind and humored our English, she let Ella pick out ‘the pink one, no the yellow one, no the pink one,’ and proceeded to tell me all the flavors so I could too, pick out the best one – caramel, oh so good! They also have a beautiful tea shop, and wall of jams and treats. Perfect!

Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Hello Sunshine!

Thank you for the Sunshine today! Seeing the gorgeous weather, Ella and I packed up the stroller and headed out for a day of fun in Zurich. Really, we had a lot of errands to run, but made a great adventure of it anyway. First stop, the train station, which for some odd reason Ella loves. Then we strolled down the Limmatquai (path along the Limmat River) and took a ride on a beautiful old carousel.

It’s a neat little carousel that sits right in the middle of the Rathous bridge, and only comes out for a few months a year. I’ve heard it has a neat history (which I tried to research) but couldn’t find out anything about it. Best part is that it only costs 1chf! After our little horse riding adventure, we headed down to visit a little daycare in Seefeld, and explore the quaint city streets in that area. We promptly found a little park bench to picnic at and watch the passer-bys. Ella loved it, and spent most of the time waving at people, rather than eating her lunch. Darling, right. Yep, in America. Here, the ‘rule’ (one of thousands of rules) is that you don’t really acknowledge or interact with the other people on the street. No smiles, no ‘how do you do’s,’ they think you’re a little crazy if you go around smiling at others around you. Oh well, think the rule applies to a two year old????

Sunday, September 27, 2009


One of the travels John and I have been very eager to make is a trip to Oktoberfest. This has been on our travel list for years and years, and this year we are making it happen. We have one weekend to make it out there, and really only one day to spend traveling, so while this is not the ideal trip one would normally like to take to Oktoberfest, we are jumping on, what could be, our only opportunity –with our toddler in tow of course!

The morning begins at 5am to wake up and watch the Oregon Ducks smash Cal – Go Ducks! Morning is off to a great start. We ran around the house to pack up our one backpack, complete with morning snacks, travel potty seat, and Ella’s extra clothes. Toss Ella on John’s back and ran down the hill to catch the first train to Munich.

We knew we only had a few hours to absorb all the craziness that goes along with Oktoberfest, and we were geared up and ready to embrace the crowds. Leaving the train station, we followed the dirndls and lederhosen to the festival. The search for the perfect tent began…. Which really means- any tent. 



We did not make reservations for this trip, instead we thought we would be adventurous and make new friends! 




 Which is exactly what we did. Because we went on a Sunday afternoon, we were able to walk in the tents and see what all the excitement was about. Some tents – mellow, enjoying the beer, other tents, crowds of beer lovers that started early, jumping on tables and singing their German songs. We found a semi-mellow tent, the Fischer Vroni and cozied up next to two teenage boys, dressed in authentic lederhosen, and straight from, what they called, ‘the real Bavaria.’ 



They were adorable, and I think they were just as excited to be sitting next to Americans! We eagerly ordered our pints and they were DELICIOUS! Ella LOVED the band playing, and spent her time dancing and clapping in the aisles –darling. Sadly we did not try any of the fish that the tent was known for - maybe next time. 



We then thought – great we did what we came to do, now let’s go find more beer! And that we did. We wandered through the crowds, the carnival rides, in and out of tents, had to eat a pretzel and mustard (which sadly disappointed) and ended up scoping out a table in the gardens of a tent. Time for my Hefeweizen – it was awesome, nothing like in the states, how can I get more of this? We made great friends with the German couple across from us, and talked so long that we lost track of our whole afternoon. A quick glance at the clock and we took off running to the train station to catch the very last train out of Munich to Zurich.

That’s when the headache and the hangover started to kick in…. yikes…. And we still had a four hour train ride to go. Ella was wonderful throughout the whole trip. She loved the people, the fair activities, and the music- so easy to please! On the train ride home, she was great for us, kept herself entertained with toys and talked endlessly of the ‘festival.’ Our day ended back at our flat, atop our hill at midnight.

Oh sweet bed, how I missed you.  
Yes, it was a crazy, fun filled, adventure packed day, but it was absolutely worth every minute of it

Saturday, September 26, 2009

To the Top of Zurich- Hiking Uetliburg

Today we had originally planned to take a trip to Oktoberfest, but we made a last minute decision at 11:30pm last night to move the trip to Sunday- less crowds, which increases our likelihood to be able to drink – very important. So, that left us with a whole day to explore Zurich- YES!
We decided to hike up 2800 ft to Uetliburg, ‘the Top of Zurich.’ While, there are trams and cable cars that will take you up the hill, we opted for the hike, and Ella got the free ride on John's back - thanks Dad!

It wasn’t too long of a hike, but it was a good climb. The top has been said to have impressive views of Zurich and the hills and even the peaks of the Alps on a good clear day. That was not today. Today was fog, cold, wind and more fog. Ugh. We could see part of Lake Zurich, but we couldn’t even see across to the hill we live on – go away fog! We did opt to climb tower on the hill, and that was merely a very cold decision, with no more than wind and fog to greet us. Oh well, we enjoyed ourselves anyway and are now putting it on our ‘to do’ list for the spring.

Friday, September 11, 2009

I spy Penguins!

It finally got to us, the inevitable cold you get when you travel with a child. We naively thought that we were in the clear after remaining healthy for our first few weeks, but alas, this week, we all came down with what we’re calling our ‘Euro Cold.” Ella got it first, then after a couple days, both John and I came down with it too. Those who know me, know that I am not good at just ‘staying home to rest.’ I kept Ella home for two days, and when I thought she was doing better, we jumped out of the house and scrambled the 1.5 mile hike up to the zoo. I have been dying to get to the zoo since we moved here, so today was our day! I had been reading about it on, and it looked great. We put on her big girl underwear, brought an extra pair of clothes along, and up the hill we went.
We were there early on a cold, foggy Friday morning and we practically had the place to ourselves- it was wonderful! All the animals were out, and Ella had a blast! First we wandered through the reptiles and the penguins. It was feeding time for the penguins, Ella was enthralled that the penguin could eat a whole fish for lunch!

Then off to the elephants, the lions, and the wolves! Then we wandered upon the best site of all… the Tigers were eating lunch- Huge carcasses of meat being devoured in just a few bites – amazing!

After wandering around the zoo for two hours, we still didn’t get to see it all. It is well designed on the top of the hill, and easy to let yourself get lost in the forest atmosphere with little trails to see animals, and the landscape that the zoo has designed for them is beautiful, about as natural as you could create for animals in captivity.

We bought an annual pass, so that will be a regular adventure for us this year.

We headed home around lunch time, and then naturally Ella decided that today was going to be a ‘no- nap’ day. I seized the opportunity, tossed her in the stroller, and we wandered all the way down to the library by the river. After two hours of running errands up and down the hill, I figured out that we had strolled 6 miles today- yahoo! Life with a toddler and without a car is definitely a challenge, but I love the walking everywhere. I suppose I could have easily hopped on a tram or a bus, but I have yet to try wrestling my stroller on to the buses, and I didn’t feel like trying that today. So, walk we did, and loved it.

Wednesday, September 9, 2009

Another Day, Another Park- Riesback Playground

Before we moved to Zurich, I knew I was going to have to get up the courage to go out and make friends, both for myself and for Ella. Well, today was my first day to start that, we were meeting a playgroup (composed of other expats) for a day at the park. I mapped out the route to the playground, got us ready to go, and headed out the door. Ella decided that she wanted to wear her big girl underwear, so this was our first time to test potty training- yikes! She also wanted to walk the whole 2 miles down the hill. I came prepared with my trusty ergo in hand, just in case she decided that two miles really wasn’t what she had in mind. Knowing I was walking at Ella Speed (she likes to stop and smell the roses, watch the passer bys, and wave to the buses multiple times throughout the walk) I planned an hour for the journey and we needed every minute of that hour. We eventually found the playground, met some new friends and settled in for a morning at the park.

Overall, it was a great success. The playground was Gemeinschaftzentrum Riesbach playground located at Seefeldstrasse 93It was a nice park with a big slide, a wooden maze (which ella loved) a few swings and a sand box.


There are many other moms living a similar story to ours, which is nice to know I’m not the only one exploring Zurich alone with a toddler. I learned that it seems to be expected in swiss culture that when you’re a mom of a young child, you stay home with them, which also means crowded playgrounds!

On the way home (after we used the potty two times at the park!) we stopped at the local market to pick up baguettes, cheese and veggies for dinner, and found the new bus stop to take us all the way back up the hill. Sorry to admit it, but today was not a day for my usual trip of carrying Ella up the hill. Funny, although Ella got a couple hours at the park, I think the highlight of her morning was riding the bus! She threw a huge fit when we had to get off at our stop. This fit is just the thing I was trying to avoid, because the Swiss like things quiet and peaceful in their stores and on their transportation, so Ella screaming “NO NO, I want to ride the BUUSSS” is not exactly something that brings me sweet, adoring looks from the locals. Oh well, wasn’t trying to make friends on the bus anyway. 

Monday, September 7, 2009

Work, work, work

Yes, it has finally arrived, John goes back to work. Gasp, I know! He finished up with school at the end of April, so he has truly been on vacation for FOUR MONTHS. We have had a wonderful adventure during those months and really tried to soak up as much family time as we could before today arrived. Now he enters the Swiss work force. I don’t know much about the swiss working culture, and I don’t have to, because John’s office is actually part of the Munich office (and other Germany offices) so it’s their work ethic that we’re abiding by. That is the work culture that we’re learning about (and now living in!) Let me fill you in…. Wake up, leave for work around 7:45am, work until lunch, take a leisurely lunch with co-workers, head back and work, work, work some more. Then, I have recently learned, that you also have dinner every night with your team, and continue working in the office until you can’t keep your eyes open. So (while I did expect this) it’s now becoming a reality. Now we begin the time when John has to work hard at learning a new work environment, new methods of work, new cases, new co-workers, and I have to learn how to explore Zurich with a toddler! (and no car!!!)

I also had a doctors appointment today, should be a routine experience, right? I did all my traveling research, figured out the train to take, the stop to get off, and how to get there – sounds easy. What I didn’t check was the order of the stops – on my route there were two stops with the same station name! Naturally, seeing my stop, we got off the train, wandered around for twenty five minutes in the heat and finally call John (on his first day of work) in a panic – I’m lost! He spends his time figuring out that I did in fact get off at the wrong station, and I need to get back to the train, and try again. Thanks John! During this long adventure, Ella was insistent that we were going to visit Dr. Seuss – she knew I was going to the doctor, but the only doctor she knows is Dr. Seuss. Boy was that a disappointing adventure for her.

My goal for the year is to work through a book I am in LOVE with, In and around Zurich with Kids, published by the New Stork Times. If you don’t have it yet, go buy it today! You can find it online at….. or Orell Fussli English bookshop on Bahnhofstrasse 70.
Follow my travel adventures here as we explore kid friendly places in Zurich, and please share any other good kid friendly places you know too!

Friday, September 4, 2009

I love the smell of books at the library, now, if I could just find it!

As we have started getting settled in to our new apartment (which we STILL have not paid for…. So stressful!) we are learning to happily live without American tv and our dvd’s. We cannot play the dvd’s we brought from home on the swiss dvd player, and we cannot upload American TV programs on the internet (sigh, I know) So I am gladly ventured to the library to get a library card and spend my tiny bits of free time reading. I go through the routine – google the library, find out how to walk there, and head out down the hill, make a wrong turn, or two, and arrive at the library.  I start at one desk, “Sprecken ze English?”- because my German is currently non-existant- she says, ‘ah a little,’ and points me to another desk. I try again, this time I get sent to the desk upstairs to get a card. I find the desk (all the while, Ella is having a grand old time laughing and singing songs on my back. I’m sure she’s driving the Swiss crazy, they’re always so quiet and proper on the bus, on the streets and in the stores, I can only imagine that their library etiquette is similar) We found the desk, and through some broken English and lots of “danke’s” and 45chf (yes, you pay for your library card here), I was equipped with a library card. I then had to wander through the library (which has multiple floors, and of course I can’t read the maps) to find the English book section. To save you the reading- we ended up leaving the library with a couple books for me, a couple for ella, and some dvd’s that may or may not be in English…. I would call it a success! Now, back up the hill we go :o)