Happy Easter

DSC_0223Coloured eggs are a big part of Easter here in Switzerland.  You can buy them already coloured and hard-boiled at the supermarket.

DSC_0226This little guy came in his own esky.  It is butter shaped like a rabbit.

We will be away for the next few days taking a train ride down to the Swiss Riviera and staying in Montreux.  Hopefully the weather will be better than the forecast….

Wishing you a really nice Easter break from the land of Lindt xxx

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Old and new

080I took this photo from the carpark across from the school and it struck me that there is a real blend of modern and historical here.  The sleek glass elevator in the photo is an unexpected sight – especially because it takes you up to the old town.

Our parent teacher interview went well.  It is so strange to hear my child conversing with someone in another language and understanding words I cannot!  She is doing really well at school and enjoying the many challenges being presented every day.  I am sure that by the end of the year the girl standing next to me will have grown in more ways than we could have imagined.

Wiler Turm

DSC05115On a hill at the top of our town sits a wooden structure called the Wiler Turm.  You can’t drive up to it but it is only a 10-15 minute walk from the surrounding roads.  The Turm is a tower that provides a fantastic 360 degree view of our town and the surrounding villages.

DSC05105It is 38 metres high and there are 189 steps to climb.

DSC05108 (2)It is well worth the walk to get there.  The view is incredible.

DSC05081This is the view looking out over our town.  You can see the old town in the centre of the picture – it is a row of tall buildings with brown roofs sitting close together.  The Stadtweiher (or lake) is just in front here.  The main town centre starts near the right end of the old town (you can see a tall clock tower there), and we live to the left (just out of view in this photo).

DSC05083There are lots of small villages dotted around the area and from our town you can walk to many of these through a path in the forest or along the river.  We will do this when the weather is a little warmer.

Travel tips

IMGP0291One of the best ideas I ever had was to take a photo of the road sign for the place we were going to at the start of each trip.  It has been so helpful over the years for organising photos, especially when you have thousands to look through and it is hard to remember where they are all from.

IMGP0296These photos are from a trip to Switzerland in 2011.  We travelled down to Geneva for the first time and stopped at the medieval village of St Prex.  It was a gem of a find.  Situated in between Lausanne and Geneva, the accommodation was much more reasonably priced and it was such an interesting place.

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IMGP0303It is hard to capture the true beauty of Lake Geneva.  It really is lovely.

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I imagine these photos came to mind because we are heading to Lake Geneva at Easter, although will be staying at the opposite end this time.

IMGP0309I was looking out to France on the other side of the lake.

IMGP0313There is something about being near the water that is so incredibly calming and peaceful.

Have a lovely weekend x

Growing

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We have brought some more Spring into the apartment.  I just love this plant – it reminds me so much of the whimsical world of the Lorax.

DSC_0219Outside things are changing too.  On our walk to school now we see flowers starting to bloom.  I am hoping that the weather will be good tomorrow so I can go looking for some snowbells.  Such a lovely sign of Spring here.

But that is not the only thing changing.  My little girl is growing up and wanting to be more independent like the other kids here.  I’m not sure I’m ready for this yet.  Baby steps forward…… and breathe.

School

Primarschule TonhalleI have been to school yesterday for a parent’s open day (although I was the only one there in our small integration class).  This is the school.  It is one building.  The children arrive at school at 8am in the morning and stand out the front on the steps until their teacher calls them in.  Rain, snow or sunshine.  The school is on a main road and isn’t fenced but this doesn’t seem to be a problem because the kids are taught to be responsible for themselves.  Although there are always the exceptions 🙂

As you step into the building there is a large open room where children hang their bags and coats on hooks and change out of their outside shoes into inside ones.

The lessons start right away.  I am amazed that in a class with children ranging in age from 7 to 12 years that they are all doing the same work initially.  It is all in German and I am struggling to keep up but the kids are doing fine.  They all have different levels of German but seem to follow along quite well.  They stand at the blackboard for a morning test of last night’s homework so the teacher is able to see exactly what is going on.  After this they head to their desks and work individually using their German workbooks.  There is a cd player in the room and they go there from time to time to listen to the audio part of the course.  As they finish a section the work is taken up to the teacher who checks it and offers corrections when needed.  I am very impressed with how the teacher is handling the variety of age-groups and levels of German.  The kids really seem to love the class.

There is a break at around 9.30am where the children eat a healthy snack in the classroom and then go outside to play.  Rain, snow or sunshine.  There is no undercover area to keep dry or warm.  The kids rug up with beanies and scarves and coats and just get on with it.  There is no playground equipment just some balls and (in winter) a fair bit of snow throwing.  Urs tells me that at his school they did have a playground so it obviously varies from place to place.

The children go to the library once a fortnight.  It is in the old town and is about a 1km walk from the school.  Likewise on Fridays when they have sport, they walk to an indoor sporthall which is about 500m from the school.  I am sure all of this, combined with walking to and from school and home for lunch daily, encourages an active lifestyle.  I really am impressed by the fitness level of the older population here and I am convinced it is because it has been a part of their entire life.

DSC_0222Sorry about the poor quality photo!  This is one of  Claudia ‘s books.  She is reading quite well in German after only nine weeks at school.  It is not easy.  Some of the words are real tongue-twisters but she has a good accent.  She can’t understand all the words (and trust me when I say Google Translate is not always your best friend) but gets the general meaning.  Urs reads with her and then they talk about what it means.  She brings home a story to read every day which is even harder than this.  And as in English, it is often sprinkled with nonsense words here and there.  Except it often takes us a while to work out that that is what they are!

Next week we will have a parent teacher interview to find out exactly how things are going and what the plans will be for the upcoming months.  There has been talk of spending some time with a regular class for some subjects.  All in all, I am very happy with our school experience here but am missing the strong community feeling of our school in Australia.  It may be that this exists here as well but that as an outsider I am not aware of it.

Technorama

DSC_0206We have been to Winterthur on the weekend.  And spent a bit of time here at Technorama.  The science fanatics in our house were in heaven.

DSC_0210Technorama is huge.  Four floors of hundreds of hands-on exhibits.  It was pretty hard to photograph because it is quite dark in there.DSC_0211The art fanatic in the family wandered around looking for pretty patterns to take photos of…

DSC_0217Of which there were a few.  Who would’ve thought art and science were friends?

DSC_0216And I have to admit I spent quite a bit of time making sculptures with these little magnetic discs 🙂

We also spent time on the weekend deciding on our Easter trip.  We are going to the french-speaking part of Switzerland and will stay in Montreux.  This area is on Lake Geneva and is famous for its summertime jazz festival, hillside vineyards, and Freddie Mercury statue overlooking the lake.  A nice little train trip south sounds jolly good to me!

What has changed in three months?

DSC_0204Can it really be that we have been here three months already?  The time is flying.

  1. Claudia’s German is improving rapidly.   She is helping me now 🙂 (I did three years of night classes, three years!!!!!).
  2. My German is in a state of stagnation.  I tried to enrol in classes but they were $1600 and my mind calculates everything in travel money… $1600 = one really good holiday, a few really good weekends away, or lots of small getaways or day trips.  I cannot bring myself to spend that much on German lessons.
  3. In Australia, very few people could pronounce Urs’ name correctly and we certainly didn’t know anyone else with the same name.  In Switzerland, when someone calls out ‘Urs’, 16 guys turn around.
  4. Every time I think it is definitely Spring because the sky is blue, the grass is green and the birds are chirping, it snows.
  5. I forgot that I was nervous about driving here and ventured out on my own.  And it was good.
  6. We are being more spontaneous.  Today we bought open train tickets to go away at Easter time.  Destination unknown.
  7. The small shop at the end of our driveway closed.  Claudia and I are still sulking about it.  Why Migrolino??? Why???
  8. The Saturday markets opened for the start of Spring.  Happy days.  Love market day.  Love it.
  9. I still have no friends, although the lady I pass every day on the way to school and I have had a few short conversations.  She thinks Australia is full of dangerous snakes.  A common thought here.  Well it is sort of true.
  10. I have been to the hairdresser.  It took Urs over 20 minutes on the phone to organise an appointment – working out what I wanted done, how much it would cost, how long my hair is, when it would fit in with the short school hours.  There was no way I was going to attempt that in German!

Have a lovely weekend x

Fun Facts about Switzerland! (by Claudia)

1.  Where is it?     Switzerland is the (orange coloured)  country just above Italy, with the borders of France,  Itay,  Austria, Liechtenstein and Germany.

map of Europe

2.  What language do they speak?     Swiss German,  French,  Italian and Romanisch.

3.  What is their currency?     Swiss Franc and Rappen.

4.  What do they eat?     Toblerone (a favorite of mine!)  or Fondue (another favorite!).

5.  What does their flag look like?  It is one of only two square-shaped flags in the world.

Swiss flag

6.  One of the most well know places is?     The Matterhorn of course!  (the mountain seen on the Toblerone packet!).

7.  What is their capital city?     Bern, the city named after the word bear.

8.  What is the current population?   7,907,000.

9.  How do they say hello?     Gruezi.

10. How do they say Goodbye?     Tschues or Auf Wiedersehen or Ciao.

Fun gadgets

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There is something about a well presented plate of food that brings so much happiness to my soul.  So when I saw this little gadget I had to have one.

Tete de Moine is the name of the cheese in the photo above.  It has been produced in Switzerland for 800 years and is made with fresh mountain milk in the Swiss Jura region in accordance with very strict guidelines.  It has quite a mild taste and is delicious but for me it is the presentation of it that is special.

DSC_0185We bought it at the Weinfelden fair with the ‘girolle’ pictured in the photo.  Traditionally the girolle has a wooden base and a metal scraper.  The name ‘Tete de Moine’ (translation: monk’s head) is believed to have originated because the round scraping of the cheese was reminiscent of the bald patch on a monk’s head!

DSC_0188The cheese must be allowed to come to room temperature and then the ‘arm’ of the girolle is turned in a clockwise direction producing thin slices of cheese that look like a flower.

DSC_0200So pretty.  And for so little effort.  The hardest part was waiting for the cheese to come to room temperature.  It seems a shame to eat it really.