Our 2 weeks in Switzerland are almost over.
We had the best time exploring, spending time with with Nonna and catching up with Mat, Anna, Tully and Alby. It was surreal and super exciting to spend time with our friends all the way on the other side of the World. So much planning, dreaming and organising has gone into this trip for both families, so seeing each other finally was pretty special. And after months of only having each other to play with, having another set of friends has been priceless for the kids. A breather, making the next few month in the van more bearable in their eyes…
For me, Switzerland has been pure nostalgia. After all those years in Australia, I have fallen in love with Switzerland again. The mountains have always been in my heart but being here again has made me realise how much this landscape is part of me. As Mat said one night, the grass is always greener….but here it is definitely greener. So I have feasted my eyes on the imposing mountain range that has surrounded us with its snow tipped peaks, the ridiculous shades of green. The brilliant blue of the lakes. Then there is the constant clanging of the cowbells and church bells. And I have introduces my family to some very swiss tastes. Rosti, savoury cheese cakes, Cervelat on the grill, Rivella and fruit tarts for dinner. And the many flavours of yoghurt. And my mum’s cooking. And the many ways you can cook with cheese. Cheese tarts, cheese salads, melted and grated or enjoyed simply with some crusty bread. Each country has its own ways of doing things, traditional flavours. And I wanted to introduce the kids to the tastes of my childhood and for the most part, they have loved every bit. The kids will have the colours and tastes of Australia in their DNA with some swissness thrown in…
It is difficult to really grasp what really makes a person who they are. There are the characteristics we acquire over the years, events and relationships that shape us. And I wonder if underneath all of this are our roots. Colours, tastes, habits, customs and traditions. Our culture is constantly shaped by our surroundings, but there is a core that is distinct and unique to our roots. That is why migration is such a complex phenomenon. Humans have migrated, travelled across the globe and taking their distinct culture with them. Then shaping and changing with the new culture and surroundings. My culture is Swiss and Italian and now Australian. My kids, while very Australian, have drops of Swiss and Italian mixed in. It is such a fascinating concept and I have spent a lot of time contemplating the idea of culture these past few weeks.
But enough musing and back to our time here. It was great showing the Boyle/Winneke clan my town and mountains. We went up Mt. Pilatus, first all the way up to 2’128m with the steepest cogwheel train in the world. That impressed the men in particular. The view from the top is breathtaking and we were lucky with the weather. From the top, you get an amazing surround view down to Lake Lucerne and the city of Lucerne as well well as my home town of Kriens. Then we went down the other side with several cable cars. It was an great day trip without having to prod the kids to walk. Having friends to run around with helped…
We also visited the Ballenberg OpenAir Museum. An all day walking experience through stunning hillside. The museum features traditional houses, farms, mill and and factories from the various and distinct regions of Switzerland. These have been moved from their original sites and completely rebuilt and restored. You can visit the housed, completely set up, some even with demonstrations of the various crafts. If you find yourself in the area, its definitely a must see.
Then there were caves and gorges, more hikes and days spent swimming at the lake. The boys could possibly stay here. Emilia is keen to hit the road again. I am super keen to now head to Slovenia, a country I have never visited and most importantly, can’t speak the language. Thus I become the tourist and not the in-house tour guide and translater. We’ll be back in Switzerland in December again. To sample more way with cheese and hopefully see some now in the mountains.
I can’t leave before giving a bit shout out to our Swiss friends Joli and Ruby and their kids who so generously left us their beautiful home by the lake. It is not a small thing to leave your precious home and car to another family. We have taken on the job of keeping plants, fish and rabbits alive and it is with deep gratitude that we have cared for their home. I hope we can one day repay their kindness and trust.
Finally, here is a little recipe of an Apricot Tart that is enjoyed for dinner. As the main meal in Switzerland is lunch, dinner is more of a casual affair of Bircher, fruit or savoury cheese tart…kids think they are having dessert for dinner, so all is good.
- 200g flour
- 1/2 tsp salt
- 75g cold butter
- 100ml cold water
- 3 tbsp ground Almond
- butter for greasing
- 750g Apricots
- 2 tbs sugar for the fruit
- 100ml milk
- 100 ml cream
- 1 egg
- 1 tbs flour
- 2 tbs sugar
Mix flour and salt. Dice the butter and rub it into the flour until it crumbs. Add the water and quickly shape the dough and rest in the fridge for 30 min.
Heat the oven to 200C. Grease a tart tin and roll out the pastry. Sprinkle sugar and almond meal over the pastry. Half the Apricots and mix in the sugar and spread over the pastry.
Blend milk, cream, egg, flour and sugar and pour over the apricots.
Bake for 40min.
So now we are packing up our van again and mentally prepare ourselves to living in close quarters once more, cooking in a tiny kitchen, quarrelling kids, navigating tiny roads and avoiding tolls.