Tuesday, August 31, 2010

Switzerland Day 3

Before everyone gets worried that my brother Todd was somehow shunned from the family, and didn’t get to go. . .he DID join us later on our trip.  He couldn’t get that much time away from work.  We made up for it big time once he arrived. . .you’ll see him in pictures later, I promise.

We had a leisurely morning at the hotel in Zurich. . .yummy breakfast, and packed up our big van for our journey to Niederstocken.day 3 to Niederstocken  day 3 to Niederstocken (3)(Nice sign huh?  I ordered it for our trip!)

Our first stop was the Lindt chocolate factory in Kilchberg.  We had hopes that they actually still had tours, but we were wrong. . .oh well, we just hit the store instead.   Day 3 Lindt factory day 3 lindt factory (2) day 3 lindt factory (3) 

We did however, journey over by the factory, and just opening the windows could smell the chocolate.  We may or may not have stayed there a little while just breathing deeply.  This was the day that our official “taste testing” contests of chocolate began.  Dad was obviously the champion of taste testing, but more of that later. . .

Oh, before I get on with our day can I do a plug for the Garmin GPS system?  Otherwise known as “stay sane with your family on vacation!”  I will NEVER do a trip like this without one.  My Dad bought one before we left and made sure it was updated with all the European maps.  We just plugged in wherever our little hearts desired and it took us right there!  My sister Heidi was the main (awesome!) driver, and she quickly reminded us that although we all had our maps out she needed NO ONE to tell her where to go. . .that was all left up to FRAU.  That’s what we named our GPS.  Frau was a life saver!  Thanks Garmin!

After leaving the Lindt factory, we headed south and hit a few cities along the way.  Really we just looked in our guide books and found some interesting things, and we were NOT led astray!  It was a fantastic day!  Our second stop was in a town called Einsiedeln.  Our main stop there was the Abbey.  The picture on that link gives you just an idea of the massiveness of that place. . .but you have to compare it to our pictures. . .

Day 3 Abbey in Einsendeln (8)

See those little tiny people in front?  Yep, that’s us!  Day 3 Abbey in Einsendeln Day 3 abbey in Einsendeln (2) day 3 abbey in Einsendeln (4) 

The Abbey became a pilgrimage of sorts for many.  They say that those coming would stop at the fountain in front and drink from the water.  (Just FYI, Switzerland is loaded with all kinds of fountains all over the country with fresh water, so you can always take a drink, or load up your water bottle!)day 3 abbey in einsendeln (6) We stopped and had a quick lunch across from the Abbey. . . .what a view!!day 3 abbey in einsendeln (7) The abbey is one of the finest examples of Baroque architecture.  (insert joke from Beauty and the Beast here. . .)  It was in a word. . .amazing.  No pictures allowed of course, but pictures would never do it justice anyway.  A.M.A.Z.I.N.G.  A monastery was founded on the site in 934 (yeah, that’s old.), and it was rebuilt to it’s current lavish Baroque design in the 1730’s (yep, still really old.)  There are just a few pictures on this link. 

As we were leaving Einsiedeln, we noticed this amazing ski jump area, and found out that this is where Simon Ammann practices!   Day 3 Simon Ammann ski jump in Einsendeln

After leaving Einsiedeln, we headed to Aldorf to see the William Tell statue there.  William Tell is the folk hero of Switzerland. . .and I thought I knew the “story” but really had no idea. . .I’ll explain more of the story in my August 1st (Swiss National Day) post.

 Day 3 Altdorf (2)

Heidi was just a little bit excited that she finally found her Torino chocolates we’d be on the hunt for since day 1!  They were my winner for the taste testing for sure!Day 3 Altdorf (3)

Dad, Julie and I are re-enacting the William Tell story. . .complete with a real (half-eaten) Apple!Day 3 Altdorf (4)

Need to know what time it is?  Find the church!Day 3 Altdorf (6)

I had to take this picture for all my fellow Southeast High School Knights!  (Raise your black, and gold, and fight forevermore to stay!)Day 3 Altdorf

Our day had been a little longer than we anticipated so we skipped seeing the city of Meringen, where there is a Sherlock Holmes Museum, but we did see Reichenbach Falls (the waterfall where Sir Arthur Conan Doyle chose to kill off his hero--Sherlock), on our drive.   day 6 wilderswil (13) day 6 wilderswil (12) Day 3 to Niederstocken (5) There were tons of tunnels we drove through, but this one was my favorite 1/2 tunnel!  Cool!Day 3 Einsendeln (2) Yep, still like a postcard!Day 3 Einsendeln (3) We stopped for a lovely dinner along Lake Brienz in a town called Istelwald.  It was late (and dark) when we finally arrived in Niederstocken.  Niederstocken is the small town just southwest of Interlaken in central Switzerland.  It is the town that our Schwendimann family is from  (InSwitzerland all the Schwendimanns still have 2 n’s.)  We found Fritz and Loti Schwendimanns fabulous restaurant and hotel/apartments.  They greeted us with hearty Swiss hugs and were SO excited to have us there.  It was a thrill to finally be in Niederstocken with our Schwendiman family.  In the larger towns were able to get by with our English pretty well, but in these small towns, my father’s german was the ONLY way we were going to be able to communicate (Thanks DAD!!)  My Dad wasn’t actually sure how he and Fritz were even related, so I pulled out my family history charts that I had worked hard on and copied to bring with me.  I started to show him what I was trying to figure out and he stood up and held his hands out as if to say. . .”wait just a minute.”  He left and went toward his large back kitchen area, and when he returned he had it.  THE book.  You know, THE book that they show in the shows about genaology.  Fritz HAS THE book for Niederstocken.  All of the records of births, marriages, deaths for the town of Niederstocken back into the 1700’s.  Yep, you couldn’t have picked my jaw up off the floor if you tried.  Day 3 evening at Fritz's   He immediately found and showed us the records for our ancestors Samuel and Magdalena and their six boys.  They even had recorded when they left for America in 1886.  A couple of days later, I spent most of the morning taking photographs of the book to hopefully find more records of our relatives that we’re missing. Day 3 evening at Fritz's (4)When we were talking about going to Switzerland, I really started to research our family history.  Honestly, a LOT of it had been completed, and it seemed that we had as much information that was available.  My hope was to find at least something. . .even one name, that was missing.  We did have most all of the information from our direct line, but what about siblings, spouses, cousins, etc?  We were truly blessed in all the information that was discovered over the few days we were in Niederstocken, and even more blessed by the places we saw, and the people we were able to meet.   

Thursday, August 19, 2010

Switzerland Day 2 (part 2)

So part 1 left us ending our cogwheel railway trip.  We landed in Alpnachstad (say that 3 times fast).  Then we were able to take a great boat trip on Lake Lucerne. . .just the ticket for the end of our day.

Day 2 boat ride on Lake Lucerne

 Day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (2)

I’m serious. . .the whole country is beautiful like this. . .day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (4)

day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (5)

Cards and Hot Swiss Chocolate (we were trying to decide if it was really the chocolate that was good, or the whole steamed milk they mixed in. . .both I think.)day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (6) Hearts with Dad!day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (7)

 day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (9) Dad decided to take a deck-side snooze.day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (11) day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (12) day 2 boat ride lake lucerne (14)  day 2 bus tour to Lucerne (3) I’m glad the tour guide did all his talking on our way there. . .we were all zonked on the way home.

day 2 bus tour to Lucerne (4)

 day 2 bus tour to lucerne (5)Why yes, that is my Dad crashed out along the back 4 seats of the bus. . .. and yes, he snored the WHOLE way home.   :)

 day 2 zurich geocache

Heidi found her first geocache in Zurich near a bus stop on our way back to the hotel!

 Day 2--hotel in Zurich (2)A little peak at the simple beautiful hotel rooms. . .we were really happy to see these beds after our long day!  Tomorrow. . .onto Niederstocken!!

A couple of things we had already noticed about Switzerland. . .order and cleanliness.  Everything is in it’s place, and probably the cleanest country you will ever be in.  We would see things so perfect and Dad would exclaim. . .It’s the SWISS WAY! 

One thing is for sure. . .I need to teach my children to get in touch with their Swiss roots.

Switzerland Day 2

We crashed hard for a great night of sleep in Zurich.  We woke up early and had a great “Swiss” style breakfast (more like lunch if you ask me. . .breads, meats, cheeses) YUM!  We headed over by the Bahnhof to meet our “Best of Switzerland” tour to Lucerne.  In hindsight this was a fabulous idea for our 2nd day.  We were planning to go to Lucerne anyway and doing all the things they offered for the tour, so why not let THEM drive!   Day 2 bus tour to Lucerne

I think Lisa was already dozing off. . .Day 2 bus tour to Lucerne (2) day 2 bus tour to lucerne (6) Day 2 chapel bridge Lucerne (10)Day 2 chapel bridge in Lucerne (2) Day 2 chapel bridge Lucerne (2)

One of the highlights of Lucerne for sure was The Chapel Bridge.  It’s a must see for Switzerland.  It’s the oldest covered wooden bridge in Europe and was built in 1333, and has paintings along the trusses from the 17th century.  There was a fire in 1993, and most of the painting were destroyed but they were able to save some of them, some the structure is still blackened from the fire damage.  The water tower is the most photographed monument in the country.  It was beautifully covered with flowers on both sides.  Day 2 chapel bridge lucerne (3) Day 2 chapel bridge Lucerne (8)

Day 2 Lucerne (2) Day 2 Lucerne (3) Day 2 chapel bridge Lucerne (12) Day 2 Lucerne

Our next stop was the Lion Monument in Lucerne.  It’s a beautiful and mournful stone monument carved out of the rock.  It commemorates the Swiss Guards that were killed in 1792 during the French Revolution.  It’s beautifully situated right into the rock, as if the Lion is in a den. 

Day 2 Lion monument Day 2 Lion Monument (2) Day 2 Lion Monument Lucerne

After the Lion Monument we headed for a beautiful gondola ride up to Mt. Pilatus.

Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (19)Here’s a peak at the sweatshirts I put together for our trip.  The top arrow says 1886 for the year our ancestors immigrated to America, and 2010 for the year we headed back for our trip!

 Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (2) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (3) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (8)

Beautiful Swiss countryside

Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (11)

Well, it was there just a second ago. . .

 Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (13)Heidi holding up the mountain! Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (14)

 Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (16) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus (18) You can see the hiking trails. . .yeah, I’ll take the gondola. 

We had a great lunch at a small restuarant at the top. . .complete with a swiss band!

Day 2  little band at lunch on Mt. Pilatus

For the trip down we were able to take the steepest Cogwheel railway in the world!  (48% gradiant)

 Day 2 Mt. Pilatus cogwheel (2) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus cogwheel (9) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus cogwheel (11) Day 2 Mt. Pilatus cogwheel (14) What’s a cogwheel you say?  Well, here’s a picture of one!  Got it?Day 2 Mt. Pilatus cogwheel (15)

I think I’ve overloaded Windows Live writer so I’ll stop there and come back for Day 2, Part 2!