A Swiss Family Goodbye

Today we said goodbye to Switzerland. If I’m being honest, I am pretty okay with that. Our time in Switzerland was good, but definitely not the best. I chalk that up to three things:

  • One, having the bright idea to tackle Switzerland two days after landing in a foreign country. We were tired, grumpy, and disoriented. Our fault.
  • Two, not doing my homework. In an effort to live normal places and not be tourists, I didn’t research for hours on end and make all my usual schedules and lists. Some research would have been helpful, like realizing our Airbnb WAS IN THE MOUNTAINS and walking 20 minutes to civilization would be a real chore. Maybe, at some point, I would have also learned that most stores close at 6:00 and are closed on Sundays. #weweresohungry
  • Three, living “normal lives” isn’t going to be fun every day, and that’s an expectation we could have done a better job setting. Or I could have picked a location with a few more things to do. I picked Locarno because it’s a Swiss beach town. We love beaches and swimming. They just weren’t open yet.

On the bright side, we loved our Airbnb. It quaint and simple with three bedrooms, a kitchen, bathroom, living room and incredible views. I will miss the views the most. Even when we were home for the day, I never felt it was time wasted because the views always reminded us where we were. Well, and the fact that I never count time at home as time wasted. We love home. #saidthefamilywholeft

View from our balcony.
View from our kitchen window.
S in her bedroom. Yes, she’s watching Bunk’d.

While I’m talking about contradictory things, I’ll say this. I was constantly befuddled by the fact so few people spoke English, yet most of the music I heard was American pop, and lots of the trinkets and such in the grocery stores were in English. Seize the Day candle, anyone? Live, love, laugh bag, anyone? How about some Beach Boys on the radio? Air Supply?

Another highlight of our stay was a funicular ride up to Madonna del Sasso (Lady of the Rock). Madonna del Sasso is in Orselina, above Locarno, and is an important sanctuary in the Italian-speaking part of Switzerland. The views from there were beautiful.

View from Orselina, over Madonna del Sasso, Locarno, and Lake Maggiore.
Walking down the path from the funicular to Madonna del Sasso.
Part of Madonna del Sasso.

On our way out of Switzerland, we stopped in Bellinzona to see Castelgrande. This wasn’t on our radar at all until I heard an older man speaking English on the funicular to Madonna del Sasso and jumped at a chance to converse with someone. He was visiting Switzerland from Ohio and had just spent the day touring the castles. I looked up the castles when we got home, and when I realized they were on our way back to Italy, added them to our agenda. (Yes, I’ve started planning and scheduling again. It is my friend and works for me.)

Outside of the fact I drove in circles in Bellinzona while in viewing distance of the castle, (I think Google Maps was trying to get me to ACTUALLY DRIVE INTO A CASTLE), the trip to Bellinzona was uneventful. The castle, however, was AMAZING. It was easily the best part of our trip so far. The kids LOVED it. It wasn’t busy and they could run freely. I took a million pictures. I could have taken a million more.

We met a kind volunteer in the Castelgrande museum, Claudia. She spoke English and was so, so nice to us and the children. It really filled our cup and I am so grateful to her for that.

We also made a lot of progress with our Italian. We all have our key words down and have even started using a few instinctually, like “grazie” and “scusi.” We are moving on to necessary daily phrases, like how to order cappuccino and gelato. “Due cappuccini, per favore.”

Speaking of communication, I’m also now fluent in hand gestures while driving. #noruleswhatsoever #ridic

How about another driving story? On our way back to the airport to drop off the rental car, we had to stop at F’s aunt and uncle’s place to pick something up. I had to drive down the narrowest alley of all time to get there. While trying to turn around in that alley, the car kept rolling backward. You know, as sticks do. I think I switched between reverse and first 10.4 million times. F had the genius idea to put our suitcase between the rear bumper and the building in the alley. Guess who crushed the suitcase but not the car? This girl. I’m still calling it a win.

With that, I was very happy to turn the rental car in. Too bad we couldn’t figure out how to put gas in it. Guess we’ll be paying that upcharge.

That about sums up our week in Switzerland.

Italy, you’re next.

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