Wednesday, April 29, 2015

Our Swiss Family

On our second and last night in Switzerland, we had a big reunion with almost all of our Swiss family members. We all met at Christine's (my dad's cousin) house, which has an absolutely beautiful and pristine view of The Alps. See below...
She had toys, colored pencils, and all sorts of other things that interested Ian and Annie. She's a new grandmother to an adorable little boy.
Really wanting a family picture before it got dark, we started corralling all of the family outside.
 And, here's the picture you've all been waiting for! It's not the best and it's shadowed, but it includes almost all of us.
Left to right: Marianne, Adrian and Karina, Christine, Helen, Christoph, Phoebe, Marianne, Annie, Aunt Lizzy, James, Uncle Walter, Jim, Ian, and Yours Truly. Missing are Mike Burkhard and his family who arrived shortly after the family picture.
 Uncle Walter and his pipe and The Alps. I didn't realize he was in this picture when I took it, but it's perfect. This is the 180 degree view in front of Christine's home from left to right.

 Jim spotted a fox in the field while peering through his binoculars.

Unfortunately, this was the last picture I could take of our travels in Switzerland. My camera battery died and we had no way to charge it in Switzerland, since the adapter is different than in Germany. From this point on, we used our phones.

Then we had a huge family dinner. I had never met Michael and Adrian, but had heard many stories about how talented they are from my grandparents. It was neat to finally meet them in person!

After dinner we sat down and asked Aunt Lizzy about what we should see in Solothurn. And asked her for specifics about exactly where to find them. See the upcoming post for pictures and details!

It was such a beautiful night. The Alps became purple as the sun went down.

Ian, learning from the big kid!
All too soon, it was time to say our goodbyes.

Fuzzy photo, but priceless and special. I'm so glad Ian got to meet and spend time with Aunt Lizzy.

It was a whirlwind of a night of family and connecting. Thank you to our Swiss family for coming together to see us! We are really grateful for your hospitality and generosity. Hopefully it won't be too long before we see you either in the states or abroad again.

One short story that has stuck with me came when I was talking with Marianne, my dad's cousin. She was talking about my grandpa and how he came back to Switzerland for the first time right after her father died. She said that as soon as he arrived he became like a father-figure to all of them. She said that it was always really special when he came to visit. It was really interesting and neat to hear her share this.

We headed back to our living quarters and spent an hour more with Phoebe & James before they had to head to Bern. Another big thank you to Eva, my friend, for allowing P&J to stay in her apartment to catch that early train in the morning.

Next up, exploring Solothurn!

Tuesday, April 28, 2015

Frauenkappelen & the Wanderweg

On our one, full day in Switzerland, we decided to walk the Wanderweg (wander way) around Frauenkappelen. Aunt Lizzy and Uncle Walter's Breitacker happens to fall right on the trail. Their driveway, in fact, is part of the trail!

Ian had a very poor night of sleep, due to a cough, and so none of our immediate family slept well. When he got up at 5:30 AM (yeesh), so did I. We went out and explored the front yard and gazed at the beautiful sunrise over the Alps. When the rest of the group woke up, they asked if I'd seen the cows milked and had a sample. Well, shucks. Missed that memo!
 We arrived in the dark the night before, so it was neat to view the outside of our living quarters in the daylight. What a spectacular place. I considered never coming back.

Good morning, Switzerland!

Soon Annie was up and outside with us. It was quite chilly!!
 This was taken by Jim at about the time I learned about the cows.
And I ran inside for the good camera:

 Right across the driveway from our rental was a barn. We walked over to see if we could meet the cows and still watch them being milked, but they were only munching on hay.
 I think Ian's favorite animal is the cow after this trip. We watched them for a very long time. The cows finished their hay and then became antsy waiting for the farmer to come back and release them to the fields. Their "mooos" became quite expressive. And from then on, so did Ian's. He LOVES to moo.

 A few pictures of beauty from that morning...

 These scales really were beautiful as siding.

Then we ate a delicious breakfast of scrambled eggs (Christoph makes everything taste way better than usual), meats, rolls, cheese, and spreads. And headed out for our walk.

These are all from along the wanderweg around Frauenkappelen, starting in Illiswill, which is where our little rental was. If a photo is too small, I believe you can click on them to make them bigger.

This little structure on the left is an insect house.
It's really fascinating and these were sighted in both Germany and Switzerland.

Two of my favorite kiddos.

 We headed up a steep hill through the woods,
 came out to a field and kept climbing,
 and when we started to crest the hill, all we could see were The Alps.

 The weather was absolutely perfect. Not too cold, not too hot. Clear and sunny.

 Pretty soon we meandered our way into Frauenkappelen.
 And up to Aunt Lizzy's church.

Love these ladies.

 We sat and had a picnic lunch next to the church.

 A tribute to my grandpa, Walter Otto Krumich. He was an artist, too, and, among many different things, enjoyed making sundials. There were multiple types on his own property and he'd make sundials for his children and friends' homes, too.

It was appropriate to find one at a place he loved and held so dear to his heart.

After lunch we walked by Aunt Lizzy's house, which, as I said before, is right on the wanderweg.

The walk down Aunt Lizzy's lane has more cows. Ian was in heaven.


So special to visit with my sister.


After passing Aunt Lizzy's home, the way goes down through the woods.

The leads to the lake. We decided to take off our shoes and wade into the water. Annie's return out of the water in the far right picture shows just how COLD that water is!!! All of us stayed in only for a few seconds or minutes, before returning back to the shore. Brr!

Jim found a leach. Yikes!!
With shoes back on our feet, we started walking again...

Please pardon my inability to narrow down the pictures. I just couldn't stop snapping them. The beautiful countryside paired with the beautiful homes and barns. Not to mention traveling with some of my favorite people. My heart was full.

Back across the lake...
And then a little relaxation.

Exhausted completely content.

More cows!

Soon we returned to Illiswil, where we were staying. Some took naps, while others enjoyed conversation and an afternoon beer.

It was a beautiful morning and afternoon.

Next up, an evening with the Swiss family! It's coming. Sorry, family!!