October 9-15, 2018
Kidney Stone Watch:
What I know now is that the kidney stone has not left the building as much as we had thought in Spain. The night before this epic journey, the discomfort comes back and I wonder if we should actually be leaving or if I should be visiting a hospital in Switzerland. The turn around time from finishing the Camino to leaving is exactly one week so there is little time to work it out. While we’re on this trip, the pain and discomfort come and go. It’s not agonizing but it’s enough to wonder what the heck is going on.
We started off our 14 day road trip at the car rental place in Lausanne. The fellow there was in a very good mood and was very happy to meet us. I began the conversation like I begin most conversations “Do you speak English?” He answered back “Do you speak French?”. Here’s the thing: in certain situations, I really enjoy speaking French because I can speak French. In other situations where things become a little more complication in the dialogue (think hospitals, car rental, places that require more specific words) I break down and can’t understand and spend the next 20+ minutes asking Luc “what did he say?” so what I’ve found works well is knowing what situation we will be entering BEFORE I get to it so we can start off with English expectations.
I said “yes I do but if you speak English I would perfer to talk in this language.” he said “But you must practice your French”. I said “not today”. At least I think that’s how it went. Luc thinks he liked my English accent and just wanted to hear more of it.
As the dialogue went on (in English) up came the question of who will be driving. “Me” I said emphatically. Luc looked at me with rather disdain and said “but you don’t know how to drive here.” Last I checked the steering wheel was on the left side, and we drove on the right side of the road so I’m pretty sure I do.
You see, Luc drove the WHOLE time (3 weeks in France). And France is a scary fucking place to drive so it was fine. But this time, it was my turn. I guess he had a look of terror on his face so the guy said “I’ll let you, sir, drive too, for free.” Cha-ching, just saved ourselves $100.
It was the cutest little black Mini Cooper I’ve ever driven. Super vippy and tiny. Luc drove his parents car back to his house and me the sports car.
We hopped on the freeway and drove to Gruyere! Land of cheese! We walked through a small tour of how Gruyere cheese is made (second time for me/first time for Vivi) and then we sat down to eat a delicious lunch. I had a Rosti Pizza. Essentially the base is potato and then there are tomato sauce, mushrooms and gruyere cheese. It was heaven.
A short drive away is the Cailler headquarters in Broc Fribourg. Here we did a chocolate tour (second time for me/first time for Vivi) and at the end of the tour you can sample all the chocolate you want. Devine.
After that we continued on to Thun to visit some friends. Thun is small but not small enough to have the same address twice so of course we had to visit the wrong address first (clear across town) before we got to them.
It was a wonderful reunion. It had been 8 years since we saw them and we hadn’t met their youngest son yet. Their daughter was about the same age as Vivi. Only problem was that she didn’t speak English and Vivi didn’t speak Swiss-German. They still managed to get along well playing which was very cute. Who needs a common language except play! (Side note: these two are now pen pals!)
We consumed some lovely gin that Luc had bought in Spain and we had the most delicious raclette. YUM! Hans was the best man at our wedding so he plays a pretty special place in our hearts. I was a bit disappointed he wasn’t still sporting the same mohawk as on our wedding day but I absolutely love his humour. His wife is a fan of red and white polka dots and I had forgotten this little tid bit but it was so fun to be back in her home.
We stayed one night and then next day frolicked by the crystal blue lake and took a mini train! We said out goodbyes and headed off to Zurich!
Here we were meeting with Luc’s sister, Elise and Moreno, her boyfriend.
The next day we drove to Europapark (after getting in the biggest traffic jam) in Germany!
Europapark was pretty cool. A lot like Disneyland with roller coasters, places to eat, different exhibits for the younger ones, and colours everywhere! It’s split into countries so you visit countries that have different themes.
Something that I found out rather quickly is that Moreno and I love rollercoasters, the brother and sister were a little less emphatic. They still went but I feel like it took them a bit longer to recover after.
All day long Luc had wanted to go on a wet roller coaster but I had read that it was better to go there at the end of the day so if you get wet, you can go back to your hotel and get dry. So all day long (it was hot) he was asking, and all day long I was saying “let’s wait till the end”. So we waited and it was cold. Moreno and Elise went in the front and they got absolutely soaked (mostly Moreno). I was like “ok let’s go back to the airbnb and get changed” but it was agreed upon that we would eat first. Sorry Moreno.
I was so proud of Vivi and how well she did on the roller coasters. It wasn’t until the wooden one that she got really scared and cried. I hope I haven’t scared her for life now.
We had a delicious meal and retired to the airbnb for card games.
Colmar, France and Stuttgart, Germany
The next morning we headed to Colmar. A small town on the border of France and Germany with the quaintest buildings and flowers everywhere. We drank Guwertraminer wine and ate something delicious. We wandered around town and then said our temporary goodbyes.
We drove back to Stuttgart, Germany on the Autobahn (slow down people! Speed kills!) to visit Luc’s god mother and her husband for two nights.
We spent the time there visiting the city of Stuttgart and the Mercedes museum which I was surprisingly impressed with. I loved looking at the first cars ever made and the history of the automobile throughout the ages. It’s truly incredible how quickly the automobile has advanced in such a short period of time.
Two vivid (colourful) memories I have:
- Running in the morning with Luc through the beautiful fall colours in the forest.
- Talking and connecting to my friend Sheila back home, watching the most incredible sunset.
On our way to Austria we stopped in at the famous (and bizzare) castle, Neuschwanstein (pictured above). A picturesqe castle built suprisingly recently (1886) but fashioned in Castle-esque period design.
It’s pretty incredible how your mood can impact your memories. I remember that Luc and I were having an epic fight and so all of my memories have been dampened by these feelings. I wish I could go back into history and change this and only remember the good moments but it was epic.
After meandering around the castle and grounds we headed back into the car and into Austria.
I remember two things about Austria:
The hotel was a beautiful hotel deep in a valley with gorgeous views all around. The hotel was the most modern hotel I’ve been to with a beautiful naked sauna area, pool, theatre, kids/games area, and climbing wall. It awakened your senses.
I persuaded Luc to stay two nights as we really needed a place of our own. to call home, for a couple of days.
While we were there we did a small walk in the forest and ventured to the Swarovski Museum.
This museum is more like an amazing work of art and beauty. Crystals everywhere, beautiful colours and sounds. It was easy to spend over 3 hours there and feel like you wanted to just chill the rest of the day. There’s a crazy amazing kids area there (think Kids Zone of McDonalds but 4 floors and so intense that a parent has to join you.)
There was also a labyrinth that you could get lost in. We enjoyed running around there and hiding on each other.
We returned home, had one more amazing night in our hotel and the saunas and headed back to Zurich to return the car and visit with Luc’s sister before departing for Turkey!
We spent the day cruising around Zurich and checking out the lakeside and parks with Elise. It was a fun day exploring and enjoying!
Off to Istanbul, Turkey!