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View from our balcony in Les Diablerets (=”abode of devils”) at sunset. I’m not in Paris anymore…

Last week, we returned from our LAST break from school as my husband had to attend a conference which took place in a small village of Switzerland called Les Diablerets. Stupidly enough, we relied on Google Maps to get us there. We were off-track several times and the drive became much longer than planned because it used alternate highway/road names that weren’t used on the actual road signs. Comment? (=What?!) What made this journey more painful was my daughter’s moans of “Get me out of the car!” or “I need the window DOWN!” every 2 minutes. This was a seven hour trip broken into 2 days. I thank the makers of lollipops to grant me 15 minutes of silence each time. Who needs baby teeth anyways?

On this scenic bus ride, my kids fought over seats, and then complained of being bored once we got off the bus.

Travelling with my children has increasingly become insufferable for me this past year. I have failed to mention this because of my heightened mama senility. I forget all about it until the next trip happens. The constant bickering between them, the competition, the loud whining and inability to eat restaurant food has spoiled my “working vacations.”  On this trip both my kids have shown bad coordination over gravel so that half my package of pansements (=bandages) was used up in 3 days. Is it the fresh air? The lack of dog poo to hop over? The brooding mountains that surround us? The kitschy cow statues on people’s lawns?

My daughter has fallen down every day since our trip started. My boy “bumps” into things regularly. The clean, mountain air is confusing them.

Sadly, I haven’t been able to try any typical Swiss foods like raclette as my kids need to eat at “kid-friendly” joints. But I have observed weird spreads available in (toothpaste-like) tubes for your minitoasts. There are no Japanese restaurants in this village and one restaurant that offers typical greasy Chinese food (in a pub that also offers pizza). This village is uncommercialized. [And I presume there is one lonely Chinese man in this village of several hundred.] Everything is costly here. Paris is cheap in comparison! But I can hear the bells ringing from the necks of cows and goats eating along the heather-filled meadows. I can breathe fresh air. And I can see beautiful mountains and charming wooden chalets. This is much better than sucking on a Ricola mint. And the kids liked the free mini-golf offered at the hotel.

Our room was very basic but having the kids sleep in the mezzanine above us meant I only had to hear them fight and not see it. Progress…

Riding the old “telecabine” or 4-person ski-lift cablecar up to Isenau, almost 600 m up.

At the top of Isenau, there is no snow in the summer BUT a handy playground with spectacular views.

A small village nearby called “Vers-l’Eglise (=”Around the Church) had another good playground.This village and Les Diablerets date back to the 1200s.

Beside the church was this beautiful cemetery. C’est magnifique!

The view of Les Diablerets when we walked back from Vers l’Eglise, a 30 min jaunt. We’re in the big village now.

After staying with friends from our University of Waterloo (Canada) days, we visited Zurich for the day where public transport rules and is punctual. Chris gave me the impression that the trams would rather mow you down than be late if you crossed their paths. On the streets, there were NO homeless people seen, everyone wore sensible shoes, and it was very clean. We could live here…but we can’t afford it.

We rode the driverless “Polybahn” or funicular up a terrace of ETH Zurich (university, where Einstein was student and professor).

View of Zurich from ETH terrace, with St. Peter and it’s largest church clock face in the world.

Although the Swiss are known to be capable of speaking at least three languages, I saw only German signs (unlike Antwerp, Belgium, where there were at least 3 language translations on display) in the largest Swiss city.

I can’t understand German but these signs on the commuter train into Zurich were confusing, the second and fourth icons in particular.

We just treated ourselves to ice creams before getting on the boat (part of the public transport system) and the boatman told us, “No ice creams allowed on the boat.” Ppphhhtt!

We continued north to visit friends in the lovely countryside by Schaffhausen. I am told that the old town of Schaffhausen is a lot like Bern but smaller, so we don’t have to go there now…

Classy are the fire hydrants in Schaffhausen, painted in metallic black with silver “eyes.” I had to take a photo…

Many small picturesque fountains can be found in the old town of Schaffhausen. Unlike in Paris, the fountain water is drinkable…

Haus Zum Ritter (House of the Knights) dates from 1485. The fresco, done in the Renaissance style, depicts “knightly virtues.” Amazing.

Overlooking the Rhine Falls, near Schaffhausen. Apparently it was quite wild the day we visited as there was plenty of rain in the previous days. Reminded me of a mini Niagara Falls (yes, there’s even a tour boat that goes to it).

Our trip to Switzerland ended with our good son refusing to take his travel sickness medication for the long journey back to Paris. For some unknown reason, he suddenly abhorred chewing the small children’s tablet called “Joy Rides,” which his English grandmother had kindly gotten for us. (In Paris, you cannot buy bubble-gum flavoured antihistamine made for children, or cherry-flavoured acetaminophen for fevers. Children are given plain hardcore medicine in liquid or pill form. No chewables. The French must think we North Americans coddle our kids for everything.) After relentless threats from me, kind encouragement from Chris, and Clarisse accepting her bribery of lollipops, William won his refusal of ingesting one measly fruit-flavoured tablet in exchange for the freedom of retching in our rental car. Ten hours later and 3 episodes of puking (2 outside the car luckily), my stubborn boy informed us that he would make the same decision again if he had to. Aaaahh-la-la!

We are not looking forward to our eight hour flight back to Toronto this weekend…