Living like a Local

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Flag of Switzerland  , Zürich,
Tuesday, October 5, 2010

This week has given us a chance to really live like locals here in Zurich. We have created a bit of a weekly routine for school work, outings, and additional cultural experiences that I can drum up for the kids (like hitting the mall, trying to rent bikes, hiking to the corner store, checking out local parks, the zoo, etc.).  We know some of our bus routes without looking them up.  We realize when we miss a turn in the car before the GPS even starts to tell us so.  We even have a few friends that we try to meet up with now and then. 
The girls had their first sleep over with a Swiss American girl named Lisa.  Lisa comes from a family of 7 (with twins on the way!!), which is not very common here in the expensive area of Zurich.  We met them through an expat message board, and they have been invaluable friends during our transition.  We have been meeting up at parks every Wednesday, and the kids all have a blast, while  Rebecca and I get a chance at some grown up English spoken conversation.  A win all the way around.  The Swiss have a reputation for being a bit cool or standoffish, but we have not experienced that at all!  We have been so blessed by the kindness of strangers, neighbors, and acquaintances in this strange land.  Our social calendar has been almost as full as our travel calendar (in fact, I even had a playdate with a mom called Amelia today!), and I really think I would not survive without it.

Our neighbors are also dear people who have been so kind to us.  Over the weekend the across the street (not to be confused with the farm next door; see Serena's egg story) was holding a weekend fair as a fundraiser for a local choir.  Traditional Swiss sausages and foods along with a few things to entertain the kids (like a plastic cow to milk, and a giant hay stack for the kids to jump and get rowdy in).  It was a great opportunity to people watch, try out our verrry limited Swiss German (Gruetzie! Gruetzie!), and taste some local food.  Just after we finished lunch a 5 piece accordion band started up.  I was surprised to hear what sounded a lot like a polka to me ---- until the yodeling started!   The Swissness of it was too picture-perfect.  I felt like I was in a story book.

I came back with Serena later in the day to see what the evening held.  We walked into the animal stable to find dozens of people eating and drinking beside the newborn cows with the sound of Swiss music and merriment.  It was a great experience, and bolstered up my courage to do something I have been contemplating since we arrived. 

Raw Milk.  The Milchomat is a little walk up vending machine where you bring your own bottle and fill 'er up with farm fresh milk.  I have been hesitant to leap into the unpasteurized pasture, but after spending a day at the farm we were ready to give it a go.  Well Alexander and I were – we are the only ones who have (knowingly) consumed the fresh milk so far.  It was delicious, and I plan to get more so that the girls and I can make a bit of butter and whipped cream.  (Science, week 5, cha-ching -- oh and they will be teaching an English lesson at a Swiss School in a few weeks!)

As much as I have loved the weekend trips we have been doing, I was glad we did not have any big plans this weekend.  We ventured over to a pumpkin patch for dinner with Brian’s co-worker Binit and his family one day.  The kids are already acting like long lost cousins, carousing and giggling whenever they are together.  They recommended we check out a nearby castle and museum in Lenzburg, which was the best one we’ve seen yet.  We had lunch in the Castle Courtyard, and the kids had popsicles at the Round Table. 

All this has been doing a fine job of distracting me from the fact that there is a quasi- advisory for Americans travelling in Europe.  This week brought forth the news that American Intelligence recently uncovered an Al-Queda plot to target Americans at tourist destination and travelling systems in European cities.  The alert is not calling for a stop to travel, but the Eiffel Tower was closed down because of a threat (so much for a weekend in Paris when my mom comes next week!).  The alert calls simply for vigilance – which really is rather meaningless if you are here living in the center of Europe.  As helpless as I feel, I do feel an overwhelming momma bear instinct to make my kids stop wearing their American logo tshirts and to avoid big tourist attractions for awhile.  I found an article that expresses my feelings rather well.   (But then again those pesky commenters make some good points as well.)  Prayers for safely are always appreciated.

I guess if we are going to be like the locals, Switzerland is proving to be a fine place to do it.  People are very well-mannered, chocolate, cheese, and coffee are daily enjoyments, and the Alps are even inspiring me to get back into daily yoga. (Now I get mountain pose!)
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pano.mamalou on

It's amazing how well you are acclamating to the area, and meeting so many nice people! Raw milk? Not pasteurized? I will have to try that, too!
I know that the alert is giving me a little apprehension, but cancel? No way!
This is a chance of a lifetime, and I am not missing it. I am bringing my rosary with me, and plan on praying all the way for our safety. We will see you soon! Love, Mom

Densie on

So glad you are finding so many wonderful people. After reading this I am remembering your entry on being lost with Kay and Serena in the car and you guys just feeling so lost and home sick. How far you have come.:) We will continue to say prayers for your safety momma bear. Enjoy every minute of your time there.

Aunt Diane on

What a wonderful experience for all of you. It seems as though
you are keeping the children very busy and that is a good thing.
This trip is something they will remember the rest of their
lives. Thanks for the info as it is wonderful hearing from you.
Love to all,
Aunt Diane

Aunt Nancy on

Is it true that Europeans don't wear "sneakers" (athletic shoes, etc.). I was told that you could be targeting as an American is you wear them....hmmm.

smitherland on

I see a lot of tall boots all over the streets. I just bought Kayley a pair yesterday. But as for Switzerland, people tend to need those sneakers for the hillier terrain. I see them all the time.

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