One of my favorite books as a child was Wind in the Willows. In that story, Mr. Toad talked about how much he loved “messing around in boats.” That’s our family, 100%. In fact, that is why when Bill was ready for a career change and wanted to purchase a business, he chose Expedia CruiseShipCenters. I know it seems silly that we’re not on a cruising vacation right now, but we have plenty of those coming. We had all summer available to us, and there’s a whole world that isn’t accessible by boats, so we chose a once-in-a-lifetime land vacation to see the spots in Europe we would have less access to from a cruise.One of these places is Zurich, Switzerland. We got off the train there and were immediately greeted by the pealing of bells. Zurich as 35 churches, and they all have bells that ring for 20 minutes every evening at 7pm. What a beautiful greeting!
Then we got a blessing we were all just thrilled about: There are fountains all over Zurich (and all of Switzerland), and they are all spewing fresh, cold, drinkable glacier water! We’ve been filling our water bottles ever since and have suddenly lost our desire for beer at every meal. We’ve never been so hydrated.
Our next introduction to Switzerland was cheese. Interestingly enough, none of their cheese is called Swiss cheese, and all of their cheese is white. We went to a restaurant called The Raclette Factory. Raclette is a type of cheese. Each of the four of us ordered something different, none of us really knowing what to expect, since the menu was in German. We do this a lot, and then we share them all. That way if there’s anything we don’t like, we only have to eat a fourth of it! We haven’t had anything we haven’t liked, by the way, but it’s still fun to have a variety of tastes.
What all of us got on this night was cheese, cheese, and more cheese, and it was all delicious. Jason and I both got melted cheese over boiled potatoes (I got Raclette; he got a La Guyere). When he put my plate down, our server said in English, “This is what we are known for.” Bill got melted pepper cheese and smoked cheese over mashed potatoes, and Savanna’s meal surprised us all. It was actually a pizza with, of course, cheese. You know how you have to twirl the pasta around your fork when you have Italian food? Then you finally give up and slurp the rest? That’s what it was like at the Raclette Factory. No matter which meal we tried, we got a mountain of ooey, gooey, deliciousness that we had to twirl around our forks like pasta and then slurp up what wouldn’t fit with a sigh of complete satisfaction.
After dinner, we walked along the shore of Lake Zurich, looking longingly at the beautiful blue water. We discovered they had a ferry, which we decided to take the next day to get…well…on a boat going anywhere! We got a beautiful tour of Lake Zurich and a highlight was all of the steepled churches in each little town along its shore. Two hours later, we had gotten as far as we could go, which was the opposite end of the lake. We stopped at a grocery store in Rapperswil (to buy more cheese, of course). That, a loaf of bread, and some cherries were all we needed for a picnic in a beautiful rose garden. Then we walked through a small castle and a monastery. Switzerland doesn’t hold a candle to the United Kingdom and France with their castles, but its natural beauty surpasses it by far. Finally, I found a bench on a beach and wrote like crazy while the rest of the family walked, the breeze cooled me down, and the scenery inspired me.
We concluded an amazing day with more cheese, this time in the form of a fondue dinner. It was a little over budget for us, but we had saved money with our picnic, so we decided it was okay to splurge. We followed this up with another walk, more bench time by the lake, and a good night’s rest before heading to our next Switzerland destination.