It’s been 2 years since we have been back to Switzerland, so we have been itching to return, especially now that we have little Aidan to introduce to the entire family. After our brief stay in Bad Ragaz, we headed to the state of Appenzell via train to visit Phil’s godmother and her family for a few nights and then to the Zurich region to visit Phil’s godfather and family for the remainder of our stay.
Thank goodness the trains were all regional trains which meant they were easy to get on and off of (i.e. no stairs). The faster long-distance trains were quite the adventure trying to get all three of us and 4 pieces of luggage + travel stroller on and off. By the end of the trip, we had a system down and we just didn’t care really what the other passengers were thinking. Were we a little crazy to travel Switzerland by train? Maybe. Would we do it again? Probably. Would we pack a little bit more resourcefully? Definitely. (which means not bringing a 25 pound pack n’ play)
We arrived in Appenzell in the afternoon and spent most of the time catching up with family.
Our first night in the late evening, I heard clanging bells and male voices heading down the neighborhood street. Being my ever cautious self, I was prepared to lock all the doors and turn off the lights. I was hoping the sounds would pass by the house, but the men and the bells were getting louder and closer, stopping at the steps of our front door. I had a momentary freak out before I realized I was being silly because we are in the middle of a Switzerland suburb (pretty safe). And, we soon learned the large group of men wearing and holding large bells were part of Phil’s uncle’s yodeling club. They all happen to be in the neighborhood for a birthday and they thought they would surprise Phil’s uncle with a post dinner serenade and yodel session.
It was quite the treat as this tradition, called Silversterchläuse, was usually only done on New Year’s Eve and only performed in a few small towns in a particular region in Appenzell. The men don full elaborate costumes with 50 pound bells and headpieces and start early in the morning, covering miles and miles by foot, yodeling from house to house in the neighborhood. We were lucky to get a glimpse sans costumes, and the yodeling was beautiful (check out some of the yodeling in our little video here).
The next day, we drove to the charming little town of Stein am Rhein to admire the painted facades and old houses. This town is on the edge of the Rhine river, so we saw children jumping of the bridge for a quick dip and families picnicking along the water. What a beautiful and special village!
From Appenzell, we headed to Zermatt (will share in another post) and after a few days in Zermatt, we headed to the suburbs of Zurich to spend some time with Phil’s godfather and his family. His aunt is the best cook, so for every meal, we had something absolutely delicious, whether it be sun dried tomato pasta + salad fixings from her garden or a special cheese fondue. We made ourselves at home in their house and enjoyed their beautiful gardens and neighboring vineyards.
On our last day, we headed into Zurich downtown to meet up with Phil’s cousin and his family. He showed us around the beautiful campus of ETH University, we strolled through the old town, and then we took a dip in Lake Zurich. It was so nice to see the city and spend some time with them.
We then headed to another cousin’s gathering for a family BBQ and festivities. Everyone chattering away. Wine, beer and food flowing. The kids running around and screaming. Though I couldn’t really understand what everyone was saying most of the time (I don’t speak a lick of Swiss German, though I’m working on it…), it truly felt like home. It was so great to reconnect with family and give Aidan a little taste of Switzerland.
See more in our little video of Appenzell and Zurich here!