Right now, I’m in Washington DC on a very rare international work trip – and away from my babies for five nights. It’s a strange experience – I’m torn between being thrilled to be back in the USA in one of my favourite cities with time to myself, and missing Matt and the children. So I’m using some of the downtime to remember a wonderful family weekend away.
Last weekend, we took Alex and Sophie on their second ever flight and first trip to Switzerland to visit our friends Catherine and Charlie in Zurich. I’m ashamed its taken us two years to finally get to visit them after they relocated there from Herne Hill with Charlie’s job. But it was worth the wait! What a fabulous weekend – although I suspect they may be relieved that we’re home as the children were on hyper, noisy form for much of the time!
The shock of the 4am departure from our house to catch our early flight was soon forgotten with the excitement of being on an airplane – our Thunderbirds obsessed children enjoyed doing a full countdown, complete with Tracy Island theme tune as we were were speeding down the runway!
Charlie met us at the airport and, after a quick stop off at their lovely apartment to deposit a large quantity of British sausages in their fridge (!), whisked us off into the mountains to visit Sattel-Hochstuckli. We enjoyed the cable car ride up the mountain, watching the stunning scenery beneath us.
The children couldn’t believe the sight that greeted them – an enormous trampoline and bouncy castle park. It’s an ingenious idea to ensure income when the ski season is over – and was clearly very popular with the local children. Alex and Sophie thought it was the best thing ever.
These aren’t great pictures, but Alex adored the big slide and his favourite thing was a massive inflatable fish which opened and closed its mouth, “swallowing” children in its mouth. He thought it was hilarious!
Only the promise of something even more exciting persuaded them to leave the bouncing park – but thankfully Sattel had loads more on offer, including the longest foot suspension bridge in Europe!
Of course, Alex’s favourite thing was the massive wobble as he walked over the bridge! Great to have the children back in their comedy sunhats and glasses!
Once across the bridge, we shared a delicious picnic of Swiss cheeses, meats and bread – and chocolate! We walked off lunch with a little hike around the hills back to the main cable car station, via a great little playground and petting farm.
We saved the best activity till last – the toboggan run!
My thrill-seeking children loved it!
We hit the mountains again the next day, this time accompanied by the full Hainsworth family. We travelled a bit further to get into the high peaks, visiting beautiful Engelberg. It took two long cable cars/lifts to get to the top, including a proper, open chair lift. The views were spectacular, but I did have to spend part of the journey clinging on to Sophie who got a bit fidgety in the open chair lift. Scary stuff!
Once at the top, the children set to work clambering up the rocks and copying the climbers they could see working their way up the peaks above them!
It was a stunning spot, complete with plenty of grill spots where Charlie prepared a delicious lunch for us all!
We whiled away an hour eating, chatting and exploring the hillside – and of course, enjoying the view.
After lunch, we followed the “Tickle Trail” – a short barefoot walk through a variety of surfaces, including water, mud, pine cones and lots and lots of stones! Much of it was pretty uncomfortable on the feet (and Matt compared to it being forced to walk through all the aggregate samples in B&Q!) – but of course, the children loved it!
Alex and Phoebe did a second loop in their shoes (thankfully omitting the mud and water sections!)
We opted to walk back to the main cable car station, avoiding the open chair lift on the way down! The views were breathtaking and it took all my strength not to keep bursting into The Sound of Music along the way (yes, I know that’s not in Switzerland!).
Phoebe and Sophie made a cute pair, skipping and holding hands down the slope!
The only obstacle on our journey was a herd of cows, complete with proper cow bells, blocking the path! But we eventually managed to squeeze past and complete the descent – stopping for ice cream and beers at the bottom.
Hot and tired, we made our way back to Zurich to partake of a core part of Summer lakeside living – the “badi“. A combination of lido, waterplay and freshwater swimming, the badi is the place to be on warm Summer evenings! – and we LOVED it. We made three separate trips to the local badis during our very short stay – and could easily have filled more time there. Horgen, where Catherine and Charlie stay, has two badis – both very different in feel and content.
The first had a super waterslide right into Lake Zurich
The water it ended in was quite deep, so Matt took the children in several times – despite the water being really quite cold!
There was also a lovely little toddler pool which was a ideal for Sophie, who was guided around by her friend Phoebe!
The other badi, my favourite, had a lot more green space, a lovely toddler pool and a great slide into the lake where the depth was perfect for Alex. I lost count how many times he slid into Lake Zurich!
Best of all was the huge, heated lido pool where we all enjoyed a swim and splash. It was such a pleasure swimming in the open air, surrounded by Lake Zurich and mountains in lovely, warm water. Heaven.
We had such a fabulous weekend with our friends. Granted, the children had far too little sleep given all the bedtime shenanigans (they were just too excited all sharing a room) – but they had such a wonderful time with their friends. And we loved catching up with our friends, sharing stories and playing Trivial Pursuit by candlelight on their balcony. We left feeling refreshed and content – and I know it won’t be two years before we head back to Switzerland!