Swiss Hospitality

With Jon and Regula

Week 24 of 52

Switzerland has Alps, castles, lakes, culture, world-class historic cities, glaciers, and some of the best hiking in the world. And except for a few wonderful long walks and a day at one of the famous baths, we didn’t see or do any of those things! Week 24 has been a week of our extended Swiss family spoiling us with dinner parties, lots of laughs, rounds of Bananagrams and lots of great food!

Hans and the Twins

Hallie and Isabel with their father, Hans, in 1987

Jon and Regula (top photo, left rear) invited us to their beautiful home near Baden for a traditional Swiss grill of Bratwurst and Cervalat. We raised our glasses to Hans, who passed away about 11 years ago and who brought this group together. Hans and Harrison met on his first trip to Europe in 1982. Hans introduced Harrison to his American wife Sarah and the three became life-long friends. Hans and Sarah had three beautiful girls: Amelia and the twins, Isabel and Hallie, who all light up the room wherever they go! Later Hans went into business with Jon, Harrison married Sharene, and they all got to know each other. Hans was a true gentleman and we honor him for enriching our lives and allowing us to be part of his legacy.

Our friends Maxine and Maya invited us to their country home southeast of Zurich. We took a quick 3-minute walk from Sarah’s to the train station, and before we knew it we were out enjoying the Swiss countryside. Maxine met us at the train with a huge smile and a big hug, whisked us away to a little outdoor cafe where we had coffee and the best pastry Sharene has had in her entire life, then drove us to their home in the little hamlet of Adletshusen. We had a long wonderful walk around the Luetzelsee, a lake with Swiss Alps and cow bells as our backdrop (we half expected to see Julie Andrews or Heidi appear as we rounded each corner). This little area is home to a couple of hundred storks who come here each spring and summer. The farmers put out food and places for them to nest to attract them.

Maxine is a Swiss Julia Child, and Maxine and Maya’s house has a big herb and vegetable garden. Maxine put us to work picking beans and peas out of her garden while she started preparing an (almost) entirely “bio” meal for us to feast on. Maya prepared the grill and assured us the meat was “happy meat.” Bio is the word they use here for organic; happy meat means the cows were treated humanely. All we know is that it was very fresh and delicious! They were both gracious hosts and the day just flew by. Another memorable day in Week 24.

Bad Zurzach

The pool at the top right is the one with the current like river rapids… fun!

One non-food highlight of our week was Bad Zurzach. Think of a Jacuzzi tub on steroids and you get a good sense of what these thermal baths are about. For a small fee, you can spend the day here and go from one of the five pools to another. Each of the pools has a different temperature but most have jets about five feet apart around the perimeter that are strategically placed to work on different body parts; it’s like getting a massage from your toes all the way up! One large donut-shaped pool has a strong current that pulls you around and around like you were traveling through river rapids, others have waterfalls to wash over you. You can relax in a recliner in the water with gentle jets swirling around you, or you can choose a more gentle “zen” pool. inside they have massages and quiet rooms. Yes, we know, we are very spoiled.

Patrick and ChantalPatrick and Chantal form another wing of our Swiss family near Baden not connected to Hans. Patrick was a high school foreign exchange student who lived with Sharene’s aunt and uncle in California. Even though he doesn’t look much older than he did in high school, that was over 20 years ago and we have remained close. He fell in love with Chantal in 1992, and we did too when we met her shortly after that. They’ve come a long way in the past 20 years. They are both successful young professionals; Patrick works for Credit Suisse, Chantal for KPMG, and they just moved into their chic, contemporary home (we could have done a newsletter on their kitchen alone!). They graciously invited us, Sarah, and “our” girls to another Swiss grill Saturday night. We are so proud of these two; they are smart, successful, and so much fun to be around! It’s a wonderful coincidence for us to have these two Swiss connections who live so close to each other but who didn’t know each other until we brought them together.


Hiking with Sarah

Sharene, Harrison and Sarah on a hike above Neuenhof

As you can see, we were spoiled all week from dawn until dusk and we are so grateful to have these dear friends in our life. Sarah is a perfect host and we have loved being with her these past two weeks. The Alps might be amazing but they can’t hold a candle to our Swiss family.

Tuesday we take the train to Amsterdam to begin our next adventure. We’re reading a book called The UnDutchables to figure out how life works in the Netherlands. Wish us luck… we’ll probably need it! Next week you’ll hear from us in our Amsterdam apartment. Until then,

A hui hou and auf Wiedersehen!
Sharene and Harrison