Following advice from a seminar that I attended at the children’s International School (essentially to make sure that we all got closure), the last two weeks of our time in Switzerland have been spent saying “Goodbye”. The children have had playdates galore whilst, as a family, we have been enjoying the most of Switzerland’s greatest asset – the Great Outdoors.
Now, we are not a hugely adventurous/outdoorsy/active family yet we have been profoundly touched by the beauty and adventure presented in the backdrop to our daily life.In Switzerland you find yourself in a unique position where the everyday, ordinary view is actually everyday, extraordinary. Mountains and lakes routinely stop you in your tracks and make you wonder at questions far deeper and more meaningful than “where can I find a tin of baked beans”. Even views that you regularly see and that you should, by rights, become blind to, have the ability to take your breath away thanks to the light shining at a particular angle, the formation of the clouds above or just simply because you remembered to look up when standing at the train station.
From our balcony we can just about make out Lake Zug, Mount Pilatus and, on a clear day, the far off Alps. It is one of my favourite places to be and is a view that I can retreat into when Expat Life becomes a little too, well, lonely. My balcony view has been the main source of my interest in exploring this fascinating country and so in our final fortnight we have been compelled to head off for a BBQ in the forest, hike (ahem, sit in a cable car) up Mount Titlis and take a boat trip on the Zugersee. We have revelled in the cooling breeze from the Tour de Suisse Peloton as it whizzed through and marvelled at the pace of play at the World Street Hockey Championships.
Switzerland is, unsurprisingly, a natural at all things outdoors. Not a single day was lost at school or work when it snowed. This is something quite mind blowing for us Brits when a single snowflake causes trains to halt, schools to close and energy suppliers to add a few pounds onto the monthly payment plan. For our barbecue in the forest we set off on our bikes (see, we have fully embraced the continental way of life) with a pack of food and a box of matches. No disposable barbie was required because the Swiss, they don’t just provide tables and benches in picnic areas, they provide paper, chopped wood and even a metal BBQ complete with grill, and what’s more nothing is chained to the ground! Even in the forests where metal barbecues aren’t provided there are plenty of stone circles (no, not like Stonehenge with druids running round them, they are significantly smaller and a lot more functional) giving a safe space to toast those marshmallows.
My son and daughter concluded their International School experience with class parties that took them to the River Lorze and the Zugersee respectively. For the seven year old swimming in the Lake and having a go at paddle boarding with her friends has served to show just how much she has grown in confidence as this incredible year comes to an end. Playing pooh sticks and celebrating their achievements around a campfire has allowed the five year old to say goodbye not just to his classmates but also to the countryside that has so warmly embraced, and enthralled him.
In making sure that our Goodbyes are truly Good we have continued in the same vein that we embarked upon this Expat Adventure. Open to anything, willing to try everything and I can report that we shall be leaving this sublime country with our eyes sated, our minds opened and our souls enriched and that has to be Good.
Sarah is a mother, wife and freelance writer who also happens to blog about family life and their expat adventures in Switzerland. Check out her blog, Life of Ryrie.