Hi everyone!  I took my first real vacation this past week, although I remained in Switzerland.  Ben came to visit and I was able to escape work for a bit (even though I do love it) and just enjoy Switzerland and his company. I will give short updates of each day!

Friday Dec. 23: Ben arrived at 7:30 am, and I met him at Geneva Airport.  We went back to Lausanne, and walked around the whole city, including Ouchy/the lakeside, Place St. Francois, the Cathedral, and more.  We also went to the Olympic Museum, where Ben started falling asleep (and me, too) since we were so tired! Then, we went to the Christmas Market in Place St. Francois and Ben tried his first Raclette (special cheese and potato dish) and Gluwein (hot mulled wine).  Then we came back and got ready for Shabbat.  We went to services and ate dinner at a family’s house.

Saturday Dec. 24: We woke up very late, and then walked around Lausanne some more.  We climbed the Cathedral to the bell tower and had an amazing view of the city, lake, and surrounding areas.  We walked a long way to get to the lake for sunset, but it was cloudy.  We walked to a small beach along the lake to watch the sunset, then walked to the metro stop, had a hot chocolate (coffee for me!) and took the metro back. It was Christmas eve, so we had dinner at a great Chinese restaurant, and had some Swiss ice cream as dessert (Movenpick!)

Sunday Dec. 25:  We took a train and went on a walking tour of Bern.  Some highlights- the special statues that were built to brighten up the city, the beautiful cathedral, and the amazing clock tower that has a little “show” every hour, that people used to find entertaining in the 1500s.  We also ate dinner at an amazing Italian restaurant, Cafe Luce.

Monday Dec. 26:  This began our Alp vacation.  We took a train to Interlaken, and walked through the city. We had lunch on the 18th floor of a hotel and had an amazing view.  We then continued on our way and arrived in Lauterbrunnen, just in time to catch a cable car up to Gimmelwald, the small Alp village where we would spend the rest of the week.  The town has 100 inhabitants and is very small and beautiful.  We stayed in a room in a beautiful Swiss chalet, and there was only one restaurant in the whole village, which was only 1 street long!

Tuesday Dec. 27:  We took the cable car up to the Schilthorn, one of the highest mountains at 10,000 feet!  We had an amazing lunch in a panoramic restaurant that spun so we could see the views, and the three famous Alps the Eigre, Monch, and Jungfrau (the Ogre, Monk, and Young Maiden).  We took a lot of beautiful pictures, and it was very peaceful. Then we took the cable car down to Murren, another small town, and rented sleighs and sled back down a long path to Gimmelwald.

Wednesday Dec. 28:  We took a special train ride through the alps and through a tunnel that cuts the Eigre mountain, all the way up to 11,300 feet to the Jungfrau, which is called the “Top of Europe”.  We spent the whole day up there.  There were two lookout points, one at 11,733 feet, an ice palace, and some other small exhibits.  It was so beautiful, we were above the helicopters and the clouds.  It wasn’t too crowded, and it was an amazingly clear day.  It was cold, but not too bad in the sun.  We could see the Eiger and Monch perfectly, and also a glacier that is 11 miles long.  It was so beautiful and amazing.  We then took the train down, and had a special fondue dinner at the Pension Gimmelwald, which they made specially so that Ben could try fondue!  It was delicious and a lot of fun.

Thursday Dec. 29:  It snowed overnight, and was still snowing when we woke up!  We spent all day in Gimmelwald, sledding, walking and playing in the snow.  We also had fresh milk from the cow that we saw next door, they had milked it that morning!  It was delicious, whole milk.  We bought some Alp cheese that had been made from the cows in Gimmelwald over the summer.  I think Ben was the lady’s biggest purchase of the season!  I also found a local shop that sold alp tea that was from the wild herbs in Gimmelwald, and other local goods.  We spent all day in the small town, and saw it clear up and the sun start to shine just as it became night.  We took the train back to Lausanne that night.

Friday Dec. 30:  We went to Chateau de Chillon outside of Montreux.  It was freezing cold and raining, but the audio guide was good and Ben liked the visit.  We then took the train back to Lausanne, and Ben bought chocolate, wine, and gifts to bring home.  We then got ready for Shabbat, and went to services.  We had an amazing dinner at Claudine and Pierre’s house on Friday night.  Janice came to Lausanne on Fri night and we met her after dinner.

Saturday Dec. 31:  We woke up and all went to services.  Ben and I then went to Suzy and Siggy’s for lunch, which was delicious!  I’m glad Ben got to meet everyone here.  We then got ready for New Year’s Eve, where we went to a nice restaurant called La Bossette.  We ate delicious food and had a bottle of wine, and stayed there with the staff until midnight.  We were the last people in the restaurant, and the waiter told us that everyone in the city goes to the Cathedral on NYE.  We then walked over there and saw almost the whole city there, setting off fireworks and celebrating.  It was fun to see everyone so happy.  Then we went to sleep, and 2 hours later I woke up to take Ben back to the airport.  I was sad to see him go (Sunday morning), but we had a great time together!


Of course, this is an abridged version of our trip, with just the highlights.  Photos are on facebook and I’ll post them to Picasa soon, too.

Upcoming: Jan 6-Jan 13- PARIS!  I will be going to the Oeuvre de Secours aux Enfants (OSE) Centennial event, a photo exhibit about the rescue of children during the war.  There is an opening event for the exhibit that I was invited to. I also am conducting 4 more survivor interviews, seeing an old friend from the US, and meeting with another friend for lunch and to see the exhibit, as well!  It will be a fun week.

I wish you all a Happy and Healthy New Year, and hope that you have a productive and fun 2012~