Paris was amazing. Switzerland was heaven. Switzerland was more of the vacation part of our family vacation - you know, where we were a bit lazier in our daily activities. We hiked, but we also let the kids jump on trampolines and play on playgrounds. We hung out on our deck in the afternoons and read and drank wine and admired the mountains while the kids watched movies on the iPad.
It was beautiful and glorious and relaxing. It was like nowhere we'd ever been before. When we were deciding where we wanted to go for the second half of our trip, we all agreed that we wanted somewhere that made people wrinkle their brows and, "you're going where?" We wanted to take trains and get away from people. We wanted a chance to slow down and breathe deeply after the hustle of city life. With Switzerland, we got it.
Ninety percent of what made Switzerland so incredible were the towns we went to. We started in Murren, a charming alpine village in the Bernese Oberland region, with magnificent views and zero traffic. The town is perched on a ledge of Alpine pasture overlooking the steep Lauterbrunnen Valley below.
The village was so calm and so quiet. I couldn't stop being surprised how something so enormous as the mountain peaks directly in front of us could be so peaceful and so still. Each day we hiked and ate chocolate and explored and we ate cheese and we hiked some more and we found ice cream and we read and we cloud-watched the mountains and we talked. We hiked from Murren to Grindelwald, stopped for a beer and shared a cheese board for lunch while the kids ran between the table and the playgound. We marveled at the Trummelbach Falls thundering above us, and ate homemade meringues the size of our fists. We followed a herd of cows through their pasture, listening to the cow bells clanging like church bells ring on Sunday mornings. We went to the tip-top of the Matterhorn and slid down ice slides and rode cable car and funiculars and cogwheel trains.
This, however, is probably the kind of crap you hate hearing about from your freezing cold beige-paneled cubicle, or while your kids are staging a revolt from the next room over while you drink your hours-old lukewarm coffee. I know, I get it, I'd hate hearing about it too. Quit it with the beautiful mountain views and the enviously perfect family and the twinkling stars and the delicious chocolate, I'd think.
And so, therefore Internet, you will not mind if I tell you how I cleaned up vomit at least once a day. Bingo! That just made you instantly less envious, didn't it? Suddenly, it doesn't seem like such a perfect, amazing vacation.
When we left for our trip, Lily was in the middle of antibiotics and Daisy had just started a course of peniciliin for strep throat. Now, all three of my girls are normally very healthy children - a mild cold or a short bout of the flu may knock one or two of them back a few days, but nothing major. This, however, was the first time Daisy had ever taken an antibiotic. We made it through the first week in Paris, and it was on the very last cable car of the last thirty minutes of the eight-hour trek from Paris to Murren when Daisy started complaining of a rash that was driving her crazy. An allergy to peniciliin was actually the furthest thing from my mind. The next afternoon the rash was full-blown; we stopped the antibiotics and hunted down some advice at the local Apotheke.
We naively thought the rash would just fade away, but as the week went on and we moved from Murren to Zermatt to Geneva the rash went full blown, a cough developed and the nausea started. Internet, if there is anything worse than being sick, it is being sick on your first overseas trip when you just want your own bed and your own space and clean pajamas. But, being true to form, Daisy was a total champ - hiking through exhaustion, smiling instead of crying, numbing her swollen throat with ice cream and always, always being positive.
Just as with all travel - through Switzerland we practiced the fine art of balancing a profound wanderlust for this wide planet with the delicate yearnings for home. Travel stretches us. It is taxing at times, and achingly beautiful at others, and we always return home a bit crumpled, but a lot changed.