Wednesday, November 25, 2009

American Mommy in Zurich - Letter Two

Nothing like a Week 2 letter appearing at the start of Week 4. All I can say is that she is a Luskey and for her...this is right on schedule.


I am working on at least pronouncing the German words correctly. Not an easy language....but learning some of the words that are used over and over again - like Gleis (platform as in train platform) and verbotten (forbidden)! Deb has me starting with counting from one to ten. (That actually helped me know how much my latte was at the museum. Didn't have to ask her to speak in English.) Baby if I could understand what's HIGH German and what's SWISS German.

Another big week in my adventures in Zurich/Switzerland/Europe. Josh's mom Pam was also here so the Peterthals had TWO mommies to deal with. Lucky Deb and Josh!!

So many interesting events this week. As I read my notes, I see a theme here - FOOD! It just turned out that way this week. Food and TRAVEL!!  Lots of travel - and lots of new foods to taste. It's more than just the food, though - it's a way to really absorb the culture - and the calories. Everything here seems to either have milk, butter and/or cream - but made with milk from "happy" cows. Oh, yeah, potatoes are also very big here.

On Saturday, we went to ExpoVina (12 ships docked in Lake Zurich) with wine tasting from all over the world. $20 to get in and all the wine you wanted!! I had water and a Diet Coke!! But I also split a Swiss "cheese pie" called Chäschüechli. I think that means little cheese pie. After going from boat to boat, we went to some friends' house for Mac n Cheese!

On Sunday after a run/walk on the Sihl River, we all went to Korperwelten, the "Body Worlds" exhibit (since almost nothing is open here on Sundays). Really interesting and so much fun to read all about the workings of our bodies in either German or French. Again, my French came in handy but it must have taken me at least an hour longer than it should have because of my time needed to translate. They just don't teach you the words for "stroke" or "menopause" in French class. Dinner was as Swiss as you could get - Zeughauskeller for Kalbsgeschnetzeltes (sliced veal and mushrooms in a creamy white wine sauce) served over rösti (like incredible hash browns), kind of. I had spinach and ricotta tortellini (not too many vegetarian choices on the menu).

On Monday, we all (Stella included - Switzerland is VERY dog-friendly) bundled up and headed to the tram to go to St. Gallen and Appenzell for the day. We got to the tram and Stella, even in her nice warm jacket, started shaking and shivering so Deb stayed home with her and Josh took both of the mommies for a day trip. I told Deb it wasn't nice of her to get Stella all wet to make her shiver - she could have just told us that she didn't want to go! St. Gallen was nice - didn't really have much time there. But Appenzell was just so very charming - as my Dave described it, right off the Swiss Mix box! This is the Switzerland that everyone envisions. But it was eerily quiet as we walked along trying to find Hotel Traube for their famous mac n cheese. It finally hit us that no one was out and about and everything was closed so I guess Appenzell shuts down on Sundays AND Mondays. We found a place for coffee and after finding a cheese shop and sampling a few (and buying three), we found a Bäckerei that was open. We ordered Käse Zweibelkuchen (cheese/onion quiche) and grün salat (green salad) and wonderful Warme Schokolade (hot, actually warm, chocolate) and latte macchiatos. And to top it off, we had to have some of their special lebkuchen (gingerbread with almond filling) and apfelkuchen. We scoured the few stores that were open for a cow bell (read Deb's account of the cow bells) and then boarded a train and then another train to return back to Zurich. Great day. BEAUTIFUL part of Switzerland. Thank you, Josh, for being such a patient son/son-in-law.

Tuesday was shopping on Bahnhofstrasse, the Rodeo Drive of Zurich. However, we shopped at H & M!!! Chinese food for lunch in the basement of Jelmoli again. Then Pam and I went on our own on the bus to the grocery and electronics stores and then back to Deb and Josh's. Made it without any incidences! Figured out what I needed and how to get it and pay for it and then get back home! Just like an old pro. The transit system here is so amazing. You can get almost anywhere in such a short time. The interesting part is that it's all on the honor system but you better have your pass on you just in case. Back at the apartment, Pam made Toll House cookies with her smuggled-in chocolate chips and the new hand mixer we had bought. We killed the hand mixer -what does Daewoo know about mixing cookies?? Deb took it back and told the clerk that "Ist kaputt!"

Wednesday, Hausfrau Day for Deb. Laundry day. So I took over as the tour guide for the day. My first true test of my knowledge of the city and how to get around. We met Josh at Google and he walked us to the train station and saw us off. We took the S4 to Selnau and then changed to the S10 for Uetliberg. Piece of cake - except the S10 only went as far as Triemli. So we got off and waited for the next S10 to continue up to Uetliberg. We had been waiting for a clear day because from Uetliberg, you can see all of Zurich. It was really gorgeous. After that, we took the train back to the main train station (the HB) and walked down Bahnhofstrasse and through winding little streets in Old Town to see the Chagall stained glass windows at Frau Münster. They are beautiful and we had to take advantage of the sunny day. I found our way to "the best bratwurst stand" in Zurich and we ate with the locals. Back to Bellevue and we took the tram to the Kunsthaus (Art Museum). Then back on the trams to the apartment. I had done it! Gotten us there and back and everywhere in between. If you can read a time schedule and system map, you can figure everything out. Luckily, I can do that. Back to home and clean clothes!

Thursday was Google lunch (#3 or #4??) and then the grocery store and then Pam made her famous veggie lasagna. Google had a special "Daughter's lunch menu" so we had fish sticks, hot dogs, spaghetti - very cute to see some of the daughters there for lunch with dad/mom.  We took Pam to Freitag to buy a bag made out of all recycled materials - truck tarps, seatbelts, and tire tubes. Cool place. We also went to a great little funky antique shop with the coolest old giant clock from a train station. Deb is trying to figure out how to get it home and wired in the States. All four of us went to the Opernhaus that night for the opera "Madama Butterfly". What a treat. The opera house was built in 1891 and is as you would imagine it - ornate and beautiful (but not designed to see very well from every seat we found out). Imagine it - being at the Opera in Switzerland watching an opera set in Japan about an American soldier and sung in Italian with German subtitles!!! I had advised Deb to read the synopsis before we went - that was very good advice!!

Friday the 13th, Josh took off another day from work for another day trip. We started the day with Pam making us Swedish pancakes! All we needed were fresh lingonberries. Again all of us set off (Stella included) for Luzern and then on another small train for Alpnachstad. We bought tickets to ride the steepest cogwheel train in the world and went from 1450 ft. to 7000 ft at a 48% incline. Read Deb's blog for comments and pictures. Stella did great until her feet got wet in the ice. So Deb and I headed in for lunch. What did she have?? You guessed it - mac n cheese with a twist, called Alpine Macaroni (mac, cheese, potatoes). I had the first of many bowls of suppe in Switzerland. The soups are wonderful and after looking up some of the recipes, I found out why - cream and butter!! Very funny that our train was five minutes late and Deb started going crazy!! I guess she has become more "Swiss" than she thinks. That evening we met a bunch of Deb and Josh's friends to celebrate their anniversary - at a Japanese restaurant having "syabu syabu".

Back to Zurich just in time to pack for a weekend in Munich!! Week 3 update coming soon (we leave for Prague tomorrow morning for four days). Tschuss!

*Stephen (aka Dad) has decided to blog a response to my letters, sometimes even before I write the letter! Read his responses at


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