Off to see the Luthi family finally, we first met up with Elia and Isabelle in Schaffhausen (daughter of Andy and Jeannine Luthi, longtime friends of Ariel's family). We had just missed their wedding but were happy to see them since the last time was in Vancouver just before they departed for their Panamerica trip! We had just finished dinner at their old apartment (built in 1600's!) and Guy (Isabelle's younger bro) picked us up and drove us to Zurich where Pauline (middle sister) was hosting a house party for a new room-mate. Free drinks and nice friends and catching up with old friends was a great way to start our visit in the land of the Swiss!
We stayed the rest of our time at Andy and Jeannine's across the river in Fluringen, who were lovely hosts, fed us delicious pizza, fondu and other meals. With Elia and Guy we jumped into the Rhine for a quick swim our first night there as their house ends on the banks. Very....refreshing! For Thanksgiving we went to a popular punk bar Elia used to manage and listened to a weird local band and another from Croatia.
One day Andy organized a hiking trip in Apperzellerland (super lucky with the weather as it only got colder and cloudier) where we saw spectacular views, bought local mountain cheese and ate a restaurant built around 200yrs ago in the mountainside!
Another night Elia and his friend took us to a hockey game where we experienced standing seats for the first time. It was really enjoyable and lively as it was the FC Flyers vs. Ambri-Piotta. We were in the A-P crowd who were from a tiny part of Switz. and avid hockey fans who brought all their fans and were set up with endless flags, chants and songs!
Of course we walked down to the Rhine falls but the cold spray kept up from taking the boat ride into the central rock. And to make it really Swiss, we bought a swiss-army knife and ate toblerone in town. We also visited Isabelle's work where she helps integrate refugees and Andy brought us to a VV so we could stoke up on more layers (getting freakin' cold!). We also met Ilya's parents who were lovely and they cooked us a delicious meal.
Took a train into Zurich for the weekend to see Pauline. We walked around a very foggy and cold city and ate mussels for lunch, listened to records, and saw the shop she worked at and even got a free water bottle! Later we played so much Skip-Bo and ate delicious pizza we missed the movie we had planned on seeing earlier! So we kept playing Skip-Bo.
I&E picked us up next day so we could check out a new art exhibit in Bern. It was quite interesting and featured many works by cubist and surrealist Russians as well as a massive black circle that upon closer inspection (and reading the info plaque) was made entirely of dead flies...!
Near the end of our visit many hours we spent planning/trying to organize transportation and accommodation for our upcoming time in Italy as the bus/trains aren't quite as well connected and the hostels not quite as cheap or readily available as most of the cities we had visited so far. Our time in Switzerland concluded with a get-together with the political party that Isabel was involved with as they wrapped up their campaign and voting results for local elections were revealed. Though we could not really understand the live winner announcements on TV we could definitely gauge whether they were the “good guys or bad guys” by the crowd reactions. Despite not winning a seat, Isa's work on the campaign helped another member gain a seat which was very positive for their 'alternative' party