Tuesday, April 1, 2008

Switzerland 2

It's hard to choose my favorite part of our trip to Switzerland - we had so much fun and saw so much amazing scenery. What I can say is that Locarno was one of the most beautiful places I've ever been. The Alps surrounding the city were amazing, and the sky was a clear blue for nearly the whole trip. This was such a welcome change from the London clouds we're used to. Locarno itself was full of cute winding roads and brightly colored houses and buildings:

Cool random building (not our hotel, FYI)

We stayed at The Hotel Esplanade, which was wonderful - the rumors about the Swiss being the world's best hoteliers are 100% true. We didn't like the down pillows on the bed so they brought new ones; they helped us figure out the internet in our room; and for Easter they did an Easter egg hunt for all the kids in the hotel. They also had special fruits and muesli for breakfast, in addition to an extensive spread of breads, meats, cheeses, yogurts, etc. Here is me enjoying breakfast:


And here's Andy trying a strange Swiss whey soda - the bottle said 'serum of milk':

Hmm, tastes milky

From downtown Locarno you can look up and see the famous church in town, the Santuario della Madonna del Sasso. It's at the top of an incredibly high hill - we could have walked up to it, which would've meant taking a very steep winding path up the hill, passing shrines representing each station of the cross:

We weren't up for the suffering involved in that kind of a walk, so we took the funicular up the hill:

View from Above

It was interesting that basically all the churches we saw on this trip (and there were quite a few) were at the tops of enormous hills with paths leading up that clearly involved a religious form of suffering. It made me realize that some people voluntarily take that walk at least once a week - yikes.

By driving just a few miles out of Locarno, we found more beautiful country not far away. The Maggia valley (my favorite named place) is full of little towns with buildings made of stone, and waterfalls and large granite hills everywhere:

The little yellow dot at the bottom of the waterfall is a man!

We had fun driving around the windy roads of the valley in our tiny Kia Picanto. One thing to note about cars in this part of the world is that most are very small, and all are manual shift. So this meant I did all the driving and Andy did all the riding / navigating. Another thing to note is that many of the cars look the same and have the same features, chassis, paint colors, etc. Unfortunately for me, but much to Andy's delight, I once looked at a similar looking car in our hotel parking lot and called it a Firt.

Firt or Fiat, you decide.

Between the Firt and the local bus system called 'Fart', well, you can imagine all the fun we had.


Dad said...

Absolutely gorgeous and the shots you took were excellent. Maggie, after viewing the pictures it makes me want to stop in Locarno on our way to Vienna (along with a few dozen other places in Europe !) :)


abernet said...

I've been in a few firts in my time, and have to say, A good fart in a firt will enhance any birthday! I think we should redubb you Maggia! And, sure if you wanna be all serious, the pictures are breathtaking!

Andy M. said...

Hey abernet! How are ou?

molkanna lactofermenta said...

I suppose you know how envoius I am.

Andy M. said...

I don't suppose you're jealous of the whey soda? I have to admit that I ended up drinking the whole bottle. I could never really decide what it tasted like, somewhere between unripe honeydew and yogurt. I couldn't figure out what the other colors of Rivella were about (I think they have 3 types) - more whey? added muesli?

molkanna lactofermenta said...

The blue Rivella, the original, is superior. Yogurt without the milk solids, who could ask for anything more? Two bottles of that plus some freshly-milled muesli... it's a good thing the Swiss proclivity towards engineering extends to toilets.