We arrived into Zurich on Tuesday the 24th July but unfortunately our golf bags did not arrive with us. The plane was apparently too full so they were coming on the next plane – not normally a problem but Steve’s golf bag also contained his clothes! The woman at Lost and Found was really lovely and we sorted out the delivery address for the bags etc…and she gave us a couple of toiletry packs that contained a T-shirt – at least Steve could change his shirt.
Karin was there to meet us and I am not sure what it is with us but we always seem to get our hosts in a muddle as to where they have parked the car. A temporary problem before we were on our way to Buochs.
Karin and Elvis have caught the golf bug so after unpacking (my suitcase made it on the plane with us) we were off to the driving range to see how Steve’s prodigy’s were progressing. They were having a fabulous summer and this was set to continue for our stay. It was a warm evening and the sun doesn’t go down till after 9pm.
Dinner was a Swiss sausage and salad – I think I’ve talked about these sausages in previous blogs – I am not normally a sausage fan but I love these ones – they are made from veal.
A phone call on Wednesday morning to Lost Baggage was not favourable – our bags wouldn’t be delivered until 7pm that evening. I did have some of Steve’s dirty washing in my suitcase so he managed to swap his jeans for shorts which went fabulously with his new white British Airways T-shirt.
There was to be no golf for us that day so Elvis contacted his parents and we spent the afternoon on Lake Lucerne on their boat. The conditions were perfect and it felt like “lifestyles of the rich and famous.” We had a swim in the lake before heading to Trei for a late lunch. We had been to this spot before when Karin & Elvis had got married in 2009. They had their wedding reception at the restaurant above so we had caught the funicular up there. This time we dined at lake level.
We got home just in time to meet the delivery van. Reunited with our clubs we went to the driving range at Burgenstock which sits at about 800 metres above sea level. Another beautiful evening. We hit balls and then had a chipping competition which the girls won 👍🏻.
On Thursday morning we went paddle boarding on the lake – I just can’t get enough of this lake 😍.
We then headed to the golf course in Andermatt – see separate blog.
Friday was a day of relaxation in preparation for the evening watching the Blood Moon – a once a century occurrence. Elvis had organised for us to join his friend Edgar and his family up on one of the hills at 1,200 metres. Edgar had spoken with the farmer and we were allowed to set up camp on his land.
Edgar is a pilot for Etihad and a keen hobby astronomer. He had this fantastic telescope which he set up so we could all take turns looking at various things throughout the evening. Edgar’s knowledge is amazing and we learnt so much which I will share below for those who were like me and obviously didn’t listen at school 😂 .
There was a little bit of cloud where the moon was rising but we still got a good look at it as it rose into the sky. There was so much more to see including ISS – the International Space Station. We watched it fly over us – if you didn’t know what you were looking at you wouldn’t have known what it was but we watched it for 6 minutes as it orbited our corner of the world. If we had stayed in that spot we would have seen it again two hours later – it circumnavigates the earth every two hours – amazing!
As the sun set the planets came out – first Venus which is the only planet you can see at sunset and sunrise. Next up was Jupiter – this is the biggest of the planets and has 4 large moons – 2 on the top and 2 on the bottom. Of course you can not see these moons from earth with the naked eye but we could see them through the telescope – so cool. Next up was Saturn which is harder to see unless you know what you’re looking at. Seeing the rings through the telescope was incredible. Mars then made an appearance but sadly we didn’t see any martians through the telescope 👽 😂.
Edgar then pointed out the North Star – amazingly we don’t see it in the Southern Hemisphere 😉. Polaris or the North Star as it is known, is the brightest star in the constellation known as the Little Dipper. It is so-called because of the special position it occupies relative to Earth’s axis. If you were to stay up all night gazing at the stars, you’d slowly see them revolve around a point in the sky known as the North Celestial Pole – all the planets revolve around this star including the sun. Because the star is always pointing north, Polaris helped navigators for centuries, although it is only visible in the northern hemisphere.
There is no bright pole star in the southern hemisphere sky that can be used to locate due south in the same way that Polaris indicates north in the northern hemisphere. Instead, there are various ways of locating south by the Southern Cross.
One of Karin’s friends Faith joined us and she taught me how she remembers all the planets. My Very Educated Mother Just Showed Us Nine Planets – Mercury, Venus, Earth, Mars, Jupiter, Saturn, Uranus, Neptune and Pluto. Pluto is the smallest planet and over the last five years it has been reclassified as a dwarf planet which is a new classification.
As the evening wore on and the moon got higher it changed back to it’s normal colour and you could see the shadow of the earth moving slowly off it. Elvis took a great picture of this through the lense of the telescope. Elvis had some great binoculars which allowed you to see the moon three dimensionally. Through the telescope it was easy to see the surface which reminded me of a river that had run dry leaving behind it lots of different patterns.
We stayed up there until about midnight – the cow bells were still ringing so whoever told you cows lay down at night and slept lied 🐄 😂. It had been a magical night and we were so fortunate to be able to share this experience with our friends and someone that was so knowledgeable.
Timing is everything – we woke up on Saturday morning to low cloud and rain – we wouldn’t have seen what we had seen the night before if these conditions had rolled in 12 hours earlier.
Sunday morning included walking, paddle boarding and swimming in the lake. Sunday afternoon was spent by the pool. Steve learnt to make Rosti which is a Swiss speciality – it was very good so no doubt that will be included in his culinary repertoire going forward. Sunday funday 😊.
We spent Monday at the golf club in Axenstein – see separate blog.
Wednesday the 1st August is Swiss National Day and a time to get together with your family to eat, drink and be merry. Karin & I had decided to do a bike ride in the morning and she had arranged with her friend Sandra for me to borrow her electric bike – there are some big hills in Switzerland! Sandra was going to be out so had told us where the bike would be. We entered the cellar under the house which contained some bikes including an electric one but it wasn’t Sandra’s. We thought maybe someone else had come and borrowed it and left their one there. We checked the battery which was down to two bars and decided to leave it and just go home again. Luckily we did as we found out later on we had been in the wrong cellar – Sandra’s cellar was the next door along which neither of us could recall seeing 🙄. We would try again tomorrow.
That afternoon we drove over the Klausen Pass for a BBQ at Karin’s parents place in Schwanden in the canton of Glarus. The Klausen Pass is 1948 metres high at the top so we were excited to see the views. The weather gods had other ideas and after all the amazing weather we had been having the heavens opened up – the rain was torrential and we had four lots of hail on our way down. The cows had even retreated to the road so not only were we dodging hail stones we were also dodging cows!
Although the rain eased up a bit it still wasn’t conducive to sitting outside and playing table tennis which is an annual tradition on the 1st August. It was a lovely night though with Karin’s family and the food was delicious. We drove home that night along the highway instead of going back over the Pass.
Thursday morning was bike ride take two. This time we got the correct cellar – the second door was quite obvious and the correct bike was behind it. The plan was to bike up to Burgenstock which is about 800 metres high. It was another beautiful day so the views were fantastic. We had a coffee at the Honegg Hotel which is a luxury 5 star hotel. It has an infinity pool and fantastic views.
While we were out on the bikes the boys were playing tennis – Elvis was victorious and Steve ordered a re match for the Saturday which he managed to win one set – in the end though it was Elvis 3, Steve 1 : (
That afternoon we golfed at Golfpark Oberkirch – see separate blog.
On Friday morning we were back up at Burgenstock playing golf up there – see separate blog.
Friday afternoon was spent relaxing by the pool and that evening we looked at photos from our trips to Switzerland in 2014.
On Saturday morning Karin & I went paddle boarding – we were on the lake at 6.30am so we could watch the sunrise. Karin has an App that tells you when the sun will rise in various places – due to the mountains the sun will be seen at different times depending on where you are. The App had said it would rise at 6.52am over this particular mountain and sure enough at 6.52am the sun peeked over the mountain. It was very quiet out on the lake – magical.
Karin and Elvis has then arranged for us to visit a Swiss Farm owned by friends of theirs – Sandra and Sep. They milk 30 cows and every cow has a name and is known by that name. The cows are currently spending their days in the barn with a big fan going because it is so hot – they go out into the pastures at night when it is cooler.
It was interesting to compare the operation to one in NZ – obviously the scale is the biggest difference. The other thing that was interesting was the fact that it is not uncommon to have bits of land all over the place – the farms aren’t in one block which makes it a bit tricky for stock movement and management. Apparently this is something that is looking to be addressed but will take a number of years to sort.
They use automated milking machines but they are portable so the barn is not set up permanently as a milking shed – these units are bought out when required. The milk is collected from the vat by tanker and again the size of the tanker is a lot smaller than we have in NZ. Their milk goes to a factory that produces hard cheese.
They have black Holsteins, red Holsteins and Swiss Brown cows. They don’t have a spring as such with the cows calving at a particular time – they calve throughout the year meaning there is a constant supply of milk which is what the factory requires. They are fed grass, hay and some corn. When the cows are culled they go into meat for McDonalds.
They have a program similar to the carbon emissions program for manure. Each farmer is only allowed to produce so much manure – if you produce more than your allowed level you have to pay another farmer to take it away. This can be quite lucrative if your levels are low.
Sep has also decided to raise some turkeys – these are to sell to friends and family for Christmas. Karin & Elvis have their names on one.
The farmhouse is a protected building due to it’s history that dates back to the early 1800’s when it was occupied by troops. Under the Helvetic Republic imposed in 1798 by French Revolutionary troops, Switzerland became a united country. The ideas of the French Revolution were not popular in some parts of the Swiss nation including Nidwalden where the farm and farmhouse is located . The cantons were accustomed to self-government and many resented the limits on the freedom of worship in particular. When rebel forces threatened the Republic, Nidwalden was attacked by French troops on 9 September 1798. The canton’s infrastructure was badly damaged and at least 400 people were killed.
Ironically one of the Knight’s involved in these battles erected a church on the property which Sandra and Sep look after. It is very small and quaint.
Sandra has an amazing garden with lots of fruit trees – we picked pears and ate blackberries straight from the bushes. We took a pile of pears home and Karin made a pear pie for dessert.
We enjoyed a coffee and some snacks with Sandra, Sep and two of their kids – Simon and Sarah. Steve and Simon were being silly which resulted in Simon falling in the pool fully clothed : 0. They have a great view over the Pilatus airport and down towards Engleberg and Buochs.
Just prior to going to the farm we had met the postman delivering the mail – Steve was very taken with his state of the art bike. He invited Steve to sit on it which of course he did. It then turned out that this was his last run – he was retiring after 40 years on the job.
I took my last swim in the lake on Saturday night before we headed for Rome early on Sunday morning. Again it had been an amazing visit to Switzerland to see Karin & Elvis. It felt like the long hot summers we used to enjoy as kids – every day was perfect weather wise which we took advantage of by doing things outside. We also enjoyed lots of home grown fruits and veges from the garden. Karin & Elvis had even raised the NZ flag up on their flagpole to make us feel more at home in our home away from home.