Thursday, June 22, 2017

CAMPING IN SWITZERLAND

My girls have recently been known to burst out into tears because they "remembered that daddy is leaving for a long time." We knew jeff was leaving in August for 3-5 months, but it was just sprung on us that he would be leaving before that too for another month, even though he was told multiple times he could stay back. Kinda a tough blow for us. This past weekend was our last long one until maybe november or december; so we decided to go big, not home, and went camping in Switzerland!

The drive there was probably our worst roadtrip ever, and I have a very short explanation for that: Lyla's first road trip sans pacifier. It made for a very loud, exhausting, and patience-testing drive. We about cried with relief when we finally arrived at our first stop: the Bern, Switzerland temple. We about cried again, for different reasons, when we realized it was closed for maintenance. We made the best of it, and still were able to soak up the sweet spirit of the temple grounds. My girls were giddily running and squealing and pointing to angel Moroni. Smiling widely as if they had already figured out that this place is heaven on earth.
It was a battle getting them to leave and finish our drive to our campsite near Lauterbrunnen, Switzerland. We drove past turquoise lakes shimmering at the feet of mountains. Small villages with sheep, and cows, and flowers spilling out of every window. Blurs of blue and green rushing past. Valleys with spilling waterfalls down the sides of cliffs.

We arrived to our tent we rented from airbnb that we were going to camp in for the next 3 days. Borderline glamping, since we had cots and a table with chairs and a deck where we spent every evening eating treats and soaking in the beauty surrounding us. It'd be extremely hard to convince me that there is a more scenic and beautiful campsite in this universe than the one we stayed at. The girls were so happy to be out of the car, they ran around, and had a celebratory dance party on the deck.
All I had to do to take this picture was step behind our tent and snap my camera. Unbelievable!
There was a rushing stream, waterfall run-off, a few hundred yards away from our tent. Each evening we spent at least an hour here. The girls threw rocks into the stream as if it was the very most important task they've ever been given.
Right up the road from us ^^^ there were lots of awesome hiking trails. I went up and explored them one morning on a run, but never tried doing the whole hike with the girls. There were a lot of things we wanted to do here that we couldn't because of our girls. There is a reason you hardly EVER see families in Europe out and about with small children. 

These sheep on the hillside across the street were Lyla's favorite part of the whole trip I think. "Sheep!!! BAAAAA!" she repeated, excitedly, each and every time she got a glimpse. 
The first night here, some farmers were herding their cows down the street. They had giant bells around their necks so it was the most harmonious cow walk I've ever witnessed. It felt like a very authentic swiss experience. Jane then pleaded with us daily to buy her a bell to go around her neck so that if she ever gets lost we will hear her ringing the bell ;)
A little park on our campsite! The girls could've stayed here all day, everyday.

The first morning, we went on a hike up to a waterfall. It wasn't the entire way up to the top but it was still cool to get sprayed as we walked by waterfall mist and to see amazing views of the village down below. Jane was a champ, intent on beating us all up and down.
^^ just some snapshots of the main street in Lauterbrunnen. Absolutely beautiful. It doesn't feel touristy at all either!
We took a (very expensive) tram ride up the mountains to another village called Murren. We later realized we could've driven up here! I guess that's what happens when you're flying by the seat of your pants and nobody is answering your questions, and kids are screaming, and we were ready to fly to the moon if it meant sitting down and finally handing out snacks... But it was a beautiful town with views that looked like fake paintings but were actually real, and right before your very eyes. It was so cool to see so many paragliders in the sky. We were so wishing we could do it....one day!

A picnic in Murren. 

We came back down the mountain and found another fun park for the girls. Parks are their love language.

We came home that night and after eating our delectable dinner of tuna pouches with crackers (not even mayo to go with it, and jeff just will never let me live it down), I gave the girls a ring pop that I brought for them. 90% of the food on this trip was food we brought because the food in Switzerland is so expensive!
The ring pops served their purpose as a bribe to get these girls to let me take some pictures of them. It was worth it because I got some real gems!

The next day we drove about 45 minutes away to Thun, a town that was right at the tip of the most beautiful and colorful lake I've ever seen.
We walked up to the castle and got to see some birds eye views of the city. Jeff taught the girls about cannons, and we treated the girls to ice cream since it was so hot!
So many layers of beauty.
The picture that revealed my newest bald spot. (I have alopecia, which is a fancy and kind of scary word for unexplained bald spots. I get them every time after I have a baby (or miscarriage.) So this is my 4th one. No more high buns for me....)
After walking around Thun, we came back to Lauterbrunnen and took the girls swimming. We both worked with Jane on learning to swim without floaties and she was being so brave. Lyla was, for some reason, too afraid to get in the water the entire time, but she had a fun time climbing up and down the stairs to the slide over and over again.
I was thoroughly enjoying the backdrop....

After swimming, we were starving and decided to finally splurge on an actual swiss meal, where we paid $11 for 4 fishsticks & french fries for the girls to share....Expensive, but Jeff and I loved what we got, and it was delicious. I was a little bit crushed to find out their famous cheese fondue had alcohol in it so we couldn't try it. We weren't about to get drunk off of cheese....

That night we went home to our campsite around 6. But I decided to run home instead of ride home in the car. 8 kilometers of breathing in, then breathing out the freshest alpine air. Feeling like the smallest speck amongst the snormous cliffs and mountains all around, but also feeling empowered, strong, and grateful. Absolutely the most amazing run of my life, I told Jeff that one of the reasons I was born was to complete that run. Sounds dramatic but it seemed so climactic in the moment.
We slept one more night in our tent. (our girls absolutely loved camping and it went pretty smoothly!) Then made the trek back home. It was awful, again, for Lyla. She cannot stand her carseat all of a sudden. But Jeff and I were able to keep our cool, and our sanity, because of all these amazing views. This was a random lookout point on our way back that we had to get out and capture! So unbelievable. 

Sometimes, in the middle of a new and unfamiliar place while we are trying to orient ourselves + decide whether or not we want to spend $60 on cable-car tickets, and my kids are both having tantrums and jeff's veins are starting to pop out the sides of his head, I wonder....why do we do this to ourselves? HAHA LIKE SERIOUSLY WHAT ARE WE THINKING? But the moments when we are all enjoying nature together and Jane says "I want to be camping FOREVER" and we are relaxing on chairs outside with the triumphant feeling of navigating a new place with a small family, it becomes clear again. Creating memories. Capturing them to hopefully preserve them. Seeing and appreciating beauty in different people and in nature.  It helps them, and me, to realize that the world goes on outside of their little bubble. There are so many good teaching opportunities while traveling, and my girls are flooded with opportunities to appreciate beauty in so many different forms. I've been trying to teach them to use their ears to hear goodness, and to use their eyes to see goodness. Because it IS everywhere. There were a few times this trip when jane pointed to something and said "Mom, I'm using my eyes to see that goodness" I guess that's what makes it all worth it.

I have to mention too that when we finally rolled into our driveway after another long drive, we were all SO ready to get out and unpack and relax. But before we could get out, Jane pipes in requesting that we "say a prayer to tell Heavenly Father that we are SO grateful that we could get home safely!" That sweet soul. 

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