27 March, 2008

Celebrating Easter - Swiss style

We spent every Easter in Nyon with my mom-in-law. We call her Mémé. In the morning when we got up, having had a good look at Mémé's back garden, only then we realised that it snowed last night. Her garden was painted with layer of white powder. It was such a pretty sight. However, Mémé was a bit worried that the snow might in some ways hinder our Easter celebration.

In accordance to Swiss traditional way of celebrating Easter, chocolates were supposed to be hidden in the garden. And children would then go in search for them. It was a thrilling experience for kids. Even Petty admitted that as a young boy, he did enjoy this particular game.

Fortunately when afternoon came, sunshine set in. The never ending snowing had finally come to a halt. The sky now looked as clear as mirror. No more snow, which meant we could go and hide all the chocolates wherever we wanted in the garden!

It took a bit of skill to hide the chocolates. We couldn't just leave them too exposed. On the other hand, we couldn't hide them too well as the kids might find it too hard looking for them.

I found two huge Smarties on top of a plant. I wondered who actually put them there. When Petty saw the chocolates, he couldn't help burst out laughing - "ISN'T THAT A BIT TOO EASY FOR THE KIDS TO LOCATE?!!"

A golden bunny from Lindt & Sprüngli was hidden in the bush. This type of chocolate is Swiss kids' favourite Easter gift.

Mémé was worried that the kids might end up finding nothing. So she left a small basket of colourful Easter candies next to a pile of stones. It was so EXPOSED. Even the blind could manage to find them.

"Isn't it lovely to just leave the eggs like this on the stones?" Mémé said, pointing at the Easter eggs scattered randomly on the stones.

I sprinkled quite a lot of eggs amongst the plants. When the kids were searching high and low for the chocolates, I could hear Mémé speaking at the top of her voice, "Children! Children! beware of my plants! Do not step upon them!......" Oh dear, the warning came a bit too late.

That day, we left Nyon in the late afternoon. As we set off, snow started to fall again.

Out of our car, I could see snow everywhere - it looked just like a black and white postcard. Inside our car, our two kids were soundly asleep. They were not aware of the heavy snow outside. At this very moment, they were probably having a very sweet dream in which they savoured every mouthful of the endless supply of huge Easter eggs .........

I wish you all a very happy Easter too.

17 March, 2008

A lazy Sunday afternoon in Zurich

Zurich lakeside park along General-Guisan-Quai

Another lazy Sunday afternoon, we ended up walking along Zurich lakeside. The plan was to walk all the way from Zurich lakeside to Zurich old town where we would have Spanish tapas for lunch.

I particularly like the park running along General-Guisan-Quai. In spring time, flowers are blooming. Birds are singing. People are playing ball games at the park. I, without fail, always ask myself: Isn't this almost heaven?

In summer, the grassy parks on the lake shore are jammed with hive of activity. It's a popular meeting place for roller-skaters, bathers, street artists and people who do nothing but just stare at Zurich Lake (or Zuerichsee in German).

Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland with a population of 376,815 at the end of 2007. It is the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is also Switzerland's main commercial and cultural centre. According to several surveys in 2006 and 2007, Zurich was named the city with the "best quality of life" in the world.

View over the Alps. A visit to Zurich should end with a boat ride around Zurich Lake.

When we arrived at the old town, we were confronted by this majestic looking church. It's Grossmünster Church. The twin spires of the Grossmünster Church are a distinctive feature of Zurich’s cityscape.

Grossmünster Church

According to legend, Charlemagne discovered the graves of the city's martyrs Felix and Regula and had a church built as a choristers' cloister on the spot. Construction work on the present building began around 1100. In the first half of the 16th century, the Grossmünster was the starting point of the Swiss-German Reformation led by Huldrych Zwingli and Heinrich Bullinger.

Limmat River rises in Zurich city at the north end of Zurich Lake

View of Limmat River with Grossmünster Church in the background

↑ Teuscher - one of the most exclusive chocolatiers in Switzerland

While there are many first-rate chocolatiers in Zurich, the crown must go to Teuscher. Founded by Dolf Teuscher more than 60 years ago, it specializes in truffles, either its signature champagne truffles or its equally superb cocoa, orange, kirsch or nougat varieties.

Fraumünster Church

Founded in 853 by King Louis the German, Fraumünster Church with its convent was inhabited by the female members of the aristocracy of southern Germany. It enjoyed the patronage of kings and the right to mint coins in Zurich until well into the 13th century.

↑ Zurich city with its historical buildings

Aston Martin

Car watching is a must in Zurich. You don't have to be a car enthusiast to notice all the expensive cars on the road. Ferrari, Porsche, Maserati etc you name it, you'll find it on the road. In fact, driving BMW and Mercedes is so common in Zurich that nobody will bother to turn his head. Only the occasional Lamborghini gets such a privileged treatment.

On the way back to our carpark, we passed by Zurich lakeside again. I took the following picture and I couldn't help remembering what a Swiss friend once told me: It's easy to own a boat in Zurich but to get a parking for the boat is a fucking pain in the arse!

Well, second thought, perhaps it's easier to own an Aston Martin afterall. At least, it's easier to get a carpark.......

Zurich Lakeside with all the modest looking boats. Privately-owned big boats are not allowed on Zurich Lake.