Our first Sechseläuten and other tales from Switzerland

Although we weren’t ready to leave Lake Como, on the 22nd of April we spent an hour walking the City of Como before departing for Switzerland. Our next stop was Wädenswil a municipality just outside of Zürich. We had left plenty of time for the drive through the eastern Alps so we stopped for lunch in Lugano, and briefly at Castelgrande for a few pictures. As we expected, the scenery and the swiss engineered tunnels and bridges were awe inspiring. Wow.

Waiting for us in Wädenswil was a spacious modern apartment which we arranged again through Homeexchange.com. It’s balconly overlooked the beautiful Lake Zürich and the intersection of multiple train routes heading in and out of Zürich.

Our Apartment in Wädenswil
Our view of Lake Zürich

There was plenty to do. On our first day the boys and I attended a Swiss Super League game. We had a great time watching FCZürich (5) defeat FC Sion (1) in front of a lot of very enthusiastic swiss football fans.

Aside from school work which continued each morning we visited Zürich often, using the impressive train system that runs like clockwork and is second to none in the world. To get oriented we joined a walking tour of Old Zürich and soon realized that our visit coincided with Sechseläuten a swiss holiday that celebrates the end of winter and the arrival of spring.

One of the reasons that Zürich made our intinerary was it’s geographic location between Italy and Germany, where our next home exchange was waiting. The other was that I was hoping I’d be able to see an old friend, Christian, who I met while studying in Switzerland in the mid 2000s. Sure enough we were able to hang out with Christian a few times. Firstly, we met up with him to take in the parade of Guilds and the burning of the Böögg, the central rites of Sechseläuten. What a strange and wonderful tradition. Downtown Zürich was packed!

The burning of the Böögg

Secondly, on Thursday Christian also had us visit his garden near Fluntern on the outskirts of Zürich where we barbequed sausage and reminisced. In a nearby cemetary we made a short pilgrammage to the final resting place of James Joyce and then had a few more laughs around the fire while Noah climbed trees and Christian raised the Canadian flag in our honour.

On our final day Gram and I visited a driving range while Noah and Courtenay rented bikes (free with deposit) and biked along Lake Zürich. The week went by in a flash and before you knew it we were off again to our next stop, but not before briefly seeing Basel (where Christian works). Switzerland is always an impressive place to visit. We’ve all heard that it’s an expensive place to live, and we can attest to that after this visit. But the customs of the place, from transportation to recycling programs to its government instituions, all reek of quality and common sense. And there’s a calmness here that pervades everything. It’s polite to be quiet. Even the trains are quiet. The quietness, the calm, and the quality design that is the ‘Swiss way’ brings sanity to this chaotic high-speed world, and that is worth a lot.

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