Expat Life

Step into Swiss Springtime

We are coming out of hibernation!

I love the winter, I really do. I’m one of those strange people who enjoy the rain, the short grey days and don’t even get me started on the snow!

What I don’t like is the seemingly constant bundling and unbundling of children. The pressure to remember so many pieces of clothing for every outing. I feel like I spend four months of the year shouting, “where’s your hat?” after children and explaining why we still need sun cream in the cold weather. It’s such a relief to be able to think about shedding a few inches of padding, retiring the bulky ski wear to the cave, and lightening the load a little.

We all really love the spring time with splashes of colour breaking through in the garden and the prospect of warmer weather just around the corner.  For us, it’s a time to start planning more outdoor activities, dusting off the picnic bag and enjoying the first signs of nature waking up.

This year, we have an extra reason to be excited as we have been appointed the official ambassadors of expat tourism for Switzerland’s Tourist board and we’ll be doing a little tour of Switzerland, visiting roughly one new place per month. This really is a dream come true for us and we can’t wait to be able to share even more exciting family activities around this beautiful country with our followers.

We ease into outdoor activities gently so that the kids aren’t too traumatised with long hikes and day long outings. Since our favourite destinations often involve animals, we like to visit places like the Zoo Garenne which is not far from us in Vaud.  It’s nice to see the baby animals appearing and it’s a very educational place for children.  Another great animal adventure is Ferme La Gavotte in Lancy where you can get in with the goats and enjoy watching them scampering around.

If you are looking for a stunning location to visit nature at it’s best, you can’t beat Blausee in the Interlaken area, which is a breathtaking place at any time of the year, but especially nice in the spring when you can enjoy the beautiful blue water of the lake teeming with trout.  It’s really picturesque and you can choose various routes to get there to suit all levels of hiking ability.  The children really loved it.

The good thing about spring is that you can take advantage of the milder weather to do some great activities outdoors without too much heat, and one of my all-time favourite trips was our tour of the lake in Murten which we did over the Easter weekend last year.  We hired electric bikes with trailers for the children and set off with a picnic to explore this beautiful area. The children were so excited by the novelty of riding in the trailers (this was mainly expressed through shouting giggled directions at us!) and it was a really memorable experience for all of us.

Another visit which sticks in my mind is the treetop walk Baumwipfelpfad Neckertal which we did last August.  If you haven’t been, it should definitely be added to your list for this year.  It’s a unique experience, as well as being very educational and there is a huge play area underneath.  When you have finished with all that, you can eat a sausage which has been cooked over a fire pit.

I’d have to say that one of my ultimate favourite outings of last year was the llama trekking we did in the hills above Lugano, and thinking about it always makes me smile as I remember how much we laughed, the beautiful views and little Alba shouting orders at her headstrong llama as she lead him around.

When we weren’t bothering llamas, we found lots of exciting ways to see the country from different vantage points including the CabriO Stanserhorn which is an open topped telecabin (pick a warm day for that one) and the Hammetschwand Lift at the Bürgenstock Resort.  This trip to visit Europe’s highest lift included a boat to the resort from Luzern then a really lovely walk to reach the lift.  We always say that we are good with heights but even we found our tummies lurching as the lift gathered speed.  The view from the top was well worth it and it was an incredible experience.

One of our top tips for novice hikers (we still include ourselves in this category) is to take a cable car or chair lift up and walk down.  This avoids a bit of grumbling from the children as their legs get tired quickly and spares us from hauling ourselves uphill with a child on our backs.  We can highly recommend the Sentier de Marmottes in Vercorin for this approach where we followed an adventure trail for the children and enjoyed the glorious scenery.

Although some of our outings have seemed daunting even to us at the time, these kind of memories are priceless and we try to squeeze in enough sun-filled memories to tide us over the winter months.  We are far from experts but we’ve become much better at organising our outings to cover all eventualities and we don’t leave home without squeezing in some extra snacks and a packet of plasters along with some fold-up waterproofs. The weather can change so quickly and especially in the spring, that you will thank yourself if you can pull out an extra covering if the weather suddenly turns chilly.

You can learn more about these destinations and many more on our blog www.thefamilyof5.com and don’t forget to check out our Instagram @familyof5.swiss.

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