Swiss Sampler: Geneva & Zurich

Traveling, especially when tagging along on a business trip, upsets my exercise routine. Add a place like Switzerland, where chocolate is served every minute and my eating habits suffer too. I bemoaned my worry about extra calories to my friend Barbara, who wrote me a poem:

Exercise awaits!
In the states.  (Barbara Younger, 1/22/13

Death by Hotel Chocolate! Guess how many were left?

Death by Hotel Chocolate! Guess how many were left?

In Geneva, Ursula met me at the hotel. She worked as an au pair for my family when my brother, soon to be 50, and my sister, nearly 49, were babies.  Her cousin had come as a foreign exchange student in our town and had recommended Ursula to us.

I was about 10 when she arrived and busy with school, activities and friends.  I remember her living with us. Now, all these decades later, I wanted to hear her impressions of what it was like. I was a bit incredulous that a complete stranger would want to spend nearly two years with our family.  CIMG2293

She shared her observations about life in Switzerland. Her husband has retired and they have a small farm in the countryside with hens and pigs. His business involved organizing Bingo games for charities: everything from obtaining the necessary licenses and game cards to catering the events.  Switzerland, Ursula said, isn’t the country it used to be. It’s dirtier: graffiti graces many surfaces in Geneva, and there’s more crime. Doors and bicycles must now be locked; handbags held close.

Cycling friend Mathias and his wife Jennifer (an avowed non-cyclist) joined us for dinner. New transplants from New Jersey, Mathias works with global labor unions (continuing the work he’d done in the US). Jennifer will be looking for work in retail management. They sailed across the Atlantic on the Queen Mary so they could bring their 3-year-old Great Dane, Shamrock, who isn’t exactly carry on luggage size.  CIMG2305

Both are learning French, as Geneva, in the south of Switzerland, is French speaking.

I spent half a day walking around Zurich. Both cities are pretty, with waterways and bridges and a blend of old architecture and new construction. CIMG2313CIMG2323CIMG2319

We’re off to Davos, the World Economic Forum later today. I hope to attend some of the public sessions then we’ll be in Basel for the weekend seeing other friends who moved from New York City.  More soon.


About cyclingrandma

I was a journalist (Danbury News-Times, Ct), before becoming a teacher, and continue to write for professional journals. I have written several study guides for Penguin Books and write for Education Update, a newspaper based in New York City. ( I’ve interviewed many authors, college presidents, and scientists. I wrote “The Kentucky Derby’s Forgotten Jockeys” for Smithsonian Magazine's website, (April, 2009). Two essays have been published in book anthologies; one for Wisdom of Our Mothers, (Familia Books) and the other in “College Search and Parent Rescue: Essay for Parents by Parents of College-Going Students.” (St. Martin’s Press). I was a middle school Language Arts teacher for more than 10 years and have just completed a five year grant position under No Child Left Behind in Newark, NJ public schools. I have three children, two daughters-in law, and six grandchildren. I'm an avid cyclist, knitter, cook, and reader. I love theater, museums, and yoga.
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19 Responses to Swiss Sampler: Geneva & Zurich

  1. Nancy says:



  2. Kathleen Jackson says:

    I remember Ursula! Kathy


  3. Sounds wonderful – enjoy your stay and eat some chocolate for me!


  4. Couldn’t think of a better way to add calories. Have fun.


  5. mercyn620 says:

    Let us know what famous ones you rub shoulders with in Davos. Any great insights to share!?


  6. Robin says:

    Brr. Glad that the chocolate will warm you.

    Love, RS


  7. What an exciting trip, especially with your having the inside scoop. Meet some interesting people and see some beautiful sights.


  8. We are crisscrossing the skies together! Bravo! I’m just starting my posts about Israel, and we’re both featured in Reader’s Choice this week! Ha! Talk about good company. 😉 I read your post again, and hit like. Fun to see friends out there! Have a wonderful trip and can’t wait to see lots more photos!


  9. Thanks for the poem shou out! Love reading about the trip and seeing Urula’s picture.


  10. Coming East says:

    How wonderful that you were able to visit with your old nanny! Can’t believe you are taking the time to continue blogging while you are on your trip. Thank you for keeping in touch.


  11. Pingback: Ah, Europe: France to Shop, Germany for Lunch, Switzerland for Dinner! | cyclingrandma

  12. Pingback: My 300th Post: 2013 Highlights | cyclingrandma

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