After spending a great week with friends in the south of France in the town of Cotignac we made our way north into Switzerland.
On the way we stopped for the night in the gorgeous French town of Annecy. With a huge lake, plenty of bike paths and waterslides on pontoons, we really enjoyed our stop and would love to return to this pretty part of the country.
In Switzerland we caught up with long time family friends in the small village of Villigen, north west of Zurich.
Family visit in Switzerland
It is amazing to think that four generations of Matt’s family have visited the Finsterwald families in Villigen over nearly 40 years! Matt’s grandparents met and formed a strong friendship with the brothers Hugo and Peter Finsterwald who migrated to Australia to work in the 1960s.
After several years Peter and Hugo returned to Switzerland to live but since then the families have visited each other many times.
Matt visited as a 4 year old in the late 70s with his parents when they travelled through Europe. In 1999 Matt and I visited while backpacking in Europe.
We returned this week with Amelie and Harvey, the next generation! We were warmly welcomed by both Hugo and Peter’s families and shown some of the local sights.
Swiss National Day
Our visit coincided with Swiss National Day on 1 August. Each town holds its own event to celebrate the formation of the country in 1291. Peter took us for a walk up the hill behind the village where we saw preparations for the huge bonfire that was to be lit in the evening.
When we reached the top we came across two men playing the swiss horn. Amelie and Harvey both had a turn on the instrument which is a little like the didgeridoo!
In the evening we were lucky enough to join the Villigen locals for a free meal and drink. While a local band played we cooked our own sausages over the pre-prepared grills and drank the local wine.
This was followed by fireworks which could also be seen and heard from all directions across the valleys.
Amelie and Harvey were so excited to set off their own fireworks for the first time. We all stayed up to watch as the huge bonfire was lit high up on the hill behind the village.
There are many great day trips from Zurich, and on this visit we were lucky enough to explore Schluchsee in the Black Forest in nearby Germany. We enjoyed a relaxing day with Katja’s daughter Priska and her two children.
The scenery was dotted with rolling green hills, deep dark pine trees, lush green grass, rushing rivers and sparkling lakes.
It is such a dramatic and welcome change for us. We have spent the past 2 months in Spain and Croatia where the landscape was typically dry, dusty and scorching hot.
The day was topped off with a delicious traditional home cooked cheese fondue for dinner!
Boating on the lake
On our final day we had a wonderful time exploring Agerisee (lake) with Hugo and his daughter Monika. The lake is surrounded by small villages and the Swiss Alps can be seen in the distance.
It is smaller than some of the other lakes in the area, but was a great spot to spend the day. We were lucky enough to head out on the lake on their boat.
We all enjoyed a crazy banana ride behind the boat and a swim in the lake. The kids were thrilled to captain the boat as it sped along the lake!
We thoroughly enjoyed our stay and the generosity and friendship of the extended Finsterwald family. Everyone completely spoiled the kids and we were so well looked after during our stay.
Next destination Austria
We are now continuing to make our way across Switzerland to Austria. We hope to do some more hiking, lake swimming and (hopefully) enjoying the cooler alpine weather.
While we would love to spend more time exploring the Swiss Alps Switzerland is such an expensive country. It is difficult to stretch the budget so we will have to continue east over the next week.
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