Blue Flower

Roads and Houses



                I’m slowly adjusting to the roads here. I don’t mean the driving. That’s been easy to adjust to. I mean the way the roads are laid out.

                There is no such thing as a grid of roadways here. I didn’t realize I was so used to a north-south/east-west grid until I came here, and now I feel quite disoriented.

                Thank God for my GPS. If I didn’t have that, I think I would never actually make it anywhere.

                We are definitely in a land of small towns connected with wandering grapevines of roads. So many little towns! They are a mix of old and new. Take our own little town, for example.

                The house we are in has half-timbering above the bakery portion. Lots of other buildings have the same half-timbering. There are watering troughs scattered throughout the town that are the size of huge bathtubs. They are full of water. So far I haven’t seen animals drinking from them, but they seem to be well-maintained.

                There are also buildings made out of planks of wood. It’s wood that has been there for a long time, so it’s weathered and lichened.

                The newer buildings are not that attractive. I guess nothing went into the aesthetics part of the budget. They are basically unembellished square buildings with smooth stucco sides and tile or asphalt shingle roofs.

                We see new buildings like that standing next to old buildings, so it really is an assortment.

                There are no giant developments of the sort that we see all over southern California. No cookie-cutter houses here.

                I should probably amend what I’ve just said. I’m describing the hearts of the little towns, like where we live.

 I have seen more interesting new homes outside of the towns. I’ve seen some apartments, too, and these have looked somewhat more interesting. Still fairly minimal and sleek, but that seems to be kind of the European thing. Sleek and minimal in all areas, except in the area of wine and food!

I like the restaurants around. There aren’t a lot, and there are zero fast food places unless you go into a bigger town, like Schaffhausen, or Winterthur. There you will a few fast-food places, including maybe a McDonald’s. But most of the fast-food places aren’t American chains, naturally, so I’m still learning to recognize them.

The actual full-service restaurants are full of character. I like the old-world look that a lot of them have out here in the more rural area. We haven’t been in to Zurich since we arrived, so I couldn’t really tell you about restaurants there. Or about the buildings.

In Winterthur (not to be mistaken with the museum Winterrthur), in the commercial area, the buildings are definitely modern. You don’t see any half-timbered stuff there in the heart of the business district. But wander a street or two over, and then you’ll start seeing older buildings with character.

I really like the half-timbered buildings. They have a solid and cozy and interesting look about them. The half-timbering isn’t identical, so a row of half-timbered houses has quite a bit of variety.

I started talking about roads and ended up talking about half-timbered houses. Told you I’d take some rabbit trails!

Chimpanzee on Benadryl

(I think this photo is so cute of a chimpanzee going into outer space. Thanks Nasa)

So, for the flight over from Los Angeles to Zurich, with a stop in New York, Brad and I knew that Chloe was going to be our biggest challenge of the trip. Here are some tips on traveling with children just fyi.

At two years old, she has the attention span of a gnat and the energy of a chimpanzee.

We had heard that Benadryl is great for knocking kids out. Someone recommended that we test it, since it can also occasionally have the opposite effect, but we didn’t get around to that. We figured we’d fall into the general populace part of the statistics.

Yeah, that was a mistake. We fell into the .02 percent of the statistics in which the child given Benadryl does not approach a REM cycle or anything resembling one, and instead is wide awake. For hours. And hours.

Remember, we’re on a plane on a transatlantic flight. In coach, of course.

For eight hours . . . or was it 18 . . . or 318 . . . we played little games ad nauseum. Read the same five books twenty five times. Ate bizillions of packets of Saltines. Took multiple trips up and down the aisles following Chloe, who alternately stared and cried at other passengers. The boredom was epic, if I can just say it.

Half an hour before we landed in Zurich, Chloe fell asleep. And then . . . and then . . . there was nothing in the universe that could have awakened that child. She was out cold.

She slept while we gathered our bags and books and empty Saltine packets and Jake (who had fallen asleep on cue, thanks to the Benadryl). She slept while we staggered through Customs and down to Baggage Claim. She slept when we put her in the carseat and set it on the buggy.

She slept through the noisy welcome by our hosts, a Swiss couple who came to meet us and take us to our new home. She slept through the ride from the airport 40 minutes to the little medieval town that would be our new stomping grounds.

She slept in the middle of the sparsely-furnished living room, in her car seat, while we brought our luggage upstairs and said goodbye to our hosts. She slept for the rest of the afternoon.

She woke up at dinner time: stiff, confused, disoriented, and grumpy. By that time, I was EXHAUSTED. I had managed to stay up for the day, knowing that the best thing to do for jet lag is to stay up until it’s actually bedtime. Which meant that by bedtime, I had been awake for about 24 hours.

It was the same for Brad. Neither of us had slept much at all on the plane trip over.

We were both running on fumes.

So there we were with Chloe, who had refused to go to sleep the whole plane trip, then refused to wake up that whole first day in Switzerland, and was now wide awake. Again!

I can’t really tell you how me made it through that first night. Pleasant it was not. At least we could lock the doors and Chloe could move around while we tag-teamed watching her and trying to stay awake. Thank God that first night is over!