Day 11: Emotional Morning at Zurich, Switzerland

Friday morning, we were still sleeping and suddenly our door was opened slightly. Isabella had to go school and she said goodbye to us then, she suddenly came into the room to give Leia a kiss on her forehead. My girl was still sleeping with her eyes closed but I am pretty sure she felt the kiss.

When we woke up to get ready, Leia was behaving differently. She was naughtier. We had breakfast at migros supermarket before Cousin Evan send us to the Train Station that led us to Airport. Sending us off was emotional. Cousin Evan looked sad and she told us its feeling of living abroad and sending family members off. Deep in our hearts, we were feeling sad too but Leia and I tried hard not to well up our eyes with tears.

In this trip, Leia, Isabella and Clarissa shared a strong bond through tears and laughter. The girls were sad to be apart so were Cousin Evan and myself.

Here is my pretty cousin whom I am proud of.

image

If not for Cousin Evan and Ralph, we wouldn’t be able to explore Switzerland the way we did. She offered accomodation at her super child-friendly place and we were able to save and spend more on food as well as experience.

image

Before the train set off, Cousin Evan gave us warm, emotional hugs. I began to understand why Leia behaved negatively, with pouted lips she told me she was not willing to leave switzerland, not willing to leave Isabella & Clarissa. She misses Aunt Evan and family.

After the long journey back home, Leia was back in the bedroom. She held a crystal ball and I heard her, “I wish Isabella will stay in Singapore.”

Good news for us was Cousin Evan and family will return Singapore for 8 months ūüôā Countdown to their return. Missing them greatly.¬†In this trip, we feel blessed to have our cousins as we travel and in many ways. God’s grace and hallelujah.

Love you Cousin Evan and family!

Day 10: Zurich, Switzerland

Cousin Evan brought us to a beautiful place for breakfast at the hotel by the lake. The hotel is near her place and is a sister company of Dolder Grand Hotel.

IMG_8646

Self-service restaurant similiar to Singapore ikea restaurant concept. There is an outdoor playground for the kids to have fun before the food arrives.

IMG_8648

The spring chicken smelled heavenly. Fish sticks and fries for the kids.

IMG_8637

The pork stew was nice and on the right, it looks like pizza but its not. I have forgotten the name, one of the specialities.

IMG_8638

Done with breakfast, Cousin Evan walked us to the park with a big playground made out of nature. There was much to explore. Lots of sensory activities with wood, sand and water.

IMG_8653

Clarissa was the happiest. She loves rocking, the thrill and joy of manovuering the rocker to her desired speed.

IMG_8668

We spent about an hour at the park for the kids to have fun before Cousin Evan brings us to the city for shopping. The destination was pretty clear. Hermes. Cousin Evan knows the staffs at the boutique and they love her children too. Leia and Isabella made themselves at home, eating cookies and playing hide and seek.

IMG_8723

Cousin Evan has a hermes wallet which I thought was functional. A casual question for hubby, “should I?” and he agreed without hesitiation. Bret got me a wallet as a gift. Thankful ūüôā Our once in a while indulgence. Cousin Evan bought a short wallet in pink. Wooo… shopping is impromptu.

Stepped out of the boutique, we got the girls to pose for a memorable shot. This is one of the many funny poses they have.

IMG_8741

Then we moved on to get more stuffs. He was asked to help a friend to get Louis Vuitton Shades.

IMG_8747

To the girls, everywhere is playground. They were spotted playing hide and seek in the luxury boutique. I was hopping they will not mess up any display. Well, they were laughing a lot.

IMG_8748

Finished shopping. We head over to the 5-star luxury castle hotel, Dolder Grand Hotel for cake and coffees.

Dolder-Grand-Hotel

If only we can stay for a night to enjoy the best spa experience. Maybe someday. Having Leia, we were not able to do spa. But we are most happy to visit the hotel with exquisite art pieces and flowers…

IMG_8779

Then the moment… an early celebration with Isabella and Clarissa. Leia turns 5 years old in September and this video will be special to keep.

After the mini lovely celebration, Cousin Evan brought us to an authentic Japanese Restaurant in city. She learnt that Leia was craving for tamago sushi and she wanted to fulfill her wish. And wish granted!

Long day we had. We went home started packing our luggages. Cousin Evan lent us a luggage to bring back to Singapore. Finally, we were going back home!

Cousins are usually the first friends we have as children. No one will understand your crazy family like your cousins do even if you haven’t talk much lately. Cousins are connected heart to hear. Distance and time will never break them apart.”

When I was a kid, I used to have sleepovers at Cousin Evan’s place. She is like an elder sister to me bringing me around to swim, meet her friends. Now that we have our own family, we are far apart. And I spent my last night having super long heart-to-heart talk with Cousin Evan about family and everything…

Day 8 & 9: Stuttgart, Germany

After breakfast, Cousin Evan took the wheels and led us Germany, Stuttgart’s Factory Outlet known as Metzingen. Few hours passed, we checked into Schwanen Hotel. The design of the room was modern, smart and chic. Transparent shower glass just next to entrance door. 4-Star hotel providing several types of premium quality¬†rooms¬†styled with designer furnishings.

14546689

Unloaded our baggages, time to fill our stomach with food. Cousin Evan told us she always dine at the hotel restaurant whenever she is in Metzingen. We were ushered to a private comfy room where the kiddos can be themselves … loud and messy.

Cousin Evan and Bret ordered Pork for lunch. Delicious as it looks.

IMG_8520

My chicken roll with zucchini was served as an art piece.

IMG_8521

Hearty lunch we had. Our challenge was the kids. If we had visited the outlet city on friday, there is a kids camp where kids are occupied with a strings of activities is tailored especially to suit 3-12-year-olds. Super cool. However, Cousin Evan added that on weekends, Metzingen is heavily packed and there will be issues with parking.

IMG_8522

And so..tt was time to hit the fashion streets of¬†Metzingen. Didn’t take us long to agree with Cousin Evan, we can shop all day.¬†IMG_8526

Here is the list of brands outlet. The first Hugo Boss factory started in Metzingen and now the outlet city is one of the most successful factory outlet in Europe. At Hugo Boss, Bret picked up several pieces at good price. Gotten a hugo boss top for my father too.

IMG_8532

I didn’t spot anything at Michael Kors or Prada boutique.. instead I found 3 difference sized gym bags at addidas factory outlet. One of the bag was a steal.. it is versatile and doubles as a casual bag. Time flies, it was time for dinner. We returned to our hotel. We were given another private area of the restaurant.

IMG_8541

The bread were served before. Beautiful rustic display.

IMG_8578

In Europe, the restaurants are children-friendly. The kids placemats were colourful and our girls get busy with colourings.

IMG_8571

Pretty girl, Isabella did a great job in colouring. She was focused and determined not to colour out of line.

IMG_8583

Whenever Leia and Isbella get together, they play hard like boys. Anything around them can be a game. They are full of funny ideas even when it comes to taking photo. Amazing chemistry.

Our dearest tiny love, Clarissa. She mesmerised everyone with her smile and intelligence. Leia dotes on Clarissa very much.

IMG_8611

I managed to take a video clip of Leia trying to put on hair clip for Clarissa. The 16 months old knew what was going on and she lets Leia help her with hair clip.

As for dinner, I ordered the steak with fried onions and spatzle.

IMG_8607

Bret had monk fish. The texture tasted like scallops!

IMG_8619

Finished dinner. It was time to retreat to the bedroom and rest for the night before we finalised our shopping spree at Metzingen.

In the morning of Day 9, we had breakfast with Cousin Ralph’s mother, sister and niece Antonnia. It was a warm and cozy meeting. The restaurant makes their own crossiant, absolutely tasty and lovely. After dinner, we continued shopping for hours. Any playground makes the girls happy.

IMG_8634

My favourite was WMF store but limited items I can bring home. We helped Cousin Iris and her hubby to get Prada items then called it a day.

It was time to return Cousin Evan’s home¬†for dinner.

Day 6 & 7: Zurich, Switzerland

Back from Germany, we stayed indoor at Cousin Evan’s home as its a Sunday. The little girls doodled and played toys together. For dinner, Cousin Evan and Ralph prepared traditional swiss dinner, Raclette. I’ve had mookata, chinese mala steamboat .. this time, european style.. cheese and party grills. Moments into memories.

The following day was the highlight of our trip to Switzerland, Mount Titlis. Thanks to my cousins arrangement, we had a discounted ticket that allows us to travel around the country. Cousin Ralph referred to weather forecast and informed us the temperature will be zero degree celcius with sun. Cousin Evan lent us snow gears and we brought along my kindest colleague’s winter wear for Leia.

Ready with the information given by Cousin Evan, it was time to find our way to the right stations.

IMG_8277

Here is the board which we checked for the train tracks and schedule.

IMG_8279

Inside 1st class cabin of the train… we ordered hot drinks as we seat down to relax and enjoy the beautiful scenery.

IMG_8295

At Luzern, we took a train to Engelberg.

IMG_8303

Leia was getting excited about meeting snow in person. Smiling all the time.

12046645_899186553464155_7582777116862661898_n

Three hours passed, we ventured our way and arrived at our destination. A familiar adrenaline rush Bret and me experienced in our recent travel trips.

IMG_8334

Something we¬†didn’t expect, long way of changing cables. We took several cables to reach the Summit Mount Titlis. Before Glacier Cave, we had lunch at Paranoma Restuarant.

IMG_8397

Last year, we had breakfast with awesome aegean sea view and this year, lunch with spectacular snowy mountains. Ordered melted cheese and egg with rosti while Bret and Leia had spagetti. Super-beautiful mountains view for lunch! The changing trains and cables needed to reach this summit is worthwhile. Many times, Bret used his hp camera to capture the breath taking views.

17 years of love, Bret only realized the joy of travelling last year. Took us the longest time to go beyond our romance routine . Through travelling, we were transported to a new environment savouring the sponteanous, exciting experience.

Having our girl in this trip was something we treasured. I noticed Leia as a young traveller gained increased responsibilities and independence. Out of her daily environment, she was opened to new windows of understanding of the world. Exposed to different cultures, languages and environments. Our family of three bonded strongly smiling everyday.

And now… I present to you our favourite moment in Switzerland.

I love taking father and daughter shots.

After Mount Titlis, we took the train back to Luzern and explored the lovely city. By using Google Map, we made our way to the lion monument and old town city. Then we took the train back to Cousin Evan’s place.

Bret and Leia told me they had a wonderful day out. So was I.

Thank you God.

Day 5: Ravensburger Spieleland Theme Park, Germany Part 1

Before my trip to Zurich, Cousin Evan has been raving about how the girls will enjoy Ravensburger. And so, the day arrived. Ralph took the wheels and we were on a roadtrip to Germany. Throughout the journey, Clarissa was asleep. At the back, the older girls giggled, bickered and napped.

Three hours past, we reached destination.

IMG_7783

Weather was perfect. Air was cool and we still have the sun. The girls were pacing their way to a fun theme park.

IMG_7790

Sure is, a family friendly theme park. We were at the beginging of the theme park and then the girls quickly removed their shoes and started bouncing together. Children love to bounce, the energisers.

IMG_7802

Cousin Evan suggested a train ride so that we can have a walkthrough and the girls get to point out what they want to do.

IMG_7812

Ravensburger reminds me of Legoland Malaysia but closer to nature and its bigger too. We wanted to let the girls attend “Mercedes School” but only available for 6 years old onwards. Check out the Mercedes cars.

IMG_7823

Fret not… there lots of activities for the girls. Bumper car ride. Leia smiling to Isabella in snail car 13. They were just so happy bumping around. The smiles on children’s face never fail to melt the hearts of parents.

IMG_7905

Bumping each other was not as thrilling as slides! The fathers were tasked to accompany their little girls. Leia was eager to enter the tunnel racing her way up to the slide.

IMG_7852

That was not the only slide though. But I do not want to overwhelm my blog with pictures and so next challenge, the fathers had to fire fight with their girls. They started by using their muscles to move the fire trucks with the fastest speed.

IMG_7914

Bret rolling up his sleeves to prepare himself while Ralph looked composed and ready.

IMG_7917

After the exciting game, the girls had fun at playground. Isabella and rock climbing.

IMG_7935

Clarissa having fun on her own. She has this smile that make us want to hug her the arms.

IMG_7939

Another father-daughter moment. Bret and Leia likes to tease each other. In this trip, they shared thrilling moments together as they sped down the slides and fast-moving rides.

IMG_8057

Isabella loves her father dearly. She calls him, “Papa”. Cousin Evan told me Ralph always have surprises for his beautiful little girl.

IMG_8061

And the highlight of the trip at Ravensburger was Rittersport Chocolate Workshop.

A truly memorable trip with Cousin Evan’s family. The girls were filled with joy.

Next… was checking into Castle Hotel and Dinner.

Day 4: Zurich, Switzerland

On Day 4, Cousin Evan showed us around the “Orchard Road of Zurich”. Possibly the¬†expensive¬†shopping streets in the world, Bahnoffstrasse. We walked past Patek Philips, Chanel, Louis Vuitton and all the luxury brands.¬†Then, Evan told us about¬†a place for coffee and tea.

IMG_7653

Honold, a traditional tea room and favourite of many locals. Family run renowned confiserie with lovely cakes and chocolates. I should have tried their truffles.

IMG_7658

Leia likes Clarissa a lot. We have never seen Leia so protective and attentive towards a younger child. Clarissa is like an alive doll who is independent and firm. She knows when and how to melt our hearts too with her cheeky smile.

IMG_7674

My chocolate cake. I have never had cakes for breakfast but well, there is always a first for everything. The rest had crossaints and chocolate pastries. No milo, soft-boiled eggs with kaya toast we had coffee while kids have chocolate drink.

IMG_7662

Next Cousin Evan told us about toy shop and we saw star wars characters.

IMG_7691

In the Toy Store, Isabella was excited about Dragon Slide. The slides led the girls to basement level of the toy stores. Bret and I walked around and we were tempted to get Leia some lego toys but Cousin Evan told we can get cheaper toys in our coming road trip to Germany.

IMG_7694

Although we walked out without any new toys for Leia, she looked satisfied after rounds of dragon slides. Always a joy for kids to enter toy shop. We entered few luxury stores like hermes and patek philips. Then lunch at the popular and historical Zeughauskeller, a house built in 1487 before America was even discovered.

IMG_7715

Actual weapons and armour were part of the decor in this restaurant. As it was lunch time, the restuarant was packed. Looking at the menu, Bret and I were getting used to the prices. Each main course easily crossed S$25-30.

Cousin Evan and I shared a main course. Veal Saussage and Potato Salad. Personally I think the potato sauce/gravy was bit blend for me. I guess I am used to strong flavour of asia.

IMG_7725

Here’s Bret Rosti with Saussage. I prefer Rosti with sour cream but Swiss eat original rosti without sauce.

IMG_7723

Bret ordered a house beer. Beer is cheap in Europe, a boozer to distract the agony of paying for expensive staple food.

Few days of¬†dining outs allowed us to fully understand what Ralph meant by “it is not a culture for europeans to dine out often like Singapore.”Yet again, we flew all the way to Europe… we just have to try local restaurants and be amused at a price.

I was surprised when Evan told me Isabella’s favourite is Beef liver.

IMG_7726

I like pork liver with porridge however.. I was not used to the taste of beef liver. Surprised that this is a european dish. When we were done with lunch, time to bid goodbye with Cousin Evan and her lovely girls. She took us to a shop with wooden toys. I love wooden toy too but I realised most of the toys were for toddlers.  Asked Leia if she wants these wooden puzzles, her answer was no.

IMG_7740

In the end, we bought Lego Elves for her. Continued to venture around Zurich old town.

IMG_7742

And so we walked more until it was time for me to attend company’s dinner and dance held at a farm. The theme was chilli hot pepper red. I wore a red dress and cousin Evan lent me a white shawl.

11998810_890557720993705_1769619455155362903_n

There was no annoucement of the farm but I figured it would be Jucker Farm. And I was right. It was brilliant set up where we can appreciate the magnificent switzerland scenery from the top before our dinner celebration commence. I had endless cups of apple juice and I still love the pumpkin soup.

However in Europe its not easy to have fast food. Our main course was only served at about 10pm. Nevertheless, we had a memorable night enjoying the great performances on stage.

I was so sleepy in the coach. Reached hotel at 12am.

Day 3: Zurich, Switzerland Part 2

Cousin Evan took us to Jucker Farm, an important pumpkin producer in Switzerland.  It was quite a long journey we truly appreciate Cousin Evan for the ride. About an hour or more, we arrived the adventure farm where children gets to play in the nature surrounded by pumkins and fruit trees.

????????????????????????????????????

There were many activities such as pumpkin carving, pluck fruits from trees, playgrounds and pumkin sculptures. A place I can never find in my home town Singapore. Leia and hammock for the first time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 3.36.34 pm

The girls like this straw area a lot. They would climb, jump and all the sensory activities with nature.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 3.39.27 pm

Another video to consolidate all the pictures I took in Jucker Farm.

Didn’t take as much pictures as my canon G12 battery went flat. Of all times..

Kuerbis-Zirkus_2

Well I do remember Leia and the Isabella were having wonderful time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.59.27 pm

During lunch, we had wanted to enjoy the pastries outdoor however we were attacked by wasp. In the end, we retreat indoor for the most delicious pumpkin soups and home made apple juice, best I ever had in my life.

For a great review of Jucker Farm, please visit Moms Tots Zurich.

Kids had fun, mummies have to think of dinner menu. Cousin Evan took us to local supermarket Migros. I saw lots of pizzas, pastas and cheese.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.58.46 pm

It was an eye-opener for me when I noticed shoppers collecting a self-scanning device to scan the items in their cart.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.58.34 pm

Currently in our local supermarket, we only have self-check out machines. Probably someday I will see this in Singapore. Back to dinner, Cousin Evan decided to have steak and pork for dinner. And might just be the first time tasting her home cooked food despite knowing her for more than three decades.

Cousin Evan has a modern open concept kitchen with stunning kitchen tools. The steaks look good on her grill pan. She has Philips Air Fryer too. Perhaps I should have made a 12 min lava cake for dessert. Shall do this another time.

Screen Shot 2015-09-15 at 2.58.55 pm

Our dinner, salads and grills.

Screen Shot 2015-09-14 at 12.58.43 am

After dinner, Bret and I got to learn more about lifestyle of european parents. It was nice to hear from Ralph and happy for Cousin Evan that she has found a wonderful lifetime partner. Near midnight, it was time to leave. Leia was already asleep on the couch. Ralph drove us to the train station and we returned to hotel station after 30-40 minutes. In Europe, travelling takes time. Train is faster than car.

With all his might, Bret carried¬†Leia all the way from the station to hotel. It was tiring for him and … for me to see. Reached the hotel room, we cleaned up and changed our little girl took turns to shower as we prepared a good night sleep.

Day 3 didn’t seemed like we just arrived Zurich.We didn’t feel like tourist.¬†Perhaps its the visit to where locals go to. Family-friendly Farm, Isabella’s school, Supermarket and home cooked dinner at a cozy apartment of Cousin Evan and Ralph.