SWITZERLAND

My mom and I went to Switzerland in September 2015. There we met her brother Rolf and his wife, Raquel. Rolf and Raquel currently live in the Philippines and come to Switzerland every couple of years. Mom rented an apartment on the outskirts of Zurich and we based out of there for our travels. We started with walks in the country and visits to the city (Zurich) and Bern:

We went down to the city early on the first Saturday to check out the Street Food Festival - it was great when we got there but got crowded pretty quickly. My favorite was something cheesy called an Arepa at the Venezuelan booth.

Something you really can't comprehend living in the United States - Swiss chocolate shops! My favorite is called Laderach  - they sell the chocolate by weight in these big chunks. Really awesome!

We spent a day at the Zurich Zoo - they have a wonderful new habitat for elephants.

We took a road trip to Germany to go visit Affenberg (translation - "Monkey Mountain") - it's on the north side of Lake Constance. Interesting place - probably wouldn't go over here. You enter the enclosure with the monkeys and walk around. There are docents every few feet to make sure guests don't do something stupid, but the monkeys come right up to you to take food out of your hand. They have been there for about 35 years and are on their fourth generation of monkey families. The enclosure is several acres and fully forested. It's really the closest to the wild that I could imagine. 

On the way home we stopped at Insel Mainau on Lake Constance. This is a gorgeous island with fairly temperate weather because of the way the winds blow. It's a park with lush gardens and flowers, butterflies and flower sculptures. 

Our friend Peter is a guide for a tour company. So we went on his tour to Jungfrau Joch. This is one of the most amazing places I've ever been. The Jungfrau, Munch and Eiger are three mountains close together (remember the movie, Eiger Sanction?). In the very late 1800's until the early 1900's, a train tunnel was carved out from INSIDE the mountains. The train starts in the valley near the town of Interlaken (which is probably one of the most scenic Swiss towns - except for the Hooters that they built in the middle of it....) and goes up to 11,500 feet inside the mountain. There are two stops along the way where the trains cross up and down, and you can get out and look out a window in the center of the Eiger's vertical rock wall! At the top, there is a five story complex with restaurants, shopping and an observatory. And not only that - they have carved into a glacier at the top where you can walk inside the glacier. Artists there carve out ice sculptures in place. You can go outside and walk in the snow and cold and watch all the Asian tourists take selfies.....

Then we went back to see more animals - this is a little zoo called Tierpark Arth-Goldau. It's in a small town with not a lot of enclosures, but the attraction there is all the deer walking freely through the park and mooching snacks off the visitors. You buy the snacks there and the deer come and take them out of your hand.

We made a quick trip to the small town of Appenzell - this is the "postcard" Swiss town, famous for it's special type of cheese. Also home to the cutest little small church, fancy painted buildings and a large cathedral.

Our final little trip was to the town of Rapperswil on Lake Zurich. It's on the other end, and we took a boat ride to get there. It's also a quaint little town with a medieval fortress towering over the town.

And finally, the trip allowed us to visit family and friends, some of whom I hadn't seen in many years. My mom met up with a school friend of hers and I got reacquainted with a cousin I hardly knew.