Switzerland and Germany (2016)

This vacation didn’t start as planned. First, as we drove away from our doggy day care, we could hear Tango howling. The, because of the weird times the day care was open, we got to the airport 6 hours early. Fine, we had computers and videos. But then we sat for 2 hours on tarmac, waiting for the weather to clear. We arrived in Zurich at 10AM instead of 8 and spent over an hour in passport check. Luckily, we’re flexible – instead of driving the passes (we’ll do that tomorrow), we went to the zoo.

Zurich is very hilly – lots of construction and grafitti mixed in with old buildings:grafitti

The zoo’s at the top of the city and was marginal. Blocked paths where an Australian exhibit was being built and cramped monkey houses. A funny bunch of camels. Such an odd mix of pretty (eyes) and ungainly (those humps.) One seemed to be dancing, although it needed a g-string!


Other favs – zebras, front and back And what’s a zoo without a chicken or a pair of me-and-my-shadow yaks?



The new exhibit is Masaola – a big covered jungle. No animals, but what vegetation. A leaf the size of a table. A “black” whiskered flower. Of course, as Hubby said, we see it in Florida, but here in Switzerland, it’s a novelty.



I forgot to mention, we did see Hobbes at the zoo. Or at least his foot!hobbes footWith the mountains creeping higher as we leave Zurich, we drive to Zug, our home for four days. 

zurich to zug

The hotel is not in a nice area, which I knew, but we drove into town and walked to a sunset on the lake. We’re exhausted and buy pretzels from a vendor for dinner. Tomorrow, the real mountains. I’m excited!


Antique Sarreguemines Coffee Set

Coffee setCoffee set marked Flore U&C Sarre- guemines.

The factory supplied most of the original tiles that decorated the walls of the Paris metro and Napoleon commissioned decorative pieces from them for his apartments at Versailles.

I bought the set when I was living in Germany. Did I have a use for it? Hahaha. I was a ballet dancer with a tiny apartment and in Germany at that time, you didn’t visit one another’s apartments, you met at a restaurant or bar. This may have changed, but while I lived there, I never had a visitor in for coffee. In fact, I didn’t drink the stuff; my beverages consisted of carrot juice, apfelsaft (apple juice sold in the canteen for theater staff,) and after performances, red wine at the Italian place where we wound down. But this set had to be mine.

I bought it at my favorite “antique” store where, with the exception of a flokati rug, I had found all the furnishings in my apartment: a painted glass lamp with little crystal beads, a rocking chair, a carved coat rack with a beveled mirror to hang on the wall, a couple of chairs and a solid wooden table that took me almost an hour to drag home. In the midst of my spare décor, the coffee set glowed like an expensive painting.

When I moved back to the States, the husband of a dancer friend was being transferred to NYC and he offered to ship some items home for me. I sent the coat rack, the flokati (which has long since become scraggly and been abandoned), and this set. The lamp, a true antique, I opted to keep with me as carry on. Unfortunately, I had a plane change.

The second airline insisted the package was too big. I tried to explain it was an antique but to no avail. The box that came off the baggage carousel tinkled and was full of painted glass shards. Only the beading was intact. I have wondered if I had been then as I am now, I could have saved it. Dancers are trained to listen to authority – the teacher, the choreographer, the stage manager, the coach. It has taken some time to become a person with my own authority.

Writing this, I feel such regret for that lost lamp. It was precious because it lit a special time of my life. From the 6th grade on, I had been determined to be ballerina, never mind my short legs. After years of struggle, I won a place in a good company. After every performance, I went home and turned on that light. Under it, I examined my battered feet, ate my skimpy meals or read. I was happy!

I have no such close connection to the coffee set but its beauty continues to holds me.

German Drinking Charm

A silver charm from Germany. If you’ve gotten behind as I relive my first trip to Europe, see the last paragraph in this post. Today we are in Germany and the charm I chose was fittingly a man in a costume holding a beer stein.

I lived in Germany for four years when I was dancing, so it’s difficult to pull out my first impressions. I remember noticing that the Germans don’t jay walk. Nor do they cross against the light, even if there isn’t a car in sight. That was very odd to me. (Parenthetically, my husband and I were once stopped by a cop for jay-walking in Burbank, CA. The only thing that saved us from a ticket was an emergency call on the cop’s radio.) And the stereotype is true – they do love their beer. When the ballet company traveled to other theaters to perform, there was always a locally brewed beer in the “kantine.” Also Schnapps, and Sekt, the German equivalent of Champagne. I once saw a soubrette down two shots of something before going on to sing!

So, the first trip. Two moments stay with me. One was visiting my cousin, Paul. I’ve alreayd mentioned him- he’s the one who carved the ladle on the home page. We were going to see him at his army base and eat in the canteen. Hamburgers — such a relief after all the unusual food. We fantasized about them for hours as we drove. “Will they have bread-and-butter pickles?” “Can I order two?” “Can we take some home for later?” Oh, we were such Americans!

The second moment was more serious, but probably said as much about being an American as the first. We were traveling with my Norwegian American Field Service sister and at dinner one night, sitting in a restaurant that overlooked a wide river, with picturesque little houses scattered up a mountain on the other side, we got on the topic of WWII. The Norwegians were (are still?) very bitter towards the Germans. The Luftwaffe’s first strike when bombing a Norwegian town would be the water supply. Because the houses were built with wood (surrounded by forests), the entire town would burn down. In our discussion that night, my sister got angrier and angrier; I think we, never having been bombed, couldn’t understand why she would paint an entire nation black. Finally my mother, always the peace-maker, said, “Let’s look at the scenery,” and the arguement was dropped. The saying has persisted in my family through the years – if a conversation turns ugly or stressful, we look at the scenery.

Next up, Austria. If you want to peruse my earlier stops from my first trip to Europe with my family: Scotland, England, The Netherlands, Belgium, and France.


Color photo taken in Germany by Daddy In the neighborhood of Dinklesbuhl, I believe.

My dad was a great photographer – he took pictures of his architectural projects, but also of scenery. When we travelled for whatever reason, the camera (and the fishing pole) were always in the car. Many a stop was made when the light was just right or a fantastic fence, rainbow, mountain goat, flock of sheep, old stone bridge or other beautiful object appeared. Sometimes – usually a fence or a cliff – the shot demanded a person, artfully arranged. Early pictures show my mother, but later it was us, the children who had to sit still on a bit of rough wood or walk ahead down the forest path, stopping just where the light rayed through the trees. Once he made us sit on a park bench with a fat sleeping fellow; he called that picture “blind date” I think. I’ll have to get a scan of it.

Anyway, usually these stops happened when we were hungry – morning or evening light makes the most magical photos. As we waited for the camera to be focused or the sun to come back out, our stomachs would growl. As you can imagine, we complained mightly. But oh, we treasure those pictures now.

This picture was taken on a trip with my parents in Europe. I was dancing in Germany at the time and they met me, saw the last performance of the season, then took me off for a tour. I was with Daddy and he was trying to teach me some of the tricks of photography. The water was dead still; he pointed out how the photo would look better with rings of wave, found a rock and tossed it. Except the toss was misguided and the rings were at the wrong angle! We waited until the water stilled – seemed forever – then he tossed again. This time was perfect and he got his shot.

Some of Daddy’s desire for making it just right must have come down to me…not in photography, but in writing. Struggling with a sentence or with the order of paragraphs, I can really appreciate what he achieved in his pictures. This one hangs over my fireplace and is much loved, both for the picture and for the memory.