Friday, July 31, 2009


Today we headed south to a castle guarding the Bernese Alps - Chateau-de-Chillon. We took the train to Lausanne and from there we chose a boat cruise to the castle. The boat ride was really nice. For 2-hours we cruised along taking in the shore scenery. The hilly shore was awash with fields of grapes from the many winerys in the area. The homes and towns looked pretty darn good too.
The castle dates back to the early 12th century, but its site has been occupied since the Bronze Age. It is built on a natural island just off the mainland. This creates a natural moat around the castle. It is deceivingly small on the outside. Inside it is very spacious. Really, the only tight spots are some of the passage ways from one spot to another.
One example of the castle's size is the dining room below. The fireplace could be stood in by 8 or 10 grown men. The ceiling was about 20 ft. and the wood work of it was something I would like to have in my own house.
Oooo, can you guess what the next picture is? You've no doubt seen one before. A toilet fit for a King and a Queen since this was a two-holer. Your business would just drop 50 ft. into the lake below.
Nearly all the rooms of the castle were open for viewing. The tour took us through 46 rooms. The last of the rooms were in the Keep. The thing just kept going up and up. The stairs were steep and tight, but at the top you were rewarded with a great 360° view.
After leaving the castle we walked to the nearest train station for the ride home. On the way back we jumped off at Lausanne and went to a Starbucks in the old city center. We were going to have dinner, but little Parker was being a bit of a handful. It was better to just head home. Both Payton and Parker are becoming quite good tourists.

Thursday, July 30, 2009

Interlaken and the Top of Europe

Interlaken is about 1 hour SE of our house. It is an area between two lakes (this lake and that lake) and north of the Bernese Alps and in particular the Jungfraujoch and its triple peaks of Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau. We can see these peaks from our patio in Neuchâtel. Interlaken is a popular year-round tourist location for locals and foreigners alike.
We stayed at Hotel Bellevue located on the Aare river between the lakes. We found it a very quaint European hotel. From here we had pleasant views all around and especially of parasailors sailing down from the mountains above landing in the town center.

After checking in and catching our breath we headed out to see a bit of the town. We left the car parked all 3 days and instead either walked, took a bus or hopped a train. Between the two rail stations - Interlaken West (very near our hotel) and Interlaken Ost (east) is about a 25 minute walk. We stayed near this west-east stretch and didn't venture south into the surrounding area. The walk helped build our appetites for our evening dinner cruise on the Brienzersee (that lake). It was a nice day, but rained at night. Our next two days were nice as well, but without any rain.

Tuesday was the day for going to the Top of Europe. We were looking forward to this. The trip by train up the mountain took about 2½ hours with 4 train changes. We missed one change and had to double back. The ride up the mountains (and down) were spectacular. The mountain valleys were very green with the ever present snow capped Alps in the background. Normal trains could only go so high. Cogged trains were required on the last two legs. The last leg to the top actually went inside the Eiger and by way of a 7 km tunnel took us to the top. This tunnel allows year round access. In summer its nice on top of the world. It has to be really cold in January!

At the top is the Sphinx - an observatory for both tourists and scientists. It provides 360° views of mountains, glaciers and the valleys and lakes below. It is also a base camp for all sorts of high altitude fun; such as glacier hiking, skiing and snowboarding, disk sledding, zip lines, dog sledding and other things. The ladies even bought watches in what must have been the highest watch shop in the world. We stayed up there an hour or so, but could have easily stayed longer had we chose to see everything there. We caught the train back down and a few zzz's as well. The ride through the mountain takes about 50 minutes. I'm glad we live here because you really need a week just check to whole area out. This is a trip I think we'll do again.

The next day - and our last - was a short one. We strolled around town while Kathleen pondered going parasailing. In the end she decided to save this for another time. We headed home to ready ourselves for our next road trip - the Chateau-de-Chillon - a castle on Lake Lehman (Geneva).

Sunday, July 26, 2009

Parker floating in his new swim vest

Today Kathleen put Parker in his new swim vest and chucked him into the pool. The vest lets Parker lay on his back and just float around. He is liking the pool more and more. Our pool is kind of like a big whirlpool for little kids. By turning on the big 'swim in place jet' a circular current is created. Little kids can just float around the perimeter of the pool all day long.

Friday, July 24, 2009

Return to Saut du Doubs

Grandma and Grandpa Dolan are visiting us for a couple of weeks. They arrived Wednesday and we've spent most of our time so far around the house while they acclimate themselves to the time change.

Today we ventured out to a local waterfall - Saut du Doubs. This is a cool thing to see - even a second time for the likes of Swiss Family Taylor. We took a leisurely boat ride from the lake upstream to a point not far from the falls. It sure was easier than hiking there. Instead of viewing the falls from the Swiss side, we trekked over to the French side. The view from there is much better. Not only can you walk out to above the falls edge, you can also go up high for a great view facing the falls. The picture left is from this view.

We missed our boat ride back. No big deal though, we just caught the next one. We did have 50 minutes on our hands to kill and that was spent at one of the several restaurants near the falls. The place is quite the tourist attraction.

Thursday, July 23, 2009

Parker can walk! ...but with a little help

Just this week little Parker grabbed hold of his shopping cart and started walking behind it. He does pretty well for being shy of 11 months. Maybe he'll be walking solo before his birthday.

Sunday, July 19, 2009

An older more mature Payton

Payton wanted a mustache this morning so we turned it into a craft project. Voila! Instant mustache. Payton took it a little further by involving Mommy and Daddy.