Currently we are in Florence, Italy and I’m behind big time on where we are so this will be a quick summary of the last hike (they all are amazing but start to blend together at one point) and probably our first world heritage site on the trip.
For a last bit of forest and mountain greenery we took a hike with my aunt and cousin (for her birthday) through a bunch of little deserted towns. There are tons of old stone houses with a small staircase leading into the main part of the house. Often, underneath the staircase there is an opening to a dark space for firewood. All of the houses are really charming with tiny huts jutting out for the tools and the roofs are stuffed with hay. It really gives you an idea of what life was like and the simplicity of it all since now they are probably just summer houses. We got to the La Froda, a restaurant, and the waterfall at the end of our last hike.
Our first world heritage site on this trip was the Bellinzona Castel Grande. For my aunt’s birthday we went to the market and walked around all of the vendors and stores. We were in the famous church, which is beautifully painted and had a majestic feel to it. We walked up to the castle courtyard which was high above the city and market. The inside is blanketed with grass and from there you could run down to the next guard station and it continued like that all around the city. On the other side of the city there is another castle. The two families helped each other and defended the land. With 2 castles there was a better defensive front for the city. We discovered this was a world heritage site from this great app called “fotopedia world heritage“. This app gives you thousands of photos from around the world. You can click on them and with the icons on the side you can read more about the sight, see it on a map in relation to the other sites, and other cool things. And that was our last full day in Switzerland!
Here’s an overview:
Pros – transportation is clean, efficient, and easy. If a bus is late, it doesn’t exist; this actually happened to us as we waited for a late bus! It never showed up, but that was ok with us. This is another thing: everybody is calm, there is no rush of craziness and hustling people and everybody is laid back. If you miss your bus just sit in the park and relax! Also, the water is extremely clean. You can drink out of every public bathroom water faucet and fountain and the water tastes good and is clean. The garbage system in Switzerland is fantastic. At first it seems a bit complicated, but you get used to it. There is a bio (organics) can for compost, paper recycling, glass bottles are disposed of at the local bin for bottles, and plastic also has its own bin. The rest of the garbage is in its own compartment of course, which makes things so much more efficient.
Cons (very few!) – surprisingly many people still smoke unfortunately. And also, everything is very expensive, but that’s it!
Some cultural differences – their main soda (like coca cola in the US) is called Rivella and tastes like liquid Smarties. The sweetness comes from milk serum, which I found was interesting. There aren’t any driers for laundry because everyone hangs up their clothing to save energy. Every morning the bakers open up their shops and we get fresh bread for breakfast, still warm from the oven. Most cars are smaller and many, many more people walk, bike, and more….
Soon enough we were departing for Varese, where we spent 2 homeschooling days, and then for Venice!