The Röstigraben letters – March 2021

Röstigraben letters, Swiss culture


Welcome to the The Röstigraben Letters, monthly letters between Kristin from Swiss Family Travel, and Laura from Let’s Explore. Married Swiss, Kristin, an Australian living in german-speaking Zug, and Laura a Dutch, living in french-speaking Geneva, unfold through their letters the cultural differences between both sides of the Röstigraben, learning more about Switzerland along the way. Read their letters (Kristin’s &  Laura’s) and replies, and share your thoughts in the comments. 

My letter is a reply to Kristin’s March letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her March letter here.

March 2021

Chère Kristin,

Yes, we were so close on exactly the same winter weekend! I thought of you when we saw the Matterhorn from afar! We say ‘bonjour’ as well to everyone while walking. In a forest, on a mountain hike, and in our village. The bonjours stop as soon as we get to Geneva of course, because in a city it would be too much and considered as ‘strange’ I guess. 

Zermatt is actually quite a trip for us as well. It can take 3 hours to get to Täsch, and then still park and hop on the train. How crazy is that train station at Täsch, as if you arrive at an airport right? We went to Zermatt once when we were skiing close by, and totally loved it! We would definitely want to go back in Summer to go on those beautiful hikes towards mountain lakes. 

Our Winter weekend was just great as well. We went to Blatten and the Belalp mountain. Blatten is a typical small village in Wallis, with the cute sun burnt mountain huts and stables. I loved walking around in the little center and take plenty of photos. It’s a place we had been to in Summer and since all trips are domestic lately, I love to go back to the same villages in a different season. From Blatten, you can take the cable car up to the Belalp mountain and I did a Winter hike there to the viewpoint of the Aletsch Glacier. Super beautiful, but better visible in Summer. What do you think?

We actually did 2 weekends away one right after the other. The first weekend away we went to Lucerne for my birthday weekend. Lucerne is so beautiful! I’m sure you have been on plenty of occasions, as it didn’t seem so far from Zug, but I really love that town. The lake, the surrounding mountains, the history and old bridges, and the frescoes. I’m just loving the frescoes on the buildings! So, because we were staying in a hotel, we had the luxury to be able to go to the restaurant. Felt completely weird, and so good, and we ordered all we wanted. ‘Mom, can I have a…?’ ‘Yes, yes, go ahead, whatever you like!’ It’s been so long since we had been in a restaurant, I miss that!

If you ever have to renew your Australian passport again, please do give me a call as in non- home office times, I literally work one block away from your consulate! 

I did not apply for Swiss citizenship. The law on ‘nationality’ seems to be the law which changes most often, and years ago, the rule for the Netherlands was that my children would only be Dutch if one of their parents was only Dutch. I’m sure I could apply now, since my children have both their passports (or 2 out of 3 of their countries actually) and they would not be taken away from them, but I still don’t feel the necessity to do so. Of course, it is a pity I cannot vote. I can only vote in my own commune for their things, but nothing national. 

Oh, I find it so interesting to learn about this Canton of Origin, or Heimatort as you say! In our case, both my husband’s mom and dad have their Heimatort in the Canton Bern, so his passport, and that of our children say they are Bernese, I never knew it depended on the paternal side of the family. It really is just a coincidence that they were from the same Canton. The paternal side of my husband’s family, for generations, actually all grew up in Morocco. They left St. Imier in a period of time where there was less work there. We really have to go to St. Imier once, and what is funny, is that I have written to the Museum in St. Imier and they do have something which was donated by my husband’s family. His family was scattered all over after their years in Morocco, and it’s a family member from Madagascar who apparently donated something to the local museum. As I am curious and want to know everything, I of course cannot wait to go check it out. 

Yum, bread, and fish. I love discovering all these regional foods too! I will look up the Vulleykuchen and may give that a try! Apero season has started with the good weather being back, so if you say it’s good with an Apero platter, you convinced me! 

About the weather, when did your Spring start in Zug? Is it just the official calendar date or are there any specific customs with the change of season? In Geneva, Spring is officially declared on the day that one specific tree in the old town shows its first blooming bud! The tree is a chestnut tree, and it is observed every day in ‘almost Spring’. When a bud starts to bloom, it is written on the front page of the local newspaper that Spring has sprung in Geneva! 

Apart from that we have the snow swan, which is visible from my village. It is basically the last snow, in the form of a swan (you have to look well, but once you see it, you will always see it) on the Jura mountains. They say you will only know there will be no more snow, if the neck of the Swan is ‘broken’. And so this year is particular, as it warmed up, but the swan was still complete, and then it snowed again…

This month also marked a year in home office for me. I’ve observed my village and vineyards in all seasons, for a year. It’s those little things that keep me positive, observing nature, as I of course hoped to be able to celebrate Easter by travelling to the Netherlands to see my family. It still isn’t in the cards, so I guess we will start to make our own Easter traditions! We do not celebrate Easter with a specific thing yet, other than always a brunch, but I love decorating the house and my children consider me the egg-hunt-hero, haha, so I think I better start preparing!  

Until our next letters, I already wish you a very ‘Joyeuses Pâques’ dear Kristin!

Bisous from Geneva,


Make sure you read Kristin’s March letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

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