The Röstigraben letters – April 2021

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 April letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her April letter here.

April 2021

Salut Kristin!

‘Avril, ne te découvre pas d’un fil!’. Haha, this means, in April… don’t take off your warm clothes just yet, or literally, don’t take off a thread (of clothes). April indeed comes in many facets, doesn’t it? Like you, we had apéro in the sun with friends, fresh snow on the surrounding mountains, and days and days of that terrible wind, la Bise. It’s been here for about 11 days, while usually they say a Bise lasts 1, 3, 6, or 9 days. Luckily it is behind us now!

The snow swan got very thin on the Jura mountains, at some point we thought we saw a break, but then it snowed again…

The cherry blossoms around Zug seem super lovely! I’ve seen quite some photos of it over the years on Instagram. Being quite allergic to them, I will unfortunately not venture out too close to them. We have that with Spring, we love to see the flowers on all the trees, but we are honestly too allergic! I really hope the frost will not have affected the cherries too much, as I love cherries!

Ah, yes, I saw that in the Married Swiss series, that one or two duvets was a question. We only have one duvet, and I wouldn’t even have thought two duvets was an option, but when sometimes in a hotel we do have two duvets, I admit it avoids secretly pulling the duvet towards you at night. 

I have not heard of the Spring festival in Zug, but I did hear about the burning of the Böögg! We don’t really have that here, although on a small scale, they do it in some Kindergartens on the French side as well, ‘bruler le bonhomme d’hiver’. We do always check afterwards to see how long it took for the Böögg to explode, and we too keep our fingers crossed for a warm Summer ahead!

Ligerz

Yesterday, we had a small incident at home where one of us hurt his hand on the hot stove. It had me thinking of a common thing on this side of the Röstrigraben called a ‘coupe-feu’? Do you have that in the German speaking part as well? A coupe-feu is a person who has a gift of ending the feeling when you burn yourself (and the burning feeling that lasts for a while, even though you, for instance, took your hand away quickly). This practice, which happens by talking on the phone, is quite common on the French side, and a lot of French-Swiss have a phone number of a Coupe-feu in their phones. There are a lot of hospitals on the French side where they even have a list of these ‘people with the coupe-feu gift’ at their emergency unit, as a complimentary suggestion to help someone after their first aid. Luckily, our incident was not bad and quickly resolved, so we didn’t need it, but I know people who did, and who say it helped. I had never heard of the existence of such a thing before moving to Switzerland!

I know how you feel about not being able to go home, even though my home country is obviously closer. Technically, I can go. But since a quarantine is required in both directions, and well, our kids have to go to school, it’s not really possible anyway. 

Oh, great if you would come to Geneva to renew the Teen’s passport! I realize it is a long trip for you, but I would sure be happy to meet you in person! 

We did have our Spring break already, and since we waited until the very last moment to see if any travel restrictions would be eased towards our family (the Netherlands, and the South of France), we ended up with no plans and all restrictions still in place. 

Life sometimes goes as it goes, and we had a super nice surprise as on Friday just before Easter, we actually won a giveaway to go to lovely BNB Le Vieux Chalet in Chateau d’Oex! We were all super excited and left the next day for a 2-nights stay. The BNB was wonderful with lots of things to do for the kids, so they played basketball, table soccer, table tennis, and we could all use the outdoor jacuzzi with a mountain view! A real treat!! 

From Chateau d’Oex we visited a bit of the surrounding villages, while doing an Easter egg hunt, and we went to Gstaad to finally see the Mirage mirror house, just before it was taken away. We were happy we went to see it as I wanted to go for a while, but somehow never got around to do it. 

Apart from our trip to Chateau d’Oex, we also went along some villages on the Lakes of Neuchatel and Biel. The villages Le Landeron and La Neuveville which are very picturesque with their colored houses, and then on to Ligerz on Lake Biel. What was funny was that we took a funicular in Ligerz to go up on the vineyards hills, and that funicular actually crossed the Röstigraben! At the bottom, in Ligerz, they speak German, and on top, in Preles, French. From Preles we walked back down to Ligerz and enjoyed the view on beautiful Lake Biel, an area we actually know less, but which is really very close to our Swiss town of origin, Heimatort. Maybe only a half an hour by car actually, but we decided we wanted to save that for a full weekend to visit our origin town and its surroundings. 

On the last day of our Spring break, we went on a day trip to Lausanne. When my husband and I met, he was a student in Lausanne, and I sometimes went after work to see him, but we never went as a family. We climbed the steps of Lausanne’s Cathedral and learned about a tradition they kept alive since the Middle Ages: a Cathedral’s Night Watch actually calls out every hour from on top of the Cathedral between 22:00 and 2AM every night, 365 nights a year! I love these kind of traditions that are kept alive. Are there any traditions like this in Zug?

Oh Ticino, you are so lucky! Yes, this is also a popular holiday destination for the Genevois. As warm weather destinations, I would say Ticino, but also France and Italy in non Covid times, to get to the beach and warm weather. The closest beach breaks are at a 5 hours drive from Geneva approximately, so if you have a few days off, this is very possible, but not so much this year of course.

Enjoy the pizza and gelato Kristin! We have fond memories of Lugano, Gandria, and Monte Bré!

Bonnes vacances,

Laura

Make sure you read Kristin’s April letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

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