The Röstigraben letters – may 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 May letter from the other side of the Röstigraben. You can read her May letter here.

May 2021

Chère Kristin,

The kitchen burn is well behind us, and all is fine, thank you. We have been a bit out of luck as we also had to spend a large part of May in quarantine. It was such a bummer as our children first had to quarantine because they had been in contact with someone who was tested positive for Covid. Then we were set free and negative, and my son still got Covid literally on his first day out. So then, we all had to quarantine again… 

Luckily, he didn’t have many symptoms, but it took quite some organization as a family, taking care of the kids, working in home office, and trying to not get behind with schoolwork too much. Anyway, he is doing fine now, that’s the most important! He had lots of schooltests to do after his quarantine, because the end of the school year is near and he had missed a lot. We were feeling a bit sorry for him to have this much work right after feeling tired and a bit sick. 

Oh yes, totally green here as well! We had a lot of rain in May and that has done a lot of good to nature! In Geneva, we had the national long weekends with public holidays. During one we were still in quarantine, but we enjoyed the second one even more! We have spent a day in the forest grilling in nature with some friends. It was close to the Rhone River which was a spectacular sight on that particular weekend as they almost emptied the river for a cleanup. They do that every 4 years or so to prevent flooding. They lower the Rhone level to get rid of sediments piled up behind the Verbois Dam. In Geneva, the Arve river comes into the Rhone at some point, and since the source of the Arve is much closer (Mont-Blanc and Haute-Savoie area in France), it has a different color and carries a lot of mud and stones. 

The emptying of the Rhone changes the color of the water for a few days at least as far as in Lyon in France. The part of the river where we sometimes stand-up paddle in summer is almost completely empty, leaving a bit of a strange moon landscape behind, and quite an awkward smell too. 

The next day of that long weekend, we went to the beautiful vineyards of Lavaux. I’m sure you have heard of those. The Lavaux terraced vineyards are a UNESCO World Heritage site in Switzerland. It is located between Lausanne and Vevey and offers many hiking opportunities with a view. We went to the village called Saint-Saphorin to have a nice lunch on a terrace, and then we did an easy and short hike in the vineyards. Super lovely!

Congratulations to your husband for his 50th birthday! Quite a milestone and super fun to have a family BBQ to celebrate it! Do you have a large enough terrace to easily have the family over? I sometimes see on your photos that you have a view on Lake Zug. I can imagine you spend a lot of time just looking at the view then?

A hike with a 600-year tradition sounds really impressive! I hope these things will last as it makes it very special. I love traditions and local history too, and I like to chat about it with the children. They know much more than I do of course because they grow up here and learn about them in school. My amazement as someone who didn’t grew up here also shows them how special traditions are. They are not just ‘normal’. I personally like the ‘Escalade’ in Geneva in December, and specifically that there is that one street in the old town that you can only visit once a year. It’s funny when you think of it, that street is closed off for the whole rest of the year. 

Oh wow, you can actually get the keys to the clock tower of Zug? I would like to visit Zug one day, and am definitely putting this on my list!

We all love strawberries, and my husband too, does not want us to eat them when the season hasn’t started yet. Due to our geographical location (a bit surrounded by France), and the fact my husband is also French, we usually eat the Swiss and the French ones! 

No Elderflower foraging here, or at least not much as I haven’t heard of it. We do know the sirup and love to drink that too! We always have different flavors of sirups at home. Definitely the childhood drink!

Talk to you again next month Kristin!

Hugs from Geneva,


Make sure you read Kristin’s May letter here.

And you can find all our letters here. 

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