School holiday was coming up and we did not have a chance to go on a proper holiday. Unfortunately my dear Husband’s work was stopping us from doing any REAL journeys, so we decided to do a SHORT getaway instead. But how much can you do in just four days?
Day One – lost in labyrinth
We packed enough clothes, food and other necessary items into Skoda das Auto, mounted the kids in and hit the road. Since it is a pumpkin season, our first stop was naturally a Pumpkin Farm in Lüterkofen. Weyeneth Kürbis has created an adventure world that includes four garden labyrinths and a treasure hunt, a huge ball track with wooden balls, and some other pumpkin-related activities. There’s also a small pumpkin shop and a funny little flea market in the venue.
Our little princess loves labyrinths and riddles so she was all in for some treasure hunt. In order to find a treasure you had to go through four labyrinths and locate the hidden code numbers in the middle of them. With the right code you could open a treasure chest, that is if you managed to find it… So off they went, little princess wildly running ahead, my dear husband lazily walking behind her and little Prince Charming tailing along. I sat on a sunny bench, enjoying the rays of autumn sun, and could hear them going around in the bushes. Little Prince Charming probably did not quite get the idea and was causing long moments of distress to his big sister… Sounded like my dear Hubby was forced to a role of a referee in there. I don’t really know, I was concentrating on sunbathing… Just guessing from the tone of their voices.
Somehow they got through all four labyrinths, no signs of fist-fight in the two little ones. They even figured out the right code and after some searching located the treasure chest from an old cellar which definitely smelled like rotten potatoes. What a JOY when the chest popped open and the little ones got to choose their nuggets of GOLD… now wait a minute, don’t get too excited! My interpretation is that these NUGGETS were just regular stones colored with a golden ink. If you don’t believe me, go check it out yourself. But I am NOT telling the code… ;)
After the treasure hunt day was still young, and our Little Princess wanted to try out the wooden ball track. It was so much fun that I suggested we could build one to our backyard… Prince Charming was a bit too small for heavy wooden balls so he got to choose a funny shaped pumpkin from the shop instead.
Finally we had had enough of pumpkins, labyrinths and ball tracks and headed over to grandma’s house. She was busy elsewhere but had generously granted us a permission to sleep overnight in her villa. So we did. The kids where a bit perplexed about a house without granny but got over it rather fast and were soon busy playing with their toys.
Day Two – Nyon
After a more or less restless night and a tired morning we tidied grandma’s villa and tucked ourselves again in Skoda das Auto, our faithful servant. We were on our way to Nyon, an idyllic city located on the shore of Lake Geneva. We were planning to stay a few nights in Nyon Hostel, which has successfully hosted us a couple of times before. It is a neat, tidy and relatively new hostel located in between blockhouses in Nyon’s sleeping suburbs. We were lucky enough to make it without too much traffic, which has not always been the case. There was a parking space reserved for us in front of the hostel (Skoda das Auto also has to sleep somewhere safe, you know!). Only problem was that my dear Husband didn’t have a clue how to open the locking device of this parking space. After several attempts I could see some drops of sweat appearing on his forehead and steam coming out of his ears. He was about ready to use some dynamite to explode the darn thing up to the sky… luckily some friendly soul just showed up and unlocked the device for him. We avoided getting sued for illegal explosions and parked the car successfully.
We took our bags up to our room and decided to head to a playground nearby – one that we had spotted while driving by. Kids were happy. After long hours in the car they got to jump, climb, slide, and run etc. as much as they wanted. Little Prince Charming was also fascinated about the fact that there was a train station just behind the fence and a train passing by every 5-10 minutes. The fence was not exactly THAT unbridgeable and my mother instincts were screaming Danger! Danger! every time I could hear a train coming… but our little boy was blissfully ignorant about that. His eyes were sparkling with excitement… Did I tell you he loves trains?
Like always with playgrounds, it was time to go way too soon. We had some grocery shopping to do. You see, there’s a really nice kitchen for hostel guests in Nyon Hostel and we were planning to use it for cooking our evening meal. And so we did. Only this time we were really unlucky with the timing. There was some youth camp group staying at the hostel and they had conquered the kitchen. I managed to take over one corner of a stove but really felt a bit claustrophobic with all the teenagers jumping around, listening loud teenager music and trying to find pots and pans… I’ve become my mother, I thought, getting pissed off about them being all teenagers. The meal they cooked looked delicious, thought. We ate our dinner, changed to pajamas, red a bedtime story and jumped into our soft fresh-smelling hostel beds. Except for my dear husband who still had to go find a geocache.
Day Three – some border crossing
We consider ourselves lucky – lucky to have good friends in numerous places. And often we plan our traveling routes so that we can meet and spend time with these precious people. This time we had hooked up with my husband’s old friend who lives in Geneva. We met in front of Mr. Local’s home and he loaded his car with barbecue coals and other stuff needed for a picnic. In no time he took us over the French border and after some grocery shopping mixed with French mentality we drove up to Mountain Saleve. After driving hundreds of kilometers (okay, really up to 10km!) of narrow, winding and steep roads we were reaching the top. The most beautiful landscape ever opened before our eyes. We stopped the car and landed our feet… well, literally, in the middle of goat shit. It was everywhere. Endless little piles of black doodoo everywhere we laid our eyes (or feet!) on. There were plenty of picnic tables and fireplaces in the area, but every inch of the ground was covered. Mr. Local looked a bit perplexed and offered to take us elsewhere but since our kids were getting hungry and there was not knowing if it would have gotten any better, we decided to stay. You know, there’s nothing so jolly as two hungry kids… never mind some goat doodoo. All the parents would probably agree…?!
We gathered some wood trying not to stick our fingers into doodoo, and Mr. Local lighted up a fire. The wood was a bit damp and it was rather windy up there on top of the mountain so the fire was not exactly burning merrily. Mr. Local and my dear Husband improvised living two-man bellows and were puffing and blowing on the verge of fainting. These two heroes, a bit out of breath, got the fire going and not a moment too soon. Picnic table was prepared just seconds before our little fellow would have caused a nuclear attack.
Somehow food always tastes better outside. Even if there’s goat poop under the table… We ate with a good appetite and enjoyed the magnificent landscape in front of us.
Little Prince Charming was still close to explosion, even with his stomach full, so it was my turn to improvise. I made a bed for him in the trunk of Skoda das Auto using all the blankets and sweaters I could find and put him in for a nap. Mountain air is magical – he was sleeping in a matter of seconds and I had time to marvel the view.
Meanwhile others were cleaning up. Not the goat shit, but the leftovers of our picnic, mind you. Later we drove to a panorama restaurant for a coffee and had an excellent view on some sky surfers who were circling around just in front of us. And then back to Geneva. We said thanks and goodbye to Mr. Local and got seriously stuck in traffic while trying to find our way back to Nyon.
Finally back at the hostel, another traffic was waiting for me in the kitchen. Oh boy, I am becoming my mother, I thought, getting pissed about the teenagers being all teenagers…
Day Four – La Garenne Zoo
It was the final day of our short getaway, and the kids got to choose the destination. We offered them a couple of choices, from which they chose the Zoo. We packed our stuff, returned room keys and locked the horror parking device for the last time. The clouds were hanging heavily on the sky and didn’t seem to be able to decide whether they should rain or not. Over the years I’ve spent here I have learned that most Swiss people do need some rays of sun to come out of their holes; we Finns seem to be more ignorant about the weather… so it was not a real surprise that the Zoo was almost empty. Lucky us. We got to walk around minding our own business. Zoo personnel was just feeding the animals so there was some action available.
My personal favorite was a cute raccoon. Kids seemed to like the wolves and we did meet Mr. Foxx and his family amongst others. Personally I am not a big fan of Zoos, mostly because the animals often seem to be suffering about stress, probably because of the crowds staring, pointing and screaming on the other side of the fences. But La Garenne Zoo was a pleasant exception. It proved to be rather small (a few hours were enough for a grand tour) but pleasingly well taken care of. All the animals looked well-kept and happy.
After a few hours it started to rain, just when we had had enough. Time for some warm drinks and Ikea-lunch. And time to say goodbye to Geneva region and head home. Both our little travelers fell asleep in the car and slept all the way home.
And guess what? I got to prepare dinner in my own kitchen, without a herd of teenagers jumping around or any goat doodoo under my feet. It was good to be home again ;)