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The Swiss Family Johnson – December 24th & 25th


On Christmas Eve everyone was finally able to sleep in as long as they wanted.  Our lazy morning began with Melissa and I cooking quiche for everyone, then just before noon Melissa took everyone, except Kyle and I, on a tour of a couple Swiss grocery stores.  They bought food for dinners and lunches for the next few days, and Keith, Janell and Sandy got the full grocery shopping experience.

In the apartment Kyle and I started watching ‘The Matrix’ on Swiss Netflix, and continued watching it when everyone returned from the store, during lunch, and and up until everyone else decided to go to Montreux sightseeing (it was a longer movie than I had remembered!).  Around 2 p.m. we were getting bored of sitting in the apartment and Kyle suggested we go see Star Wars because he hadn’t seen it yet.  We caught a bus into Lausanne’s city center, and this time I was able to find an English showing.  The movie got out around 5 p.m. and when Kyle and I came back everyone else was back from Montreux, and a board of meats and cheeses (charcuterie) was set out for dinner.


The rest of our group had boarded a train that hugs the shore of lake Geneva to Montreux.  It’s only 30 minutes away, and sits near where the Rhone river snakes out from the mountain valley and empties into the lake.  Once in Montreux, they explored another Christmas market, where Janell bought some hand painted ornaments, and candle holders.  With more gluhwein in hand, they slowly walked along the lakefront, admiring the palm trees and flowers nestled between booths adorned with faux snow and evergreens.  Just at the edge of the market, they took a break to skip rocks, and enjoyed the view of Chateau Chillon.

For dinner we all sat around the table sampling local meats and cheeses.  While salami in Switzerland is a lot like any salami you can find in the States, the Johnsons were in for a new experience when it came to the cheeses.  This dinner marked the first time they had ever tasted real mozzarella (the kind that you buy as a ball soaking in liquid), and their culinary lives where changed! We also had blue cheese (not quite the same as the one we have in the U.S.), along with brie, Camembert, and Appenzeller that seemed to get smellier by the minute!


After eating until we felt like we would burst, and washing it all down with wine, we sat down and exchanged a few small, but very meaningful gifts.  We then all piled onto the couch and into the chairs to watch ‘It’s  a Wonderful Life,’ and were relieved to know that once again, Clarence gets his wings.



Christmas day was another laid back day.  The morning was spent in our apartment watching a few more Christmas classics- the Home Alone movies.  After a quick lunch of sandwiches and pungent leftover cheese, we went sightseeing around Lausanne.  The first stop was at EPFL, the university where Melissa works. We (or maybe just some of us) enjoyed an impromptu jam session with the acoustic and echoing effects underneath the oddly curved and rolling Rolex center.  Turns out Kyle and Keith are good at stomping and clapping in rhythm with me…

We also snuck into the Chemistry building to see Melissa’s office on the fourth flour.  Instead of taking the stairs with our still-full-with-cheese stomachs, we all piled into the freight elevator. This elevator only has fixed doors at each floor, so as you ascend you can watch walls move as well. As a safety feature, if you move too close to the wall, it trips a sensor and and stops the elevator. Melissa very clearly, and several times, reminded everyone to keep their hands to themselves.  Kyle, who had admittedly “only heard Melissa say don’t touch the walls once” decided it was a good time to touch the walls anyway… which immediately froze the elevator and caused us all to briefly consider what Christmas would be like stuck in a Swiss elevator together.  Fortunately, after 10 seconds or so, the elevator started up again and we eventually made it to the fourth floor.


After seeing EPFL we hopped on the metro and rode it into Lausanne’s city center.  We walked past our old apartment, up to the cathedral, then found a bus to take us to the top of the largest hill in the city.  There is a look out tower on the hill and everyone but Sandy climbed to the top to see the cool (though scary if you are afraid of heights like Sandy) views.  After we got back onto the bus, I needed to ask the driver about the route, and after stumbling a little bit in French, in front of all of the Johnsons, the driver told me I could just speak to him in English.  Nevertheless, we made it back to our apartment with no trouble.

That night we had a Christmas dinner of rotisserie chicken (made in our own oven) and green beans, and washed it all down with more wine.  Afterwards I took Keith and Janell on a night time tour of Lausanne so they could experience Festival Lausanne Lumieres, and all the bright and festive lights of the city.  Since it was Christmas, the streets were nearly empty and Keith and Janell got a lot of  up close and uninterrupted views  of all the light installations.  We even made it down to Ouchy (the lake shore), and admired Evian off in the distance.


After we made it back home, where Melissa, Kyle and Sandy were watching a movie, we all got excited planning for next day: The Arrival of the Swede!


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