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Swiss Family Johnson – December 26th Bjorn!

On Saturday December 26th we welcomed Bjorn Lindholm to Switzerland!  Bjorn was a foreign exchange student from Sweden who stayed with the Johnsons in 2007.  His flight was scheduled to land at noon in Geneva, so we were able to spend another lazy morning lounging around the apartment.  The young people spent their time watching episodes of the Big Bang Theory, that we surprisingly found in English on Swiss network TV, while the old people were busy moving around.  Janell spent some time making lasagna for supper, and Keith was feeling adventurous and went on a walk by himself to the local hardware store, just so he could compare it to Menards.

The streets are a bit windy here, so Melissa sent her cell phone with Google Maps along with him just in case he took a wrong turn.  With only a half hour to go until we needed to catch the train, there was still no Keith to be found!  Kyle was putting on his jacket to go out and search (the blind will lead the blind!) when Keith waltzed through the door.  Turns out he made a wrong turn or two and ended up a few blocks away from our building, but then remembered he had the cellphone and figured out his way back.  All and all we were able to catch the train in time.


At the airport we found out that Bjorn’s flight was delayed 40 minutes, so we took the extra time to sit and eat a lunch of sandwiches we packed.  After we ate and were standing by the arrivals doors waiting, Bjorn stepped through the door talking to a friend and Melissa and I both briefly thought we would have to pack in one more surprised guest in our now cramped apartment. However, it turned out to just be someone from his school that just happened to take the same flight.  We had a joyful and tearful meeting and quickly hopped on a train traveling  toward Lausanne.

Our original plan for the day was to head to the Callier chocolate factory after picking up Bjorn, but when we double checked the timing on our phones we saw that the factory would be closed by the time we arrived.  After a bit of talking and consulting a guide book, we came up with an alternative plan to visit the castle near Montreux called Château de Chillon.


The Château de Chillon is so old that nobody knows exactly when it was built, but the first written record of it is 1005 A.D.  It is located on a small island in the lake very close to shore.  There was a small admission charge, but even for self professed cheapskates like me, it was worth it.  It’s deceptively large inside, and we were given guide pamphlets that listed 46 different areas to see.  We followed the tour through the dungeons where Lord Byron visited, past a chapel, into the large rooms of the lords that used to live there, and up to a tall tower that gave a commanding view of the lake and into the valley.

After the tour, which was a highlight for the castle-loving Sandy, we grabbed a train back to Renens and listened to Kyle and Bjorn chatter the whole way back.  We had a delicious meal of lasagna, and Kyle and Bjorn even found time to talk to Michael Bolton (not the singer…) on facetime.

With our extra guest, we needed to re-evaluate the sleeping arrangements within our apartment. Bjorn had a camping mat and sleeping bag, but we figured for the sake of everyone else in the apartment, it would be best if Kyle and Bjorn shared the guestroom and closed the door so that they could catch up as late as they wanted.  This meant that Keith and Janell had to embark upon a bit of “adventure sleeping,” and pulled their mattress into the kitchen, which also has doors that close. The added bonus of that arrangement was that Janell could guard the bananas each night from Bjorn.

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