Do you remember me?
Were you wondering where I'd disappeared to?
Probably not, right?
Well, if you were, we headed back to Switzerland for a few days. We hijacked one of my husband's work trips to return to the city where our boys were born so we could revisit some of our favourite haunts. And discover some new ones, too.
The twinkly Christmas lights were up all over the city, the snow drifted down coating the streets with a soft shimmer, and the boys, their eyes gleaming with wonder, well, they were probably the most misbehaved I've ever known them.
Look at their faces. You can just tell, can't you?
They were pretty much little horrors from the moment we landed in Zürich until we headed back to the airport to catch the plane home. I'm blaming it on end of term/end of year tiredness. They've since returned to their sweet selves, though, so it might have been the sugary Lindt chocolate fumes in the Swiss air. Who knows?
But in-between yelling at them to leave each other alone and threatening to cancel Christmas, there were a handful of lovely moments so I thought I'd share them with you on here. If only to reinforce to myself that it wasn't an entirely wasted trip. I'm scarred, I tell you, though. We'll be holidaying in the back garden for the foreseeable future.
So, here's what we loved.
A walk along the lake in Zürich is never a bad idea. It's such a beautiful part of the city and if the skies are clear, you'll get a wonderful glimpse of the mountains with their snow-capped peaks in the background. They have a film set-like look to them; almost as if they're superimposed.
Visit in the rain for an atmospheric feel ...
... or in the sun to enjoy the rays bouncing off the water. You'll enjoy it whatever the weather, I promise you. There's also a fantastic park and a cafe or two, so great for pit stops as you're meandering around.
The buildings, shops and restaurants
The buildings, shops and restaurants are a joy to walk in and amongst, particularly during December when it's almost as if the entire city is lit by fairy lights. There are Christmas stalls in abundance and a heady smell of mulled wine in the air ... day and night.
When it comes to food, Brasserie Lipp is a favourite of ours. It's fancy but family-friendly. Nooba is great for a fun meal with friends (and if you're pregnant and craving Thai food - I ate here nearly every week when I was expecting). Be warned, if you return the next night, the same waiter will great you with the words, 'Welcome back, thirteen Rieslings!' And no, I did not drink all those by myself.
Mövenpick Ice Cream parlour is loved by my children ... sit in and flick through the menu rather than ordering a standard cone at the counter. Sprüngli is a Swiss institution and is not to be missed, especially if you're a fan of hot chocolate. Sternen Grill is forever busy, and with good reason. It serves THE best hot dogs. And coffee can be found at every corner so tired parents, fear not.
Fondue? I wasn't a fan when we first moved to Switzerland. But it grew on me. Not very Swiss-like, but my advice is to order a portion of fries to dip in alongside the standard bowl of bread you're given. You can thank me later.
Trams and trains
I feel obliged to mention Zurich's public transport network as my four year old insists that the double decker train and a trip around the city on the tram were the highlights of his five days. I love the fact that they always run on time even in the snow. You will not hear shocked cries of, 'Winter is coming!' in Switzerland. They expect it and are prepared for it. Take note, Great Britain!
Illuminarium at the Landesmuseum
I don't know if Illuminarium at the Landesmuseum is going to be an annual thing but I so hope that it is because it's amazing. You enter in to the most magically lit courtyard with all sorts of wonderfully festive food and drinks available, which you can sit and enjoy by one of the many fires.
Head around the corner to see a child-friendly version of of the Giuseppe Verdi opera La Traviata projected on to the museum walls. It was so good. So good. And probably the only time that my children sat still without fighting during our entire trip. I should have taken them there every night, shouldn't I? Especially as there was a Hendrick's bar, too.
The Swarovski Christmas tree
And no trip to Zürich in December would be complete without an amble around the Christkindlimarkt in the main train station. Taking pride of place is a vast tree decorated entirely in Swarovski Christmas decorations. It's stunning. My goal in life is to one day have a similar tree in my own home. Dream big, right?
If you're ever heading to Zürich and would like some more hints or tips, just let me know. As long as it's not about how to make your children behave while you're there. That's something that I have no experience of, sorry.