Tomorrow lunchtime I’m off to Switzerland with my parents. We are driving from Brussels to a small village called Cully, situated between Lausanne and Vevey on the Geneva lake (Lac Leman in French), around 750 km in total via Luxembourg and France.
Cully is one of my favourite places on earth, and it’s where my father’s uncle R lives with his Swiss wife M. R has lived in Switzerland since 1955 and he always speaks French to me (so that I can practise my French😉 but he still remembers Swedish (after all he’s not Dolph Lundgren or Anita Ekberg, the two expat Swedish actors who are wellknown for having “forgotten” their mother tongue) which he speaks with my father and my grandfather on the phone every now and then. He hasn’t been back in Sweden though for almost 20 years since his sister, my grandmother passed away.
When I was a child, we always used to go to Switzerland on our summer holidays, there are lots of stories such as the one when I was two years old and the chef at the Hôtel au Major Davel proudly made me oatmeal porridge that he had learnt as a young chef in Stockholm (apparently his big red & blue nose scared me and I started crying instead of enjoying his porridge!), or how M always found four-leaf clovers in their lawn to my brother’s and my amazement. They also used to have three cats called Chaddock, Chiffonnette and Hippolyte (I’m not sure if the names are spelt correctly) – they were actually grandmother, mother and son.
The food when staying at R’s & M’s wonderful house is just the tastiest ever, lots of fresh vegetables from the garden, maybe a home-made pizza baked in the pizza oven in the old nail-smith’s forge (spiksmedja in Swedish) from the 15th century (completely restored by the couple), and nice Swiss chocolates for dessert (I do prefer Swiss over Belgian chocolates, I was more or less brought up on the stuff – R sends us kilos of it for xmas every year!).
The house is also worth its own chapter – an old building in four levels plus another few levels of basements (with an old wine press, wine barrels etc), beautifully restored by R & M. The interior is furnished with old classical furniture as well as design from the 1950-60’s – in a very tasteful and cool way. I wonder if not my interest for interior design was awaken by staying in their house!? Outside the house there is a little square with a fountain and there is nothing nicer than waking up in the morning listening to the sound of the water.
My favourite cuddly animals came from R & M, a big white seal pup (not so white anymore, but I brought it with me to Brussels) and a big teddy bear wearing an orange/white sweater.
In 1982 my parents, my brother and I made a long trip – from Sweden via Paris and Bretagne to Switzerland. Can you imagine that today, without AC, without dvds for the children, just a cassette car stereo for entertainment..
I decided already as a child that Cully was the place where I wanted to live when I grew up. So far I haven’t made my dream come entirely true, but I did manage to live in Geneva twice (in 1994-95 & 2002) – not as beautiful but almost! Look at some photos from Cully on this link http://www.cully.ch/pages_plaisirs/141_b_galerie.html. You can take the old paddle steamer (hjulångare) across the Geneva Lake to Evian in France, or drive among the vineyards on la corniche or just enjoy the view over the Alpes from the lake side.
I can’t wait to see it all again tomorrow – I haven’t been back for five years. I will return to Brussels at the end of the week with more stories from Switzerland – we are planning to go back to Gruyère which we visited sometime in the early 80’s, drive up in the mountains and maybe visit one of the big dams, stroll around the Nestlé town of Vevey and just enjoy being there! And on Saturday I will go to Geneva and see my friends there.
Have a nice week, wherever you are!