We had the blessing of having my parents come visit last week on their way to their Viking Cruise leaving from Basel. As the week held many special celebrations, including my mom's 60th birthday and mother's day, we decided to make it extra special!
Upon their arrival, we went to Lucerne only to find the fabulous Transportation Museum ridiculously crowded as it was Ascension Day and the weather was pouring rain. We grabbed a quick lunch and when the rain let up, enjoyed a stroll along the lake. We had all been there together before last year, so we came home and took naps as they were exhausted after arriving that morning. The afternoon was spent at the Swiss National Knie Circus in downtown Zurich at the foot of the Opera House and it was an absolute blast! A favorite from last summer, I was delighted to share the hilarious circus experience with my parents - even with the lack of understanding Swiss German, the performers had us amazed and laughing! It was truly special.
Friday we headed out to Lake Como where we were staying in the town of Cernobbio which was a first for all of us. We thoroughly enjoyed the beauty of traveling down there, my mom really seeing the Alps for the first time! The drive is short and sweet, and once we checked in, my mom was happy to meet other Viking cruisers in the hotel lobby. That afternoon, we had planned to do a family cooking class which turned out to be perfect as again we were faced with thunderstorms.
I found Amy's Cooking School in Como, Italy on TripAdvisor and she so graciously welcomed us into her home, even setting up English cartoons on her TV and bringing down her now grown teenage sons old toys like trains for the girls to play with! We enjoyed tea and cookies with another family who was doing the class with us before heading into the kitchen!
We had a blast making fresh gnocchi with pesto, ravioli with lemon and asparagus and plain fettuccini for the toddlers. It was the first time Grant or I had ever made fresh pasta which was a lot of fun. We sipped prosecco while taking turns hand cranking the pasta machine and measuring out ingredients while learning about different types of parmesan cheese and flour found in Italy. Everything was great but the gnocchi may have been the best I have ever tried, ever, anywhere. It was SO good!
We kicked off Saturday morning with a big breakfast at our hotel before exploring Villa D'Este and a local playground so the girls could run off some steam while Grandbarb fetched us some baked goodies for our boat ride.
My father definitely wouldn't argue that I am very talented in spending all of his money, and per tradition, I rented us a private yacht to take us around Lake Como Saturday midday. It really wasn't that expensive, but was worth every penny! (It was about $500 for 2 hours for the private charter for the 6 of us.) Our Captain, a dashing Italian named Giacomo, helped us upon the gorgeous wooden boat was classic and the boys drooled over as we explored the coastal towns of Lago di Como in style, passing the gorgeous mansions of George Clooney, Richard Branson, Versace and many other celebrities and royals. We stopped at Isla Comocina (the only island in Lake Como) for a delicious gelato break to take in the splendor of the lake from another vantage point!
That afternoon we made ourselves comfortable by the pool enjoying cocktails and swimming with the kiddos as well as endless games of tag on the grass. Emery fell between the rollaway bed and the king size bed, busting open her lip and potentially damaging the nerves of two of her teeth so we just enjoyed room service for dinner and took the rest of the night off.
Sunday morning we woke up early and had a great family breakfast before driving along Lake Como. It was Mother's day and Grant spoiled my mom and I with some gorgeous scarves, as Lake Como is the Italian Capital of silk. The Gotthard tunnel was severely backed up so it took us awhile to drive north, but first we stopped at the Swiss Minatur museum which everyone enjoyed exploring - it was like a doll house world for the girls! We also road a train and the boys took the girls on bumper boats. A nice little excursion in Lugano to break up the trip a bit on our way to Basel for my parents to join their Viking River Cruise.
Of note: All of the blogs I read suggested to not bring a stroller. We wish we had brought ours as where we were in Como and Cernobbio was certainly stroller friendly and would have allowed us to explore a bit more! We had brought the girls' scooters and wished we hadnt as the driving in Italy is as insane as the reputation.
Another stop on the way to Basel I insisted upon was at Aerbach Chocolatiers outside Lucerne. We all enjoyed the chocolate tour with never ending samples and great little educational vidoes in english! The highlight for the girls may have been the donkey, if you push a button he makes donkey noises and then spits out gold chocolate coins! We also made our own chocolate bars which was great fun and snagged another "Grand Tour of Switzerland" tin box filled with chocolate on our way out.
It was hard to say goodbye to Grandbarb and Pops but we know they will be enjoying this week on the Rhine!