December 24th, early hours, we are finally setting off on our Silk Road journey.
We are currently in the train from Zurich to Vienna, and I am struggling to focus on writing this update. Our window keeps offering postcard-worthy vignettes: vertiginous mountains dropping straight into the lake, their sharp peaks cutting into the sky, the quiet dark waters contrasting with the snow-covered mountain tops.1
We packed the last ten days with warm and fuzzy feelings. We met a few good friends, spent time with family, ate some proper cheese raclette, played plenty of games, said goodbyes, laughed a lot and cried a bit.
For our last evening, we had a Christmas dinner with my extended family. My grandparents came to Switzerland with five daughters. These daughters married, had kids — my cousins, who now have partners of their own. All in all, we packed 18 people in my grandma's tiny apartment.
And oh my, I love the chaotic energy of these family gatherings. First off, no one knows the exact starting time of the event. People come whenever they want and bring some food or drinks to share. It can result in an interesting menu. Sushi can rub shoulders with dry meats, Vietnamese salad, rice and curries, noodles and Peking duck, not mentioning the diverse range of desserts.
Second, everyone seems to be shouting — or so you would think as an external audience. In fact, people are talking normally, the decibel level is simply much higher than for your average Swiss household.
Third, we play games with passion. As far as I can remember, my cousins and I have been loudly playing games while the adults are having adult conversations. It is now almost a tradition to bring a game you like and play with those who feel like it.
Finally, everything seems to be happening at the same time. One person will still be eating appetizers, as someone else is mixing main dishes, people stand up, change seats,
shout talk across the table, put something in your plate because-it's-good-you-should-try-it, clear plates, bring desserts, pour drinks, start games.
Yesterday gathering was no exception. I went to bed, ears ringing and eyes shining. Today, my eyes feel tired, but my belly, heart (and backpack) are full. To be specific, these breathtaking views can be seen along the Walensee between Zurich and Buchs. ↩
To be specific, these breathtaking views can be seen along the Walensee between Zurich and Buchs. ↩