Wednesday, July 9, 2008

Helicopter Drop

While in Switzerland, I stayed in a small family-run inn in the mountains. In order to get there, we had to hike for three hours because there are no access roads through the rugged terrain. Obersteinberg (the name of the inn) gets all of their food and supplies either by mule or by helicopter. Once a week, a helicopter comes and takes all of their recyclable materials and delivers the food, drinks and other supplies. Occasionally, they also give a ride down the mountain to family members at the inn. In this video, you can see how quickly it all happens.

I found it interesting that the family at this inn is so environmentally conscientious. Rather than burning their trash/recyclables (which may be easier, but worse for the environment), they arrange for a helicopter to pick it all up and dispose of it properly. As Julian, the 12-year-old boy who lived there said, "I love the mountains. The are my best friends."

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Tuesday, July 8, 2008

Alpine Horn Blowing



One of the most welcome surprises I had in Switzerland was stumbling upon a Swiss cultural festival on top of a mountain! Here I got to see one long Swiss tradition: Alpine Horn Blowing. Here is a picture of Albert giving it a shot- it was harder than he thought! The horn blowers (and the flag twirler) loved Albert, and pass their greetings on to the USM community! (Just a side note: the flag twirler was very multi-talented. He had competed in a yodeling competition the day prior, went home and slept for a couple hours, got up at 4:30 to milk his cows, then left for this festival! What a busy guy!)

I was lucky enough to get some footage of their group performing.




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Monday, July 7, 2008

From cheesemaking to cheeseheads



Well, I am finally home, and as you may have noticed, I have successfully updated all of my pictures for your perusal. I had quite the adventure and can't wait to share more of what I have learned, but for now I am glad to be back home with my husband.
I still have a few unanswered questions and comments that I wanted to get to.

1)Ellie asked about what chapter books first and second graders read in France and Switzerland. That's a great question! Actually, the Magic Treehouse is really popular (also for older kids, like 3rd and 4th grade). But my personal favorite is a series called Tom Tom et Nana. These are actually chapter books in the form of comics! Comic books are wildly popular both among adults and kids in both countries, especially France. The "Tom Tom et Nana" series are popular starting around second grade, and are still popular among teenagers, who like to read them as rememberances of childhood. I got a couple for the classroom, so you can take a look in the fall!



2) Mrs. Lengh posted a comment about the cheesemaking and mentioned that the fourth graders visit a Swiss village with cheese-making items. How neat! I bet it would be interesting to compare Swiss cheese-making methods with the Wisconsin cheese-making. Also, Mrs. Lengh asked about cow bells in Switzerland. I grew very accustomed to the chorus of cow bells throughout the Swiss countryside. At the farm, I asked the owners where they got their cow bells, and they said that they have never bought one; the bells that they owned had been in the family for 100 years! What a long tradition! In fact, there is a very popular children's story called "A Bell for Ursli" about a boy who goes to great lengths to recover a big family cow bell. I bought it for my classroom and look forward to reading it with my students.

3) Now that I have finished my trip, I have a few food dishes that I want to highlight in response to Elizabeth's question. Here are a few of my favorites:

- Fresh bread. That has to be at the top of the list. Between baguettes, croissants and pains au chocolat, I never grew tired of bread. In fact, it just kept getting better! Also, bread is served with EVERY meal. You place it directly on the table, not on your plate.

- Fromage blanc: this is kind of like a sweet yogurt that is served as dessert, often with fresh fruit or jam.

- Roasted duck: My favorite meal in Paris was roasted duck with a honey sauce, served with steamed vegetables. Everything was fresh- I ate very little that had any type of preservative in it.

- Rosti: This potato-based dish has many varieties, but most rosti's have at least potatoes, onions and cheese. This is a very regional dish (mostly served in the north-eastern part of the country).
- Fondue: the classic Swiss meal. Cheese fondue is the most popular. You dip bread chunks into melted cheese- yum!!

-Raclette: the other classic Swiss meal. This consists of melted cheese served with boiled potatoes. It is often served with ham, pickles and pickled onions.

- Kaseschnitte (pictured): More popular in the German-speaking part of Switzerland, the dish is ham, melted cheese and an egg covering a piece of bread. Also served with pickles.

I have to say that I loved every single meal, snack, etc. that I ate whil I was in Europe. You really cannot go wrong (except if you eat too much- then you'll have a nasty stomach ache to deal with...)!

Enjoy the pictures- my project for this week is to get a couple of videos up for your viewing pleasure!