Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Chur, Tschiertschen and Praden

We went to church in Chur, Switzerland (about 40 minutes away) the next morning. The kids didn't really understand much except for the passing of the bread and water (which is universal throughout the church no matter where you are in the world) and hymn singing (although that's difficult to do when it's all in German). The people were very nice, and they welcomed us with open arms. One woman (originally from Ogden but who lives in Zurich now) even sat beside mom and me in Relief Society and translated for us. That was helpful, considering before then I maybe understood about a fourth of everything I heard, and I've taken German classes in the past.

Portia and Bianca awaiting food at Calanda
Pretty much everything is completely shut down on Sundays in Switzerland. We were hard-pressed to find a restaurant to have lunch but after winding our way into old town Chur, we had lunch at Calanda. I had the strangest gold-leafed wurst (yes, it was like edible gold flakes on top of my curry sauce). Really, it was quite good and so unusual.

My wurst had gold flecks!
The kids had schnitzel and fries. It was still a little rainy, but we wandered around Chur after lunch.

The kids really took to my favorite past-time of posing in front of doors. I think it's so interesting to see the different flavors of doors you get in the places you travel. I've decided to do a little segment--purely for my own enjoyment, of course--after each day highlighting the doors of the day. Here we are poking around Chur.

Grandma and Portia in Chur

Bianca discovering a bowl-like fountain

Portia by the fountain

Portia and Bianca in front of the church doors
One of the main reasons we decided to visit this particular area of Switzerland (Graubunden, which is called Heidi country) is because my mom has been doing our geneology and really wanted to visit some of the places where our ancestors came from. Not far from Chur (although a nice, windy, scenic drive was required), were two villages where many of our ancestors lived. First we stopped in Tscheirtschen. And wow was this little village charming and picturesque! There was a small waterfall right beside the sign. I guess there's actually a small ski resort in this town as well as you can see a lift over on the edge of town. 

Mom wanted to see if she could find some of our actual relative's graves buried in the cemeteries here, but we found out at church earlier that morning that in Switzerland, bodies are only allowed to stay in the ground for 20 years and then they dig them up and cremate them (due to the limited amount of space here). So, there's no way mom would be able to find what she was looking for. But we were able to wander around this amazing little city. Things stayed so old and charming that it feels like you can actually see what our ancestors saw over 150 years ago. Here is what the world looks like from Tschiertschen.

The view from Tschiertschen
I'm sad to think how disappointed my ancestors must have been to leave the scenic beauty of this little village when they settled in flat Illinois. We were able to go into the little church and look at the small cemetery outside the doors. We even found some of our family names on the graves so that means we really still have relatives living here to this day. 

The Tschiertschen Kirche (Church)

Grandma at the cemetery
I don't remember seeing this the first time, but if you look at the headstone
on the very left, you can see one of our family names--Clement
Portia and Grandma in front of the church doors
This little faucet (which all the villages have) is so Swiss
We stopped next in Praden, which is just a bit down the mountain from Tschiertschen, and this is where we discovered the motherload of headstones containing our family names. There was a guestbook inside the little church we went into, and mom left a small message about how we were seeking living relatives with our names. She left her email address. You never know. Although most people in this sort of small village don't speak English. 

Mom was telling us about our ancestors who came from these little villages and the sparked an idea. I want to write about them. I want to take the story of the our ancestors and use what I know (and then fill in the blanks I don't) with a fictional account of them. After having been there, it means so much more to me. The idea is brewing in my head already. I'm planning to start working on it after I finish my current work-in-progress novel.

On our way home that night, we stopped at this cool bridge for photos. 

It really was a wonderful day, and to me, there was nothing more amazing than walking through the tiny villages of our past and wondering about exactly where it was we came from. I'll sign off with my favorite doors of the day.


Bianca in Chur

Bianca in Chur

Portia in Chur

Portia at the Post office in Tschiertschen


Karma said...

Looks amazing! I love the pictures with the doors tradition!

Stephanie said...

What a wonderful trip!!

Susannah Harper said...

I got teary reading this and seeing the pictures of how beautiful it is there and thinking about our ancestors giving that up for the dream of something better. You should totally write a story about what it was like for them. Too bad we don't have their journals or letters or something.

Peter Blattner said...

You like to mutch the two villages Praden and Tschiertschen. Naturally I love more Praden why I lives here together with my care-stray-dogs from Spain, Turkey and Bulgaria.
It greets Peter with his Dog-gang

Jeana said...

We loved visiting Praden! Beautiful, beautiful. I want to come visit again.