Michaela Merz


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Tripsdrill – the first German adventure park


We went to Tripsdrill and found everything a child’s heart could desire. Good play areas, animals to marvel at and stroke, water chutes, looping coasters, horse-drawn coaches, boats, carousels, games and spending the night in a tree house.

What does the mother’s heart desire in such a children’s paradise? Enough clean toilets, food that doesn’t consist only of chips and sweets. Prices, which don‘t bankrupt you, no queues before the attractions, cleanliness and a well-kept environment.

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We were just lucky. It is the second half of April and the temperatures are climbing almost to 30 degrees. Summer at the beginning of spring. The Germans are at school and we in Switzerland have spring holidays. The park is empty and there are no queues anywhere.

In 278 BC named Trephonis Trulla by the Romans, in the vernacular the name of the location also described a place, in which the impossible is possible. In 1890 the first picture of the legendary Old Wives Mill at Tripsdrill appeared. In fact it was built in 1929 by Eugen Fischer. This was the year, in which Germany’s first adventure park was born.

In Tripsdrill you can find everything the heart desires. It is not kitschy, it offers lots of exhibitions on life and work in the past. In the midst of the vineyards, with a wine exhibition and wine tasting, we lived in a tree house in a wildlife park. In the morning we were awakened by the howling of the wolves, who slept 300 meters from us.

We visited 100 attractions, played, laughed, ate, fed the donkeys, stroked the miniature goats. I climbed into an Old Wives Mill, got wet but not really prettier and younger. I liked the wedding market with all its offerings. We rode in the cradle, pulled twins out of the well and admired the wedding procession and the pithy German humour. Three days fun without end, super sleeping in the treetops with nocturnal forest noises, which didn’t disturb us one bit, because every evening we were so dog-tired with my youngest. Simply only happy, fulfilled days.

The adventure park closes every evening at 6.00pm. On one of our last rides the man asked where we were living. I said “in the tree house, around the corner”. He winked and asked whether we had space free. I disappointed him, after all we were not alone but four of us were together on holiday. It just shows that one can even make contacts there. To all singles and happy couples or families, I can only recommend it.


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Why I’m not afraid of big animals


When I was 5 years old, I used to spend the summer with my mother and grandmother in a tiny village of only 5 houses. It was the last summer before I started school. My biggest issue at that point was that people always mistook me for a boy. I was very small, weighed only 20kg and had short hair. I truly looked like a boy but felt entirely girly. My environment didn’t always notice that.

That summer, a guy named Roy rented a room in the same house. I have no idea how old Roy might have been. Maybe 50? Could have been 60? He was ancient for me but really funny. Continue reading


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The USA and its air-conditioning


 


I’m back home from my trip through Florida. It was the coldest January for 29 years. There was snow, the iguanas fell from the trees because of the cold, the sea-cows, sensitive to the cold, sought out protected bays and thronged in large quantities in very small spaces to keep warm. But still all the air-conditioners were running at full blast. I have never understood this, but I would be extremely grateful if some-one could explain why. Why are the rooms in restaurants, hotels, theatres, congress centres cooled down to a temperature, where its scarcely possible to feel comfortable? Continue reading


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Welcome to Miami – Bienvenidos a Miami


grafite-na-regiao-do

I have the good luck of attracting unique events and exceptions. Like during the Christmas holidays, when I was travelling in Florida. After 29 years, snow and cold in Florida. If I’m honest, I couldn’t care less about the snow, that’s not the reason I have travelled such a distance. An hour from home I could enjoy the powder snow. But fortunately, Florida is big and snow in the North of Florida still means 16 degrees and sunshine in Miami. Continue reading


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Florida in winter


What one immediately notices, is the exuberant kindness, which you meet wherever you go. Everyone seems to be very optimistic and almost enthusiastic. That feels good. I wonder whether depressions can be prevented by this collective optimism or whether it’s vice versa because those who suffer from a depression are drawn into the depths, because all around them are only people, who are in really good spirits.

Everything is more relaxed, aggression nowhere in sight, crowds (despite the queues) non-existent. The level of daily aggression is in Europe, and even in Switzerland, much higher than in Florida. This is very noticeable for example in traffic. In Zürich one is hooted at if one doesn’t move as soon as it’s green. In Florida on a four-lane road with heavy traffic without a sign of a pedestrian crossing, the traffic stops for pedestrians. Scarcely conceivable in Zürich.

In the lift there are polite discussions about who leaves last and people hold the door open for one another. No-one pushes and shoves anywhere. The queues at Cape Canaveral to visit the Kennedy Space Center were numerous and long, but nonetheless everything was very friendly and relaxed.

When I went swimming with my youngest in the sea, hardly more than 150m from the shore, a police boat turned up. I was rather anxious and expected an admonition or a warning that somewhere we had done something wrong. At least that is may experience with the maritime police in Europe. Jack the policeman was extremely nice, asked us if everything was OK and gave my son a little alarm light, in case he should get into an emergency.

When I rented a stand-up paddle I was recommended to wear a life vest (but of course willingly), but there was no obligation. That impressed me, because I believe that responsibility for me and my life is mine, not the state‘s. And of course without a life vest I would never have gone out. One NEVER knows!! But if I once were to do so, in Switzerland I would be fined, as soon as I was more than 300m from the shore. And I don’t think that’s right.

In the sea on the paddle I travelled with and through fishes. I have never seen so many fishes in open water as there. And then came a school of dolphins, who swam by only a few metres away from me. Medium-sized silvery fishes sprang vertically out of the water. The first surprised me and by all the rest I enjoyed their skills. And there were hundreds of birds, which were anything but shy and a few alligators, which I could see, but were fortunately very shy.

One is very prudish. During my whole stay I didn’t see a naked child on the beach or a topless female. Even in the Aircraft Museum, which we visited with my youngest, there were old planes decorated with big-bosomed beauties. One of these ladies displayed on a clock you could buy at the shop had her breasts covered with a sticker.

Here the toilets are called rest rooms, although for a rest they are totally unsuited.

New Year in Florida was great. Warm, many friendly people, who were all ready for a chat. Lights, attractions, music, many booths with food, drink and small gifts. There were fireworks and at midnight, instead of an apple as in New York, a pineapple was split open. Wonderful and very entertaining.

I can recommend Florida. Everyone can find something here. Entertainment and nature, peace and ramba-zamba, sport and culture, food, drink, sightseeing and beach, shopping.  The weather and the people are right. The prices are at the higher end. But even with a small budget there’s a lot to discover.

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The Northern bug


Everyone’s driving south. Before the Gotthard there’s a 15 kilometres back-up on the way to Italy. I really don’t care, because I’m infected with the Northern bug and have driven to the North Sea.

This is not a vacation suitable for those who, to enjoy their holidays, need 30 degrees in the shade and luke-warm sea water that’s no longer refreshing. By the North Sea there is always a wind, the water in the sea is 18 degrees and the ebb and flood of the tides decide when one can go swimming at all. Continue reading


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Grindelwald – 50 years Pfingsteggbahn


The Pfingsteggbahn cable railway is celebrating its 50th anniversary on 2 July 2017.   The prices are the same as in 1967: Fr. 3.60 single, Fr 5.40 return. A bargain. Everything else is free: the view of the Eiger, the mountain air, friendly and down to earth locals, a calmness that is missing in city dwellers, the fantastic view down to the valley, the toboggan run, the play area, the bells of small goats grazing, the mountain bar and perhaps a few yodlers practicing. Continue reading