Four-year-old Francesca Ferraro, our unofficial goddaughter, is a well-traveled kid. She’s taken trips with her parents to Istanbul, Venice, and southern France. And she and her mom, AJ, have traveled with us in Vietnam, Sicily, and Oaxaca, Mexico.
When we did our house sit on Lake Lucerne in Switzerland last summer, we were struck by what a perfect place it would be for Francesca. The family whose house we looked after includes a girl just her age, so there are lots of toys we knew she’d love and a bedroom decked out in stuffed animals and Hello Kitty decor. When we were invited to do the same house sit this summer, we asked whether AJ and Francesca could join us for a couple of weeks. The wonderfully laid-back owner said yes, so this summer we got to see central Switzerland through a 4-year-old’s eyes.
Francesca’s favorites included swimming in the lake at our village’s tiny beach, bouncing on the trampoline in the yard, feeding the four cats we’re taking care of, and visiting the Lucerne Transport Museum and the Ballenburg Open-Air Museum (at least the parts with dress-up clothes and games for kids).
Other highlights for her included riding chairlifts over fields full of cows (less intimidating than cows up close),enjoying the playgrounds located next to seemingly every alpine restaurant, and watching World Cup matches with me.
She was also delighted the time we found a special train car full of kids’ books about the mascot of the Swiss rail system, Globi the pants-wearing parrot.
She wasn’t as keen as the adults were on train rides or boat rides to see the beautiful scenery (“boring”). And she found the walk through the Aare River gorge “scary”—though nothing that inventing silly songs with us couldn’t fix.
At age 4, Francesca may not retain many memories of her travels so far when she gets older. But seeing a place with her always provides lots of lasting memories for us.