After a fun childhood tagging behind my expat American father and my British mother from Milan to Paris, from New York to Buenos Aires, I now live in Switzerland. My desk faces Lake Geneva and the Alps. Beat that for instant inspiration to write about this fantastically scenic country.
My last address (now my voting address) in the States was Mount Holyoke College where I earned a BA (magna cum laude, Phi Beta Kappa). My urge was to write. Returning to Argentina, I became girl Friday and interpreter for two American correspondents until the Buenos Aires Herald took me on as a reporter. Late at night, in a newsroom above the clatter of printing presses, I typed up interviews of local and visiting celebrities on a vintage Remington and read them at breakfast a few hours later. I could have done this forever.
Though we had felt settled in Argentina, troubled times there made my French husband accept a transfer to Switzerland. There, the sky fell on my head when I discovered that as a foreigner I was not allowed to work. Anyway, how could I have found the time in this tidy Heidiland where I was expected to shuttle my three little girls back and forth to school, serve them a hot lunch during the two-hour noon break, supervise homework after they returned for the four o'clock "gouter"?
Strict schedules eased when they reached secondary school and learned to make their own sandwiches. Recycling myself as the editor of the Newsletter for the newly founded Lausanne American Women's Club, I tried to keep members informed about local customs and events and learned even more myself.
When I finally was allowed a work permit, I discovered Lausanne a haven of publishing houses in need of translations and copy. To avoid the chocolate and cuckoo clocks clichés, I searched for unusual subjects. Fascinated by the American and English writers who came here, I followed in their tracks. Where had they been? What had they written?
Quotes and notes piled up. My stories appeared in the International Herald Tribune, inflight magazines and online. Wherever we went, hiking, sledding, skiing, hiking or sailing, I searched for little known facts that would entertain readers, whether veteran or armchair travelers. Offbeat discoveries about Switzerland became my niche. From dinosaurs high in the Alps to Frankenstein in Geneva, from mythic William Tell to Sherlock Holmes' unexpected hideout.
Close to a thousand articles piled up. I felt it was time to collect the most revealing ones about the romantics and eccentrics who invented tourism and how to enjoy the Alps, as well as how the Swiss responded by setting up props like mountain trains, lakeboats and ritzy hotels. Here they are in 20 chapters of a bilingual little guide complete with index to offbeat Swiss places : Petit Guide de la Suisse Insolite/Made in Switzerland .