The Swiss Family Hanggi

Written by Harold McNeill on November 8th, 2011. Posted in Travelogue


“To the top of the world to the top of the wall, fly away, fly away, fly away all.”  (Modified from the verse “Two Little Dickey Birds” that accompanied a sleight of hand trick taught to us by our mother). The verse sums up the brief tour Lynn and I made to Switzerland and our visit with the Hanggi family. The next three posts describe that incredible visit.

Above Photo:  A Rose Frozen in Time, an Ice Sculpture original by Bruno Hanggi

From the moment we arrived in Interlaken to the moment of departure, we were hosted in grand style by Hanggi Family – Bruno, Nicole and their daughter, Sandra.

Our connection to the Hanggi family came through their other daughter, Claudia, a delightful young woman who worked for BC Soccer in Vancouver, during my terms as a member of the ClaudiaBCSA Board of Directors. Claudia spoke lovingly of her mom, dad and sister and told Lynn and me that if ever we touched foot in Switzerland (which she insisted we must), a visit with her parents and sister was the order of the day. Now, when Claudia told someone, even a board member, to do something, it was as good as done.  Of course, in our travels, we did as she directed and the week spent with the Hanggi family was a week we shall long remember.

Photo (2010): We caught up with Claudia (and her friend) by the Winter Olympics Skelton Track in Whistler.

At our stop in Interlauken and on first meeting Bruno, his words of greeting were: “Claudia told me to meet you, and she told me I had better show you a good time! Now, I always listen to Claudia because, if I don’t, I know I will never hear the end of it…” It is safe to say that Bruno and I were on the same page in that regard, and so began our friendship with the Swiss Family Hanggi.

Bruno is a gregarious, ‘take charge’ man with an extremely interesting background as a world-class Pastry Chef by vocation and a talented Ice Sculptor by avocation. Bruno’s career, saw him chefing his way through many of the most prestigious restaurants in Europe, South Africa and Canada where he earned a number of national and international awards that now cover the walls of his office.Bruno, Nicole and Lynn

Nicole and Sandra were equally welcoming and it was only a few minutes into our visit that Lynn and I were made to feel that we had been part of the Hanggi family for many years. It was a good thing Nicole and both daughters had strong outgoing, personalities, as that was a must in a family that exudes high energy, creativity and a zest for life. I can only imagine what it would be like to have Claudia thrown into the mix. There is little doubt she and her dad crossed ice sculpted swords on more than one occasion.

Photo: Bruno, Nicole and Lynn holding Ice Sculptured champaign glasses of the type Bruno frequently crafts for wedding parties and other events.

In retirement, Bruno has continued to cultivate his creative streak by building a freezer and storage unit in his garage. This allows him to keep pace with the high demand for sculptures. The speciality freezing unit is fascinating as it produces crystal clear ice blocks that can be sculpted into the most exotic images.

While the sculptures were fascinating, the food that flowed from Hanggai kitchen was to die for. It was easy to see why so many awards hung from the walls.

Not many months before our arrival in Interlauken, the city suffered major flood damage when a high mountain dam burst sending wall of water into the city.  As the east lake, The Brienzeree, began to overflow, the connecting canals within the low-lying city soon flooded. Sandra was the first to notice when she stepped onto the back patio and found water rapidly rising in the backyard. By the time the flood crested, the entire city was sitting under two feet of water and several months later the Hanggi’s, along with many other homeowners, were still busy sorting through the insurance claim system.

Our stay in Interlaken, which included a trip to the Top of Europe and first ever parasailing adventure, was all to brief, but shall long be remembered not only for the incredible scenery but also for the wonderful time spent with the Hanggi family. Thank you, Claudia, for carefully pointing us in that direction.

Harold and Lynn McNeill

A Smile to Melt your Heart

Sandra

Bruno Contemplates his Next Move

Bruno

More Roses Frozen in Time

Roses Frozen in Time

Area Schematic

Jungfrauhhjo

 

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Comments

  • Herb Craig

    December 14, 2021 |

    As always awesome job Harold. It seems whatever you do in life the end result is always the same professional, accurate, inclusive and entertaining. You have always been a class act and a great fellow policeman to work with. We had some awesome times together my friend. I will always hold you close as a true friend. Keep up the good work. Hope to see you this summer.
    Warm regards
    Herb Craig

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Hi Dorthy, So glad you found those stories and, yes, they hold many fond memories. Thanks to social media and the blog, I’ve been able to get in touch with many friends from back in the day. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Well, well. Pleased to see your name pop up. I’m in regular contact via FB with many ‘kids’ from back in our HS days (Guy, Dawna, Shirley and others). Also, a lot of Cold Lake friends through FB. Cheers, Harold

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Oh, that is many years back and glad you found the story. I don’t have any recall of others in my class other than the Murphy sisters on whose farm my Dad and Mom worked.

  • Harold McNeill

    November 26, 2021 |

    Pleased to hear from you Howie and trust all is going well. As with you, I have a couple of sad stories of times in my police career when I crossed paths with Ross Barrington Elworthy. Just haven’t had the time to write those stories.

  • Howie Siegel

    November 25, 2021 |

    My only fight at Pagliacci’s was a late Sunday night in 1980 (?) He ripped the towel machine off the bathroom wall which brought me running. He came after me, I grabbed a chair and cracked him on the head which split his skull and dropped him. I worried about the police finding him on the floor. I had just arrived from Lasqueti Island and wasn’t convinced the police were my friends. I dragged him out to Broad and Fort and left him on the sidewalk, called the cops. They picked him up and he never saw freedom again (as far as I know). I found out it was Ross Elworthy.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read you article on Pibroch excellent. My Dad was Searle Grain company agent we move there in 1942/3 live in town by the hall for 5 years than moved one mile east to the farm on the corner where the Pibroch road meets Hwy 44. Brother Don still lives there. I went to school with you and Louise.

  • Herbert Plain

    November 24, 2021 |

    Just read your life account of Pibroch excellent.
    My family mowed to Pibroch in 1942 Dad was grain buyer for Searle Grain Company lived in town for 5 years than mowed one mile East to the farm on the corner of the road from Pibroch and Hwy 44. Bro Don still lives there.I went to school with both you and Louise.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    These stories brought back some sweet memories for me. a wonderful trip down memory lane . the photos were great. It has made me miss those days.

  • DOROTHY MARSHALL

    November 15, 2021 |

    Enjoyed your story Harold Dorothy Hartman