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

  • Andrew Dunn

    May 14, 2019 |

    Thank you so much for all your help thus far Harold, aka. Tractor guy! I could not have done without you!

  • Harold McNeill

    April 25, 2019 |

    I find it interesting to contemplate how a small community evolves in general isolation from the rest of the world. We have a similar situation in the northern communities in Canada to which access is limited. The inclusion of the world wide web and mass media has changed things, but these communities are still left pretty much to their own devices when it comes to personal interaction.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 19, 2019 |

    Hi Dave. Not that I am aware and I have a fairly comprehensive family tree for the McNeill side of the family. I will pull it up and scan. Cheers, Harold. Great chatting with you and I will give Ben a nudge.

  • Dave Cassels

    March 16, 2019 |

    Were you related to Guy McNeill who owned the Bruin Inn in St. Albert in the late 40’s or early 50’s? Guy was a close friend of my father-in-law who was the first President of the Royal Glenora Club. My phone number is 780 940 1175. Thank you.

  • Harold McNeill

    March 15, 2019 |

    So glad you found the story and enjoyed. Indeed, they were memorable times. I did a fair amount of searching but never managed to contact any of the Murffit kids. However, it was neat to make contact with the Colony and someone I knew from back in the day. I have enjoyed writing these stories from back in the 1940s and 50s and have made contact with a lot of friends from those early years. I will give you a call over the weekend. Cheers, Harold

  • Yvonne (Couture) Richardson

    March 7, 2019 |

    I enjoyed your story. I too, lived in Pibroch in 1951, as my parents owned the hotel there. I was a very close friend of Bonnie Murfitt at the time. I moved to Edmonton in 1952, however, and have not seen her since. I would like to be in touch with you to talk about your story. My email is listed above and my phone number is 780-475-3873.

  • Laureen Kosch/Patry

    March 5, 2019 |

    I grew up in Pibroch and would not trade those years for anything. “ Kids don’t know how to play anymore” Never was a truer statement made. During the summer we were out the door by 8am, home for lunch, and back when it got dark. For the most part our only toys were our bikes and maybe a baseball mitt. I will never forget the times when all the kids got together in “Finks field” for a game of scrub baseball. Everybody was welcome, kids from 8 to 18. I didn’t know it then but I guess I had a childhood most dream of. Drove thru town last summer. It all looked a lot smaller.

  • Harold McNeill

    January 13, 2019 |

    Well, my dear, it’s that time again. How the years fly by and the little ones grow but try as you may you will have a hard time catching up to your Daddy. Lots of love young lady and may your day be special
    Love, Dad

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Guess what? My response went to the Spam folder. Hmm, do you suppose the system is trying to tell me something?

  • Harold McNeill

    January 5, 2019 |

    Thanks, Terrance. Your comment came through but went to the Spam folder. Have pulled it out and approved. Can you send another on this post to see if you name is now removed from Spam? I’m not sure why it does that. Cheers, Harold