Thursday, June 07, 2007

Switzerland Journal Day Nine

Thursday May 24.
Bernie, while shopping yesterday in St. Gallen, embraced the European fashions, and now owns an orange shirt.
Hoo boy.
You GO Bernie!
Kate is doing the black and white stripe thing, and Sherman is sticking with the universally popular attorney attire of white shirt/dark suit.
It is early-and we have a train to catch. After we said our fond farewells to our hosts, we trundled our luggage back to the train station, boarded the train, and began to snack on a bag of goodies that Kate packed for our journey.
We headed down to Chur, where we caught a private train line called The Glacier Express. Boarding in Chur, we traveled through the Alps, through the 2033 meter high Oberalp Pass. We went through Llanz, Munster, Andermatt, Oberwald, Brig and finished at Visp. My parents had taken this train trip years ago and counted it a high light of their travels, a "must do" scenic excursion, which would last about five hours.
We would be making the trip as our part of anniversary celebrations.
It wasn't long at all before the train was traveling through beautiful country. The river running beside the train tracks was the milky pale green shade that is so typical of glacier run off. We imagined what it would be like to fly fish the frigid waters.
After about an hour of oohs and ahhs as we looked out the window, Bernie reached into his pocket and placed this on table in front of me.
Inside were pearl earrings. The thirty year anniversary symbol is pearl, and he had shopped yesterday for a pair, wanting to make get the jewelry in Switzerland be part of the gift.
I slipped them on, and carefully saved the box as well. The pearls were from a jewelry store in St. Gallen named "Christ", how fitting!
The scenic views sped by outside our window.
At last, a Swiss Chalet! Love those orange red shutters!
Stare out window, stare out window....
Lunch was included. We order wine; we needed to have a something to toast our Thirty years together, and the wonders of Switzerland!
What a cute little town. Wonder if they ever forget to enjoy the view?
Bernie was reading a book entitled "Life among the Swiss" while we were traveling on the plane over. It was about how all Swiss men are in the Swiss army until they are 55 years old, and how the country is prepared to defend themselves at all times. The book called it the country's defensive plans the "Porcupine Defence", because like a porcupine, Switzerland's defensive tactic is to curl up and make themselves unpalatable to any attacker. Every bridge is loaded with explosives, and the Swiss can within minutes blow up all access to their country, and can also shelter 90% of their citizens against nuclear attack. The book made us aware of how heavily armed Switzerland was, and when we passed by bridges, we noticed that they either had opening for heavy artillery or explosives. We wondered what was under this knob: an artillery window, or explosives!
And then the Alps came into view...

In the meadows below, blue flowers bloomed in the meadows.
Waterfalls raced down mountains.
And we had lunch. Rosti was included; the pan fried shredded potato that seemed to be the national side dish, and what some guide books call the delineator for the country's three cultures: Rosti and non-rosti eaters. Rosti eaters are the SwissGerman speakers, the non-rosti group are the Italians and French. Fried potatoes are served as a side dish or as a main dish with a fried egg on top, or cheese, or meats and vegetables mixed in. I just so-so on rosti. Hash brown potatoes done big is my description of the dish, good occasionally, but not every day.
The train climbed higher and higher, past the tree line.
Alps reflected in alpine lake. Darn the reflection in the window glass!

The Alps at last...just as beautiful as we had hoped.
When we came back down from the peaks, there were flowering meadows.

And there were ski lifts! Bernie loves to ski! Maybe we could come back in winter? With Jeff and Laura for a family ski holiday?
Andermatt, a well known ski destination, nestled in the valley below the alps.
Switzerland is close to Russia, a fact I hadn't considered until I saw the onion domed churches scattered throughout the Alps.
We were in Andermatt for a bit...I really wished I had been more faithful about taking sign pictures, not so much for the blog or anyone else, but to help remind me where I took some of the pictures. I thought it was just me, but LauraRN says she routinely takes sign pictures, because when you travel as much as she does, it helps sort things out as to where the photo was taken.
If the winos, oops, I mean wine snobs care, this is what we drank. Nice and light and I enjoyed it. Wine is not a big part of my life, but it seem that everyone who is around my age is into wine, so I am trying to mend my ways and pretend that it is important to me as well. Bernie and Sherman ordered some "sit up and take notice!" wines, which I enjoyed, but didn't usually think to photograph. When Bernie explained to me later what we had drank on some of the evenings, I realized I really, REALLY should have been taking shots of the bottle's label. Document, document, document. The only reason I took this picture was because we toasted our anniversary with the wine.
If anyone cares...I like Merlot, "cabs", tawny port and blush wines; and do adore champagne for breakfast. Bernie gets a headache from champagne so I rarely get it...I'd never get through a bottle on my own before the wine went flat. Sunday brunches usually have a champagne and I make do with that.
Mostly though, I tend to drink bottled water with a lemon or lime or mint or apple slice. Better for the figure, and I don't get so sleepy!
Waterfall, quaint village, mountains and a meadow of golden flowers...bliss!
We were heading towards Switzerland's French region. Vineyards were suddenly everywhere! There were even small vineyards tucked besides railway tracks, in spaces smaller than my bedroom.
A fortress or church overlooking a village. I have no idea which or who or what it was all about. How funny to think how much money time and effort people took to create this building and keep it up, and all it is to me is another pretty picture on my blog.
And so our Glacier Express was drawing to a close. A young Japanese woman who sat across the aisle from us (as she took the trip alone) kindly agreed to take a picture of the two of us together. We spoke no Japanese, and she spoke little English, but she understood how to use our Sony cybershot camera just fine!

I apologize for the glare in most of the pictures, all the shot were taken through the train's windows. Even without using a flash, the windows always caught reflections from inside the train, which affected the quality of the pictures. That being said, if you wish to view all the slides from the Glacier Express train trip, I've posted them on my web album, which can be accessed by clicking here. I can promise you that it will not take the five hours to see them that it took to take them, nor will you need to pay the price we paid for the train trip. Such a deal! Enjoy!
We rode another train by Lake Geneva, on our way to the french speaking town of Lausanne. Geneva was a beautiful lake, and I wished we could have explored it, and the town of Vevey as well. Those of you who love the book "Little Women" might remember it was in Vevey that Laurie proposed to Amy, rowing on the water of the lake, under the mountains of Lausanne. It is a popular place with people, both real and imaginary!

Once we reached our destination we were faced with a tough hike up a cobble stoned street to our hotel; the town is built on terraces, practically on a 20 degree incline, so pulling luggage in the heat up a hill was challenging.

But perseverance paid off, and soon we were checked into a little locally owned hotel, and riding in a "lift" the size of a what used to be called a broom closet, to a room I considered expensive by US standards (remember our Marriott hotel stays are free...)

Opening the door to the room, I had to smile at the luxury our dollars (in Swiss Franc) afforded us for the night.
European beds don't do "king".
Our bed halves were made up separately. Hmmm. Ice pink damask bedspreads, with deep red orange carpet, with orange yellow little spots. Somebody call Martha Stewart! Quick, send for the Home Decorating TV show people!
Oh wait, the couch fabric pulls the look all together. Actually, the whole thing works!
If the carpet looks good on the floors, imagine how good it will look on the walls and ceilings!
I am just teasing, I thought the room was fun, if warm...there was no air conditioning , of course!
The view from our window. The delphiniums and poppies were blooming in the garden outside. We opened the window by the couch and the one by the desk and the bed and sat enjoying the slight breeze and the French atmosphere of the scenery. Having no screens on the window seemed very French!
It was very romantic actually...the breezes playing throught the window, footsteps on the cobble stone below.
After relaxing a bit, napping and a quick wash up we headed back outside to the street, and to a small area where there were a few stores and restaurants for the working class. Lausanne is considered fashionable, and this dress was in one storefront. I'm questioning a broad brim hat worn with a strapless ball gown, but I'm willing to give approval for the sake of encouraging hat wearing on any occasion.
The gown's designer was noted in a colorful sign by the door.
Next door was a hearing aid center, and I JUMPED with prediction has come true! After watching boomers in the airport (and at home) with bluetooth ear pieces hanging on the side of their heads, wrapped around their ear, shining brushed chrome chunks of metal with a flashing bright blue light, I knew that the soon-to- mostly-be hard of hearing generation would eschew skin toned hearing aids.
How right I was. So very VERY right! Swiss hearing aids already come in a rainbow of colors, some of which include sparkles!
A black hearing aid, with diamonds, or patriotic red white and blue. I didn't realize the Swiss felt so strongly about American colors until I saw this!
They even have hearing aids keyed to hair color, for those who still want to tuck their hair behind their ears and have the aid blend in. Last but not least, the skin tone style. I have a feeling this is just the tip of the iceberg...all the hard rockers of my generation will not go quietly into their deafness! Strobe lights and colored light displays, scrolling data, and links with communication devices, iPod mixes...all coming soon to a hearing aid near you!
While we looked around for a place to grab a snack for dinner, the sky darkened and lightening bolts were splitting the sky. It was a pretty powerful storm a'comin'. You can just make out the Olympic rings on the face of the building with the clock face. Duh, I finally figured that out when I saw those rings...we're in THAT Lausanne!
All around us it became one of those eerie sunset storms, where the golden light illuminates the buildings while the sky boils darkly overhead. When the rain cut loose, it did so with a vengeance, with wind gusts that blew signs and cafe umbrellas around, and caused the rain to soak people to the skin in minutes.
We settle for a Greek pita sandwich from a hole-in-the-wall restaurant, an apple, and a soft drink and called it a night once the rain lightened up.
Back in our room I turned on the tiny TV, just curious what the local programming would be like. I hadn't seen TV since we had arrived in Europe.
The BBC was on and CNN, and a bazaar show in I'm not sure what language, which was about a animated salt shaker, (not made human, just moving around "as is".) The salt shaker salt would no longer shake. Animation showed salt and moisture combining to make the salt grains clump up and no longer the right size to fit through the salt shaker holes. The image of a tampon was used to explain how salt gets bigger as it clumps. Next a grain of rice was shown, then cut in half. The cut rice was shown as absorbing fluid as well, as demonstrated using another tampon. There seemed to be great joy in the fact that the cut grain of rice could swell up like the tampon. Then rice was added to the salt shaker, and the salt sprinkled freely from the salt shaker after that.
All this novel information took about five minutes to show. Gripping stuff. I could of watched grains of rice being added to a salt shaker for hours... but it was getting late, and so I switched the TV off and headed to bed. It didn't take but a few minutes, and we were both fast asleep with the windows wide open, enjoying our slumber in the cool night air.


Demara said...

Interesting post (I did not know the Swiss were so army safe)! I loved the dress in the window even with the hat was nice, but way to fancy for me!!!

Julie said...

You did it again, Jill. Fascinating post with interesting info!
I loved the white dress with the wide brimmed hat...the hat was designed to save those soft white shoulders from sunburn, no??smile
I laughed with you looking at the hearing aids!! of course they come in orange!!
CONGRATULATIONS!! on your 30th!
How sweet of Bernie to buy you the lovely pearls earings in Switzerland!
I enjoyed another day's arm chair travel at your expense!! smile
Thank you!!

Lovella ♥ said...

This post seemed to convey the relaxing part of your trip. Time for two. How wonderful that you reserved a special part to celebrate your 30th. Ah, your Bernie is a keeper for sure. Love the pearl earrings.

I did smile when I saw that the Designer might have noticed my layered purple top for T&B's wedding and went right to work creating an entire dress. How fun.

The scenery is just my favorite. I've always said to Terry that if I could live anywhere it would be on rolling majestice hills with waterfalls and streams .. .oh just perfect.
Have you seen our Rockies? I can't remember how far you ventured into Canada. Whislter?
We have ski mountains to you know . ..;)

Thoughts on Life and Millinery. said...

Lovella-I've been through the Canadian Rockies via the Kamaloops (or is that Camaloops? I forget!) It was a memorable drive with my parents when I was sixteen. I vividly remember seeing mountain goats with ram's horns and thinking that it was some of the most beautiful scenery I had ever seen. Bernie has been eyeing Whistler for awhile now as a ski destination. As far as I am concerned, going to BC and Victoria is ALWAYS a good idea. And sooner rather than later!

Lovella ♥ said...

It's actually Kamloops. My niece lives there.
How did you get to Kamloops? By car?
I agree with the sooner rather than later....(oh, I wonder if they have a fabulous Marriot there) . .Probably European travel would be hard to compete with. It's a good thing we have wildlife.