Switzerland

Howdy folks, we’re almost caught up on posts again!

So, after Iffeldorf, we caught and early (5:30!) train to Switzerland, straight across to Geneva. In Geneva we walked around by the river a little, where the boots that Janak was wearing basically disintegrated under his feet. He had borrowed them from his friend Chris, since all he had for shoes was a pair of canvas PF flyers, which may make you run faster and jump higher but don’t help you much in the snow. Turns out these boots were over a decade old and had finally reached the end of their lives. We did what we could with duct tape and carried on.

That evening we met up at the Lord Nelson Pub with Brian, a friend of my Danish cousin Jeanette. We are constantly amazed at how generous and hospitable people have been on this trip; after Jeanette told him that we were coming to Switzerland, he offered us a place to stay just outside Geneva, although he’d never met us before. Both Janak and I are inspired to keep our homes as open to travelers in the future. After a couple of beers and a coke for Janak, he took us back to his house just across the border into France. There we met his wife Corinne and daughter Chloe, and had reclette for dinner. This is a very Swiss meal where you melt cheese in little pans and then scrape it over potatoes, which is every bit as delicious as you’d expect.

Corinne is a physicist who has work at CERN, so the next morning they dropped us off there. We went to see the “Universe of Particles” and “Microcosm” exhibitions, which were quite good. We missed the last tour, which we learned only run in the morning, so unfortunately we didn’t get to see any of the equipment actually being used. We were talking to one of the employees there who offered to show us around after he got off work, which was incredibly nice of him, but we had to decline in order to be in time for our train to Zug.

Speaking of trains, the German and Swiss rail systems are amazing. The trains are frequent and on time, they go everywhere, and they’re just generally easy to use. We’ve really been spoiled for trains for the rest of the trip. Also, the scenery on the Swiss train rides was incredible, with the snow, forests, lakes, and steep mountains. This was overall the most beautiful country we’ve been in.

So we arrived in Zug in the evening and were picked up by Regula, a friend of Janak’s (he had previously met her once at Convocation, where he talked to her for a few minutes, and was offered a place to stay in Switzerland — another instance of this lovely hospitality we’ve been enjoying). Before she drove us to her place she insisted that Janak buy some boots, so his feet have been warm and dry ever since. That night we had some delicious fondue; the Swiss really have melted cheese down. After dinner we went to Lucerne to see a famous old wooden bridge from the 14th century.

The next day Regula showed us around everywhere. At first we had planned to go up the Rigi, a nearby mountain, but it was too cloudy for any view, so instead we drove around the lake and enjoyed the incredible scenery. We also went to Einsiedeln, where we walked through their Christmas market (these are everywhere!) to a famous abbey there. It’s apparently a major pilgrimage site, and was of course a very large and impressive building, with a particularly ornate painted ceiling. That night we went to Zurich, where I wandered through another Christmas market while Janak and Regula went to meditation. Then on our last morning in Switzerland, we had a leisurely brunch, caught up on some postcards, and then caught a train to Milano. On the way we passed through one of the longest tunnels in the world, although we slept through it. We were a little disappointed to have missed it, but then it’s not as though there’s much to see inside a tunnel.

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