Going Swiss*: Another lesson

* I’ve actually been home from Switzerland for a week, because, unfortunately, vacations are things you have to come back from. However, I had a few more thoughts about the trip, and am finally trying to turn them into words.

One last boat ride, this time in Luzern.

One last time to not just take in the glorious lake and Alps from a distance or inside a train car, or even walking around, but to be among them, surrounded by them.

Where we went was determined by the boat captain and his route. Our job was simply to sit and enjoy the next hour.

As jobs go, it’s a pretty easy one.

Back on land, time for dinner. It’s Saturday night, so Suzi and I figure all the restaurants are going to be full. Instead, we go back to a trick when the lunch options weren’t too exciting in Wengen.

Into the Migros we go. They and Coop were the Swiss equivalent of the Waitrose that solved so many of our problems when we were in London, so it would be hard to pay a higher compliment.

Suzi grabs a salad, while I go to the back and find a package of deli-sliced chicken, The bread choices are sparse that time of day, so I grab a croissant.

Suzi can’t find a fork, so she buys a box of 15 or so plastic forks. It’s only a few francs, but as we’re walking out, we see the dispensers of plastic silverware right inside the door. As my father might say, if they were alive, they would have jumped up and bitten us.

We laugh. C’est la vie, although since Luzern is in the German-speaking part of the country, So is das Leben.

We find a spot to sit at the dock, our legs hanging over the edge. Pulling a croissant apart to put chicken inside is kind of awkward, but I make it work.

Signs say not to toss food in the water, although the birds by our feet hope we take that rule as a suggestion. I don’t throw anything in the water on purpose, but croissants are crumbly. Things happen.

Next is gelato. Not that the entire vacation isn’t an indulgence — after all, it’s a vacation — but the nightly ice cream or gelato is a particular indulgence.

We walk down a side street of the type that earlier in the day literally had Suzi heading for the hills — oh the hills … oh the heat — not just for the views of the city from above, but to get away from the crowds in what she called the “Hot Topic” part of the city.

(We never actually see a Hot Topic.)

By this point, however, the streets are mostly abandoned. The gelato shop is named Cuckoo. It tastes good.

“Want to go down to the bridge one more time?”

That sounds like a wonderful idea. It’s only a few minutes for one last chance to look at the lake, one last chance to look at Chapel Bridge, one last chance to be on vacation.

Soon enough, we’re on a train back to Zurich, then a plane to Boston, then (eventually) a bus to meet my mother, who drives us home …

… and back to all we had left behind.

I had just complained about not seeing many bookstores, and not seeing any books in English, when we ducked down to the train station on the way back to our hotel because it was less hectic than crossing the street.

When we’ve traveled to England or Canada, I like to see if there are any books about the country that I’m interested in, so I can learn a little more, even after I get home. The English have many, many books about themselves. The Canadians, not so much.

Lo and behold, at the bottom of the escalator was a bookstore.

And it had an English-language section.

Where I found (OK, Suzi found) Diccon Bewes’ “Swiss Watching.” I’m rather enjoying it.

When Suzi’s former college roommate and her family — who we had a chance to have dinner with in Grindelwald — moved to Switzerland, we insisted the country had to be fake, because there’s no place with scenery that good.

Having been there, I can confirm … the scenery is ridiculously good.

Plus the trains are fast, always on time, clean and seemingly programmed to drop you off right where you need to be next, where your next train will be waiting for you.

This is definitely something I am not used to.

Plus there are the coincidences, like finding a bookstore with just the book you were looking for right after lamenting the lack of one.

Like people playing their alphorns on their lawn seemingly out of the blue.

Yet after being there for a week, I’m willing to concede that Switzerland might actually be real.

I won’t offer any Grand Unified Theory of Switzerland, lest I prove I don’t know what I’m talking about — that’s why I bought Bewes’ book — but if the country is a simulation, the engineers probably didn’t need to go so far as make it feel like a train from from German Zurich to French Lausanne felt like literally going to a different country.

They could have just made Kacey Musgraves’ “Golden Hour” come to life.

Three years ago, inspired by an essay about Switzerland, I mused that maybe the point of vacations was to seek something to look forward to every day.

Then, a few months ago, I wondered if the point was to really stop worrying so much.

But now I’m starting to wonder if it’s something else, or something in addition … that I should make sure to focus on our life, our home, my people.


I actually did a lot of writing about Switzerland while I was in the country. In case you didn’t see it because I posted at weird times — I struggled with timing due to the six-hour time difference back home — here it is.

It took a while, but we finally got to Switzerland, and the fun could begin.

On an evening like this, who needs plans?

While the would-be Masters of the Universe were away, everyone else played.

We went to the nation’s capital to see if there was any interest in my hometown. It appears there was not.

We went on an excursion without a plan, and I discovered the concept of American ethnic food.

Suzi and I spent our 20th wedding anniversary in Lausanne.

Oh … so this is why everyone talks about the Alps.

We walked around Wengen. The scenery was … OK, I guess.

Yes, people were actually playing alphorns on their lawn. There is video.


10 thoughts on “Going Swiss*: Another lesson

    1. The Food Explora in me lit up when you mentioned Gelato. Love a good Gelato ice-cream. Your pictures are stunning. I live in NYC, I must say the train system here needs alot of improvement; hopefully it may to to Europe’s train system standards. Never heard od Alphorns until I read your blog. Thanks for sharing the video and your travel adventure.

      Liked by 1 person

  1. The pictures are STUNNING! A few of my friends have been on beach vacations and none of those pics have made me crave traveling more than these pics! This is my type of vacation!! *Sigh


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