Published: September 20th 2008August 12th 2008
James and Kevin
Taking in the view from an old fortress. Probably talking about toast.
How I loved Switzerland!
Free bike hire around Zurich (genius idea), Kevin and the lovely Gianom family (James's old high-school mate), and Germany only a short drive away if you felt like dropping in for an evening (we did). How could you go wrong? In fact Switzerland, on the whole, was probably the country I enjoyed the most during the Gee Boys Eurotrip 2008.
A bit of information for those of you playing at home: The Swiss have four different national languages based on which corner of the country you happen to be standing in. The people around you might be speaking French, Italian, German, or if you desperately need directions in hurry, probably Romansh. Apparently less than one percent of the Swiss population speak this peculiar 'vulgar latin' based dialect (whatever that means), although I'm pretty sure I came across it more than my chances suggest. Lucky me.
We hung around the North-East area and so we were in the German speaking section. And after the good laughs we had trying to speak Italian, we decided it'd be an insult to the locals if we didn't give German a go. Now, German is an interesting language... for
Fresh into Switzerland, early morning, checking out Lake Zurich. Probably contemplating a swim.
those of you who have never been surrounded by the sound of it before, let me describe it for you. It sounded rather like a group of people maintaining conversation whilst trying to dislodge something from the back of their throat. And I mean that in a good way, we loved the sound of it. Trying to get our Australian tongues around some of those sounds was good for many a laugh, and boy, did we have some laughs. Or as Kevin's Dad might have put it: Wenn Fliegen hinter Fliegen fliegen, fliegen Fliegen Fliegen noch.
If you're wondering, all those fliegens actually make a legitimate sentence. As if the German tongue wasn't twisted enough already.
Back to the guttural sound of the language for a second. I forgot to mention a particularly unique experience I had - you'll never believe it. I was browsing around a little shop (pictured below) and I suddenly had a nasty coughing/dislodging fit which lasted several seconds. The man behind the desk nodded enthusiastically and replied in excited English: "Well said young man! Your German is very good, and you're right - how will politics ever be the same again?! A man
like you will always eat free in my Nudelbox shop!" Imagine my surprise. I just smiled, put my Nudelbox under my arm, and was on my merry way...
... well obviously that never happened, but if anyone out there can tell me what a Nudelbox is, I'd be very grateful.
Anyway, we were lucky enough to arrive in Switzerland on a day where you could even jump into Lake Zurich if you were slightly crazy and we certainly were. In fairness, we jumped straight out again, but ah, how refreshing the lakes were to our weary bones. We also tested the waters a few times in Lake Constance, but weren't game enough this time to swim across to Germany (although apparently it's not a rare feat among the locals). Coming from Australia, we couldn't really comprehend the idea of swimming to another country. (Nothing to do with the distance... it's just who'd want to go to New Zealand?)
Staying with Kevin and his family was a wonderful experience too, I couldn't figure out if they were treating us like kings because we were special guests, or whether they always dined in that fashion, but needless to say
I loved every mouthful. And what a house they live in! Perched high on a hill with breathtaking views over the lake and Germany, it was no wonder we didn't want to leave. We spent a fantastic couple of days with the family, and woke up to luscious fruit filled breakfasts every morning (all fruit was home-grown in the back garden) and in the evening, delicious dinners with charming cheeses and magnificent mains. It was such a welcome relief after living off bread and jam for the previous days.
Kevin's Mum was delightful too, what a hostess! She took it upon herself to show us everything her town had to offer, and drove us to all the fortresses, castles, villages and views. She even took us over to Germany and treated us to some German beer in a lovely German bar by the water. (There sure were a lot of lakes and rivers in this area.) What a treat! We left Switzerland early the next morning as the first rain of our trip began to fall, and it seemed to reflect our dampened spirits with the thought of leaving behind such a lovely family and a beautiful area.
End of the Road
If you're wondering where he is, the sign says 'Landwiese'. Hope that helps.
As we waved farewell to the Gianom family from the back window of our bus, we shared our thoughts about our visit to Switzerland. We agreed that it's an astonishingly clean and efficient place, definitely beautiful and home to some of the nicest looking girls we'd come across so far. Plus we had the most amazing weather and bluest skies, it really couldn't have been better.
I read somewhere that 'Switzerland is wasted on the Swiss' but I think that's one of the stupidest things I've ever read. The people we came across were just as wonderful as the country itself, and seemed to enjoy and love their country even more than we did. And although I've heard it is quite an expensive place to experience if you have to buy everything for yourself (unlucky for you), I think a visit is still worth the money. If you ever find yourself in this part of the world, you'd be mad not to include Switzerland on your agenda, and most certainly Zurich. And it probably wouldn't hurt to learn some Romansh just in case.
After the bus trip, we were only two train trips, another bus, and one short
The Mighty Rhine
Another lovely view from a hilltop in Steckborn.
flight away from our next destination, one which we were looking forward to with wide-eyes and open minds. We were definitely going to need the open minds, and when we saw the silver haze greeting us above Old Amsterdam, we realized the wide eyes were never going to last either...
There are more photos below