Good Times, Cheese & Swissbians*

* Please note that not all the lovely Swiss citizens I hung out with were lesbians, it’s just that swisstrosexuals doesn’t have the same ring to it.

I arrived in Bern after an epic journey (well epic if compared to getting the train from newtown to central…not epic compared to, say, the odyssey.) I caught two overnight trains in a row, mainly because I wanted to get to Switzerland quickly, but also I think just to see if I could. One sets oneself funny tasks when travelling alone. And one starts to refer to oneself as one so as to give the impression that everyone behaves exactly as one does. Yes.

So I caught first an overnight train to Vienna from Romania and had the good fortune to be sitting in a carriage with two large, suit-wearing Romanian men who saw fit to have lively debates all through the night and ate very smelly sandwiches in the morning. One of them was very well-endowed. I know this because he was sitting opposite me, with legs very wide apart so that said endowment was very much on display through aforementioned suit.

I spent a day in Vienna (see photo album: one day in vienna) and then had a very stressful time trying to find Stian who was in a hotel on the longest street in the world, a street I powerwalked up and down searching for the hotel. When I found it I was informed that were three hotels with this name and that my friends were not in this one. By this point I needed to go catch my train.

I was not pleased to discover that this time I was accompanied by two laptop endowed young men who also chatted, despite having aforementioned laptops to entertain them. I had also been seated in a carriage with people who were not, unlike me, going all the way to Zurich. This meant that every few hours I had to return my seat to the upright position and shuffle around so they could get off the train and be replaced by other people also only going short distances so not requiring peace and quiet.

You can imagine my joy when I arrived (unshowered for quite some time now) at Susan’s charming flat in Bern, to be greeted by offers of laundry facilities (one adores laundry facilities) and tea. I love staying with lesbians; they always have such a wide variety of herbal teas.

That day I went to the Einstein museum and fell asleep during the little film. I may need to write a Note entitled Stupid Things I have Done when Ridiculously Tired.

But when I met up with Susan and Amanda after my ill-fated sight seeing in Bern (I was also very distressed by a caged bear) they were lovely and took me for nice coffee and then there was the supermarket which I always enjoy and a nice dinner with them and Susan’s remarkably well-behaved son, Noam, who I later sang songs to before he went to bed. He liked the songs but was a little annoyed that they weren’t in German.

And so began my preference for just hanging out with Swiss people rather than seeing their rather famous sites.

Oh, I tried, I really did but I kept getting set back. Fog on the mountains, rain in the valley, missed trains and later on the beginnings of a cold which led to the entire photo album of flowers in Montreux – I was a little delirious. Not to mention the fact that they turn off Geneva’s world-famous fountain at night. Well I think they do because after a fulfilling day of museumage and a UN tour, I bought a felafel and strolled down to get my token photo and it was nowhere to be found. I looked for some time and felt like I may be crazy as I had seen it from a distance earlier in the day…

CheeseBut enough complaining, I did see some very pretty stuff. The day I went to Gruyere with Cosette was wonderful. Perfect weather, charming old town with the same name as the EXCELLENT cheese it produces and a HILARIOUS audio guide in the Gruyere Museum (which gave you 3 pieces of cheese as a ticket! Anna – I think it is the museum for you!!! Well actually it is the country for you but this is a blog not an email so I will tell you about it later.) There was a quaint restaurant with flowers on the balcony, where we had a large fondue followed by ridiculously over-the-top sundae*… Birds were singing and the sky was blue, children were laughing, people were getting married and even that couldn’t kill my mood. And then my camera ran out of battery before I could make a record of it all. VERY UPSETTING.

* I don’t know why neither Cosette nor I remembered that you should NEVER eat ice cream after fondue. Eating cold things straightaway can harden the cheese in your stomach into a ‘cheese ball’ that you can’t digest. Now, we weren’t whisked to hospital for cheese ball removal but we did feel mighty ill for quite some time after. Worth it though I think.

Where was I? Ah yes, providing no information about Switzerland for my eagre readers, just nattering on about nice people you don’t know. It is just that I am getting to the point in my trip where I may just have seen enough churches, old cities, castles and museums about WWII.

And so it was that the highlights in Switzerland included exquisite homemade fondue, long chats, silly dancing and music tips with Susan and Amanda, hot chocolate with Cosette and Charlotte when the other young things were partying and drinking beer, and also dinner on my last night when both Charlotte and I were sick and so I made soup.

And I read a lot. And was entertained by getting trains between French and German sections of the country and hearing them change the order of announcements from French then German to German then French.

The moral of the story is that Switzerland is fabulous, its people are charmng and one day I must go back…when it is not Autumn. Pretty much any season but Autumn would do the trick.

Love Maeve

p.s. random fact: Apparently all Swiss residences have to have a bunker in case of attack.

p.p.s. random fact 2: They have some crazy political system with 7 rotating presidents who do a year each or something. It was very hard for me to understand.

p.p.p.s. Bern, Switzerland’s capital only has like 120,000 people. Wonderfully small! And lots of them ride bikes. And the public transport is STILL better than Sydney’s.