Leaving Frankfurt Germany for Thun Switzerland
After breakfast at The Ibis, Frankfurt, we are finally on the ICE train (Inter City Express ).
There is a certain slight anxiety in a little cloud descending on us, as we anticipate the approach of the – TICKET INSPECTOR.
For reasons unknown to us, except for the fact of travelling with all its little stresses and minor glitches and how we keep overlooking important ticketing information, we were very remiss about signing each ticket required for the journey or getting them stamped. Our thoughts were on our next destination and surely a little forgetfulness would not be taken seriously?
On this leg, we were satisfied. The tickets had been duly and officially stamped as per requirements.
The German FARQUEKARTEN i.e “ Ticket Inspector “ materialized in front of us. He looked like a version of Colonel Klink from Hogans’ Heroes, resplendent in his uniform – or was he more reminiscent of perhaps Lt. Gruber from the tv series “ Allo Allo “.? No matter who he reminded us of, he was taking an awfully long time peering at zee tickets!
“ Where is zee date for travel?
Our heads came slowly up with blank looks plastered on our faces.
“I am looking but I am not seeing – ZEE DATE! “
More blank looks. Accompanied by a feeling of impending doom.
“ What day is eet ?
Us – in unison : “ er..November 3……..Sir?
That rather large hole threatening to open up underneath zee seat ( I mean the seat ) and swallow us whole was now imminently close.
“ YOU MUST FILL IN ZEE DATE BEFORE YOU TRAVEL, EVEN 2 MINUTES BEFORE, ITS YOUR CHOICE!”
Cowering now, with him towering over us, we fumble for a pen – and duly and shakily – FILL IN ZEE DATE.
“ ZEE PEN WORKS!” he says as we continue to fumble in bags and pockets for that all important item with which signing of anything is impossible without. Glasses!
“ AHH. IT IS THE EYES DONT WORK!” He smiles.
We are suitably chastened. “ Thank you….Sir?”
We are heading to Switzerland.
“ High on the hill is a lonely goatherd – yodel-ay, yodel-ay, yodel-hoo”. So many songs there are, to help tell tales or remember moments. They just appear so that looking back on these trips later, the mind can recall and conjure up the images simply from the lyrics of songs.
Seen from a train, Swiss villages crammed onto hillsides. Rows of corn, vines and endless canola fields, sweeping their bright yellow carpet across the miles. Through Manheim and Berne until we change trains for the lakeside village of Thun.
The grassy slopes turn to snow covered peaks of glistening white as our train turns in a wide loop towards Thun. It now feels like Switzerland.
Why did we choose Thun? The location, a lake, medieval castles, a true taste of this part of the world and access to trains of course. Trains through the Alps.
Once again, assistant Lieutenant Gruber came marching along the aisle, checking the “ Farqukartens “. We froze in our seats, sitting stiffly upright as he checked and re-checked our tickets, sternly concentrating as he flipped them over back to front. You could cut the air with a Swiss army knife! After interminable seconds of utter silence, “ That’s ok “ and we breathed again.
Top of our list of discrepancies in train travel is NOT REMEMBERING TO FILL IN DATES AND GETTING TICKETS STAMPED.
A derelict, dirty, stinking of body odour and booze, got on at Berne and did a walk through of the carriage, picking up odd items left behind by other passengers. We informed the Ticket Inspector, that Ticket Inspector, of this observation, who informed us this was a common activity, waved us goodbye with a smile and “ have a good day “.
We arrived in Thun. Despite banks of ice and snow piled up alongside the roadways, the weather was surprisingly mild, not like the cold of London.
Greg went off, disappeared for what seemed like hours, looking for a map of the area, leaving me sitting on the suitcases, in a little Swiss train station, travellers all around, wondering where we were and how far from home this really was.
There was quite a long walk to our hotel named appropriately Hotel Holiday. There were views of misty mountains, snow on the tips, a light blinking on one of the peaks and with the sun already setting, it was quite magical and unreal.
A slight hitch in our accommodation. Two single beds. No view. For the same price we managed to change the room for a bigger one overlooking the Lake Thun complete with bobbing boats, ducks and swans.
We had dinner in the restaurant of Hotel Holiday. No English tourists come here we were told. The menu was in Swiss, looked like German. We recognised FISCHE, RISOTTO and BOLOGNESE MIT APFELMUS. Apfelmus? What is Apfelmus I asked.?
It is mashed apple or apple sauce. The spaghetti is not spaghetti but macaroni. To this day I always remember to add apple sauce to spaghetti. It adds a special piquant flavour and feels very international!
Dessert. Came presented in a glass parfait dish. A Swiss mountain of whipped cream and melon sauce drowning a strange, gluggy sweet spaghetti which tasted of apples hiding a bright yellow glob of ice-cream at its centre. Meringue pieces were scattered throughout, the whole delightful concoction topped with a wafer triangle.
I believe apples were in season when we visited! Either that or there was a heavily laden fruit tree out back just dripping apple sauce!
Thankfully we shared the dessert. It was fortunate that this journey required much walking!
Heisses wasser = hot water. See. I was now speaking Swiss.
Breakfast in a Swiss village – Bread rolls, lots of bread rolls, jams, juices, tea and coffee, cereals, yoghurt and cold meats. All washed down with beer, yes, beer – at 9 am in the morning. Oh well, while in Switzerland …… also available – what was described as a “ warmer “ = SchogoKuchen mit Cassis sorbet. Hard to find that in Melbourne!
Standing at the intersection of Berne, Interlaken and Luzern crossroads while out exploring, we gazed at a medieval fortress still with part of its retaining wall, imagining we had taken a step back in time or were part of a movie set. Tiny cobbled lanes led away into hillsides or right up to the backs of properties. There was a tiny gate set into a stone wall, small enough for only a child –or a very small person – to access. Only the sight of shops along the streets brought us back to the present. Aldi Suisse, jewellers, an Apothecary, Swiss clocks and Lindt of Switzerland. No tourists this time of year, just a couple of Aussies on a grand tour of their own creation.
In Europe, two single beds together make for a double. With a serene lake view, spacious room, balcony overlooking the lake, pink and girlie bathroom, this little town was a breathtaking, relaxing interlude in our long train filled journeys.
We were about to head to Italy. Once more safely on our train, the beautiful scenery gave us a long lasting impression of all things Swiss. Hills and valleys rising out of the mist, soaring mountains, tiny houses dotted amongst the steep inclines, church steeples and clocks, jet trails high in the sky, the sun breaking through finally.
A different Ticket Inspector this time. A cheerful, bright Mrs. Santa Claus. Clicking our tickets, duly signed by yours truly beforehand.
Me : “ Why has it gone dark?”
Greg : “ See those mountains? Can’t go over them. Have to go through them “.
Wish he hadn’t told me that. It was bedtime in Australia and we were speeding through tunnels bored into mountains onto a rendezvous with Italy.