We had a day scheduled with Aunt C. (mom’s oldest sister) and Uncle P. Aunty R. picked us up and she spent the day with us on our travels. Truth be told, I had no idea where we were going. None whatsoever. But our day was in Aunt C.’s hands and that was good enough for me.
We drove through a thick fog to Aunt C. and Uncle P.’s apartment building where we transferred to their car. They live next to a lake – Sempachersee. Though we couldn’t see it through the fog. We headed back through Luzern and kept driving south. And driving. And driving. Since I had no idea where we were going, I didn’t know how long it was going to take. We were in the car for a couple of hours before we stopped for some pictures. And what a stop! It was the end of the morning and look at how calm the water was.
Look at that gorgeous reflection!
We found out we were heading southwest to the town of Gstaad. I had never been to Gstaad! This was a new adventure for both Sweetie and me. Gstaad is in the canton of Berne (the city of Berne is the capital of Switzerland). Quite a lovely little town. Of course, I think I am understating it a bit since I have read that “Gstaad is known for its extremely luxurious hotels and shopping, high-society nightlife, fine dining, excellent service, and international stars. It is also one of the largest ski areas in the Alps.” Pretty nice, huh?
We ate lunch at a restaurant at a hotel in Gstaad that had been recommended to my aunt and uncle. I can’t remember the name but that is probably ok since I wouldn’t recommend it. The food was ok, and the service was less than stellar. Of course, my family was completely appalled by the service. My uncle didn’t get his salad. The waiter and waitresses never paid attention to us. A couple of other things happened. And then, when they left the bill, they put it down in the middle of the table instead of handing it to my uncle. Both aunts were ready to take up arms. Keep in mind, my mom and aunts had been raised while working with my grandparents in their hotel and restaurant. That was the family business. Customer service was the work they had been apprenticed to rather than going to a university in Switzerland. They had all spent time waiting lots of tables (except maybe Aunt C. who was excused from waitressing due to extreme klutziness). Being “in the biz,” they have pretty high standards for service. But even I could tell our service was sub-par. So much for high-class expensive ritzy towns. We shook if off and walked up and down the boulevard:
And that was about it. We got back in the car and headed west, then north.
Uncle P. told us we were going to Gruyere. Yes, Gruyere like the cheese. Did you know there is an actual place/town called Gruyere?? I don’t think I could have told you that. But there it was! Tiny little village. There is a huge parking lot at the bottom of the hill. Most people can’t drive around the tiny little village. We parked our car beside the fields of cows and walked up the path to the village.
Here is some information on the village. For more, check out:
We walked into town and promptly stopped at a hotel to have some drinks (remember what I said about the Swiss and food). There were many restaurants serving raclette with Gruyere cheese. We could smell the cheese as we walked by the shops. Heavenly! Cheese everywhere.
OK, here is something else I did not know. Did you know there is an H.R. Giger museum in Gruyere? He’s the guy who won an Oscar for his design/art/visual effects for Alien. You can see more about it here: http://www.la-gruyere.ch/en/navpage-ExcursionsFR-MuseumsFR-120106.html. We didn’t have time to go through the museum or sit in the bar. But Sweetie and I did run into the bar to take a couple of pictures. I’m sure they must be used to people doing that.
Finally, we ran up to the castle to snap a couple of pictures and then hightailed it back down the village and down the hill to the car.
Aunt C. had planned to prepare dinner for us and we needed to get back to the apartment. All told, we were probably in the car for about six hours and out of the car about an hour and a half. The scenery, of course, was gorgeous all along the way.
We shared dinner together and the happiest moments of my day were spending a couple of hours with my cousin who I had not seen since 1989. It’s been a long time and he was living in Mongolia last time I visited the family. He was back in Switzerland to work and save up money so he could go back and live a few more years in Mongolia. He now speaks fluent English since he teaches it in Mongolia. Some members of the family consider him an odd duck – what with living a simple life and preferring Mongolia to Switzerland. He was always a nature-lover as a kid, which made us quite compatible running around my grandmother’s house:
What’s that! Ants devouring a bee on the sidewalk? Neato! Let’s watch it together! I’ll take pictures! (I still have that picture somewhere)
All the things the rest of the family may not approve of are just things that somewhat endear him to me – his lack of drive to make a lot of money, his love of the simple life in Mongolia, his disinterest in visiting America, his reluctance to join the military (which doesn’t matter – it’s compulsory in Switzerland and hard to get out of). He’s a bit of an old soul in a young body, I think. We talked about Mongolia and Maui and Sweetie’s work and my work and the Dalai Lama. We only had a short amount of time to catch up with each other, but I was very happy for the time we had. Who knows when I may see him again.
And that was the end of a very long day.