July 17-22, 2018, Switzerland

I thought I had a great new way to get to Europe — using Condor, a relative of Lufthansa — but after chaos at the ticket counter followed by chaos in the boarding area in Phoenix, I’m not so sure. The flight was OK — freezing, of course. Dinner, served about 10 p.m., was noodles and tomato sauce, perfect for a vegetarian. I had to ask several times to be sure it was meatless.

Wine used to be offered for free on international flights. Not on Condor. By the way, the 6 kg limit on hand luggage is strictly enforced. I struggled to take some of my glass pieces, ordered by Jacqueline in France, out of my hand luggage and find spot for it in my over-filled suitcase. I tried to “pack light” –or at least, pack small — thinking about all the staircases in train stations and about the overhead racks in trains. Although I have a 21-inch suitcase, it’s still not very manageable. I got a new Samsonite bag, blue, with four wheels. When I arrived in Zurich (via Frankfurt — direct non-stop from Phoenix), I found that every traveler who didn’t have a black bag had a blue one…. On the train, my four-wheel bag took off by itself. No brakes. I learned to block it in with my heavy hand-luggage piece. Plus I have my laptop.

I arrived late in Zurich, about 8 p.m., because of bad weather around Frankfurt. Got to my friend, Kaisu’s, about 9:30. She lives in Wädenswil, on the south shore of the Zurich Lake, in a house overlooking the lake. It was great to catch up with her after three years.

Out the guest room window at my friend's, Wädenswil

Out the guest room window at my friend’s, Wädenswil

Wednesday, July 18, we hung out in Wädenswil. Early in the morning I went with Kaisu to walk her dog, Haki.  I had to send some things to Gertrud, whom I’ll meet one of these days in Germany. Exceptionally, she left some things at home that she needed. She was a little miffed at me that I didn’t go on the same day and flight as she — she left a day earlier and took Condor from Phoenix to Seattle to Frankfurt, with a 3+hour layover in Seattle. I looked at that and booked the direct flight on the next day.

Thursday, July 19, Kaisu and I rode with her husband, Urs, in his Tesla to Bad Ragaz. The resort town is having a triennial sculpture fest.

Urs went on to play golf elsewhere, we took the train back to Wädenswil after traipsing all over Bad Ragaz. The weather so far is almost the same as Tucson — hot, hot, hot. We had lunch under the trees in the garden of a restaurant, followed by dessert at the cafeteria at the thermal bath.

Friday, July 20, after Haki’s morning walk, Kaisu took me to Einsiedeln to see the ornate, well-restored church. It’s full of gold leaf and wonderful painted murals on the walls and ceiling — it’s really quite impressive. Several priests were celebrating a mass when we arrived. We sat in the back, impressed by the acoustics and looking at the Black Madonna in its/her new dress. After a rösti lunch (rösti is sort of like hash brown potatoes, in this case cooked and served in a cast-iron skillet and topped with sliced tomatoes and cheese) we took a walk around town, then headed home. It could be Tucson from the heat.

Saturday, July 21, I hustled to the train station with Kaisu. I wrestled my luggage onto the train and set off for Bern, via the Zurich main train station. Once in Bern, I couldn’t find the end point for Tram 3, which I needed to get to the hotel. I finally just walked, with the help of my iPhone’s GPS. I set out on “auto pilot”, since I had lived in the area of the hotel for 6 years, but then I wasn’t sure if I was remembering correctly. Once there, I checked in, although the room wasn’t ready yet, and left my luggage. I headed to the Loeb-Ecke to meet Max, a former colleague from my days at the Embassy of Switzerland in Washington, D.C. We had lunch followed by coffee on the second floor of a nearby, quieter restaurant. At 4 I had to go back to the hotel to get ready for dinner at 6 with Gabi, a former colleague in Bern, and her husband. We had a great Indian dinner — complete with Cobra beer. It came in an interesting bottle, which — of course — I latched onto. We’ll see how it melts in the kiln.

Sunday, July 22, got off to a slow start. I had breakfast at the hotel, checked out and got the tram to the train station. The train to Basel went fine.

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