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Travels with Georgia and zig
Overseas Trips

Episode 4—Saturday evening 5/15/10: Zurich, Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria 2010

Bam; Bam; Bam! “Sind sie Herr Zeigler?” Bam! Bam! Bam! “Sind sie Herr Zeigler?!?” Oh great! I’m busted. I tried to tell Georgia that it was just wrong to to smuggle apfel strudel across canton lines for immoral purposes but she wouldn’t listen. “No one will notice,” she said. “People do it ALL the time!” she said. I told her eating the Swiss chocolate was going to lead to the hard stuff— Oh my GOSH! What if the authorities call our kids and they have to come bail us out of some strudel tank? Oh the SHAME. Oh durn, we are so busted. She’s looking in the window—nowhere to hide. Oh those Swiss undercover police look just like sweet little old gray-haired hausfraus, but I’M not fooled. Maybe we can deny that we are “Zeiglers.” That’s it. “Zeiglers?” “Zeiglers?” “I knew a Zimmerman once.” “Really great poet.” “Knew a Zickenfoose too.” “I went to ‘Apfel Hills High School’ with her in——I mean ‘OAK Hills High School” in Cinnamoncinati –I MEAN CINcinnati.” “Apfel’s?” “I don’t smell Apfels. Do you smell Apfels?” “I’m sure any Apfels you might smell would be local apfels. . .”

We needed to get our story straight but Georgia had already bolted up the stairs to open the front door. I couldn’t believe it! And now I could hear them talking. I decided to go up and face the music. What? She was the next-door neighbor? What? She’d gotten a call from someone named “Yvonne” who wanted us to call her back about tomorrow. What? No, we didn’t know how to use the phone. What? Come over next door and you’ll dial the phone for us? What? What kind of place are we visiting?

Did I ever tell you my definition of “civilization?” It’s a communal way of life where complete strangers are not only NOT a threat to you, but actually go out of their way to help you. And by my definition, Zurich is a very civilized city. So far, I would rather be a stranger in Zurich than in any other city I’ve ever visited. I struggled to tell the neighbor how very grateful we were. She acted as if she couldn’t understand why I was making such a big deal out of such a little thing. There wasn’t anything unusual about getting a phone call from someone she didn’t know asking her to go next door through the drizzle to deliver a message to someone else she doesn’t know. What’s strange about that?

Yvonne, it seems, had been frantic—even going so far as making an overseas call to my studio in Lexington Kentucky to try to get a message to us! She couldn’t reach our landlady either (who was out of town for a couple of days) so she’d started looking through the Zurich telephone book for another house on the same street!! Our good Samaritan lived right next door. Amazing. No, not amazing, civilized.

Sunday 5/16/10: Neuhausen, Schaffhausen, Beringen, and the Falls of the Rhine

Ten o’clock on the dot Yvonne was out front on the little parking pad. We were going to meet Dejan, Melina, and Lorena in Neuhausen at a little “train station” where we were going to catch a kiddie train down the hillside to the edge of the Rhine Falls—we were going to see the falls, up close and personal, riding a tour boat out to a 70-80 foot pedestal right in the middle of the cataract, then we were going to disembark on the other side of the river below a castle built in 1456 and climb up a nature trail along the cliff then back down in a 2k circuit to the river’s edge to have lunch at a very swanky restaurant with a perfect view of everything—then we were going to have a walking tour of Schaffhausen, their county seat, then have supper at their house in Beringen—was there anything else we’d like to do? –I couldn’t think of a thing. In the immortal words of Meg Ryan in “Joe vs. the Volcano,” “My mind is a blank.”

dejanundlorena yvonneundlorena yvonneundmelina melina  

And it all did happen just as she said. The train ride was fun; six or seven little cars pulled by a diesel tractor dressed up like a locomotive—complete with bell. Melina is all grown up now at 5 or 6 and sparkling; Lorena was absolutely fascinated at the strange sounds coming out of our mouths. Dejan’s Yvonne’s English is now excellent. I am so jealous when someone can switch so easily from one language to another.

The boat ride was fun, and not too wet. The pedestal in the center of the falls is a natural wonder protected with some underwater concrete baffles to keep it from being knocked over. There is a lot of water going by and Dejan said that the current flow is only “average.” The falls are about 60 feet tall but more than 400 feet wide. It’s the largest (but not the tallest) waterfall in Switzerland.

The castle was built here because the falls formed a natural barrier for all river traffic. You would have to disembark and port any cargo. The castle meant you were going to have to pay tribute. The town of Neuhausen grew up like an inland seaport—much like Louisville on the falls of the Ohio. Brown-water sailors get thirsty and lonely too.

From the castle we walked across the Rhine on a railroad trestle. Wouldn’t you know it? Just as we reached the center a train came barreling over the river. EEEEEWWWhooooooshhhhe! What a blast! Yvonne said she missed the great clattering trains she knew as a child. There’s nostalgia everywhere. We sauntered along the path on the other side chatting and letting the fast walkers play through. Melina let me carry her on my shoulders. Lorena was, of course, completely smitten by Georgia.

But the lunch. The restaurant was called Schlossli Worth, and it was right on the river with a perfect view of the falls and our table was right at the window where we could see the boats ferrying people back and forth. Really people. I have eaten lunch in many nice places—in many nice cities, in many nice countries, but I have never had a meal to equal this one. I’m not kidding. This was the best restaurant meal I’ve ever had. Yvonne and Dejan’s know the managers and said they always use this restaurant for their special meals. One of the special things was that when the children get antsy there is a supervised playroom for them upstairs.

We had a salad of mixed vegetables and mozzarella cheese with tomato salsa and thin crispy focaccia. The main course was “Rindsfilet” (beef) cooked to perfection and served with Spatzel and asparagus. There was both green and white asparagus. Oh my goodness. I loved it SO much they brought me another plate of the white! The dessert was a banana parfait with fresh exotic fruit. There was the wine with the meal of course, with coffee and liquour afterwards. I had to have Limoncello. Mmmmm. I didn’t see the bill, but I know it was a lot. But whatever it was I have to say that it was worth it.

We rode the kiddie train back to the parking lot where the cars were located then spent the afternoon in Schaffhausen where Yvonne grew up. I waddled around the town and up and down the mountains. Everywhere I looked was another perfect post-card shot. Is it any wonder that we came home with 2000 photos? The castle at the top of the mountain was surrounded by a small vineyard and we bought a bottle of the local wine and dodged rain showers. Back at their apartment Dejan prepared a salad and a cheese and tomato fondue for supper. Haven’t had a fondue since 1973! It was delicious served over boiled potatoes and the bread we dipped was crusty and amazing!

yudview yudhouse

It is very expensive to live in Switzerland. We told them that our house is not near as nice and modern as theirs but it is larger and we have about ¼ acre. They have a garden plot with the other people in the community but I know they’d like to have their own yard. They could buy our house 2 or 3 times. Switzerland is a small country and land is really precious. I can’t imagine them polluting any of their available real estate. Sometimes I think we may be a little spoiled with the idea that if we mess up this piece of land we can just move somewhere else.

We brought the children some little stuffed horses (what else?) from Keeneland. They enjoyed them and Yvonne has told us that Melina won’t go to sleep without her little “Lisa.” They’ve had evenings of turning the living room upside down looking for it! Dejan and Yvonne are strict with the children but they are loving and secure and well-adjusted. I’m very impressed with them all, and very thankful that a moment’s kindness on a Greek Island’s footpath started what promises to be a life-long friendship. I can’t wait for them to come to Lexington so we can show them around!

We took the train back to Zurich and it took less than half the time it took to drive. That’s the way to do mass transit!

Impressions of Zurich: As I said, it’s now my favorite city to be a “stranger” in. There is a lot of graffiti along the train tracks but the city is much cleaner than Rome or Milan. It really doesn’t feel like a big city. It has a population of about 1 million I think. The entire country only has 6 millions—not that many more than the state of Kentucky. The people are reserved, but friendly and “good.” I can feel how this is my heritage through the Koenigs. The roads and cities are laid out with intelligence but less passion than Italy. But that means there is also less chaos. The young always welcome novelty but not us old farts. We begin to value stability above all and distrust novelty—change is just as likely to be bad as be good.

The tram system (with the trains and buses) has two purposes—to move large numbers of people smoothly and without fuss, and also reduce the number of automobiles on the streets. At least half the street surface is taken up with tram tracks. The traffic signs are unintelligible with some black signs having 3 white dots in various configurations. Who knows what that means.

(to be continued)

Episode 3—Saturday 5/15/10: Einsiedln and Zurich, Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria 2010


The little town of Einsiedln grew up around the monastery. The monastery grew up around the hermitage of a holy monk in the ninth century. Robbers believed that St Meinrad had amassed a treasure from the many pilgrims who came to see him at his remote cabin 20 miles or so south of Zurich. On January 21, 861, they murdered him and would have gotten away but for two ravens, evidently friends of St. Meinrad, who followed them squawking and scolding to such an extent that the local peasants had to investigate.

In 940 other monks converted Meinrad’s hermitage into a small chapel and installed the beautiful statue of the Madonna and child that the saint had venerated. The Black Madonna is now coal black—perhaps from 12 or 13 centuries of candle smoke. A replica is also found at the daughter monastery of St Meinrad in southern Indiana. That’s also Benedictine and a seminary where most of the teachers who lead our diaconal formation came from. Both monasteries are lovely peaceful places.

The drizzle had turned into a cold rain. I sure wished that we’d had an umbrella but our cellophane ponchos were doing an adequate job, and it was really too cold to be outside for long. Inside the basilica we saw a little gate off to the left “for worshippers only” and went through just in time for Mass. We sat halfway down on the left-hand side behind a group of 15 or 20 Italian nuns, who, like us were never quite sure when to stand, kneel, or sit. There is obviously a good bit of variation between dioceses and sees. Einsiedln has more than 200,000 pilgrims a year.

There was a 30-something priest presiding with a deacon and acolyte who were about the same age. We picked up one of the missals and the page numbers were projected on the wall behind them. Contra Rodin, the church itself was sort of a “Gates of Heaven” with a riot of cherubs and exuberant saints praising God. And all of it covered with gold! The choir stalls were filled with monks and the plainchant brought tears to my eyes for its beauty and simplicity. We sang along. What a joy to have a part in that heavenly song in that heavenly space.

After mass we visited the gift shop where there was lovely glass fused using frit. Holes had been drilled for the hangers before the fusing so that they were nice and smooth. One especially lovely cross had a tree superimposed on it. It could have had red apples symbolizing the wounds of Christ. I think I’ll try to design one.


We really wanted to walk through the mountain meadows whistling “The Hills are Alive . . .” toward the wooded peaks but it was just too cold and rainy. While Georgia waited in the abbey church I made a quick circuit around the grounds. Since the middle ages Einsiedln has bred its own horses. There were 25 or 30 “stabled” in a paved courtyard behind the monastery. Some were lovely draft animals and others were for riding, I’m sure. Through the arched gateway I could see a lumber mill. There were enormous quantities of rough-cut lumber and a wide gravel path leading up the mountain. I followed it for 100 yards or so and saw a life-sized stations-of-the-cross. I was so sad that the weather was bad; but that gives us an excuse to come back again. On my left and behind the sawmill I could see a mountain meadow rising up at a 45 degree angle disappearing into the clouds. The grass was a glorious spring green—lush with all the moisture. I bet the horses love to be released into that pasture.

I sat with Georgia for a while in front of the Black Madonna. Mary and the infant king were dressed in amazingly decorated vestments based on the liturgical colors. They were all in white when we saw them with real pearls sewed into the fabric and the cloth finished with gold thread. There were school field-trips touring the abbey and we fell in line with one of them. The brother leading the group carried the class “behind the scenes” to the monk’s confessional. Beautifully carved rich wooden stalls. We pretended we knew what we were doing. I’ve found that it’s sometimes easier to get forgiveness than permission. The brother asked (in German) what we were doing back there. I told him honestly that I didn’t speak German and I’m happy to say that he didn’t speak English. I don’t think I wanted to hear what he wanted to say! As it was, he just looked exasperated and muttered something that probably reflected on the apparent intelligence of tourists.

It was now 1:30 and our stomachs gave us to understand that we’d not yet had anything to eat. There seemed to be a lot of restaurants but one in particular caught our eye because it seemed to be removed from the others—right at the base of one of those mountain horse pastures. We went in and the waitress greeted us with a statement. I had no idea what she said and assumed that she was just welcoming us so I asked where we should sit. She said the same phrase again, motioning toward the kitchen, which we could see behind the counter. The chef was watching us with interest. I couldn’t believe they wanted us to sit in the kitchen, so I motioned toward one of the tables and shrugged. The waitress had that same look the brother had. She had a hurried conversation with the chef and now he had that same look as well. Our German may be deficient but we were getting quite fluent in “exasperating the locals.” That’s something, I suppose. In desperation she appealed to another party in the dining room. She asked if anyone spoke English. One nice man stood up and in a British accent said to me “She’s trying to tell you that the kitchen is closed.”

Oh, I thought. I can see why that could be a problem. Then the man asked the waitress a question in German. I understood the word “suppe,” “soup.” The waitress nodded. “They could fix you some soup and bread, if you like.” Definitely, we like! “Oh yes,” I told him, “We’d like that.” She smiled broadly and motioned for us to sit down under a lovely woodcut telling us “Gegen alle krank und pest is der rote wein das best.” Agreeing completely that “the best way to deal with all illness and pestilence is with a glass of red wine,” we ordered a carafe.


And just to be on the safe side we also ordered a carafe of white wine. A plate of crusty German peasant bread also arrived. We sat and looked through the lace curtains at the rain and waited for our “suppe.” It was a chicken broth with rice, and with the bread it made a delicious light lunch. With coffee for desert we waited out the rain in comfort. Pricey, but comfortable. The bill came to 38 Swiss francs—about 35 dollars. That seemed like a lot to me, but the meal we were going to have tomorrow would end up costing almost ten times that amount.

We stopped at a gelateria on our way back to the train station. Yum.

Back in Zurich we had to just stop and look at the mass of humanity hurrying to and fro through the central train station. It is really amazing. Must be what Grand Central Station used to be like at the height of American train-travel. We even saw some live cartoon characters. Manga, or Anime characters. Four Swiss teenagers dressed like Japanese cartoon characters. Amazing. I asked if I could take their picture ‘cause I knew no one back home would believe it otherwise. They were thrilled to pose for us. I learned later that hanging out like that in a very public space is called “Cosplay,” for “Costume Play.” The whole point is to attract attention. Of course they’d love to be photographed. Oh, to be young again.


Outside the station we caught a tram to the Kunsthaus to try to see all the things we’d been too tired to see yesterday. The Chagall drawings and paintings were glorious, but it was the medieval art that took my breath away. The odd Rembrant, Monet, Cezanne, and Van Gogh were pretty good too. Fully awake, I had to agree that the Kunsthaus deserved the wonderful reputation it had. And it was still free with our 3-day tram pass!


I had a great time also window-shopping at the art galleries along the road back to the tram stop. There is some wonderful art being made in Switzerland. Bought a pretzel. There are some wonderful pretzels being made in Switzerland too!


About tomorrow’s dinner you need a little background: In 2005 we flew from Milan to Athens Greece and caught a puddle-jumper out to the island of Patmos off the Turkish coast. (See Slowtrav.com, trip-report 1204) We wanted to see the monastery founded on the site of St John’s cave of the apocalypse—where he wrote the Bible’s book of Revelation. As we were coming back down the mountain we saw a nice-looking couple trying to wheel a baby buggy down the rocky path. The path was hard enough to walk on, but rolling a sleeping a baby down in a buggy? Insane. I handed the camera to Georgia and told her that I was going to try to help. I stopped them and motioned that I should lift up the front end of the buggy while the father lifted up with the handle. It worked. The two of us could carry the sleeping baby pretty easily. It was, however, a loooonnnnngggg mountain path and we had plenty of time to visit along the way. The family was from Switzerland: Dejan, Yvonne, and little Melina, who never awakened. They were from one of the German-speaking cantons but Yvonne spoke English fluently. So did Dejan, though his English was a bit more rusty.

We hit it off well and had the best time swapping international jokes. I persuaded them of my thesis that you can tell a lot about a people by their jokes. What makes people laugh, and what makes them angry—those are two important cultural markers. I told them the joke I’d heard from a man from China: “A grandfather punished his grandson for some infraction and that made the boy’s father so angry he decided to punish the grandfather’s son to get even. So he went outside and stood in the hot sun without a hat.” In China, where family relations are so important that one must be a real knee-slapper. I told them the Swedish couple we’d met in Italy. They thought and thought for 15 or 20 minutes and couldn’t come up with a single joke. I thought that pretty illuminating too.

Dejan said he had one: There were these three men in a sauna. They were all high-tech businessmen. Suddenly they heard a phone ring, but none of them were wearing any clothes. One man smiled and peeled back a flap of skin on his chest and pulled out a little cell phone. “I needed open-heart surgery and figured I’d just have them put a phone jack in there too.” The other two nodded. Then another phone rang and the second man flipped up his towel and opened a flap on his hip: “I needed a hip-replacement and did the same thing.” The third man excused himself saying he had to go to the toilet. When he came back there was paper dangling from between the cheeks of his butt. “You’ve gotten toilet paper stuck,” one friend said. “No, that’s just a fax coming in.” The joke was funny but the real humor came from listening to Dejan searching for the right words. All of us tried to help him. This one was a real group effort. By the time he finished we were sitting in a bar beside the bay watching the little fishing boats bobbing up and down. And we laughed and laughed. That’s the real joy of international traveling. Meeting the people. That’s why Georgia and I avoid traveling in groups. That makes it virtually impossible that you will meet anyone else.

We exchanged addresses and promised to keep in touch. And we did—sending seasonal emails. It gave us the chance to watch little Melina grow—and then we got to welcome her little sister Lorena. We saw their house in Switzerland on Google Earth near the German border. When we started planning for this trip we contacted them to say that we’d love to see them again, and made arrangements to visit on our trip from Zurich to the Black Forest—just over the Swiss border. They said they’d love to see us too and would show us around their village, Beringen, near Stauffhousen where the Falls of the Rhine were located.

Unfortunately we hadn’t reckoned with the difficulty of using foreign telephones and not having a dependable internet connection. We were supposed to see them sometime tomorrow but we’d never finalized the plans. Back at the Bed and Breakfast we were sitting at out little table sipping a nice Einseidln wine and wondering how to contact them when “Bam, bam, bam!” I thought I’d been shot! Someone was knocking on the window above my head.


(to be continued)

Episode 2: Thursday 5/13/2010: Zurich, Switzerland, Austria, Bavaria 2010

The tram dropped us off in an industrial area about a block or two from the building. Sure didn’t look like a tourist mecca. More like a re-conditioned warehouse. Inside the metal door we found a tiny souvenir/gift shop with a bored young man sitting behind the counter chatting with an equally bored friend. There was a gallery across the hallway. The art seemed more intended to shock than anything. A trip up the metal staircase to the next floor was no more promising. After looking around for 30 minutes or so and taking a photo of a heavily starched white lab-coat splattered with paint and hanging from a coat hanger I deduced that we were not in the right museum. Hadn’t seen anything even remotely resembling VanGogh, Cezanne, or Monet—I catch on quick!


We asked a young woman in one of the galleries displaying “sofas” made out of painted plywood where the Monet paintings were. I’ve now discovered that when a beautiful young woman gives you the fish eye it hurts more: “That eez the Kunst HAUS, not the Kunst HALLE. She clicked her tongue. “Who was Mr Kunst?” I asked. “Kunst—painter,” she said, and added rolling of the eyes to tongue clicking. OK, I got it. “This “Kunst” fellow must have been some sort of local painter?” That left her speechless. She motioned to see our tickets. I showed her the three-day tram pass. She sighed. Apparently afraid that I might say something even more embarrassing she showed us the KunstHAUS on the map. Her KunstHALLE specialized in contemporary art. The sculptor Henry Moore seemed to be the most ancient artist here. And most of the work seemed right on the bleeding edge of today. The KunstHAUS was right next to the Grossmunster Kirche where we saw the agate window. Sigh. As we headed back to the center of town it began to drizzle again.

Did I mention that the trams are enormous? The roads are really very narrow and shared with bicycles, cars, delivery vans, and the odd pedestrian. “Odd,” because any pedestrian who tries to cross Zurich’s streets has to be ODD. The doors of the trams are only on the right-hand side so you often find tram stops in the center of the road rather than the edges, and the tracks are actually set to go into the oncoming left lane so that they can drop people off at these center stops. Cars don’t argue the point. And bicycle lanes are part of the sidewalk. They have center stripes too. It is very important that you remember you are sharing the sidewalk with bicycles whizzing in both directions on both sides of the street. I lost count of the number of times we forgot that truth only to be reminded with the little “ping” of a bicycle bells and the WHOOSH of a speeding bicycle at our elbow. When you cross a Zurich street you have to cross two lanes of car traffic, four lanes of bicycle traffic, and two sets of tram tracks. And all of this on a road no bigger than you would find in a typical American city. And then there is the occasional bus, delivery van and helicopter flying overhead!

But everyone prefers the trams. As I said, they are enormous—enormously long that is—and narrow. On the old trams each car is separate. It’s like riding a skinny boxcar through a bustling town. But the newer trams are completely open front to back so you can see from the last car all the way to the first. That makes them 50 or 100 yards long and segmented so they can go around corners. On the new trams it’s like riding inside a hinged soda straw. Or a hollow centipede. You can watch the people up ahead snaking around each corner. Very cool. Each car-junction has a circular turntable that permits the cars to turn independently, and little kids love to stand on these turntables when the trams go around the corners.


Our particular hollow centipede dropped us right in front of the Kunst Haus. Our heart sank as we saw a long line waiting to enter. But rule one in foreign countries. If you see a long line, get in it. It’s like the lines used to be in the Soviet Union. Get in any line you see—there’s going to be something at the other end you want. This time it was a special exhibit of paintings by Cezanne, Monet, and VanGogh. While waiting in line we took turns going to examine Rodin’s statue “The Gates of Hell.” A very disturbing work. It must be more than 25 feet tall and 20 feet wide and solid black. The photographs we took don’t capture how eerie it was to stand in front of it. I was dwarfed by the size, and as I looked up through the naked writhing figures frozen in hideous poses I could see Rodin’s famous “Thinker” sitting above the partially open doors on the lintel. I always thought the Thinker was looking down at the floor lost in thought. Oh no. He was sitting up there looking down at me—weighing my soul. I don’t think he was much impressed. Georgia said she was most disturbed by the many infants. They weren’t tormented—but they were certainly part of the tableaux. Rodin was trying to capture the spirit of Dante’s Gates of Hell in the Divine Comedy. I think these infants were the unbaptized infants in “limbo.”


Rodin’s Gates of Hell—the Thinker

The line was moving fast and soon we were inside where our 3-day pass got us free admission to the permanent exhibition. We opted for that. There was still a long line of people trying to get into the special exhibit. We’ve done the heel-to-toe shuffle-shuffle before. It’s not really very much fun or very enlightening. And we saw wonderful exhibits of Cezanne, Monet, and VanGogh in Paris in 2008. I suspected that many of these paintings were borrowed from there.

The museum itself was made of a warm-colored limestone. Very inviting and neutral. I like museums that don’t compete with the works they display. Unfortunately I’d no sooner climbed the stairs than it seemed I was walking around in a dream. Georgia must have gotten more sleep than I did because she was the Energizer Museum Bunny. I was bumping into things. She sprinted up the stairs to find the Marc Chagall paintings. I stumbled down the same staircase looking for someplace to sit down and wait for her. Of course there were several thousand of our closest friends also waiting downstairs for their spouse, so I decided to hang out on the Mezzanine figuring she’d be bound to see me as she breezed past. There was an interesting little dark gallery right near by. It had busts and scissors and lamps and stuffed animals and books and clocks and birdcages and just all kinds of things mounted on turntables and on a little electric train going round and round. Spotlights threw shadows up on the wall and the shadow-figures would grow or shrink as the objects themselves moved toward or away from the light. Socrates would have loved it. Very much like his “Allegory of the Cave” where people have to judge what something is by looking at its shadow. Unfortunately such an exhibit is also hypnotic. “I think I’ll just rest my eyes for a minute. . .” Someone walked by. I shook myself awake and went out to stand guard on the Mezzanine again. I was alone with this really odd figure. It must have been about 8 feet tall and thin beyond belief. I couldn’t imagine how they’d even managed to cast a bronze figure like that with pencil-thin arms and legs and oversized hands and feet. It was frozen forever in a purposeful stride. I slumped nearly comatose. Jet lag had landed. I shook my heavy head again and went to see who had made the stick-man. Son of a gun. It was Giacometti again. Not just stained glass, but also these gigantic bronze sculptures. What an mind.

Don’t know if you know this about me, but I’m a borderline narcoleptic. When I start to fall asleep there is virtually nothing I can do about it. It drives poor Georgia crazy. When we go to bed she likes to chat. I’m asleep before my head hits the pillow. I was soon going to be a bundle of rags for the stickman to step over.

Luckily she came back down the stairs as I slowly subsided. She hustled me down to the café in the lobby where we drank some coffee and shared a wonderful Linzertorte (German raspberry pie). She forced me. I couldn’t resist her. And the caffeine and sugar gave me new life. Even so, I told her we were going to have to head for the room unless I could curl up somewhere. She decided that someone would think I was an exhibit and put a guard-rope around me.

Back at the room I turned on the TV while she was getting ready for bed. The last thing I remember was trying to make sense of The Simpsons speaking German in voices that were all wrong.

May 15, 2010: Woke up in the middle of the night. It must have been about 3am local time. That would make it 9pm Lexington time. Next trip I’m going to remember to bring one of those tiny little battery powered book lights! It would have been perfect for reading or making notes in the notebook. As it was I could only lie there and know that if I woke Georgia up to ask if she was asleep she would hand me my head.

Managed to fall back asleep eventually and woke up at 9am local time. We went exploring and found a great “Reform Produkt Backerei” at the Goldbrunnerplatz. That’s a bakery where they use only organic products. Bought some wonderfully strong coffee, gorgeous little ruddy apples with a sweet-tartness I love, Apfel struddle as well, and more Linzertorte just in case we should happen to need a little smackerel of something before lunch. Mmmm. Cost 13 Swiss francs, about $10. Delicious, but a little pricey. We may be eating out of the supermarkets a lot, but we won’t starve.

Looked like another day of drizzle. Even so, the train ride to Einseidlen was magical. As we climbed further and further up in the mountains we passed dark green stands of fir and open meadows of grass and wildflowers. For the most part we shared a narrow mountain valley with a two-lane road and swift-flowing mountain stream. There was a lot of road construction that left the cars at a standstill. I was glad to be on the train. I’ve not had the nerve to rent a car in Europe yet. And except for the time we couldn’t get the 50 miles from Vezelay to the Cathedral at Bourges without taking a train 250 miles up and back to Paris I’ve never regretted relying solely on European trains and buses.

As we climbed higher the steady drizzle was turning into a cold rain.

(to be continued)