Monday, July 21, 2008

Too Perfect (Switzerland), Written 21 July 2008

14th, July - Monday morning 6am...pouring rain...was I sure about this hitchhiking thing?

Decided to try...after all, it should only take an hour to Lucerne...made my way to where I thought I should place myself (with the help of Maja and Andreas)...soaking one stopping...10 minutes later, a guy from the north who had to go to a suburb of Lucerne, Kries, for obligatory military training. Pouring rain...he took pity on me, and with his over-punctual Swiss nature, he had 40 minutes to spare, so decided to drive me up to my door in Hergiswil. Amazing.

Seeing Luciana...lovely. We met in Guatemala, in Xela (Quetzaltenango) last memories of her in Guatemala in the days that we explored markets together are that of an enormous love for cheese...all good in my book.

We talked talked talked, and finally went down to Hergiswil village to watch the glass making factory. This is Hergiswil's claim to fame, and indeed, every Swiss person I told that I would go to Hergiswil said, oh, that's where they make the glass...Anyway, it was quite interesting actually.

After alpenmacaron for lunch - macaroni with cream, butter, and cheese, with roasted onions...sounds like a heart attack that Yuri would thoroughly take pleasure in bringing on...I had a nice long siesta, after which the weather cleared up substantially so we went into Lucerne.

Lucerne is packed in summer with hordes of tourists, and it's easy to see why. Gorgeously placed on the river and lake, beautiful old buildings, ringed by snowcapped mountains...we wandered around for a few hours, climbed the city wall, saw monuments, bought chocolate and Lindentorte - delicious raspberry pie...

and went home for raclette, my favorite Swiss dish that I had requested. I was beginning to realize that I love Switzerland but I had to get out soon...the amount of high fat, high calorie things that this nation consumes, yet somehow manages to stay so fit because of all the mountains and gorgeous lakes and active's really amazing.

Tuesday morning, I was really fortunate and the Keisers gave me a ticket to use the Pilatusbahn, the train that goes up Mt. Pilatus. It's the steepest cog train railway in the world, and this of course means it is no surprise that thousands of tourists flock, especially Japanese who are fascinated with the "world's most-steepest-highest-fastest-_______ whatever". But, the hype was true. Breathtaking views all around, glaciers and snow in the middle of July, while you're on Alpine green fields with cows whose bells you can hear from hundreds of meters away.

Down to Kries, where Silvana kindly drove me to Saarnen so I could start my attempt to get to Valence, France. The first part was smooth...short ride with a guy from Zurich to Brunnig pass, then a honeymooning couple to Ballenwald, a Hungarian girl to Interlaken...then a woman from Interlaken on her way to Spiez for a dentist appointment. At Spiez the problems began. Several locals approached telling me it was really dangerous, and insisted I get off the road, actually taking my luggage with them. I tried to argue and they said no, they were going to call the police. I explained I didn't have money for the train (I had, but didn't want to spend it) and they said no, this doesn't work...etc etc. 5 minutes later the police arrived and deposited me at the train station in Spiez, waiting for me to buy a ticket. I took it a few stops, got off the train, and there were more police, because they probably suspected that I would try to hitch again. So in the end, with all the hassle, and the heat of midday (it was hot!) I conceded and used my credit card to get to Geneva.

In actuality, it was a good experience because I had started to get bored of always explaining my story, my trip, my life, my country, the differences between Asia and Europe, etc...I had forgotten how nice it is to get in a train, sit alone, and listen to music or not and just look out the window and watch the world go it wasn't so bad in the end...

But...arrived in Geneva, contemplated hitching, realized I was done trying for the day, and waited 2 hours to take a TGV (fast French train) to Lyon, where I changed to go to Valence.

Switzerland...people follow the rules...people watch out for each other, i.e. don't mind their own business...the people said, c'est votre affaires, it's your business, but they call the's so painfully beautiful, so perfect, but I don't imagine I could stay for too long...this sensation reminded me very much of Japan and Singapore...but, really, to visit, marvelous and impressive.

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