Wednesday, August 31, 2011

Back Home Again - Part 2 -
My cousin M and I are only a year apart and relished the time together. We had some deep conversations and the week went by fairly quickly. We enjoyed strolling along Lake Maggiorie and went on two boat rides trying to keep cool - one on Lake Maggiorie and one on Lake Lugano. It worked. We put our feet into both lakes.
I enjoyed a wonderful porcini risotto one evening and the boccalino of wine to go with it and strengthen me for the bike ride back to the apartment!
I did have another first this visit. In the grand piazza, I had pesto gnoochi one evening and ordered my water (still, without gas) and the waiter brings a glass of water with a lemon slice and ice cubes!!!!
In my 46 years of travelling to Switzerland, never once have I ever something to drink with ice. I gazed in wonder at the glass. I held the glass up to my ear and swished it, just to hear the clinking of ice against the wall of the glass - all to the amusement of my cousin. She called the waiter over and had me tell him that this was the first time in all those years of coming to Switzerland to have ice. On such a hot day, it
was most marvelous and welcome. Before the waiter went home for the night, he brought a glass with more ice cubes for me to enjoy!! What a sweetheart!
We took the Post Bus and went into the Val Versace (Valley Versace) and no, it was not full of designer clothes! A wild and rugged valley with small villages and water that is emerald green, deep and clear. Folks were
lounging on the huge boulders worn smooth and cooling off in the waters of the river - that were cold and could be treacherous. The houses were quaint made of old stones with stone roofs. Banking on tourist trade, they sold woolen slippers, mittens, gloves, hats, felted wool purses, honey, polenta mix, risotto mix, balsamic vinegar, etc. The wool stuff was beautiful and artsy, all hand made and way over my budget. I came home with porcini risotto mix and polenta with truffle mix. That I could afford.
It was a very hot day, and the ride back by postal bus was very, very warm as the bus was full, some were standing, and the bus driver never thought to crank up the a/c by setting it higher and having the fan blower more. The economical Swiss - why it would consume more gasoline! Forget that everyone on the bus was hot!
The boat trip on Lake Lugano was wonderful and Gandria with its quaint old buildings can only be reached by water and is the most painted of all places on Lake Lugano. I could see why. There is a smuggling museum there - smuggling goods during WW 2- and it would be interesting to see some day.
Marcote was an enchanting village with an impressive cathedral. Also, must see one day.
Although, the day we went to Ascona, we missed the market day, I did find 2 nice boccalino's to take home at a cermaic/pottery shop.
I came home with some must have chocolate, only 1 bag of chocolate wafers as there was only 1 bag on the store shelf, and less cheese than I would have liked.
When one is dependent on other people for transportation, one is not as free to do things as one would when renting a car. It was so hot, that even in my family's home town, although they have a great cheese shop, I couldn't buy a thing, since it would all have melted into a summer fondue!
I was astounded once again at the prices of everything - clothing, shoes, purses, scarves, even the restaurant prices. I mean, 24 francs for proscuitto wrapped around cantaloupe slices! You can make it yourself for a third of the price!
Another thing that struck me this time, was whenever we used a public restroom - which for the most part are fairly clean - there was no soap. Sinks with water but not soap! For as concerned as the Swiss are with cleaniness, how germy are the people walking around?!!?
By the end of the week, my speaking and vocabulary had improved greatly. It only took me 5 minutes to come up with the word for broom one morning!!!! Yikes! When you don't speak a language for a long time you forget the simplest words!
To catch the flight home, I had to get up at 4:30 am, my other cousin L drove me to the Basel train station and we had extra time for cup of coffee, before she promptly put me on the wrong train. Thankfully, I had a couple minutes to take my luggage and pile it all on the train on the other side of the platform. Thanks, L!!!
I checked in fairly quickly and cleared security without much wait. I stopped and bought some chocolate and magazines (german ones to help me practice my reading and comprehension skills while seeing what's fashionable in Europe these days). When I boarded the flight, I spied my Comfort coach aisle seat and saw a middle-aged man in the window seat - black curly hair way past his shoulders and frizzed out, dressed in jeans and t-shirt, and wearing sunglasses. Slouched in his seat, when I placed my carry on in the over head bin, he turned toward the window with his entire body. He looked like a rock muscian and clearly didn't want to engage in any conversation. I have sat with some of the strangest people when I fly alone. Two middle-age guys right behind us were more talkative and flirted with the stewardess. Apparently, they were a rock band from Georgia who played in Bern. The guy I was sitting next to was a guitar player for the band!!! And he had no clue whatsoever, that sitting right next time was a pastor!!!!! What a picture! A rocker and a pastor!
By the time, I got to Atlanta, I was ready to exit the plane and stand for while in the passport and customs area. At least Atlanta had the a/c on! Then it was on to rechecking the bag and going through another security check. I had a two hour layover and I barely made it to the other gate with 15 minutes to spare. That's cutting things closer than I like.
I could barely sit for the last 1 1/2 hour flight to the North Coast. My tailbone was sore.
Thankfully, LH picked up in fairly good time and I was thankful to be home again, safe and sound. My bed never looked so inviting and the pillow was softly calling my name.
Another adventure and lots of family time, and beautiful scenery, long conversations, good food and wine, my soul has been refreshed.

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