Was it really 20 years ago?
We left our Alpine home of Chamonix this morning to head north. George’s next meeting is in Strasbourg, France, but not until Monday. So we have two days to get, if we drive on the Autoroute, about four hours away. It was my intention to stay and explore the wine country about an hour south of Strasbourg for both nights, but Monday is a holiday (Whitsun or Pentecote, depending on who you talk to) so it was too hard to find a place to stay for tonight (Saturday on a holiday weekend). So I looked farther south, and thought it might be fun to spend one more night in Switzerland with the boys instead of Susie.
I’m back to Switzerland in more ways than one. Since we had lots of time, we made a detour to Morgins, a little ski village above Lake Geneva across from Lausanne, where I taught 3 students how to be travel agents for 6 weeks in February 1990. In fact, I celebrated my 30th birthday catching some ice skiing, rolling about 200 feet, and visiting the Swiss doctor for a torn arm muscle.
You really can’t go home again; to me the place seemed much less magical than it was 20 years ago. The Bellevue Hotel where I lived was still the biggest thing in town, but there were many more buildings there. The landscape was green and not white. However, the everlasting mountains, the “Dents du Midi” that I could see out my window every morning were still there, big and white as ever.
We drove back down the mountain and around Lake Geneva to Chateau de Chillon (visited there with Susie and Patricia) and continued to Lausanne, where we had lunch by the lake. A shimmering day, we could see mountains across the lake and down the Rhone valley that were not visible a couple of weeks ago in the rain. Over the hill and through the countryside we drove on the same routes Jean-Pierre and Patricia took us. Two weeks ago, we marveled at the gorgeous farms and valleys. Today, I could see that these were surrounded by white Alpine peaks which were invisible to us on the rainy days Susie and I were there.
We programmed the GPS to skip the highways are were richly rewarded with lots of small-town Switzerland. (We also skipped the highways because we could not figure out where to buy the sticker for your car that signifies you’ve paid the toll for those routes.) George saw a hat in the road and turned around to fetch it, never even getting out of the car. We finally make it to Bern despite several detours and are in a pension just across the bridge from the old town.
It seems like most of the restaurants in Bern are Italian, and all of them have a big tv showing a soccer game. We succumb and have pizza, so much better than pizza at home, with thin crust and fresh sauce. On the way back to the room I see the sign for Kursaal, a big entertainment complex and remember going there with one of my students 20 years ago
It’s bittersweet to go backwards, but for me, I prefer going forward.