After our spot of serious exercise on Rigi we headed off to the lovely town of Schwyz. It's a beautiful place and I totally failed to take any photos there at all. I don't know why, because it's such a photogenic place, but I just never quite got round to it. We found the backpackers that Rebi had booked us into for the night, dumped our stuff and then went out, first for a drink and then a meal. The meal was great and I am slightly ashamed to say that I ended it with a dessert - not something I normally do - which was a glass of lemon sorbet swamped in vodka. Back at the backpackers we seemed to be just about the only guests so had the luxury of a six bed dorm just to ourselves.
In the morning, after a very civilised coffee at a pavement cafe, we were back on a train and heading towards Göschenen, close to one end of the Gottard tunnel. Rebi had sold me the idea as 'a gentle walk along a valley'. I thought I could handle that. It turned out to be a soul-destroying climb up a mountain pass, sometimes on a dedicated path, sometimes with stairs and other times dodging cars on the winding road. But it was remorselessly climbing. I remember thinking almost constantly that I would happily follow Rebekka to the ends of the earth, but why did it always seem to be uphill?
Then a very strange thing happened. Near the end of the climb (yes, dear readers, there was an eventual end) we came to what is called The Devil's Bridge. It is a bounding stone bridge over a sheer-sided gorge about fifty or sixty metres or more deep. The story goes that the locals wanted to build this bridge but the devil was not keen on the idea. Apparently, he told the locals that they could build their bridge only if he was able to take the first soul that crossed it. Knowing a good ruse when they saw one, the locals shoved a goat across it first which infuriated the devil so much that he tried to destroy the bridge with a huge boulder but missed and went away in disgust. As I set my foot onto the bridge my New Zealand Blackcaps cap suddenly blew off and went down and down and down, finally coming to rest at the very bottom of the gorge, so far below that I could hardly make it out. Creepy - or at least, bloody annoying.
The trail flattened out after that and we walked into Andermatt along the road, jaded and a bit deflated. Rebekka had chosen this because it was said to be one of the finest walks in Switzerland; it was no such thing. Instead it was a hard climb through a pretty featureless landscape with no colour and the best view behind you all the way. I only took a few photos, at points where I was trying to catch my breath. As we went back down on the train through the pass we had climbed up, it became apparent just what we had achieved.
After the concert we went to meet Sarah again, this time where she works at week-ends - a Coyote Ugly bar in the heart of Winti. This is so not my thing; I can't stand the shallowness of it, the sort of people who would frequent such places or, as it turned out, the music. I also don't understand why people in a real, grown-up country like Switzerland would want to go in for this kind of thing that is about as far removed from their splendid culture as it's possible to be. Keep it where it was spawned, I say, but don't bring it here. But I wanted to support Sarah doing something she loves, so I had to swallow all the distaste and go along. It was great to get a huge sweaty hug from Sarah outside after she had finished one of her stints dancing with a pole on top of the cramped bar. I whispered in her ear that I was proud of her and she thanked me and told me that that meant a lot to her. We didn't stay long, I don't think any one of the three of us wanted to be there, but we did it for Sarah, and that's how it should be.
|The next morning, my last in Switzerland this time round, was rainy but warm. I had pretty much packed the previous afternoon before we set off so I only had to close my case, heft my rucksack onto my back and get it all into Philippe's car. That was, after I had taken a photo of Rebekka, Philippe and their racoon with The Birthday Bear. We were off to the airport, but would first spend a few hours at the opposite end of the cultural stick from the previous evening. We went to Wangi to visit the regional Schwingen championships. The rain was unfortunate and I will leave you to see the pictures for yourselves.|
|These were some of the prizes|
|'Schwingen in the rain, I'm just...'|
|Class unambiguous branding|
|Traditionally, the winner - having put his opponent on his back - wipes of the sawdust as they're leaving the arena|
|And walking in the background is another of the prizes.|
|I loved this little tableau|
|I had had the best time in Switzerland. For the most part the weather was stunning and perfect for what we were doing. Rebekka was fantastic in every way as always, and I am so grateful for her wonderful hospitality, and Philippe became even more of a great mate. We managed to do such diverse and interesting things and lots of them too, yet all the time it was a relaxing break for me and there is only one other person I would have loved to have had there sharing it all with. |