This morning we woke up in Italy, and discussed our options for the day over coffee cups 1, 2, and 3. We could walk into the city of Como and explore, or lounge by the pool until it was time to leave for Switzerland. Naturally, Rachel and I chose the latter option; we felt the need to tan somewhat for the remainder of our time in Italy. What I can say about our decision is this: The sun from high noon until 4 in the afternoon is much hotter and effective than the evening sun we enjoyed yesterday. After a while, my dad commended Rachel on her tan, yet told me to lay a towel over myself AND move my lounge chair into the shade, for fear I would toast like a marshmallow in a fire pit.
Between the tanning sessions, Rachel and I exhausted our welcome in the massage pool, but we didn’t care. There was an air of security in our pool area that lay nestled between the mountains that surrounded us every way we looked.
Around 5 pm, we set out for Switzerland in what we fondly now refer to as the VD Mobile, because of the license plate…and the VW mini-van isn’t what one might consider a chick magnet. We wound our way through the tall Italian villages around Lake Como, then made the conscious decision to turn around and drive towards our actual destination. 😉 Not too long after, we nodded our way through border patrol at the Swiss-Italian border, and were able to exhale a deep sigh of relief. We feared nothing more than getting lost in Italy, where none of us spoke Italian, so when we could be certain we were headed in the right direction, the previously existing tensions lifted, and the car was filled with high and happy spirits once again.
The drive was scenic, but our real fascination began with the small villages we passed through that placed their churches on the highest hills of the area. It was symbolic to see every home face and look upward to the church. As our winding drive continued, the incline of the road steepened, and it became clear that we were finally in the Swiss Alps. Waterfalls gushed from the tops of the glacial peaks at every turn; gallons upon gallons cascaded from the rocky cliffs constantly. The glaciers made it feel like it truly was wintertime again, and the outside temperature dropped as our altitude increased.
It seemed as though the Swiss could make tunnels out of anything along these roads, because too many times the road drove through the middle of the mountains, and the chipped away rock was merely smoothed with concrete. As if these make-shift tunnels weren’t enough, sometimes we would pass under metal and fiberglass structures that were sturdily attached to the side of the mountain, as if to flaunt the Swiss’ architectural ingenuity. Dad fondly referred to the Swiss after that as “The Tunnel Wizards.” The roads were not only steep, but narrow, and too many motorcycles passed us on the left, leaving our hearts to leap out of our chests, should their risky maneuvers be ill-fated. Nausea set in at the tight switchbacks that came with no warning, as we were forced to look downhill. I already hate heights, and this position did me no favors. But our excitement was tangible; there were beautiful scenes to to seen out every window, be they front back or sides. Somehow, the drive up the Alps caused us each so much individual joy: it was new, fresh, and beautiful. And by far, among the fondest moments of the trip…so far.
When we reached the top of the mountain range, before we began our descent, Rachel and I stripped down to our bikinis (per Molly’s suggestion), and stood in the snow for the sake of a few funny pictures, and bragging rights. Sans weather-appropriate clothing, we stood in one of the greatest mountain ranges in the world, in just below 40 degree weather, looking at the snow, glaciers, and thick fog that surrounded us. How many other times in our lives will we get to say we did that?! Afterwards, we sprinted to the car, shaking with goosebumps, and scrambled for our shorts and t-shirts.
Perhaps it was the mystery of not knowing what laid ahead of us that made the ascent feel so lengthy, but the descent seemed so anti-climatic and short by comparison. We wound our way down the mountain, and past flat villages and fields, hoping that we would eventually wind up at our hotel: Hotel Bären in Wilderswil. I was excited to be in the German-speaking part of the country, and still am. But the first sentence out of my mouth when we pulled into our parking space was: “This reeks of having to entertain ourselves.’” The quaint lodgings confirmed my initial reaction. While a cute space, it’s difficult to have a positive first impression when you can’t find your room after a 4 hour drive, only to later discover that you are on the 5th floor, in a separate “family corridor.” Hm.
We were seeking food desperately, and decided to try the hotel restaurant. You haven’t experienced true joy until a 71-year-old Hungarian man serenades three tables in a dining hall to the tune of “What A Wonderful World”, in the style of Louis Armstrong. And, by style, I mean near-perfect voice imitation. It was too funny to listen to a group of young drunk men try to sing along. That aside, we ate heartily, and I ate one of the best meals of chicken and noodles I think I’ve ever eaten in my life. I love German food!!!
On that note, my Wi-Fi hunt has taken way too long. So Auf Wiedersehen, Bis Später!