Monday, August 24, 2015

Goodbye Switzerland, hello France

My stay in Switzerland was a short one, just four days, but long enough to get over jet lag as well as hear two fantastic concerts. The weather was 17C one day and 30C the next, which was perhaps the reason so many people there seemed to have colds (including two staff at my hotel  - and now I have it as well).

Jurgen from the Rinderberg told me it had been a very hot summer and that the glaciers you could see from his restaurant had receded remarkably.

Typical Swiss house
drawn from the train
Farmers were working hard making hay during my stay. Where tractors would be used they were but as I swung up to the Rinderberg by gondola I noticed people mowing steeper slopes with hand held machines. There were also a lot of folk turning the grass by hand. That is hard work. In Switzerland you have the feeling that very little is wasted.  In some inaccessible wooded places along the rail track I noticed sticks sorted by size and neatly bundled.

Both trains down the mountain from Zweisimmen to Bern then along the flatlands between Bern and Basel were empty in comparison to the very fast train from Basel to Paris. I had 4 minutes to change trains. Unfortunately the Swiss don't have those information sheets every German station has that show where each carriage of the train stops but I was lucky and I still had one minute to run down the platform to my carriage. The train was so over-full that it would have been impossible to get through the carriages to my seat had I squeezed into any other carriage.
Luggage piled between seats

On the website they say seat reservations are obligatory but there seemed to be a lot of people without seats, or who had to vacate them when others with a reservation came to claim them. Luggage was piled high in the entry gangway, (not just a couple of bags, but lots of cases and boxes and bags stacked up to the roof) between seats and in the overhead racks. But whether we were sitting or standing, the train got us and all our luggage to Paris.

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