Monday, 3 August 2009

Swiss travels

Some weeks ago, I watched a report on Swiss television that elaborated on how Unterterzen, a village on the Lake of Walenstadt (close from where I live), had developed into a tourist destination for Dutch families. What caught my attention was the mentioning of a newly created small beach. I went to have a look. Well, there wasn't really any beach to speak of - just a few pebbles on the shore. The lesson, as always: Don't trust TV-reports!

Then I visited the Safien Valley, the bus climb from the train station up to the village of Versam offered a spectacular view. After about half an hour, the young bus driver all of a sudden stopped and informed us that we all had to get off and walk until we would reach the next post bus. Why, what is going on? I asked her. The road is under repair, she said. Many of the passengers (most were retired and some not so good on foot) reacted in the typical Swiss fashion: What? I do not believe this. Why is it that we were not informed about this beforehand? About fifteen minutes later, we reached the waiting post bus. After another twenty minutes on the bus, it was the same procedure all over again but this time we had only a couple of minutes to walk. It was no big thing, really, it is just that if something of that sort had happened to me in, say, Africa, I would very likely have thought to myself that this surely could never happen in Switzerland.

Some other day in this summer of 2009, I met an elderly lady on the train who told me that, since she retired twenty years ago, she was doing bus and train trips all over Switzerland almost daily. What was her favourite destination?, I inquired. Chiavenna, she said. Isn't that in Italy?, I asked. Yes, she said, but very close to Switzerland.

So I went to Chiavenna. By train to Chur, then by post bus to Splügen, and then on a blue Italian pullman over the Splügen Pass to Chiavenna, that an art historian had described to me as a "little Firenze" - and it indeed looked the part. I then returned to Sargans via the Bergell and St. Moritz.

In retrospect what comes to mind is this: how wonderfully wild the Italian side looked, and how proper and over-civilised, almost like a gated community (especially around St. Moritz), the Swiss side appeared.

No comments: