Switzerland, Day Two


Was it any surprise I woke at four in the morning?  And did not fall back asleep until six?  Not really.  I called it jet lag.  My body called it bullshit.  I had no counter logic.  Nonetheless, I managed to fall back asleep again, but I was woken around nine when my buddy started to open all the shutters on all the windows.  That cozy dark feeling of sleeping in a room where the sun cannot reach and so time does not exist?  Yeah, it was burned away by the blue light of morning as it sang through the windows.

“Dude, check it out!” was the first thing I heard.  I woke, actually happy to be awake at that time, and the first thing I saw was the Alps.  They rose up in the frame of the balcony doors directly in front of me.  This was the first time I had seen the Alps ever.  It had been too dark when I trained in last night.

I kicked off the blankets, tumbled out of the makeshift bed where I was camping out in the living room, and stumbled in all my grace out onto the balcony.  The crisp morning air felt incredible against my half-dead face.  I probably should have presented myself better to the Alps, but I did not.  My eyes had the fun crust in the corners, my hair ran in seventy-two directions with total abandon, my breath could have melted the snow from the peaks and caused a flood in the lake, and I had bare feet.

But I could not have cared less.  At that moment, I grinned like a five-year-old on Christmas morning.  It was perfect.  I noticed the details of my surroundings then while my friend pointed out a few things across our vision.  I listened, but the blueness of the lake entranced me.  The frigid waters looked so fake, like we were all a part of a photograph that the great photographer in the sky was photoshopping.  Click Lake à Tap “2000 Flushes Blue blue” color on palette à Tap Lake (yes, I know that is probably not how one changes color of items in photoshop).  I gazed up finally across the backs of the Alps through the coats of pine forest, up along the snow line, and to the peaks where the morning sun surfed the crests.  Clouds of thin vapor rolled around the entire terrain and frolicked with the leaves on distant grounds, danced with the occasional brave bird in flight, and skimmed over the icy waters.  Kissed my cheek and turned it flush as they wafted across the balcony.

We breakfasted, prepared for the day, and walked down to the station to catch the commuter train into Interlaken to buy groceries and see the town.  Admittedly, my friend had seen the town a million times, but I had not.

The town bloomed with slumbering charm.  Mid-winter, Interlaken, and the rest of the surrounding towns, all but shut down for the off season.  I am told in summer all is a-bustle, but I am glad to have acquainted myself with this valley of the world in a time when it felt more pristine rather than tourist-trampled.  Now, there have been tourists already, but they are of the ski variety.  Up at the crack of life and into the mountains for the day, not home again until nightfall.  So I hardly saw anyone other than locals.  And Asians!  I have not seen that many Asians in NYC.  I thought for a moment I must have walked through a portal and into Beijing or Tokyo or Hong Kong.  Apparently they love to tour the Alps.

Shops of all sorts line the main street through Interlaken, many selling the cheesy tourist items that reminded me of Times Square and all the “I © NY” paraphernalia.  Many sold watches and Swiss Army knives, which was what I expected to see.  My buddy scoured the town for a particular Emporio Armani watch, which he found for a mere CHF 300,00, which at the current exchange rate is just about $300.00.  I told him he should get it.  I try to live by the philosophy that if I think I will regret doing something (or in this case buying something), then I will do (buy) it.  He figured he could find it cheaper.  I was not going to be his guidance system, but I figured he should buy it.  I, on the other hand, picked through end cap after shelf after display in search of the perfect souvenirs for a couple of people who politely placed their requests.  I found one such souvenir in the first store I entered.  I was amazed at how exact it was.  I wondered if I could find such souvenir elsewhere, but my gut said to buy the one I found, so I did.  As we moved from store to store, I saw that my choice was good.  I did not encounter another souvenir like the one I found.  As well, for the second souvenir, I found things I considered suitable, but something pulled me away each time, until we reached the last tourist haven on the main street, and I found a souvenir I knew was the right choice.  So I felt good about my selections.  My buddy did not find the same watch, and a similar watch was not priced that much cheaper.  It would appear again that my clairvoyance kinda rules.  Don’t hate.  Haha

We walked along the river at that point, one that meandered through Interlaken between the two lakes as we meandered over to the largest grocery store in the whole valley.  It was probably only as large as the Trader Joe’s in Union Square, but it was fun to shop for food again in another country.  I had to figure out how they wanted me to weight and price my vegetables, which is completely different from how we roll Stateside.  My friend brought a bottle of a soda called Rivella on the train ride down from Germany, and said that soda was a quintessential soda in Switzerland, complete with particular glasses used for drinking it.  I thought that was so intriguing, especially since the drink was fucking good shit (to speak plainly).  We bought a six-pack of 1,5-liter bottles.  His grandmother had stocked the house with plenty of meat, which is usually expensive in Switzerland, so we did not have to worry about that.  I was glad I did not have to do too many calculations since the exchange rate between dollars and Swiss francs is about one to one, give or take a penny.  Not that I have a problem with calculations, but sometimes one just wishes to blank out on vacation, and foreign currency exchange is always a way to remind us that we do not belong where we are, and that nature will return us to that which we escaped.  Or something like that.

After buying a couple of large bags and my backpack full of food, we took the commuter train from Interlaken West back to Niederreid, and lugged the Santa-sized sacks up the hill to the cabin.  I began to wish for teleportation, and then I stopped myself.

“You are in fucking Switzerland in the damn Alps on an unbelievably blue lake that pollution and bullshit have not yet reached, so shut the fuck up, Matt, and climb your ass up the hill!”  I listened to myself immediately.  Sometimes one just needs to bitch-slap oneself.  I recommend it often.

My friend had mentioned the night before that Internet is dodgy in the area.  Only one house nearby has an unlocked signal that we could piggy-back off of, and they shut the router/modem off every night.  So when we returned, we left the groceries in the bags and found ourselves checking Facebook and other such time-waster sites.  I was immediately ashamed, but I continued to click through and update status lines, and send out messages.  I convinced myself it was okay to do because I was sending out messages to people, too, to let them know I made it to Switzerland and had not ended up on a plane hijacked by terrorists like what happened to that unfortunate flight en route to Detroit the day before I flew out (or somewhere around there).  Talk about a send-off thought that was, though I refused to dwell on that on the flight.  If it is my time to go, it is, but like hell I would go down without a fight.  So sad flying has come to this.  I still remember a time when people would see you off on your flight, and they could do that at the gate instead of saying good-bye practically at the front door to the airport.  ANYHOW.

By the time we returned home, unpacked the groceries, and thawed, it was later in the day, and we decided to lounge around the cabin and do absolutely nothing except watch a movie.  I only had one, and that was Victoria: the Golden Age.  I completely forgot it was on the laptop from ages ago.  Not a bad movie.  I wished I had more time though to download a movie from iTunes, but that’s a day-long event with the signal we had available to us.

Nonetheless, el fin to dia dos.

© Copyright 2009 Matt Lawrence

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~ by Matt Lawrence on December 28, 2009.

One Response to “Switzerland, Day Two”

  1. Alps sound amazing! It’s a sight that I’ve never had the opportunity to witness … nor will I have the chance to in the foreseeable future. Boo. Thus, I must experience vicariously through your blog.

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