Friday, 16 August 2013

Switzerland - part 1

Beware Swiss beer!
It is time to reflect on the first half of our short stay here as we near the end of our stay with our host Astrid and move on in a few days to our friends Walter and Helen for the last week. Switzerland is everything we imagined it to be and remember it to be from previous trips here many years ago, namely neat, great scenery, neat, pretty towns, neat, efficient public transport, neat, expensive, neat, cycle-ways everywhere. Did I mention neat?

On the work front we have been putting in a good 25 hours per week, which is in the range Helpx people normally do. For us this has consisted of gardening, laying some paving stones and general work around the house and section.

In return for the work Astrid has been feeding us, though there is a large quantity of meat and potatoes involved – we suspect that this is a Swiss thing. Certainly a little more than we are used to. Astrid has also taken us for a few outings: to Berne, the Swiss capital and a university town just a few kilometres away; to Thun, a very pretty town next to a lake; and most recently to Gruyere (of the cheese), a medieval village and castle in the French-speaking part of the country. Like everywhere, Gruyere is so neat it looks more like a film set than an ancient village!

One of the highlights so far was a visit to the H R Giger museum in the village of Gruyere. He is the artist who helped design the special effects for the movies Alien, Dune and Species. Wonderful and imaginative paintings and sculptures including those of various Aliens and items from the movies. Not for the kids or the easily offended! Unfortunately no photography allowed inside the galleries, but there were a few sculptures outside and, across the way, an amazing bar decked out like a scene from Alien. Unfortunately the bar girls weren’t decked out like the models in his paintings …
Inside the H R Giger bar

We’ve noticed that a lot of Swiss seem to cycle. There are good cycle ways everywhere, both next to roads and completely away from them. There seems to be a major cross-Switzerland route alongside the river near here with spurs heading off in all directions.  People of all ages are out, presumably while they can before the snows arrive. We have used the bikes here a few times as a means of getting around, even though we have been offered the use of the car. Much more fun on the bikes on these quiet lanes.

We will probably do a few more local cycle rides as the weather generally is good here in summer. We did have a few days of rain the first week but on the sunny days it does get into the high 20s. If we can organise the transport we might do what the locals here do on hot days – jump into the river upstream and float down – it is a big river and the current is really strong, but this doesn’t stop numerous kids and adults jumping off the town bridges and trying to get out downstream. Whenever you look at the river there is a stream of inflatable boats coming down!

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