One of the frustrations of travelling from place to place is adapting to the internet service. Surprisingly, It's rarely great. Today we're perched on the mountainside by the Walansee in Switzerland and I'm trying to send this from a weak hotspot from my phone. As such, there will no beautiful mountain photos to show you. I'll abuse someone's free WIFI at a coffee shop soon to load some photos.
We started our Swiss tour by visiting Dad's first cousin, Werner Bachli and his wife, Lydia, at their "rustico," a traditional mountainside second home. It's a peaceful place where they have a small vineyard, which produces 500 bottles of wine a year, as well as some vegetables and beautiful kiwis. Dad visits here regularly and there's lots of evidence of his beautiful stonework on their property. We have to climb like the local goats to get to the place, but it's worth the hike. We received a warm welcome and some fantastic Swiss fondue when we arrived! How wonderful. Lydia said she was happy to repay the kindnesses she received from our extended family in Canada 2 years ago - thanks Mom, Dianne and others- we're benefitting from your generosity. The rustico is in the southern, Italian, part of Switzerland that still enjoys a Mediterranean climate. We enjoyed a gorgeous day of touring mountain and lakeside villages . It was about 22 degrees and we were loving it. Rodney, thanks for the motion sickness tips, they've been useful here on the windy roads.
After leaving Werner and Lydia's on Monday, we drove north through an extraordinary mountain pass that is only open for another month, then it will close for the winter snow. We clearly let the southern climate and crossed into the Swiss-German zone. For a while were above the tree line, the temperature dropped to 7 degrees and George regretted his decision to wear shorts when we got out for a walk. The traditional looking homes, cows with bells and open pasture were all reminiscent of advertised Swiss images you've all seen. The drive was rather long - we estimate 2.5 hours, and it took 5, but we eventually arrived at our Airbnb home, which we had scheduled for 2 weeks.
For the first time since using Airbnb, we arrived to less than we expected. The house is way, way, way up in the mountains, which I guess we should have expected, but on a flat map, it was hard to see this. But that wasn't really the problem; they advertised this place as a traditional home, but I'll admit we expected some more modern feel. We have basically moved into a barn! They says it's always been a house, but I'm not sure that's believable. Derek and Dad hit their heads on every doorway and beam, the door to the "master" is 1 metre high and at the top of a ladder, the fridge is in the mudroom, and .....I'll stop here.... Within the hour we were trying to negotiate our way out of the contract as we really didn't think we'd be happy here, but exhaustion, efforts on the landlords part, and trying to recover from some terrible family news from home, we agreed that we'd stay for 5 instead of 14 nights. We'll be homeless by Saturday when Derek, Deb and Evelyn leave. We'll sort it out! After a day here, we realize we'll manage just fine. Molly says she likes it because she feels so tall!
So the terribly family news is that my first cousin, Jodie Brownson Noyes, 42 years old, mother of 4 young children, died suddenly of cancer on Sunday. A inoperable tumour was found just a couple of weeks ago and her decline was immediate. Jodie is just 9 months younger than me, my closest cousin by age. The crazy part is, my dearest childhood friend, Crystal, died the same Thanksgiving Sunday 6 years ago after childbirth - the day was hard enough before hearing about Jodie. These two wonderful women are truly missed. I am grateful that Barry is home to attend the service on our behalf. Being away for so long means we will miss some important family events: that doesn't feel so great right now.
So as we're missing family at home today, we drove to the town of Apenzell to visit my great-aunt, Theres. She's the youngest sister of my dad's father. She was born after he immigrated to Canada, so they didn't meet until she was an adult. My brothers, Derek and Dalton, lived with Theres and her husband when they stayed in Switzerland in their early teens for a summer. Derek hadn't seen her since. For those who know her, she hasn't changed a bit. She still tried to herd us through the town, and we were not nearly as obedient as she'd like - Molly suggested that she didn't seem to like us! It was a short, but pleasant visit.
Tonight, instead of euchre, Derek and Dad taught the kids how to play poker. There still playing, and George seems to be a bit of shark....we won't be going back to Monte Carlo on this trip!
Happy belated Thanksgiving to all - we truly missed our family and our traditions this weekend.