So, last weekend spent in Switzerland in the company of stellar people from the Archers newsgroup. Fab time had by all: started off in Geneva with a lovely soiree on a balcony on a warm summer’s night. Excellent food, plenty of time for discussion and getting-to-know-you. I think I share elements of the same sense of humour with Gumrat which lead to some hilarity.
Saturday we all got in the car and headed right across Switzerland to Basel taking in some sights of lakes and mountains and fountains and so on. We stopped in Bern for lunch (I had authentic roesti, and failed utterly to understand Swiss German being spoken to me, although the waiter seemed to understand me. Also usual problem of knowing enough for a chat, and yet knowing very little about words for food on menus.)
Before leaving Bern we drove around it taking in some sights of old Bern, the Swiss Parliament (outside thereof) and a bear pit. Photos of bears here. Many of them came out like photos you see of abused animals in street stalls, but these bears looked quite happy, if a little hot under all that fur. There was plenty of space in the pit, and vegetation, and water. About four bears in total, I think, three of which just wanted to sleep and a fourth was prepared to play tricks for the people above who were dropping vegetables straight into the hungry bear’s mouth.
On to Basel, where we met up with further umrats including one who lives in Basel, and a group who’d flown in specially. Basel was celebrating something, not quite sure what, but included football team having won something. Small groups of about 30 men in various different mediaeval costumes were marching around with familiar but different tunes on pipes and drums that others identitified as the tunes for Scotland the Brave and British Grenadiers that probably have different words in Swiss German (like the French kids in Reims who seemed to be singing My Bonnie Lies Over the Ocean). Some over excited naked drunk men were playing in a fountain and our host felt she vaguely recognised one of them.
At a pre-ordained time, we went to wave banners at a webcam for our newsgroup-reading friends stuck at home: two pics to show what we looked like on the ground and what the webcam saw…
The following day we headed off en masse to Ballenberg, a museum of rustic Swiss life where they have dismantled houses from old Switzerland and put them in in a large rural park. There were fantastic pics to be had from all over, just Swiss chalets, snow covered alps, livestock with cowbells, a lake with huge leeches in it. A park full of postcard views waiting to be taken. And they also had fire pits and free bits of wood — for a barbecue, all you had to provide the meat and matches.
After the barbecue we wandered around the park a bit taking in the sites, before it was eventually time to go our separate ways, half back to Basel, half back to Geneva.
The following day, I bid fond farewell to my generous hosts, took a tram in to see bits of Geneva (an overcast day, so not great pics) then headed off in the Alps.