10 April 2010

still digesting

i didn't write even half of what i wanted to about the trip to switzerland, probably because it still hasn't really sunk in that i've already gone there and come back. even though i returned to copenhagen five days ago, i haven't properly digested all my impressions from the trip. instead, i've been catching up with school (ahhh, epic exams are looming), a volunteer position as a barista at a nonprofit cafe, friends, trying to find a place to live next year, and such the like. also we've had lots of sun for the past few days so i've been happily running around in that.

but now, since i don't know how to say everything i want to say about the land of alps, clocks, and chocolate - i will just say that the stereotype of the swiss chalet in the alps, with square windows and cheerful shutters, surrounded by pines and firs and inhabited by a heidi lookalike, must exist for a reason - i will post some photos.

after a couple hours on a train from copenhagen to southern denmark, we - still on board the train - boarded a ferry for puttgarden, germany. imagine a train on a boat! a big, big boat with tracks for trains, yes.

in hamburg we had eight minutes to find our connecting train to zurich. it was a very harried eight minutes in the gigantic station, which is square and discombobulating, with no departure timetables to be seen near the tracks.

it was so good to see laura again. she welcomed us with dinner.


playing tourist in the rain in zurich. actually aside from this one morning, we had really nice weather.

land of clocks, indeed.

really quite a romantic city. my impression of zurich was clean-cut but quirky.

a truffe du jour from allegedly the best chocolate makers in town, sprüngli. their truffles of the day are made fresh every day and are meant to be eaten within the day. here i am about to devour a dark chocolate cream one. it was delicious, actually more for the texture than for the flavor.

laura, radiant in the sun after a long day of work (while johan and i were out playing).


classy. old town, zürich.

johan is excited to go on to lugano.

laura and i with the trusty interrail map. can't we just keep going south to milano? it was a three-hour trip from zürich to lugano during which laura taught me some survival italian, including "siamo arrivati?", the italian equivalent of "are we there yet?", and "devo pisciare" (i have to pee). i wasn't the only one relieved when we at last arrived at the lugano station.

hot damn.

we were welcomed to ticino with pasta, salad, local merlot, and three kinds of cheese: parmigiano (hard and dry), fontina (softer), and pecorino (solid). after three days of indulgent cheese experiences, i can say that my favorite wavers between parmigiano (classic, real parmesan) and pecorino. but maybe i am just saying that because i know i like sheep cheese. and really they were all so delicious, i don't have a preference.

we went to italy on saturday morning to do some grocery shopping at the weekly market after a breakfast of pastries and cappucino. nevermind that it rained; the produce was beautiful... and i got a red leather purse to boot.

johan and laura, walking into town from laura's parents' house.

i just love the shutters and the colors. i really need to spend some more time in southern europe.

lugano city center, hustling and bustling on the last day of business before everything shut down for easter.

pizza - mine with olive crust and prosciutto, although i also tried some others involving buffalo mozzarella, cherry tomatoes, and speck (salty bacon?). we all got our own pizzas, and we all finished them.

easter mass. laura's choir waits patiently to sing while the bishop does his thing.


i feel really lucky to have gotten to go on this trip and see switzerland - especially the italian part - like a local, doing "normal" things like grocery shopping, running errands, taking walks, and going to cafes and bars and people's houses. however, i couldn't help feeling like an outsider when hanging out with laura, her swiss friends, and johan, not being european and all. johan, for example, delighted in different "swiss" things than i did, since he is from denmark. he was so excited about the mountains! to me the mountains were also indescribably impressive, but also felt familiar, as they vaguely reminded me of where i come from. no, the sierra nevadas aren't the alps, but they aren't, after all, so very far away. also the fact that we were drinking wine (and thankfully not much beer) was very comfortable and familiar to me; all in all my experience of southern switzerland was that it's much more similar to california - and therefore comfortable-feeling to me - than denmark is. denmark feels so alien in comparison: flat and homogenous. switzerland is diverse and bursting and international. i know i am just making broad generalizations now. i'm not saying i like switzerland better than denmark, just that it opened my eyes a lot wider, and i'm thankful for that.

1 comment:

Barbara said...

Thanks for sharing the impressions and the photos! You are having quite a year of travel!

When we visited the French speaking part of Switzerland (when you and Catherine were in Sweden) I thought the mountains were awesome, but mountains are about as un-homelike as it gets for me! I feel at home in the big sky of southern Sweden and Denmark! Not to mention Minnesota...