I knew before I opened my eyes this morning that the clunk in my dream was the cat in real life spilling a glass of water on my computer. As such, it’s currently sat in front of me, in two pounds of rice, and I’m praying to every god I’ve forsaken over the years that I don’t have a brand new, shiny aluminum paperweight. Shall I make a connection between my technological karma and the lack of updates on offer for you faithful readers? No, that’s just silly. After all, I’ve been sorting through all the photos I’ve been taking over the past week, and editing the videos from the GoPro we hooked up to the car, which were going to be uploaded today, if not for that meddling cat.
More interesting than my computer woes and how much I despise cats right now is where we are in the world. And I’ll save you the guessing, because suspense is probably illegal here: We’re in Switzerland. With its mountains and pretty cities, it’s got a vaguely British Columbia feel to it, geography-wise, but the people diverge heavily from the amiable jejunity of your average west-coaster. Switzerland might have one of the highest living standards in the world, but you would never know it talking to a Swiss. Their general disposition is warped by a gravity you’d normally associate with war refugees, who are incidentally some of the friendliest people I’ve met here.
I am being harsh, though. What reason do you have to be happy in a place where everything is clean, safe and beautiful? Frankly, someone needs to take Switzerland out for a night on the town to loosen it up a bit. Not me, though. I’ve seen what passes for “nightlife” here, and the only true part of that term is that you’re out after dark. As an example, we were denied entrance to the first two bars we went to here, and not really for any reason in particular. Now, I understand the concept of not allowing people into bars to create a false sense of popularity, but it doesn’t make sense when the streets are empty and so is your bar and there are four people standing there wanting to pay to drink your overpriced beer. I’m going to chalk it up to socialism, or something.
Unfortunately, our host here, Celina, is a casualty of my brash generalizations, because she is an absolutely lovely person. As were Yvon and Elisabeth who put us up in La Cote-Saint-Andre, and turned what we thought would be a quick pit-stop into a great introduction to the Alps. They also served us a brilliant pate-croute and a ratatouille, which means we’ve tried traditional dishes everywhere we’ve been now, including fondu here in Switzerland and pasty-mouthed hangover in Amsterdam.
Pate-croute is delicious, and even more so after an 11-hour drive across France after the aforementioned traditional Amsterdam cuisine. The also do liquor right in France. I’ve mentioned my love affair with Calvados before, but the newcomers to the party are the pear equivalent, poire, and the Christmas-flavored liqueur hydromel.
And finally, for those who are interested, a brief trip logistics update. As an aside, this blog is more intended to be more observational commentary than a “I did this and I saw that and we ate food” kind of thing. So hopefully you’ll forgive me this one. The car was fully serviced before we left Normandy. Besides a couple electrical glitches, which were fixed with Yvon’s help, it’s running like a champ. Two new tires and all new filters gave the old girl a much-needed freshening up. We also picked up a friend in Paris, so we’re running three-deep these days, and we’re only one more ethnicity away from boyband status. Next stop: Italy. Traditional dish to be sampled: Not sure. Does Italy have any decent cuisine?