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(July 30, 2007 to August 3, 2007)
DAY 1 - Monday
Our introduction to high speed rail travel was back
in the mid 1990s when we rode Japan's bullet train from Tokyo to Kyoto.
It was a fantastic experience to be riding on land at speeds up to 200
mph. We had also ridden the French TGV in 1997 when we took it from
Paris to Montpellier in the south of France. Today was our third time
on a high speed train as we rode the new TGV East line that goes from
Paris to Germany with stops in Switzerland.
After our shaky start in Paris where we were told to get on the wrong
train car, we had a wonderful four and a half hour ride from Paris to
If you want to read a bit more on the TGV you can check out the
following website or google "tgv": http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/TGV
We got off the train in Zurich and started walking toward the main
I saw a sign that indicated how to get to the track where we would get
on a local train to Wollerau, which is where our friends, Peter and
Yoko, live up along Lake Zurich. I thought I would find a ticket
machine along the way to purchase a ticket with a credit card given
that we only had euros with us at the time. I didn't see a machine so I
asked someone and she pointed me to the main terminal. I left Diane
with the luggage
and walked to the terminal. As I was reading the directions on the
machine I heard a
voice asking if I needed any help with the machine. I turned around and
it was Peter along with his two children, Naoko, now age nine, and
Amane (pronounced "uh mahn ay"), now age six. I was floored and so
to see him after a very long eight years. He and his family
have rail passes, so he decided to ride to
Zurich to greet us. Good thing I didn't see the ticket machine out on
the platform or we would have missed each other. After lots
of hugs all around we followed Peter to the train that would take us to
Richterswil where Peter had parked his car. Then it was a short drive
to his house where we had more hugs when we saw Yoko for the first time
in eight years. The last time we saw them was in summer 1999 when we
were on vacation with my mom for her first trip out of the USA. I
documented that trip in several travelogs titled "Vacation with Mom".
Peter and I worked together for almost four years from early 1993 to
1996 when we were both 100% travelers on an information technology
audit team. We were assigned to many of the same audits together and
became fast friends. It was on one of the audits in Japan that Peter
met Yoko, who was also an IBMer. Love blossomed and marriage followed.
Now they have two lovely children. The last time we saw Naoko she was
just one year old, and we had never met Amane.
Yoko cooked us a wonderful dinner and we spent the rest of the evening
catching up on old times. It felt wonderful to be back.
DAY 2 - Tuesday
Today Diane and I learned what kind of shape we were
in. Both Naoko and Amane went off with their grandparents for the day,
so Peter and Yoko took us on a hike. First we drove across Lake Zurich
to Rapperswil to walk around and shop. Then it was back to the house
to drop off some stuff and then a drive to Lake Walen for a hike. The
walk was mostly along the lake and the views were beautiful. Little did
we know that we would walk about six miles as indicated on Peter's
handheld GPS unit.
We got back to the house in time for Naoko and Amane to return, and
then had another wonderful dinner prepared by Yoko along with lots more
chatting. After dinner, Diane opted to soak in the tub while I joined
everyone else for an evening hike of about three miles through the
countryside. The day went by quickly.
DAY 3 - Wednesday
Today was August 1 and a national holiday in
Switzerland. It is equivalent to our July 4th celebration. Most
everything was closed and we could see during the week that people were
stocking up on fireworks.
The weather had been wonderful our entire trip other than our arrival
day in Paris, and one other day there when it sprinkled. It was a
gorgeous day so Peter and Yoko asked if we would like to do another
hike. Today we walked about seven miles through the Swiss countryside
with a stop a long the way for a drink. We started out by walking out
through the village of Wollerau which took us uphill where we could
look down on views of Lake Zurich. The views were beautiful, and we
could only imagine what it must look like in winter with snow on the
surrounding mountain tops.
I first learned about raclette when I visited Peter's place in 1994
when we drove from where we were working in Milan to his house. I was
hooked. Raclette is a cheese, but folks will refer to the
dining experience as raclette. In the USA we have been able to find
French raclette cheese, but it has been almost impossible to find Swiss
raclette cheese. Tonight we had Swiss raclette. Diane
and I found a raclette machine at a kitchen store in the Atlanta area
years ago and carry it with us in the motorhome. Some of you who are
reading this have experienced raclette with us.
Another dining experience I had was stone top cooking when I was on a
three week stay in Caracas, Venezuela. A meal is ordered and brought
out with a very hot stone on which you cook the meat or fish and
veggies. It turned out that the raclette machine that we found had a
place to melt the cheese, but the top was a stone rather than a teflon
cooking surface. Peter's machine had a similar top where one could cook
meat and veggies. We had a wonderful time sharing this raclette
experience with Peter, Yoko, Naoko, and Amane.
Given that it was a holiday that would generate fireworks, Peter set up
the raclette machine on the balcony from which you could see Lake
Zurich and across to the other side. The lake is not a big round lake,
but more lengthwise extending all the way to Zurich. The shoreline was
only about 400-500 yards from Peter's house so the view was up close.
As it started to get dark we could hear people starting to shoot off
their fireworks and see some rockets going up. About 10 p.m. we were
lucky to be directly across the lake from a community that had a 15
minute fireworks display. What was even more impressive was to be able
to look up and down the lake for miles, I would guess at least five to
six miles, or more, and see flashes of light as people were celebrating
their holiday. It was really an amazing sight.
DAY 4 - Thursday
If you have been following our travels, you may
remember the German couple, Peter and Christiane E., whom we met at
the Tampa RV Show. They live in Hechingen, Germany, which is near
Stuttgart. We had been in touch and they said they'd love to come over
and visit with us while we were so close. It was very nice of them to
drive the almost three hours to Wollerau. After introducing them to
Peter and Yoko, we went to the Schuetzenmatt
restaurant for lunch where we had a very nice time chatting over a nice
lunch. Peter and Yoko were very nice to invite the E. to their
house for coffee and cookies where we chatted some more before it was
time for Peter and Christiane to drive back to Germany. Diane and I
always find it interesting to drive from one country to another for a
day trip. For us it would be like driving from one state to another,
except for folks who live in border states to Canada or Mexico where
they can drive to another country.
Later that evening we had yet another great meal prepared by
Yoko and Peter. I don't remember the exact days, but I should also
credit Peter with a couple of the meals he prepared on the grill.
Of course, I would be remiss if I didn't also point out that breakfast
was also great as we loved the bread and jams they had on the table. I
have long loved the coffee that Peter's coffee machine makes. I don't
remember the name of this machine, but the previous one was a "Solis".
Back in the 90s I didn't see these machines in the USA, but now I do
similar machines every now and then. Maybe it's the water, or maybe
it's the coffee, or maybe it's the machine, but I have never had better
tasting coffee than I've had when I've been in Peter's house.
DAY 5 - Friday
Today was our last full day in Wollerau. There
hasn't been a visit where we didn't go to visit the town of Einsiedeln.
It is where Peter went to school and the outstanding feature of the
town is the huge and beautiful church and its grounds. Today we all
piled into the car and went to Einsiedeln to take a hike around the
property, which Diane and I have done before with them. However, today
we hiked in yet another part of the grounds and, as usual, we were
awed by the views as we hiked up and up and up to give us views of the
church and town. You can learn more about Einsiedeln by visiting the
following website: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Einsiedeln_Abbey.
I will let the photos tell the story of our hike.
We headed home for one final meal with our good friends.
DEPARTURE DAY - Saturday
The time had come to say good bye, and it went by
much too quickly. We were so glad Peter was able to take the week off
to spend with us. It was certainly appreciated. He and Yoko were
fantastic hosts and showed us a marvelous time, and fed us great meals.
Now Diane and I were off to Praha (Prague), a city we have wanted to
visit, but never had the chance. We got up and finished packing. Then
everyone came with us to the local train station where we would catch a
train directly to the flughafen (airport). The train pulled in and we
hugged our friends and bid them farewell with hopes that it would be
less than eight years before we meet again.
Until next time, safe
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Roaming America with Rich &
Diane Emond -
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