Sometimes we like to vary the format of the Untourist of the Week. When we asked Emily Kauppi if she’d like to be featured on our blog, she replied” “You undoubtedly don’t remember, but we met MANY years ago. My first Swiss Untour was 1986. One of my priorities this Untour is to write Hal, whose philosophy and founding of Idyll (Sorry, I still prefer to call it that!) have so enriched my life. We had a wonderful afternoon – lunch at the Aareschlucht Restaurant, followed by a walk to Innerkirchen – on my last trip (2005). Emily then told us, ” I’m trying very hard to write friends and family every evening (group e-mail), telling them my day’s activities.” So I suggested that rather than answer our normal questions, she send up excerpts from her ‘daily reports’ .
Here is her first day back in Switzerland after a eight year gap:
It was threatening rain when we arrived in Zurich – who cares!!!! I’m back in Switzerland! Super friendly officer at customs window. When I walked up and said “Gruetzi” he thought I was Swiss, and looked puzzled when I handed him a US passport. I shrugged and said “Wiefiel kostat das?” “Won kommpt der Zug?” “Wo is die Toiletten” – “FIN!”, and he laughed and gave me a vigorous, perfect Swiss stamp on my passport. (Forgive my terrible German spelling, Kathleen!) Stopped in the restroom, walked through baggage claim until I found an ATM and got some money. After exiting to the big shopping mall floor between airport arrivals and the (below) train station, I went into a Post and bought a 10 sf calling card (have to call and check up on Willy periodically) and a few postcard stamps, though I probably won’t even use them, except for George, who doesn’t have a computer. Followed the signs to the Bahnreisencentrum, where I met up with the friendly Idyll crowd at the designated meeting spot. However, I did not want to hang around the airport for another 3 hours to ride to my “home town”. I also wanted that first ride to be just for me, without the distraction of other people chattering excitedly. So glad I did that solo ride.
Had the train car mostly to myself, once we got out of Luzern. From there on, passing the string of placid, steel blue lakes, towered over by jagged granite peaks; brilliant green meadows below; dark wood chalets, their window boxes overflowing with profusions of red and pink geraniums…..I felt awash in nostalgia. So many memories. It really feels like HOME to me here. It was sprinkling when I got off the train in my village, Meiringen. But OMG, that Swiss air! There’s nothing like it – the scent of fresh-washed meadow, newly cut. Connected fine with my landlady, Monika (actually, the absentee owner; Annett, the landlady, will be here on Friday) at the Meiringen Bahnhof. Monika’s’s about 35, with a beaming smile and a hugely warm, welcoming demeanor. Also met the friendly couple from Florida, Wilma and Harold, who will be upstairs. Monika drove us to our apartments, showed us how the washer and dryer work, where to put the produce refuse for compost, and how to separate out the other trash for recycling. We also met her 2 kids: Fabio, who is 13, and Katarina, who is 15. Like all Swiss kids, they are so healthy and wholesome looking! And they are so helpful to their Mom (without being asked), and respectful to the guests. Kat really tried to step in for her Mom and explain things to me. The family lives in Basel, and when I told Fabio how excellent his English is, with hardly any accent, he said they go to an “American school.”
My apartment is FAB-U-LOUS!!! Chalet sits on the edge of a huge meadow. Has a large lawn-garden right outside my door, with the meadow beyond, and the walls of the mountains going straight up, above. There’s an apple tree and a sitting area with a small grape arbor. We were told to help ourselves to any fruit that’s ripe. I tested the wifi, and it works out in the garden, so some future missives will be written with me inspired by these magnificent surroundings. It’s an easy 7 minute walk to the Bahnhof and the Migro across the street from it, so the location in general is perfect. Interior of the apartment was recently renovated, and the only quibble I might have is that there’s no counter space in the kitchen! Literally about 2′ worth! But it has a microwave and a dishwasher – the latter almost unheard of in these apartments (as is a washer and dryer). The photos on the Untours website don’t do these apartments justice. The one upstairs has what looks to be a wonderful sitting area (enclosed balcony) that must have a tremendous view. Monika lent me an extra shopping bag, and I made 2 trips to the Migro to load up on groceries. Always feel good to get set with that. Walking home I had a view of Reichenbach Falls, plunging over the cliffs. The clouds moved out this afternoon, and it was absolutely perfect for 4 hours, but it’s clouding up again now. That’s fine, as I’ll be taking it fairly easy tomorrow, anyway. Haven’t yet decided what to do. There’s a Wanderweg right outside the chalet, and I’m guessing the path goes through the meadows, following the river up to Brienz and its gorgeous lake. Or maybe I’ll go to Bern. The Idyll mantra is to let “whim and weather” decide your day. That’s good advice for me now, when I’m feeling woozy, but by the end of the week I hope to be on some old, favorite high-mountain trails. Katarina just brought me some pillowcases, fresh out of the dryer. I’m going to start unpacking and pulling a small dinner together, then shower and be in bed by 8 PM (though I barely feel tired now). It’s starting to get cold! The adventure begins! Much love to all, Em