A Weekend at Home

We stayed local this weekend, along with many of our Swiss neighbors. In fact, most of the Swiss we know aren't in a big rush to go on weekend trips, or even day trips. Why would they when not too far from home is a bike ride near apple and pear orchards or a hike through vineyards?

As much as I mourn my former urban and semi-urban lifestyles (four years in Manhattan and a year in Mission Hills, San Diego), I have begun to appreciate the quiet country life. Even the simplest instance of running into my Swiss neighbor four days in a row, not in our building but out and about, brings a smile to my face.

Friday, after Isaiah got home from work, we went for a bike ride along the canal that runs parallel to the Rhine. There's a bike path near our building that follows the canal through fields of cow manure and modern style residences. The evening air was the perfect temperature for a T-shirt ride, a cause for celebration since we couldn't be sure whether or not it would be our last ride of the season ohne jacket. We briefly crossed paths with our neighbor who was walking her dog and exchanged a customary "Grüezi."

Saturday morning was surprisingly sunny, so after a muesli and yogurt breakfast we went for a morning ride. The bike trails were pretty deserted, as I'm sure everyone was hitting up the shopping centers before they closed. This time we rode near the hillside vineyards just along the outskirts of Au and Berneck. Our neighbor, again, was walking her dog. We acknowledged one another with a casual "Grüezi" and big smiles. After some shopping across the border in Dornbirn, Austria, we came home and went for an afternoon ride from Au to St. Margrethen.

Sunday was pancakes and pouring rain and lazing about, but by the afternoon the sky cleared and the sun shone, so we went hiking through the aforementioned vineyards. This time the Wanderweg trails were fully occupied by singles, couples, and entire families walking-off Sunday brunch. Who did we run into? You guessed it. We longed to be able to say more than "Grüezi."

This morning I was back at the vineyards on my bike. Another gorgeous T-shirt weather day. I could get used to this! Of course, I ran into my neighbor again. This time I stopped.

She spoke, "Blah blah blah."

I nodded. I didn't have the heart to ask her to repeat herself langsam because most likely I wouldn't understand her the second time around either. I couldn't let her down - she seems to think I can speak German.

I couldn't really say "Grüezi" at that point because we were past greetings as she had launched right into chit chat. So I began, "Das Wetter ist..."

She finished my sentence, "Wunderschön."

I repeated. "Ja. Wunderschön."

I wanted to say something like, "I want to take advantage of the weather while it's nice, so that's why you've seen me on my bike nearly every day."

Instead I opted for, "Das Wetter ist sehr schön, aber wenn das Wetter ist nicht so schön, ich bin [miming sad face]."

She responded, "Blah blah Velo-touren jeden Tag, blah."

Yup, she definitely noticed that I had been riding my bike almost jeden Tag for the past several days...


  1. Oh I just love the weekends here, even though the world seems to come to and end on Sundays. But that's an even better excuse to go for a bike ride among the fields and Katzenseen, weather permitting. I know, we're probably not going to get 'ohne Jacke' days for a long time to come. Also, yesterday, a lady pointed out to me a spider (it was spinning a web) at the Bushalstelle, and she must have gone on and on about spiders for over 5 minutes. I merely injected a few 'mm-hmm' and 'ja's every once in a while. I didn't want to seem rude to say 'ich kann nicht verstehen' at 9am in the morning.

  2. It's so good to hear of others who also have the same language problems I do! I was on the train last week and the lady opposite me said something about the poster outside the station we were at. I looked at it and smiled at her. Then she carried on talking and talking, in swiss german of course, and by that time I felt it was a bit late to ask her to speak high german so I can at least catch a few words! I just tried to smile and nod in the right places! So frustrating when you don't have the words to say what you want to..

  3. I envy all the scenic greenery you have for biking. The thing I love most about Swizerland (besides chocolate, pastries and watches) is the gorgeous, pristine landscape. That language issue is a whole other thing.

  4. Juanita - I love watching the cats in the fields. They are so entertaining!

    Anneliese - I once sat on the train and had a "conversation" with two mums. All because I picked up the baby's bottle that rolled over to my feet. They started going off for the next 10 minutes (it felt longer) in Swiss-German and kept making eye contact me to include me. I felt so stupid because I had no idea what they were saying.

    Fly Girl - This particular weekend I kept pinching myself. Am I really here? I come from dry dry San Diego. I am not accustomed to all this greenery! But I love it!


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