Wednesday, October 24, 2012

Switzerland, Day 3: Checking out Schwyz

Today, Ryan & I went our gender-separate ways.  He & our host, Christophe, headed to work and a Drupal meet-up. Christophe owns a business and has been a user of the Drupal software Ryan writes since the beginning.  He thinks he was the FIRST user of Ubercart in Europe, and met Ryan at DrupalCon Barcelona... which we attended as newlyweds 5 years ago.  [I just went back and dredged up blog posts from that trip, for anyone wanting a throwback: "Hola de Catalunya," "Thoughts on Picasso," "Ryan's First European Meal" and "I Got my Paella!"  Fun times!]  ANYWAY... Ryan was gone all day.

Super-old Door in the Bethlehem House
Sabina offered herself as tour guide around, and to take me wherever I wanted to go.  I slept in a bit, tried to get Liam to eat, sent out postcards through this nifty little site, and we had lunch at home before venturing forth into the fog & chill.  The drive to Schwyz (capital of the canton Schwyz) was unwordly and a bit creepy-- the fog went all the way to the ground and was so thick that nothing was visible until BOOM! It was at arm's length.  I've read descriptions of objects "rising from the mist" and that was exactly what it looked like.  Anyway, I enjoyed the old city center, with its cobble stones, street-level shops with family dwellings leaning over the eaves, chapel spires, church bells and clock chimes.  We toured the oldest wooden house in Europe:  the Bethlehem House, built in 1287--it's as old as Notre Dame and predates Switzerland as a nation, as well as the later family mansion known as the Ital Reding House.  Both belonged to the Reding family, whose austere portraits we scrutinized in the 2 floors we could see of the 6.  Sabina is so easy to talk to and very considerate and helpful.  The perfect hostess and a wonderful tour guide!  She explained several aspects of the houses to me, as there were no tour guides-- I couldn't believe it when they unlocked the houses for us and turned us loose!

Oven in typical green tile
I was suddenly famished as only someone eating for 2 (haha or more, in my case) can be, so we walked through the downtown again for my first Swiss supermarket experience.  Don't worry, female friends:  I am bringing you back PLENTY of chocolate.  Also the biggest Toblerone I've ever seen (600 g) and sweet chestnut paste, which is a wonderful crepe topping.  Swiss chocolates are just amazing, and their combinations are superb:  my new favorite is milk chocolate with raisins & almonds (with NO plastins and NO vanillin, take THAT Hershey!!).  Honey is another popular filling.

Our last stop was the Swiss Army Knife factory store, where I picked up several Christmas gifts at a great price.  They have knives with EVERYTHING on them-- Sabina and I laughed that you don't even need to open them to use them as a deadly weapon-- just hold them like a rock and bash someone over the head with it!  We actually had a running joke about all the things we could use as weapons, starting with a truly hefty candlestick in the Reding House.  I had an "Aha!" moment which led me to explain the game "Clue," which as you probably knows, lists "candlestick" as a possible murder weapon. Anyway, I also was tickled at the Swiss Army PERFUME lines!  A sniff proved that it was not Eau de Sweaty Boy.  I'm pretty sure no army smells like anything anyone would WANT to exude.

Dinner was me, & Sabina, and the 4 teenaged young men living in her house.  It was great.  Amazing salad, shepherd's pie, songs sung in canons in several languages, and jokes, lots of jokes-- all of the knock-knock, pun, blonde (or Austrian), or "Your Mama" variety.  The Gallis are raising some stellar boys and are a great inspiration to Ryan & I with our little man (hopefully men someday =D).

Enjoy these pics of the Bethlehem House:

Fish Font- obviously these folks weren't strapped for cash

The ceiling was WAY low-- I could stand up straight in the rooms but not through the doors

Original Stone Sink (drains straight to the outside)

Cast-iron Skillets

Can you imagine learning to walk on this floor? 

Cloth bag filled with cherry-pits that were warmed in the tile oven and then taken to warm the beds.  Sabina remembers using some like these as a child!

And these from the Ital Reding House:
The Deluxe Version tile oven, with paintings representing each canton.  This one is for Schwyz.

Dining room with gorgeous paneled ceiling!
Can't believe our time here is almost over!

No comments: