I was saying, before I ran out of internet time in the last post, how difficult it is to use public transportation in a new place. We`re gradually figuring out the system in Lucerne.
We had read in a guide book that in Switzerland, zou buz the tickets before you get on a bus or train; you don`t give the ticket to anyone unless you`re asked. So on the train from the airport to downtown Zurich, we never saw any official looking person checking tickets. We asked Jorg whz anyone bothers buying a ticket? He warned us that about every other time, the conductor will come through checking for tickets and if you don`t have one, you pay a hefty fine in addition to the cost of the ticket. Since then we have had our tickets checked a lot, so I guess the trick is to keep you guessing.
Everything is in German here in Lucerne, with only occasional English translations. This is a surprise. Even Paris and Seoul had almost all public declarations and announcements in English as well as the vernacular. When we were here 30 years ago, it seemed like less of a problem. That is probably because I was 30 years closer to my three years of college french and to my German-like Pennsylvania Dutch. More Swiss stubbornness, I suppose.
In any event, we figured out the ticket kiosk, found the right bus after much searching, got on the bus and carefully counted out five stops before getting off, less than half a block from Pension Villa Maria on Sunday night when we got here. We walked up, rang the bell and were greeted by Maria, a large hale, hearty Swiss woman in her mid-60`s.
I found this pension through research on the internet, which is always risky. You never know how the pictures have been doctored, or what they chose not to picture. In this instance, we got exactly what we expected. This is a large house, what would be called a bed and breakfast in the states. Maria has nine rooms, onlz some of them with private baths. When I made the reservation, all the rooms with private baths were taken, but a room with a bath opened up and she showed it to us. It is very acceptable. Large, clean, plainly and sparsely furnished. A room with a bath down the hall would have been fine for me, but women like to spread out all the "necessities" required to make themselves presentable.
The price is not bad -- actually great for Switzerland. It is 160 swiss francs (about $112 U.S.) a night, about what you would expect to pay for a comparable bed and breakfast in the U.S.
Maria is great. She is very cheerful, outgoing and efficient. She tends to repeat everything you say, but at twice the volume and enthusiasm. She grabs Rosalee`s suitcase and heads up the stairs.
We call Chris`s hosts and he is out. We ask them to leave a message for him to call us in the morning.
Then we head back downtown on the bus to get something to eat. We decide to eat in the train station rather than go looking for something. We both have "roeschli" a tzpical Swiss comfort food. It`s hashbrowns with bacon fried in it, with an egg on top. This is not healthy eating, but we`re on vacation. The waitress asks Rosalee what she wants to drink. "Just water," she replies, like a rube. "Do you want gas?" the waitress asks. "No, thanks, I already have some." (Those of you who know my wife are not going to believe that last comment. Well, I should be allowed a little literary license for the sake of a good story, shouldn`t I?)
The waitress brings the water, a bottle of Evian at 5 francs ($4.)
By 10 o`clock we finally gratefully climb into bed, some 34 hours after leaving our bed in Illinois. Rosalee has gotten several hours of sleep on the plane; I got less than 20 minutes. Although, we have single beds, the mattresses are firm, the downy comforters are soft, the breezes blowing in the open windows are cool. And so to sleep.