Outside the Gate
This is the backyard gate, 20′ from the Lake of Neuchatel, Switzerland.
What goes on outside the gate keeps us occupied for hours. Life on the lake is non-stop. We have swans,
ducks, boats, kite surfers,
wind surfers, swimmers, walkers, sunbathers, cuckoos (never actually heard one outside a clock before. They sound EXACTLY like the clocks), a fox and beavers.
I can see this tree from the house and had to go to investigate. I’ve never seen beaver’s (beavers’?) work up close. I went back the next day, without the camera, and the other side of the trunk was chewed and the tree was leaning the other direction, almost prostrate. It hasn’t fallen yet so I hope I get back there before it does. (Does anyone know if beavers make noises and if so what they sound like? We have the weirdest “chatter” that goes on all night–sounds like a cross between a sea lion and a gull–that I can’t identify since I’ve never heard it before. I was wondering if it is the beavers.)
The views from the house are fantastic. On haze-free days, about 1/2 the time, we can see a whole range of the Alps. Not only do they look close, but they are close.
However, without a car they are not easily accessible. We decided we’d “go native” this month and not spend $100/day on renting a car (and gas is $7.60/gal at today’s exchange rate). Public transportation in Switzerland covers about every single block of the country. Unfortunately, it’s not only tedious and time-consuming, it isn’t so cheap either. The bus stops right outside our driveway, but is a flat fee for 1/2 hour, whether you’re going 200 meters or across town, of $3.55 per person. So a round trip to the store, with time for perusing all the goodies and wandering in and out, costs $7.10 each or $14.20 for both of us! Adds to the price of groceries.
The trip into Neuchatel is much more worthwhile. The store in the center of town is 2-story and they have a device I’ve never seen in a store.
Those of you who have been to airports in Switzerland have seen similar escalators that take baggage carts, but I’ve never seen a separate one just for carts. Ingeniously, they have the people escalator timed to move faster than the cart escalator so you are waiting for it when it arrives.
Fred worked in Neuchatel very early in his career and finding the shop was a goal of his. He did with no problem (old towns don’t change much over the centuries) and not only that, but found the son of the then-owner with whom he worked. Some things, and people, change very slowly in this country.
The highlight so far has been the ride up the Funicular to the top of the mountain (well, hill compared to the Alps) range behind our house. The day was perfect and the view of 3 lakes and the Alps was breathtaking, literally. Fred and I had our 1st date at Mt. Pilatus near Lucerne and I thought that was a spectacular view with 7 lakes in front and a quintessential Swiss valley with cows ringing cowbells, on the other side. I still do think it is spectacular and terribly romantic. But this was far better–at least view-wise.
We’re here for another 10 days then we’re heading for France. So when we run across new and interesting places there, I’ll let you know.
In the meantime, please feel free to post comments, discussions, questions. Thanks!