The Season of the Visitors
1. Business class is not all it is cracked up to be. Yes, Auntie might possibly be the first person
in the world who disliked Lufthansa lay-flat beds (these things are NOT comfortable, Trailing Spouse!), or four-course dinners (speck? What is speck?), or all the alcohol one can drink. C’est la vie. Uncle Wade, rest easy, I did not spoil her for your future travels. Girl prefers coach.
2. It is possible to do all 5 Big Landmarks in Paris in one day using the metro and simply running your visitor up the metro steps, snapping the photo and running back down the metro steps to the next
3. The Paris metro has a certain aroma and a certain ambience which can be alarming to an older, very white, very sheltered American who lives out in the countryside. ‘Nuff said.
4. Even Baptists can get carried away upon seeing the Pope. Okay. This was hilarious. The morning that we visited Vatican City coincided with a Papal mass wherein the newly inaugurated Pope, Francis by name, was actually conducting the outdoor mass himself and making/crowning/inducting a bunch of new saints. (I don’t know the right verb for turning somebody into a saint). Anyway, there were more than 100,000 people out in the square in front of St. Peter’s Basilica and I was appalled. I have been to the Vatican before and it has been very calm and you can go inside and get some great pictures of the Swiss guards, etc. Not on this day. On this particular day there were soldiers everywhere with guns and helicopters hovering overhead and metal stanchions all over the place strictly dividing where one could and could not venture.
Suddenly, for the first time in four days, Auntie comes alive and decides that she wants to take the lead of our little threesome, as opposed to following Mr. Big and I everywhere and occasionally
ME: Mr. Big, where in the hell is she going?
BIG: I have no idea. She’s YOUR aunt.
ME: Go get her ass and get her back here before she gets trampled.
After she mailed her post card to poor, unsuspecting Uncle Wade, (Huh? Why am I getting a post card from the Pope? Aren’t we Baptists?), we then had to fight our way back into Rome proper through a ginormous anti-abortion parade. Really? Can we have any more fun today? Have YOU
5. The Alps are indeed, high, and Switzerland is indeed, cold. Nevermind that the calendar says June. Even on sunny days, to an American, it is cold here. It’s a fact of life. I try to explain to people that we are on a latitude exactly equal to Halifax, Nova Scotia. Would you go to Canada and not even bring a sweater? Exactly. Auntie was a shivering mass of flesh the entire time.
As for the altitude? The first time we went over the Alps we went over the Grand St. Bernard pass. She passed out in the back seat at about 2,500 meters and didn’t really revive until the next day around lunch time when we left the Val d’Aoste. It’s a good thing I took pictures of our first night in Saint Vincent at the Hotel Alla Posta, because she, to this day, has absolutely no recollection.
Lest you think I am picking on Auntie, rest assured, I think she had a good time overall. Once she got over the shock that there’s no such thing as bacon and eggs for breakfast and people here start drinking wine at lunchtime, she was okay. Immediately after Auntie left, we welcomed Mr. Big’s dad, his wife and two of their friends. Luckily, I had warned them ahead of time that, according to Auntie, it was freezing here, so they came fully equipped for fall-like weather.
We had a lovely stay with them, although, again, I think they were appalled by the fact that we eat approximately 10% of the amount of food on a daily basis that Americans routinely eat. Also, hard
blender, strawberries, a TWIST of lemon, the verb “to muddle”, anything involving a dairy product, a “sprig” of anything, etc., their drink wishes are not going to be fulfilled. These things just do not translate well. I cannot stress this enough. We do not even have CLUB SODA or TONIC WATER here.
There are some close facsimiles, but they are not right. I could go on and on about this for days, but,
Gruyere, as usual, was quirky but quintessentially Swiss. Mr. Big’s crowning achievement was finding an English-speaking Catholic mass here in Lausanne for some visitors who wanted to go to
And, if you think MY visitors were challenging, let me tell you about my friend who lives in La Croix sur Lutry. She had a niece from America come to visit this summer who went walk-about. While in Greece, this niece GOT HIT BY A BUS and wound up in a Greek hospital. The niece’s mother had to fly here to rescue her. The whole visit included hospital visits in Greece and Switzerland, extra plane tickets, much angst, three-way translated phone calls in Greek-French-English, etc. A nightmare. All is well, though. Niece is fine and back in Missouri or Ohio or wherever.