Since we moved to Europe we have normally stayed in Hotels. This has been for a couple of reasons, but the primary ones being hotels are usually easy to get to, and are in the center of the action. However, because of the COVID restrictions in place we now look for places with kitchens. Hotel restaurants are allowed to be open for guests, but these places are usually packed and neither of us feel safe dining in a jam packed room. Having a place with a kitchen allows us to more easily socially distance and we feel safer. This was our first time renting an apartment not tied into a hotel. It was OK. The only real problem is that it was off the beaten path. Of course in a Swiss city, unless you are talking Basel, Geneva, or Zürich the path is usually not that big to begin with. The one thing that was kind of strange was leaving the apartment. We were supposed to vacate by 10:00 am. That was not the problem. The problem was that at 9:00 am the doorbell started ringing. I would go and answer, but no one would reply. It seemed the like the doorbell was ringing every 5 minutes between 9 and 10. When I started loading the car at 9:15 the cleaning crew had already dropped their stuff off by the front door, and when we left at 9:45 they were standing by the door waiting to get in. I am sure they wanted to get in and get it clean so they could on with their day, but it did kind of ruin the mood. Instead of leaving feeling relaxed, we left feeling rushed.
In my first Locarno post I told you about the Gotthard Tunnel. Over 17 kilometers long it really can speed up the travel to the southern part of the country. The only potential problem with the tunnel is that it is only two lanes, and any kind of slow down results in a massive traffic jam. Since we went down on a Wednesday afternoon, I wasn’t that worried about the traffic, but coming back I was afraid there could be an issue with all the skiers returning home for the weekend. So we decided to take a longer route back. The longer route was AMAZING, and it could be even more so!
Yes there are tunnels on the route we used, but the advantage of the Gotthard Tunnel is that it cuts straight under the mountain range. Coming home we drove up one side of the range, across a pass, and down the other side. This was the type of mountain driving I had been looking forward to. It was pretty awesome driving up the mountain at 60 MPH with a large drop on one side, and a car coming at you on the other. Julie, wasn’t as amused. I can hardly wait for a time that Julie has to travel for work. I hope it is during the summer, because the summer roads were not open, yet. See the picture below. We were on the relatively straight highway. Look at the squiggly red lines. The picture was taken in a tunnel at the top of the pass. During the summer we can take a road up closer to the top of the mountain. I know Julie can’t handle that, but I think it would be a gas!!!
The one downfall to driving is that I don’t get to see anything. Julie took a lot of pictures on the ride back, but since I was concentrating to stay on the concrete I didn’t see any of it! The next time I take a road like this, I am going to mount my GoPro on the dash, so you can see the drive. I suggested that Julie take some video, but I cannot print her response.
I feel like an idiot. I had over 25 minutes of recorded video from our hike. For some reason, though when I went to import the files into Final Cut the video was unusable. I tried to import the files multiple times, but something strange happened with my Go Pro, so all I got is 55 seconds of video. Oh well, I guess some is better than none!
I’ve been following a European story about British citizens living in Spain. In a nutshell, these people moved to Spain while the UK was part of the EU. It is really easy to move within countries in the EU. The only thing you are required to do is register as a resident within your first 90 days. So what has happened is these people never registered. That way they did not have to pay some taxes in the UK because they did not have a residence there, and they were able to skip out on some of the Spanish taxes, because they did not ever register as a resident. The problem started as soon as the the UK pulled out of the EU.
Since travel between the two countries is not open any longer, the UK citizens finally had to register with Spain. You see, they can now ONLY stay in Spain 90 days per year. Spain, however, is very upset with some of these long term residents that have not been paying taxes, so their residency permits have been denied. Now the UK citizens are trying to make a big stink over Spain kicking them out. On the surface, I can see where it is hard. Some of these people have lived in Spain for years, and now have to be out of the country by tomorrow, or face criminal charges. However, if they had only done what they were supposed to do years ago, there would not be any issues now.
Some of the most funny stories are from the UK citizens that voted FOR Brexit. The quotes they give make it astonishingly clear they had no idea what they were actually voting for. “I just wanted the UK to be able to set their own rules. I never thought I would lose my right to live here.”
I should not laugh at people that are losing their homes. I just find it hard to feel sorry for them. They were intentionally trying to get away with not paying their taxes. The Spanish Government is not going after them for the money, they are just saying you are not welcome to live here. I will be very interested to find out if any of them chose to not leave, and see what happens then.
We have decided to spend Easter in a little town named Schaffhausen. It is very close to the Rhine falls, so we will for sure be going back there. It should be interesting. The last time we were at the falls was in Autumn. The falls should be even more active will all the snowmelt from the last month. I hope you all have a wonderful Easter Weekend. I will write more next week.
Enjoy the pictures. These are all pictures Julie took from the car on the drive back home, and others that she took in Locarno.