Well it has been a fairly quiet week after returning to Switzerland. It was a pretty easy transition back into “Hausmann Tasks.”
It is very easy to tell that winter has returned to Switzerland. It is dark by 1630 every afternoon, and we have seen the sun exactly one time this week. We got a little snow on Monday and Tuesday, but not enough to actually stick on the ground for longer than a couple of hours. Julie and I are still trying to enjoy the season. We went to the Zürich Christmas Markets on Thursday. It was pretty awful weather, but the markets are always fun.
Zürich actually has three larger markets. There is one in the train station, the Neiderdorf Area, and at the Opera House. The markets are all different. The market in the train station is focused on buying traditional Christmas goods. The market in Neiderdorf seems more focused on foreign goods. The market at the Opera House is more of a food and drink venue. Julie had heard the market in Rapperswil is actually better than the Zürich markets so we hopped on a train and rode to the other end of the lake.
Unfortunately by the time we got to Rapperswil the weather had worsened. The rain was really coming down, and the wind had picked up so bad we watched multiple umbrellas turn inside out. We did find the nicest sales people at a stand, though. We had just started walking through the market, and Julie found a place selling wool chair mats, and other products. Julie wanted me to get a new pair of house slippers, and we can never remember our sizes over here; so the nice young lady brought out plastic sheets and paper bags; so I could stand on something dry and try on some slippers. Needless to say, Julie wound up buying multiple things, and has even said she is heading back next Thursday for more. I guess that counts as a win/win????!!!
I was going to be writing this in Prague. Prague has a Christmas Market that is on Julie’s must see list. Instead (I will talk more on this later.), we are in Basel for the weekend. I learned yesterday, that I forgot something back in the US. I mentioned earlier that we have seen the sun once this week. Well that was yesterday. As we were getting ready to leave I realized I would want my sunglasses. However, when I opened the case and saw nothing but air looking back, I realized the sunglasses are sitting in an F-150 back in Mitchell, Indiana. Oh well, hopefully I can return in two weeks and get them! This leads me to my next thought. Are we ever going to get over Covid?
We are now approaching the end of year two in dealing with this virus. The US appears to have gotten their Delta wave this summer. Europe is getting it now. Throw in Omicron, and we appear to be looking at another COVID Christmas. One of the biggest problems is that travel restrictions seem to come and go with a moments notice. When I arrived on Monday, we were still good for trip to Prague. By Wednesday, the trip was called off, because there was a mandatory 10 day quarantine upon returning. Even for people fully vaccinated. By Friday, the quarantine part had been lifted, because Switzerland’s status was just as bad as the Czech Republic’s. Now we have a very heavy testing protocol in place with any foreign travel. For example on our trip to the US for Christmas we have to take a PCR test 24 hours before the plane departs. We then have to take another PCR test 72 hours before we come back to Switzerland. After we come back, we have to wait 4 days to get another PCR test. I do not know how much these tests cost in the US, but here they are about $160 per test. So we are looking at about another $100 for the two of us for the trip. The way we read the law, this is now true for any international travel. We were thinking of going to Strasbourg, France next weekend, but that trip is probably out as well.
The worst part about the Christmas Trip, is that we were bringing the kids back with us. The travel situation is so tenuous right now, that we will probably wind up canceling the return visit for the kids. Julie and I are both surprised Switzerland has not already imposed more lockdowns. The Government said all along that as long as the situation remained stable they would not make any further moves, but in the last two weeks the number of people in hospital has skyrocketed. Zürich has filled up their ICU beds with COVID patients, and a news article I saw yesterday said they are unable to transfer patients to another canton. One other move the Government is making actually kind of pisses me off. Not because it is not the right thing to do, but because it rewards people that should not be rewarded. The announcement this week is that work from home is recommended, but may be made mandatory for the unvaccinated. I guess I still have much US in me. If your company requires you to be at work, and you choose to not be vaccinated to work from home, the company should immediately be able to terminate your employment. That will never happen here. At this point I am ready to throw up my hands in the air and say “F*** IT!” There are far too many people not willing to be vaccinated, and few countries will require the vaccination; so we will be dealing with this for the foreseeable future. We might as will just lift all the precautions and let life go. A lot more people will die, but at least that helps the over population problem right? I am writing this from a hotel in Basel. Julie and I decided to come visit the Basel Christmas Market instead of staying home; so obviously we are not that worried about catching Covid.
I do think many of the restrictions make sense. I support requiring the Covid certificates before going out to eat or going to any entertainment venue. In my mind, this should encourage people to take the one step the experts all agree would eventually mean we can stop being concerned about Covid. Julie and I are also on the waiting list for the booster shot. We should be able to get it right before we return to the US for Christmas.
Basel is a very nice city. Like most larger Swiss cities a good mix between the modern and the old. The two live successfully right next to each other. This is our second visit here. We came here for lunch one day when George was visiting this summer. We walked along the river side and toured the Cathedral. The weather was excellent yesterday; so we checked into the hotel and visited the Christmas Market. Julie claims this one has been her favorite in Switzerland. I think she said this, because it has been the first time this year, she could add to her Christmas Market/Gluwein cup collection. It is a great setting. You enter the market through a small alley, and it opens up to a drink and food court. All nestled along the base of an old church. You follow the alley along the walls, and it opens up into a really nice plaza where the majority of the market is located.
It turned out the “church” is now the Basel Museum. It is a fascinating museum with a great mix between the history of the church, history of Basel, and other exhibits. It is highly recommended if you are ever in the area. Julie and I commented multiple times, that our kids would love this place. Outside of the Swiss National Landesmuseum, this one is my new favorite. (Sorry Bern.) We topped off our Friday with dinner at an Irish Pub. We had a little problem with our food order, but the pub had live music; so we still had an amazing evening.
Unfortunately, the rain came back on Saturday. We were able to go strolling through town for about a couple of hours before the heavens opened up, but it has rained pretty heavily all day; so we relaxed in the hotel room.
I am thinking a lot today about many of my friends in Memphis, TN this weekend. This is the third year we have had to support the Barlow Family and Team David from afar. Julie and I both really miss being there. I know everyone is always asking for money this time of year, but if you have a spare dime there is no better place to support than St Jude Hospital. I am attaching the link to the Team David page please donate if you are able.
St JUDE HOSPITAL DONATION LINK
Also before I get to some of the pictures from our weekend, I would ask you to keep another High School friend in your thoughts and prayers. Brian Grow and his wife Misty just found out one of their grand children was diagnosed with leukemia. Stay strong Archer, you can beat this!