Getting older STINKS

but it is still better than the alternative!!

There have been a couple things I like about not working. Due to some of the strange noise requirements of our apartment building; I am able to practice my guitar almost every day. If I were working, the only day I could practice the guitar is on Saturday. I am not allowed to practice musical instruments on Sunday, nor after 7:00 PM. This is not an uncommon practice for Swiss Apartments, just go back and look at some of the strange laws I have talked about in earlier posts! The other advantage is being to exercise 5 or 6 days per week. It is much easier to carve out an hour and a half or two hours to exercise, when you are not getting up before sunrise to get to work, and you are exhausted when you get home. I have not been able to exercise this consistently since I was in college.

Now, I also know that staying in shape is A LOT HARDER the older you get. Back when I was in my 20’s I could not run for 6 months, and still go out and pass the APFT for the Army. I think I had to run the 2 miles in under 22 minutes. Now, if I don’t exercise for a couple of weeks, I can’t even run one mile without walking.

This winter the weather was so bad, I spent a lot of time in the basement on my bike. I would ride 40 – 50 kilometers 5 days a week. Once the weather started getting a little warmer, I started running again, but have still been struggling. Last week the weather was only nice enough to go outside one morning, so Saturday I went on a 4 1/2 mile run. It was exhausting. I know you use your leg muscles differently on a bike vs running, but still… Anyway, I survived, and then Julie and I went on another 4 – 5 mile walk that afternoon. So Sunday morning I was pretty stiff and sore.

I was in the shower just thinking to myself, that I really need to look into YOGA, or some kind of stretching regimen i just feel “tight” most of the time. I was reaching down to squeegee the glass and I felt a terrible burning pain in my lower back. It took everything I had to stand back up. Needless to say, I spent the rest of Sunday in bed (and not the good kind of in bed) or sitting in a straight backed chair to keep the pain manageable.

The good news, is that I am in good enough shape, it only knocked me off my feet for a day. I woke up this morning, still a little sore and stiff, but able to walk. I am thinking, I will even be able to walk to the store this morning. I will probably still drive, because the weather sucks, but I think I could make it on my feet! 🙂 So anyone reading this: If you have a good YOGA program, or stretching program that you like, please make a comment or reach out and let me know. I am very interested in hearing about something that works.

Apartment vacancies

The financial reports for Switzerland keep saying that the rental market is a sellers dream. Especially in the biggest cities and surrounding areas. There is simply a lot more demand than there is supply. I was reading one article that said in the canton of Zürich over 80% of the residents rent. Based off of the number of apartment buildings being built, there are a lot of people that believe the things I am reading. There are buildings going up seemingly everywhere. I can still see almost a dozen cranes from our apartment, and that is not counting the other side of the lake!

All of this being said, I am starting to have my doubts the market is as strong as everyone says it is. There is one apartment, on our way to the train station, that has been vacant for a year now. Granted it probably isn’t the nicest place in the city of Rüschlikon. It is on two levels, but no view, and the building is extremely narrow. However, in the two buildings that are now finished on either side of us. Only one apartment is occupied. Between the two buildings there are 7 apartments, so only having one occupied seems to go against what the experts are saying. I am sure there is something going on that I do not know about. One of the buildings has never shown up in the apartment listings. One was there when the building was just a shell. The listings showed pictures of what it was supposed to look like, but I have not seen any listings for that building in the last two months.

When we were moving we learned that most people in Switzerland move in either March or September. That was one reason we had a harder time finding an apartment. We were stuck with looking at vacant places, or in our case, just lucked out in finding a family that was moving back to the US at the same time we were moving here. My observations since being here do seem to confirm that. September was when everyone was moving around us. There were moving trucks here every day, the last two weeks of September. And this March again, was when all the buildings filled up. On our walk to the grocery store there is a 4 building complex that was completed this spring. Each building has at least 4 apartments. In March, 15 of 16 units filled. The one that didn’t really kind of sucks. You do have a very small yard, but only one room is able to have a window or door to the outside, everything else in the apartment would be below ground!

I will admit these apartments have to be on the extreme end of affordability. Based on what we pay, and what the listings show for 3 bedroom places, the apartments down the hill (and you can see the corner of in the picture). Probably start at 7,000 per month, and the top floor apartment has to be over 10,000 per month. The top floor apartment is almost double the size of our place, it has two levels, no obstructed views, and lots of balcony space. If I remember correctly, the apartment up the hill from us started at 5,500 per month and the high was 7,500. So yes, rent is expensive here. A 300 sq foot studio has an asking price of 800 per month. The cheapest place in the area is 450 per month. For that you are renting a bedroom, and you share everything else with the family living in the house.

I do have to admit that even on a gloomy day it very pretty here. It has been overcast and raining/snowing all morning, but the view across the lake is still mesmerizing. Yes, that is snow towards the top of the hill! Spring is literally trying to stay away.

Hope you have a great week. I’ll talk to you later.

9 April 2021

I have found shopping here, to be quite a pain in the behind. Wait, let me rephrase that. I have always found shopping to be a pain in the behind, but in Switzerland I find it even more onerous. The exception to the shopping rule is if I am looking at tools, or anything hunting/fishing related. My favorite store back in the US was Fleet Farm (If they don’t have it….. You don’t need it…..). I could buy practically anything I wanted there. In fact, Julie would get very angry, because that is where about 80% of my clothing came from. Yes, you are right, I have absolutely zero style. The only thing I couldn’t buy there were shoes, but there was Rogan’s for that. During our trip to Locarno, I realized that both pair of my casual everyday shoes bit the dust. I had a pair of Nike Tennis shoes, and some (it turned out real cheap) cheapo shoes I bought in December. So for the last two weeks I have been trying to buy shoes.

Normally I know my size. My problem, is that it is impossible to find a wide shoe. Over the last three weeks, I have spent over 4 days shopping. I spent two days going from store to store, and another two searching online. I had to go to the stores, to actually try on shoes. It turned out I needed a spreadsheet. Some makes I had to wear a 44 before my feet would go in, other brands a 44.5 or 45.

OOOOOHHH! They came while I was writing this morning!

In the US I am always either a 9 or 9.5 wide. I finally broke down and bought some shoes online yesterday. The nice thing is that shipping and mail actually work here; so some time today, Die Post (The Post) will deliver my new shoes.

Don’t even get me going on clothes shopping. I have pretty much decided that I will only be buying clothes when I return to the US. I am not morbidly obese, but over here I have to wear either a 2X or 3X in any shirt or jacket. No one carries those sizes. Even ordering online they are next to impossible to get. Pants, I have simply given up. I can find pants that fit my waist, but they feel like constrictors around my thighs. I have not yet, found a pair of pants that feel comfortable. I have made two trips across the border to Germany. There is a town named Konstanz that sits right on the border. The entire town is like one giant shopping mall, because everyone from Switzerland visits as the prices and taxes are lower in Germany than here. With Covid rules, I am not even sure that is an option right now, anyway. So I have simply decided that whenever I am able to visit the US again, I will bring an empty suitcase with me, and while there I will fill it full with clothes to bring back here.

I just realized what is amusing to me about talking about shopping, is that while I am writing this, I am also waiting on a delivery from the Grocery store. Even though we have a car now, I try not to drive to the grocery. I have learned that it is really a lot nicer, to pay the store one time per month to deliver all of the heavy and or bulky items, instead of having to make multiple car trips to the store. We go through about 5 gallons of distilled water every week. The distilled water is for the coffee maker and the ice maker. Dragging bottles of wine and water up these hills is hard work. So the lazy man residing inside my body says pay the Grocery store $3 once per month to deliver that stuff. It is surely cheaper than driving the car to the grocery store a couple of times per week.

Yesterday, Julie went back to the office for the day. I know she went to the office for some time during December, but it feels like she has worked out of the apartment for the last year. I know I have told you before, that I made her a promise that I would walk her to the station, and pick her up from the station every day(as long as I am not working). Well I learned yesterday, that we have completely forgotten how to communicate about her work schedule. I asked her in the morning what time she would be home. She said no later than 6:30; so I had dinner ready, and was down at the station for the 6:25 train. The train came, and NO JULIE. She finally texted me that she had just left the office and would be catching the 6:35 train in Oerlikon. :(. That is what she meant to say, that she would be leaving the office no later than 6:30. So I had a nice leisurely sit at the train station last night. Thank goodness it had warmed up to about 8 degrees, otherwise it would have been very cold.

Julie’s boss seems to think that Switzerland will announce the end of work from home next week. I think they might announce an end date, but I don’t see it happening until sometime in May at the earliest. Switzerland went into their modified lockdown almost four months ago now. The number of new cases fell the first month, but they have been on a pretty consistent rise since early February. The Government says about 20% of the population has been vaccinated. Which seems really strange to me, because that is about the same population as the US. Everything I read here is very negative about the Swiss vaccination plan and schedule, yet if those numbers are accurate we are doing just as well as the US. What seems strange to me, is that most places in the US have opened up vaccinations for every adult. Here, we are still in the over 70 age group or other people with comorbidities. I was just reading this morning where almost 20,000 appointment slots in the city of Zurich are still open for April, yet the government will not open up the vaccination guidelines to allow more people to fill these slots. I have a hard time seeing the government opening things up more, when the numbers are going the wrong way. Of course I would not have thought that US Governors would start lifting the mask mandates before the numbers start going down either; so obviously I do not know anything!!!!

Swiss history (not so good)

I have talked on my blog about me following TikTok. As an educator I think an app like TikTok can have a pretty big impact on individual students. I am not saying that every teacher should start using TikTok in their classroom, but I am amazed by the amount of really good content that is being created on this app. A lot of knowledge is being shared as well as a lot of scantily clad teenagers that will probably regret those videos in another 10 – 20 years.

Anyway, I am following a young lady who is getting her PHD in History at a University here in Switzerland. She posted something last week about the Verdingkinder (discarded children) so I have been doing a little investigation.

This sad chapter of Swiss History is even more embarrassing for the Swiss as the Japanese/American internment during World War 2 is for the US. Basically until the 1950’s Switzerland practiced child slavery. Of course it wasn’t called slavery. The practice began in the early 1800’s. If a woman had a child out of wedlock, or a family was poor and could not feed another mouth, the young child was handed over to the local government authorities. The Government would in turn give these children to factory owners or farmers. The theory was the benefactor would feed, clothe, and care for the child in return for the child working. Of course the practice turned into indentured servitude for these children, until they were old enough to escape, or aged out of the system. Until the 1930’s there were even markets established for the sale of the children. Some of the stories are sickening. It is hard to imagine that practices like this could happen in an enlightened country.

Here is a link to one article I found that does a pretty good job describing what happened. https://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/tragedy-of-child-labourers-comes-to-light/3791074

REinfall (Rhine Falls)

During our recent weekend in Schaffhausen, Julie and I took a hike to the Reinfall. Reinfall is basically the Niagara falls of Europe. The Rhine Falls are the most powerful waterfall in Europe. I am sure there are some waterfalls that are considered more beautiful. Heck, Julie and I have seen many here in Switzerland, but Niagara are the only other falls we have seen with more water flowing per second. I hope the kids are able to come over sometime this summer or next.

The Rhine Falls have their own Maid of the Mist boats, and these boats actually drop you off on a rock formation right in the center of the falls, and you can climb a stairway right in the middle of the falls. Look at the picture below. See the flag in the middle? That flag sits at the top of the rock right in the middle of the water fall.

I want to climb those stairs with the kids and get some pictures!

It was a gorgeous day for a hike. The sun was shining, and the temperature was near 10 degrees. One thing I really do like about living here is the amount of walking/biking trails. We were able to hike to and from the falls on both sides of the river. Even though people own the property up to the river they have to allow an easement for the walking trail. Now based on the fences along the trail, and the amount of garbage you sometimes come across; Swiss people are no better than anyone else in regards to being a good steward of the public resource. Some of the fences are pretty darn severe; so you know the home owners have had problems with people trespassing and causing issues. I do find it fascinating that we could walk the three miles from the hotel to the the falls and back again on one path, and not have to worry about cars. In all the places I have travelled in the US, I have never found another place that takes such a serious interest in ensuring that pedestrians can get around as easy as here. They even go so far as to have road signs on all the trails so you never get lost.

We were also able to find a nice little abandoned island to have a picnic lunch during our hike.

During our picnic lunch

Another thing that impressed me on our hike is the water quality of the river. I am sure a big part of that is due to having rock instead of a mud bottom, but every time we crossed the river you could still see the bottom even in the deepest areas. This is not unique to the Rhine. Everytime we go near a lake or stream Julie gets mad at me because I stop and look for fish. I do think it has more to do with the beds of the rivers and streams than anything else. The only other place I remember seeing water this clear was in Yellowstone Park and that is another place where the bottom of the waterbodies are made of rock and not mud. I would never drink the water with out a lot of filtering and decontamination, but the clarity of the water almost is enough to think you could stick your head in take a drink, and not get sick.

I think this is our last bigger trip for a while. Amcor has quarterly filings coming up so Julie will be pretty busy the rest of April and May. We will probably take some day trips, but the next big trip I am planning is down to a town named Vevey for late May. Vevey is in the French section of Switzerland near Geneva. I don’t think there will be much a resemblance to Vevay, Indiana, but you never know. Vevay, Indiana sits in Switzerland County and is named after Vevey, CH so maybe there will be some similarities. 🙂

I hope you enjoy the pictures of the Falls and our hike. Talk to you next week.

7 April, 2021

I am writing this looking out on another few inches of white stuff that fell last night. This is the second morning, in a row, that we have gotten up to snow on the ground. Winter does not want to go away this year. We have had some glimpses of spring, but they have been few and far between. I do not remember if I have told you this before, but snow tires are a law here during the winter months. There is no such thing as all season tires. Every time you buy a car, you have to buy a second set of tires. Since our car is a company car for Julie, we do not have to worry about storing the tires, but I did get an email last week telling me I need to get in and have the tires changed. I think I am going to wait until the last possible moment. It isn’t even that I drive that much. I simply like the idea that if I have to get out on the hills around the apartment and there is snow on the ground, I have every advantage!

I am able to feel productive this week. I have kept my membership in CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) while I am over here. It helps me stay informed with what is going on in regards to Education Technology, and every once in a while it gives me something to do. A couple of weeks ago, there was a request for some assistance with some Cyber Security Training that CoSN is providing for the Florida Department of Education. The benefit to me, is that I get to record some volunteer time for my certifications, and I get to attend the training for free! It is not the same as working, but does it make me a bad Hausmann to say I prefer spending my afternoons helping vs mopping the floor or doing laundry? The floors do need mopped pretty badly, though, so tomorrow I will be doing that all day! 🙂

Schaffhausen

We were able to get away for a second weekend in a row. Thanks to the swiss holiday schedule. Even though Switzerland is not particularly religious, they still keep a lot of the traditional religious holidays. Easter is a four day weekend for us. We have actually been through Schaffhausen a couple of different times, but we never left the train station; so it was good to see some of the town. The coat of arms is a ram, but look at the picture of the flag, and I think you will agree with me, that it looks more like a dancing poodle.

You just have to ignore the cloven hooves. I am not exactly sure why the symbol of Schaffhausen is a sheep (schaf). I did a little research, and there are a couple of theories. One is that it came from one of the founding families. One of them may have had a ram on their coat of arms. Another theory is that it comes from a wrong translation, that somehow got passed down through the years. This one does have historical context to it, however.

Before there were any bridges or trains. The town was critical for the transport of goods up and down the Rhine. About two miles below Schaffhausen sit the Rhine Falls, and there are some small falls and rapids in between; so goods were offloaded and then carted to the other side, where they were loaded in a “scapfa” or skiff to continue their journey. Back in 1045 Schaffhausen first appears in history as Villa Scafhusun. This theory actually makes a lot of sense to me. The dialect of german spoken in this area tells me that it could be just the way the word was pronounced, and some influential traveler heard the word spoken more like the word sheep, and it simply stuck.

I made the comment with some friends via Snapchat, that you know you are visiting a town with a lot of history when the “New Tower” in the town was built in 1321.

The New Tower


One thing that never fails to amaze me, is how so much of the history in these old towns has been preserved. There are many examples in Schaffhausen where the old city walls have been integrated into the architecture of the town. Quite a few of the towers that used to make up part of the city wall are still in existence. It is not quite as fascinating of some of the old Roman and Greek ruins, but it is pretty close to me! One last bit of historical relevance, is that Schaffhausen holds the distinction of being one of 70 Swiss cities attacked by the Americans in World War II.

Attacked is honestly a little bit of poetic license. The Americans did bomb the town, but it was because the navigators were lost. They thought they were bombing a German city. An article I read while we were visiting, was that the air raid sirens had gone off so frequently the citizens ignored them. About 40 people were killed, and the US paid $40 million in apologies.

Munot

One of the more interesting examples of architecture in town is Munot. (Another interesting tidbit, I have not ever seen it referred to as The Munot. I am not sure why.). Munot is a circular fortification built on one of the hills above the city. Standing at the wall, and you get a beautiful view of the Rhine, and of downtown. Julie and I actually made the trek up the hill a couple of times.

Munot was built in the mid 1500’s. The town leaders decided Schaffhausen needed more protection so they built the fort. Interesting enough even before it was finished the town realized it really wasn’t strong enough to handle the “modern” artillery. It was only used in battle once in 1799. The French had been chased out of Austria, and tried to hole up in Munot. After a very short battle, the French forces realized it was not going to hold so they abandoned the fort and escaped across the river. The tower on Munot is occupied. The Watchman lives there, and every evening at 9:00 PM rings the bell signifying that everything is secure. This bell ringing has gone on almost every night since 1589.

There used to be a moat around the fortress. The water has been drained for many years now, and it is a park for a small herd of deer. The one male deer is always named after the current mayor. I joked with Julie, that this would cause some issue if there is ever a woman mayor!

Munot Deer

Another thing that seems to set Schaffhausen apart from other Swiss towns are the number of Bay Windows all through the town. At some point this became a competition to the wealthy people that lived in town, to have the most opulent bay window. I did not take pictures of all of them, but I did take some of my favorites.

Below is a short video of Munot. I started recording from the roof, as Julie and I were walking out. The “stairway” is striking, and you will see a little of the gathering space in the center of the fortress. The video ends with some of the views from the top.

I will have one more post this week. Easter Sunday Julie and I took a hike from Schaffhausen to the Rhine Falls. It was a gorgeous hike along the river!

See you soon, and enjoy the pictures. The first of the pictures were taken Friday morning in Zürich. Each spring the city fills some of the larger fountains with roses. So before we went away for the weekend, we made a fast trip into the city to see the fountains.

2 April 2021

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 navigation screen in the car showing the true mountain pass.

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.

Maggia Valley Hike

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!

BREXIT

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.

31 März 2021

The weather report told us to expect rain on Friday so we decided that we would stay and explore Locarno more. We had a couple of things on our agenda, but we were unable to complete even half of them. We still had a fantastic day however. First on our list was going up to the top of Cimetta. Second was to tour the Madonna del Sasso. Third was to tour the Visconteo Castle.

As we walked through town we were able to see the mountain behind the city, and realized that Cimetta would have to wait for another trip. The clouds covered the top 1/3 of the mountain. Going to the top might have been a fun trip, but once we were up there there would not be anything to do. Sure we could hiking, but we would not be able to see anything. Not to mention being up in the clouds like that, we probably would have been wet and cold. We do. partway up the mountain though.

In the center of town is a funicular train that goes up to the Madonna. So we bought our tickets and rode the train up to the church.

According to legend the church was built on the spot where the Virgin showed herself to Father Bartolomeo Piatti da Ivrea on the eve of the Assumption in 1480. The main part of the church was consecrated seven years later. I have to admit, the size of the sanctuary is very deceptive from the outside. I was expecting the church to be 4 to 5 stories high. The inside is very beautiful, but it is small. One of things that struck me was in the main courtyard there was a clock on the wall right next to a sundial. I was very happy that we visited before DayLight Savings started! Because that way we could see the clock and the sundial were the same, or am I over thinking that? I mean they can’t adjust the sundial, because it is fixed on the wall, and once the time changes, the clock would be an hour behind the sun.

Main hallway of the Madonna del Sasso

We kind of cheated the system. If we were pilgrims coming to the church we would have been expected to walk UP the hill. Along the path are the stations of the cross, and a smaller chapel about 1/2 way up from Locarno. I guess the pilgrims are expected to walk up from the town, and stop at the chapel and each station and pray before getting to the main church. We cheated by taking the train to the top, and then walking down the hill.

One thing we did learn that Ticino has more differences than simply language. In one of my last posts, I talked about how we struggled a lot, since we do not speak any Italian other than Hello, Goodbye, and Thank you. We struggled because we did not run into many people that spoke any English. The other big difference we found was the public transportation. In Zürich, and other areas we have visited the public transportation was truly on a clock. It is a rare thing if a train or bus is later than two minutes. In Locarno, we only had one bus or train leave within 5 minutes of the scheduled time. The strangest one was the Funicular train going up the mountain. The times were posted that the train left at 15 and 45 after the hour. We showed up to the train at 20 minutes past the hour. There was no one in the ticket office, so that was no problem. The train showed up at 35 minutes past the hour. We figured this would be perfect. Buy the ticket and wait about 10 minutes to head up. We wound up sitting there for another 20 minutes before we left the station. In Zürich that probably would have gotten us a free ticket. :).

The one other place we tried to visit was the castle. We struggled, because the entrance to the place was not very well marked, but we finally found it. Then in the ticket office, the language barrier showed up again. It turned out there was a castella and a castello. The castella is part of the same building, but it has been refurbished and made into a modern art museum. The castello is the part I really wanted to see. However, I tried to buy us tickets. The agent kept going on about the castella and castello, but we were NEVER able to figure out what he was trying to say. We even tried using our phones to translate, but we failed miserably. We finally got out ticket purchased, and the guard inside was very emphatic that we turned left into the art museum. We really wanted to go straight into the other part, but since we had nothing else to do, we figured we would go through the art museum and then visit the other museum. The castella was nice, but the art was not anything that excited us. After we went through the building we tried to access the castello through the courtyard. Unfortunately, the gate was blocked. We finally realized that the ticket agent was trying to tell us the Castle part was closed, and that we could only visit the art museum! :). Oh well, it is not like we flew across the Atlantic Ocean JUST to go see this one thing.

We found this little hole in the wall (literally) to buy a pizza for lunch. Seriously, the entire restaurant was maybe in a 12′ by 12′ room. There is no eating area, which was perfect for the COVID lockdown, because this place didn’t even have to change their business model. The pizza was fantastic, and what I liked even better is that it was perfect size for one person. Every other place you get a pizza, they bring out one big enough for two people, and I always feel guilty about asking for a take away container. I also had the chance to try an orange soda that I have never seen anywhere else. Lunch was great!!!! If you ever get the chance to visit, you need to hit L’Archetto for lunch. You won’t regret it.

All that aside, we had a lovely day in Locarno. Hopefully we will go back, and we visit the sites we had to skip this time. I will have one more post about Locarno. I have to edit some video, and then I want to talk about the drive back home, because the drive was OUTSTANDING. (Well I had a blast, Julie…… not so much.)

Enjoy the pictures: