Biffy and Judy were on one flight, and I was on another. When we landed in Zurich, there we were, standing right next to each other in the passport control line and didn’t even know it! Great hugs all around, then found Silla with great joy. She drove us through Zurich to Juerg’s elegant apartment overlooking the lake. He and his wife, Nelly, gave us coffee and croissants and we caught up just a bit.
The apartment was so lovely that I had to take pictures of it -the clean lines, the oversized art, and even the people. It was lovely to see Juerg again after so long and to meet his wife. Cheek kisses all around and we were off.
Silla and Biffy talked about this and that as she drove us the two hours to Chur. Judy and I dozed in the back seat, waking up only to see one of the things I remember best from my year in Switzerland: steep mountainsides dotted with farms, and the lake or valley below, then the mountains rising up just as steeply on the other side. Wisps of cloud, fog and occasional rain obscured the view but just made it all the more magical.
Silla’s equally elegant apartment is just around the corner from Ottoplatz, where she grew up and I spent a year back in 1967-68. We were so jet-lagged that just about all we could do was pull out the sofabed and fall on it like wounded soldiers. A two-hour nap restored us, as did a big slice of a delicious apple nut tart and a cup of tea.
With renewed vigor, we set out to walk around Chur. We started off at the Hotel Stern where Biffy and Judy will be staying. It is a charming old hotel with Carigiet paintings on the walls, knotty pine and beautiful stonework, and these delightful pillows.
Although many memories have vanished over the last almost 50 years (can it be???), I absolutely remember the walk up a steep path to the CantonsSchule. The school itself, with its courtyard shaded by enormous trees, has long since been replaced by a new building, but the steep sidewalk and the bishop’s vineyards are still there, as is the lovely view down to the city, with the mountains all around.
We went into the Catholic cathedral, built on a site that has been home to a church since the 800s. It’s fairly austere for a Catholic church, but the beautiful altar and some stained glass windows brightened the interior.(I am much more aware of stained glass from following Jane Brocket’s blog.) We also liked these Celtic-looking animals,and the entrance arch is lovely.
From here we walked down the hill, past the spot where in the 16th century there was a wall separating the Catholics at the top of the hill from the Protestants at the bottom. This was the old town that I remembered, with cobbled streets, sgraffito’d house fronts, and interesting little shops and courtyards. We stopped at a pharmacy and ended up sampling Churer Roeteli, a local liqueur. A little farther on was a fabric shop, and I ended up with a nice selection of locally inspired yardage.
By now it was starting to sprinkle, so we wended our way back home again, weary but happy, for Silla to cook for us while we draped ourselves over the furniture and assured her that we would be good helpers tomorrow when the jet lag wears off!