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Môtiers

We’re in a hostel in Interlaken called Balmer’s – some ridiculous 170-bed hangout where the girl at the front desk doesn’t speak German and the shuttle you from one of their three bars to the next at precise times with the promise of 2-for-1 drinks. Not my kind of place, but it’s about the best deal in town.

Môtiers is very much in the French-speaking part of Switzerland. It was refreshing to be able to communicate, and (according to Ronny) the Francophone Swiss are too proud to speak anything else, so we actually got to get in some French practice. When we got into town, all the stores were closed and everyone at lunch at the local café, so we joined in. Lunch was escargots, chevre salad, and the local absinthe, which is very good. We picked up a liter, just in case. On the whole, it seems to be a pleasant place; the tourism is low-key enough so as to be unobtrusive. Definitely a small town though, and apparently without that notorious Swiss reserve – lots of the people we passed said a cheerful “Bonjour!”

Saturday Ronny needed to study, so we poked around Bern for a few hours, found a giant chess set, and (predictably, with Yuri involved) wasted 90 minutes. Yuri won, albeit with a couple mulligans. Otherwise, we spent a lot of the time walking along the Aare River, which is fast-moving and unbelievably clear for someone accustomed to the Mississippi and Wabash. Swimming would be a hoot. If we come back later in the summer it will definitely be on the agenda. Later that night we went to a “barbecue” with some friends of Ronny’s husband Urs. The wine and beer were flowing pretty freely, and on top of it being a generally good time I think that Yuri and I were able to at least somewhat improve their opinions of Americans as we practiced our French and Spanish while picking up the odd word or two of German. I suppose it stands to reason that the fiercely neutral Swiss would balk at the concept of preemptive war, but the truth is that Bush and Iraq come up all the time. It’s as if Europeans feel the need to tell me personally that no, this is not OK, and would I please go home and tell my friends.

On the way home we drunk-dialed Yuri’s mom.

Môtiers town square

Môtiers town square

 
Swiss graffiti is erudite

Swiss graffiti is erudite

 
On the banks of the Aare

On the banks of the Aare

 
Eating raclette

Eating raclette

 
Any minute now...

Any minute now...

 
Ronny and Urs

Ronny and Urs

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