January 11, 2013

Gauting Germany December 1951

Saturday morning dawned red in a lavender sky and it was 8:30 am before the sun peeked out.  By then we were well on our way out of the Munich railroad yards and bound for Switzerland!  We had been up since 5 while the night was thick as ink, and a heavy frost bristled on the fenceposts.
The train took us through an expanse of rolling countryside and quaint little villages , all silver and glistening in the heavy frost.  As the train slowly climbed higher the frost became snow and grew deeper as we ascended into the mountains.  Out the windows of the train we could see little animal tracks along the banks, and soon we saw two beautiful little deer with powder puff tails and soft wonderful eyes regarding us from  a forest glen.   Little icy streams tumbled down the hills and around through the flatlands.  In the far distance we could just see the peaks of the Alps.  It seemed a fairyland, and beautiful beyond description.
It was nearing 11 am when we pulled into the town of Lindau, Germany.  The town sits on a narrow spit of land that juts out into the water of the Bodensee.   It is almost an island save for the strip of ground upon which the rails of the train track run.   It is in the French zone of Germany.  We would have liked to take the boat across to Switzerland, but our time  was limited and the boat was slow, so we opted to take the train around the lake , and thereby cross the corner of Austria into Bergenz.  From there to St.Margarethen.  (love the name!) and on to Rohrshack, Switzerland, where we would spend the night.   The border patrols and Customs have to  be passed each time and if you intend to stay and shop you must convert your money.  This is mind boggling to Americans who are accustomed to traveling vast distances between states with no borders.
  By the time all of this had transpired it was 4 o'clock and the kids were cranky, hungry and tired.  We ate dinner in the hotel dining room where we ordered vienerschnizel!
The waiter brought a huge platter with 4 slices of veal cutlet, and piles of potatoes, peas and carrots.  It looked like enough to feed the children of Israel, but we ate it all.
It was December and very cold.  Our room was fitted out with typical European style beds.  The mattresses were in sections, filled with hard packed straw, with an extra wedge section for the head of the bed.   Upon this, to make it bearable, are huge, fluffy
feather-filled comforters, one to lie upon, and one to cover you.  We tossed the kids into their bed and they disappeared from sight.   They fell asleep immediately.  Claude and I looked at our watches, thinking it must be at least 10 pm, and it was 6:30 pm and dark as pitch outside.  We sneaked out into the streets and window-shopped, but it was too cold to stay out long.  Claude and I slept on a couch affair with a similar wedge at the head.
We finally removed it and put it under the sagging foot, and put the too warm feather comforter beneath us for padding.  What a night!
     The next morning dawned bright and clear.  All around us were the Alps!  We walked along the shores of the Bodensee and tried to absorb the beauty of the morning and the magnificence of the scenery, and the fact that we were actually in Switzerland!

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