TO SWITZERLAND, WE GO!
Pack a Bag and Get In The Car
It was a couple of years back when we were doing work at our apartment in Spain. The heat was unbearable, and we started niggling at each other. The aircon had kicked the bucket, the kitchen was not finished and was getting on my nerves dodging crap my Hubby had put in the 7m2 room. Terrible bush fires were raging through Spain at the time, and the air was hot. I needed to be somewhere where it was more relaxed and much cooler.
Finally, I turned to Hubby, just as he was about to sneak off for afternoon drinks with the boys, I said to pack a bag and don’t question me. He knew better than to argue at that stage. Told the guys at the bar we were going away for a few days, which in the end turned out to be two weeks.
To the border of France, we headed. I had in my mind that I wanted to see Switzerland. But I had not told Hubby this. We got to Formigal six hours later and had a break and a walk around, though it was a ghost town. One cafe was open with young people in it that were smoking a spliff and they started chatting with us.
Onwards we go. I drive up the Pyrenees and over to Lourdes. We stayed the night here, whereas I popped into the grounds for my holy water (got to keep the old girls happy in our village).
Driving through the countryside, I was surprised about the summer heat in France, as it was just as intense as Spain in some areas. Yet the scenery was dreamy, with dreams of having a place always comes to mind when we are there. An old house, kids running around while the adults prepare the meals and sit outside eating and drinking with lots of laughter and banter. Hmmm.
French Dinner with a Master of Laughter
Drove up to Le Puy and we stayed the night in Hotel Regina, first trying to get into the Dyke Hotel, but it was booked out. The rooms were nice and tidy, but it was the restaurant Le Mont Anis that was the big drawcard. At first, we looked at the menu and thought ok, this is looking exciting. Yet, it was the Maître D that made it happen for us.
This guy, whom I am sorry to say we forgot his name, was not the most good looking fellow at first, but he had that je ne sais quoi oozing from him. His stance, his attention to detail and his manner of dealing with people of every background, he shone, and it was desirable. He knew his game.
While having drinks at the bar, and after a few good stories from him, I said to him that it was through his suggestions tonight that we eat and to order what he thought we would enjoy. He looked at me with a little bit of “is she pulling my leg?”, but he saw we were serious. So he did.
It was a fun night, we all had a great laugh, not only with our Maître D but with other guests and patrons. It was like this lovely hum of delicious eating and drinking with the conductor of the evening, making everything flow smoothly and fun.
Bad Vino and Bad Spirits
The next day, after a late start, we head to Switzerland. I was totally excited, with butterflies in my belly. Hubby was thinking we were going home because again, I had not told him our destination, just said it was a surprise. Through Lyons, we go, and up we start our drive up to Geneva.
At the Swiss border, Hubby turns to me and says “I Love You!” and while we are waiting in the queue, he says to me no one has ever taken him to places like I did. We start giggling, like children. Passports out and then we have to pay a €40 car tax and get a sticker on the window. Over we go, and we are in hysterics now, because we cannot believe we just drove into Switzerland!
So I drive into Geneva, park up and stop for refreshments in a pub and Hubby is shocked at the price of beer. It was like €17. Crazy but it was a hot day, the beer was nice and cold, and we needed refreshments.
We were flying by the seat of our pants and had not booked a hotel, so I suggested we go outside the city and find a quiet place. We come across a village, and there is an old pub that has a vacancy sign for rooms. Yippee!
Walking into the bar was a bit like Deliverance, with locals all stopping their conversation and looking at us. We talk to the Landlady at the bar and pay, and she in return gives us a big old key and verbally directs us down the hall, then up the stair, and our room is to the right. The bathroom is across the hall, where there is a loo, bathtub and a shower.
She said the magic word BATH! I had not had a good soak in months, and I was going to go for it that night. The room was nice and tidy, and the bed was comfortable. We were the only guests staying that night.
After unpacking we go downstairs for a few drinks before dinner. The woman says to me would I like to try the local wine. I said that would be very nice. Outside we sat with views of mountains and the village. The summer here was a touch chilly, and I loved it. Our Landlady brings our orders to the table and then stands there waiting. Hubby says do you want payment now? She said no, and looks at me and tells me that the wine is from her family estate somewhere close by. She wanted to know my thoughts on the wine.
Oh right, so I pick up the glass, take a swig and let me say it was like this bitter, sour shite that almost made me gag and god only knows how I kept a straight face and not spit it out there and then. She asks me if it is a good wine. I nod and eventually reply (when I could swallow the stuff) that it was nothing like I had experienced before. And to sweeten her hard look, I mentioned that this wine was the very first wine in Switzerland that I had tasted and told her could I take a photo of the bottle, please. She was pleased and said she had a few bottles out the back if I wanted to purchase. I said thank you for that.
When she had left, I said to Hubby taste this, and he reached over, took a sip and looked at me with shock, and quickly spat it into a pot plant next to his chair without the Landlady seeing. Now he is a seasonal drinker, and even he said it was the worse wine he ever tasted. He took a swig of his beer to clean away the taste. So I pretended to sip the wine until Hubby was near finished and then poured it into a pot plant. We dodged the next round when we found out no dinner was being served that night, paid the Landlady, took a photo of the bottle, and walked up into the village and found a place for Steak et Frites and a beer.
The World Cup was on, so Hubby wanted to watch a game in the bar, and I told him that I was going back to the room for a bath. I go back, and the woman is closing up the bar, and I say good night. It was when walking down the hallway, and then you come to the stairs to your right, that I stopped. If you walked on, it would lead you down to a cellar. The hair on the back of my neck began to hackle up. I noticed how dark the area was to the cellar door. In fact, it was pitch black, and when we had previously walked this area before, you could see the door and now I could not.
I ran up the stairs and to my room, trying not to get myself spooked. It was bathtime. However, before I could do anything, the Landlady knocked on the door. She said she was going home, the bar was locked, and to use the guest doorway until tomorrow morning. I thanked her, and she went on her way. Then the realisation that I was alone in this building made me jumpy again; however, the bath was calling me, and it would make me feel much better.
The bathroom was nothing special, in fact, it looked like it was still in the style of the 1940s except for the toilet. Plugging up the bath, I turned the water on and squirt in a full small bottle of hotel shampoo in the water. The door in the bathroom is a substantial number with a hook lock, and above the door frame was a massive glass pain. When you had a bath, you faced the door.
It seemed ages until it was at a level I could jump in, and when I did, it was lovely and warm. I dunked under to wash away days of driving, stress and just to relax until my fingers and toes were shrivelled up prunes.
I had a book with me, so I started to read, and that is when I heard it. A light tap on the door. I sat up and straight away I said ‘Yes, can I help you?’ The silence was deafening, and no one answered me. I put it off as maybe I heard things and yet my eyes kept looking up at that glass pane above the door frame. I had this terrible feeling someone was watching me. I got face washers from the side of the bath and placed them over my boobs and privates and then began to read again. But I couldn’t see the words, I was listening so intently, and then I realised that there was shuffling noises outside the hallway.
The woman had told us we were the only guests. I yelled out my Hubby’s name and said, was it him out there. But no one answered me. The shuffling noise started again, and so I sat up slowly and listened. Definitely shuffling on the landing. I couldn’t stand it any longer and so got out and dressed as quietly as possible. I unhooked the lock and turned the knob of the door and peeked out.
The landing was in partial darkness. The line of light coming from the doorway and the rectangular light from the glass pane above the door gave some illumination. The hallway was long, and as I looked across to my room, I realised I had not turned a bloody lamp on in the room. Idiot!
I waited by the door, listened intently, which was hard as my heart was pounding. I froze when the shuffling started again to my left down that long hallway. Slowly poking my head out the doorway, I searched to see what was making the noise. With my eyes adjusting somewhat, I could see nothing. It was totally dark down the hallway with slight outlines of a large set of old drawers against the wall.
I closed the door, locking it and grabbed my gear. I was going to run for it to my room. With the key in hand, clothes and toiletries bag in the other, I took a deep breath and said to myself,
“You got this girlie, be calm and don’t rush”.
Unlocking the door, I opened it wide and left the light on, and ran across the hallway to my door and placed the key into the lock. As I turned the key, I felt this rush of air around me, and I pushed the door open, stumbled in and slammed it shut. I dropped everything to find the lights, and of course, the lamp was near the bloody window. I find it, switch it on, and yet it still seemed dark and heavy in the room. In my mind, I was saying prayers to rid of anything untoward and I got my holy water out of my handbag and sprinkled it on me and the room. I was taking no chances!
As I am picking up my bundle I dropped from the bathroom, I freeze hearing my name being called. But turns out it’s Hubby at the guest door. I poke my head out of the window, and he says he can’t get it to open. He tells me to come down and open the door.
I look at him and say, are you bloody kidding me?
I now have to go out into that hallway. Then it’s down the stairs, past that cellar, down another dark hall to open the front door to let Hubby in. I breathe to calm myself and yell to him that I am coming down.
On the landing, I now notice that the bathroom light is off, and the door is shut. No time to think about that now I think to myself. I get my phone and turn the torch on. Take a deep breath, and as quickly as possible, I run down the stairs, past the cellar, down the dark hallway and open the door for Hubby. My heart is thumping.
When Hubby closes the door, he reaches out and grabs me by the waist in his tipsy way and jokes that this is so spoooookeeeeee!
You have no idea I tell him and grab his hand, drag him back up to the room with me. In our bedroom, he says what the hell was that about? I told him ‘you don’t ask and you won’t have nightmares.
He knew something had happened and so we left the lamp on, and he curled up right beside me all night, snoring his head off. A couple of times he woke and said did I hear someone outside our door walking. I just told him to ignore it and go back to sleep. We were out of that place by 6 am.