Wednesday, May 13, 2015

Switzerland Deja Vu

Larry 10,000 feet in the Alps on top of Schilthorn

 When I to took my first trip to Europe I was with my ex partner.  He and I had not done a lot of traveling in the past other than family vacations with our individual families.  He was scheduled to attend a conference for his job in France in the city of Marseilles and he asked if I wanted to join him on the trip.  All I needed was my airfare and money to spend.  The hotels would all be taken care of with his expense account for the trip.  He said it was a three day conference and we could plan a weeks vacation around the convention. I was so excited.  I wanted to see Paris.  But the conference is in Marseilles he replied to me.  Yes, I was aware that it was in Marseilles but Marseilles is in France and Paris is in France.  It did not matter to me that they were at different ends of the country. They were in the same country.  And I was not going to France or even to Europe and not see Paris.  So we went to Paris and then on to Marseilles.  For the next seven years we traveled to Europe each spring to attend this big medical conference in different cities and countries each year.  These were my first traveling experiences outside of the United States.  With each trip I was fascinated with the cities we visited.  I learned a lot about the culture and the history of each country we visited.  And with each experience I came home with a feeling of having discovered some new and wonderful.  Nothing seemed familiar to me.  I was a stranger in a strange land drinking up the knowledge and the beauty all around me.  I never felt at home.  It always felt foreign and fascinating to me.   Then I went to Switzerland.

Switzerland was never on my dream list of places I wanted to visit.  I never really thought much about Switzerland at all.  It was just Switzerland somewhere in the middle of Europe.  I was thrilled when his conference sent us to Italy.  It was a real fantasy to finally get to see ancient Italy.  Likewise with the Netherlands and Amsterdam, Cologne,  and Copenhagen.  But when he told me the conference was to be in Switzerland I was a bit let down.  I was glad to be able to continue to take  the annual trip to Europe.   But I was not thrilled about visiting Switzerland.  The only thing I really wanted to see in Switzerland was Piz Gloria the location where the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed.  

Piz Gloria high above the village of Murren

We planned the trip with little excitement.  We made arrangements to see Bern, Basel, Zurich, Geneva, and of course Piz Gloria.  The conference was in the remote village of Les Diablerets high in the Alps in the western French speaking part of Switzerland.

Les Diablerets

The strangest thing happened.  The moment we departed our plane in Geneva I was spellbound. Something felt very comforting and very familiar.  I could not quite figure out what it was or why I was feeling this way.  We boarded the train in Geneva and headed to Bern.  I could not stop staring out of the windows watching the villages and mountains go by. Switzerland  just captured my spirit and I felt completely at home.


The ten days passed  way to fast.  I wanted more time.  I did not want to leave.  To this day over ten years later I can still just close my eyes and be instantly transported back to Switzerland.  I find it strange.  I don't necessarily believe in reincarnation.  And I have no ancestors who came from Switzerland.  So there is no reason I should have felt so at home there.  But who knows.  Maybe I did live there in past life.  Or perhaps my mother's German ancestors originated in the Swiss area and migrated up to Germany and I felt some connection through them.

Perhaps it's because there is a Samson fountain in Bern.

Larry Sampson at the Samson fountain in Bern
The beautiful village of Murren
Or maybe I just fell in love with the beauty of the small villages.

I still feel like there is a piece of me in Switzerland.  I want to return one day soon and spend some more time there.  Maybe I will figure out the connection.  Or maybe I will be more confused.  But I do know there will be a certain satisfaction to be able to return and continue the journey.

Chateau Aigle

And I know that a glass of wine from the vineyards at Chateau Aigle is waiting for me on my return.  And perhaps there, all will be revealed to me.  Switzerland deja vu.  

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