Sunday, February 19, 2012

Long Mass, Longer Laundry Day

Today was Sunday and that meant a quiet day to stay at home and wash some clothes. Since my outdoor adventures were minimal today, I've decided to get up to speed on a few facts about my new homeland.

Thank you internet!

Swiss Coat-of-Arms

This incredibly beautiful country is located in the Alpine region of central Europe with a population of about 7.5 million people. That makes it a bit more populous than the state of Washington (GO DAWGS!!!). About 22% of these people are non-Swiss.

Switzerland encompasses 15,950 sq. miles, making it a bit bigger than the state of Maryland. It is bordered by Germany to the north, Austria and Liechtenstein to the east, Italy to the south and France to the west.

Economically strong, the Swiss do not belong to the 27 nation European Union. The currency here is the Swiss Franc. The rate of exchange is 1.00 Swiss Franc equals $1.09 USD.

Gasoline is not cheap by U.S. standards as a liter of 95 octane costs 1.79 Swiss Francs. That price translates into a cost of approximately $7.40 USD per gallon.

Switzerland is divided into 26 cantons. Each canton has its own constitution, legislation and financial autonomy.

The country is divided into three main linguistic regions using equal doses of French, German and Italian. Additionally, a small minority of people speak Romansh

It snows in Switzerland.


Bern Canton Coat-of-Arms

Thun, the town where I live, is in the German speaking canton of Bern.

The city of Bern, population 134,000, is the nation's capital and was founded in 1191 by Berthold V, the Duke of Zähringen.

Bern's Old Town, which I will visit on Monday before our scrimmage with the Bern Grizzlies at 8:30 p.m., is a UNESCO World Heritage Site.

City of Thun Coat-of-Arms

Besides founding Bern in 1191, Berthold V, the Duke of Zähringen also started building a castle in present day Thun in the same year. Thun has approximately 43,000 inhabitants.

Thun sits in the middle of an area know as the Bernese Oberland. This area has massive peaks of the Alps mountain range, immaculate villages and a tireless rail system. It is a great holiday region regardless of the season of the year.

They have a great American football team in Thun.

Now, as to my Sunday . . .

Thun's Catholic Church

The 10:00 a.m. Mass, in German, was chock full of singing and included the baptism of a very tranquil baby. The entire Mass lasted 1:20, a bit long in my estimation.

Does it still count if I didn't understand 99% of what was being said?

Bears are BIG in the Bern Canton

After Mass I wandered into town in an attempt to buy some wine to stash away for future use. When people ask me to their house for dinner, I like to bring the lady of the house a gift of wine and/or flowers. When Ueli asked me last night to come over for dinner, I had nothing to bring stored in Icelandia South.


Unfortunately, on Sunday it turns out that nothing is open in Thun. I will have to stockpile emergency gifts later this week.

The view from the Scheidweg exit of Busline #31

After getting shutout in town I opted to ride the bus two exits past my stop into the mountains. I only went about two miles but I found myself in a beautiful country side area.

Mountain Walking Paths

I will definitely return here to do some exploring when I have time and better weather.

He couldn't wait to start

New growth by the bus stop

Back on the bus heading my way back to start my first round of laundry, I got a phone call from Philipp Baumann inviting me to dinner tonight. I gladly accepted but, again, no gift to give.


I asked Ueli to help me with my first load of laundry as all of the instruction booklets were in German, French and Italian. Eat your hearts out Romansh speakers!

Oops, English speakers too.

Once he showed me the relatively easy procedures, laundry day was officially under way. The only problem is that each load takes two hours to wash. Then I have to hang the remarkably fresh smelling garments out to dry.

No more laundry days for me, I am going to be wash a load as needed on a day-to-day basis.


After Philipp picked me up at 5:00 p.m., we stopped at a gas station/mini-mart for some supplies for our dinner. They had flowers!

I still owe Cindy a tribute.

Philipp, his wife Martina and their two children live in a quaint village of about 1,000 people located about a ten minute drive southeast of Thun.

The view from the Baumann's back window

Cheese Warming Grill

This unusual looking grill holds individual containers, see the four handles sticking out, where one takes a slab of cheese and warms it until it is ready to be poured over boiled potatoes. This staple of Swiss dining is called Raclette and it is delicious, kind of a twist on the fondue experience.

Did I mention that Swiss cheeses are awesome?

A little wine, some caffé and a few bites of Toblerone chocolate for dessert were a nice touch as well.

Lena and her Dad Philipp

Lena is 1 1/2 years old and was born on July 7th. We share the same birthday.

But in different years.

Lena's baby brother, Aaron, is only four weeks old. I didn't want to take his picture and perhaps have the flash scare him. We will get his portrait up on the blog soon.

Martina and Philipp Baumann

Great hosts that made me feel right at home.

Martina is a German teacher who is currently out on her 16 weeks of maternity leave.

Philipp is a Police Officer, a retired Thun Tiger and helps me with all things Tiger related.

Philipp is "The Twelfth Man" of the Thun Tigers.

He is also a great family man.

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