Leaving Rothenburg en route to Rome to pick my my clients on a bright, sunny and warm day I completely forgot to take along a jacket or even a sweater. Not too smart for a seasoned traveler. That night, I wished I had one as the temperature dropped with every 100 kilometers I drove south as a low pressure system moved into Switzerland. Does it EVER stay sunny in Switzerland? Are all of those postcards showing blue skies and unlimited visibility fake? It seems like every time we’re in Switzerland it’s raining. One time, traveling with a family of four, we became so depressed after watching it rain for two solid days that we took over for Lugano, Ticino, where (of course, being closer to Italy) the sun was shining brightly.
Back on track. From Rothenburg I made a stop in tiny Eschelbronn, near Sinsheim. I’m bringing my second guest of the season here on May 28th and I wanted to get orientation for myself. The village was dead silent on this Sunday midday. After finding the church (not too hard, look for the chicken atop the weather vane) I left and got back onto the autobahn heading for the exit to Strasbourg. A quick stop at the rest stop outside of Baden-Baden where I marveled (as always) at the incredible amount of filth and garbage strewn about. This is absolutely not the way a typical German rest stop looks. Why is Baden-Baden’s so messed up? Could it be the fault of the bus tourists from other, less spic and span countries?
Next stop – Ribeauville’ in the Alsace. A beautiful little town smothered on this warm afternoon with tourists. I’m stopping to visit with our source for the French tablecloths we sell in our retail shop in Sarasota. Unfortunately, the textile mill which supplies him (and by extension, us) is in the stages of closing and it’s getting more and more difficult to find inventory. I “score” a couple of boxes of brightly-colored cloths and make arrangements to stop on the 24th on my way back north to pick them up. I don’t want to carry around 150 pounds of tablecloths valued at more than $5,000 through Italy.
Heading south I run into rain at the border with Switzerland. I briefly contemplate staying in a small hotel on the German side of the border but then decide to press on, hoping to have a shorter drive day the next day. Finally about 50 kilometers outside of Lucerne I give up and pull into the picturesque hamlet of Aarburg, where the Gasthof Baeren looks welcoming. (Any place would be welcoming in this steady downpour) The room I’m given is less than impressive. Narrow, single cot that looks like Andre the Giant was its last occupant. Narrow room. TV, thank goodness. Bathroom and shower down the hall. All of this, with the usual slim pickins Swiss breakfast for around $53. The next day at that slim breakfast I discover that aside from one other couple, I was the only overnight guest. Why did I get the only room without a toilet and shower? Oh well. The luxuries of international travel. I’ve stayed in much worse, pre-professional tour guide days.