Just let me linger one more post on our trip to Switzerland. One day, guided by Eugenie’s father, we headed over the border to France. Suddenly, everybody spoke a new language, but at least my good old Euros were valid again. Our first stop in France was the remarkably fortified village of Neuf-Brisach. These people knew they were smack in the path of Germany’s or the Hapsburgs’ or any other enemy’s advance, should they invade France, so during the reign of Louis XIV, they constructed three ditches bounded by three walls to slow an advancing army. The satellite photo of the village shows you how serious these fortifications are. As does the fact that they had to construct a new canal just to bring the tons and tons of bricks to the site, bricks on barges which the French peasants pulled through the canals themselves. No wonder they finally got around to revolting 100 years later. The Neuf-Brisachians soon had the chance to put their marvelous fortifications to the test. As soon as the German army appeared on the horizon, they ran up their white flag. The Germans occupied Neuf-Brisach without firing a shot.
Next stop, the medieval village of Colmar, then the medieval village of Eguisheim, and finally the medieval village of Strasbourg.
Earlier, with Eugenie, we’d seen a medieval Swiss village, and the ruins where the Romans first colonized the area.
A few brief anecdotes
The Swiss resolutely refuse to join the European Union, so the border crossings between Switzerland the its neighbors carry a little more weight. Onall the roads out of Switzerland, the EU countries have erected little signs that say “Welcome to Europe.”
In Swiss-German, most words are always used with their diminutive “-li.” So, bread isn’t “Brot;” it’s “Brotli.” Airplane isn’t “Flugzeug;” it’s Flogli.” This has two benefits. First, it’s adorable, and the Swiss sound like they’re speaking sweet baby talk all the time. “Aww, did you nibble a little bready on the planey?” Second, the –li suffix makes all nouns neuter, greatly simplifying conjugations and grammatical agreement.
I drank the best hot chocolate of my life in Basel. Eugenie’s mother took us the chocolatier Brandli, where they serve the “dicki Schokki.” (Dick means thick in German. This was not salacious hot chocolate.) It was so good, we asked for the recipe. The chef explained that a normal hot chocolate combines one part chocolate powder with three parts milk. To make a dicki Schokki, mix three parts chocolate powder into one part milk. I have not yet had the guts to try this at home.