Our trip to Switzerland went off well. We didn't have any problems traveling, except for indecision on what kinds of snacks to buy en route. The train is not the cheapest option, but it is not that much more expensive than gas and toll fees and parking fees if we were to drive. Plus, it is WAY less stressful. Navigating on the German/Swiss highway systems is not that difficult, but there are always little surprises lurking, plus the famous German traffic jam (Stau). We left home on the first day of the fall holidays in our state, and the train was full enough; I can imagine what the roads must have looked like. So we saved ourselves a lot of frustration with the train.
You also get a better view of the scenery from the train compared to the highway. Of course, when I pointed that out to John en route, we immediately went into a tunnel. Talk about unfortunate timing. But we didn't spend too much time in tunnels. We did get to see the Rhine Falls from up close, though. When we went to Italy a couple of years ago, we stopped there and climbed down to them, but on the other side. Either way, the view was spectacular.
When we got to Baden, our friends met us and showed us around a bit. There was a way cool playground tucked under a tall bridge. Looking at it from an American perspective, I could imagine it being a lodestone for lawsuits, but from the perspective of someone who's lived in Germany for a while, it was cool but not out of the common way. The town reminded me a lot of Heidelberg, on a slightly smaller scale. There are thermal springs there (hence the name, "bath"), and John and I drank some of the water. It tastes like the liquid inside the shell of a freshly boiled egg. Not something you'd want to drink a lot of, so you'd be sure to get well quickly, if you were drinking it for the health benefits.
Then we headed for their village a little ways outside Baden. We had delicious a Indian dinner, sent the kids off to bed, then stayed up chatting until about midnight. It was nice to visit with friends from back in the day in Austin.
The next morning, I realized I had neglected to pack a change of pants. I could have sworn I had folded them with the rest of my clothes, so I assumed I had just not managed to grab the bottom item in the stack of clothes slated for the suitcase. I imagined I would get home and find a giant pile of cat hair on my cords because they had been lying on the bed unattended for 3 days. Turns out, they were still in the bottom of the laundry basket full of clean clothes. I had gone over my mental list so many times, I had just imagined myself folding the pants. D'oh!
At 6 that evening, we were descended upon by a swarm of little kids. Karen (a Brit married to an American) had put up a sign in their apartment building warning the residents that they would be visited by marauding children in search of sweets and had arranged to have children of their acquaintance from the building, the kindergarten, and the playgroup come by so they could trick-or-treat in a pack. Hannah had bought some black fairy wings* and sparkly make-up and dressed up as a Goth butterfly fairy. We also had a pirate princess, a regular pirate, a regular princess, a teeny teddy bear, a wizard (who went around roaring like a dinosaur--he wasn't too sure about things), and a cat. Hannah has determined that the key to getting a good haul (either at Halloween or Mardi Gras) is to have a cute, tiny kid with you so you can siphon off the bulk of their candy. They won't know the difference.
*The wings were decorated along the top edge with black fur and silver tinsel and came with a headband topped with a circle on a stick (also covered in black fur and silver tinsel), making us joke that next year she can use it to dress up as a Goth Teletubby.
Then the next morning, but not too early, we headed back home. Since we got to the train station early, we had time for a cappucino and to buy some lunch to take with us. John managed to find chips that have the texture of Funions but are bacon flavored. Riiiight... Then when we got back to Heidelberg, John got approached by an old lady while I was busy buying bus tickets from the machine. She was offering to sell him a ticket that would be good for the rest of the day, but that she didn't need any more. All for 2 Euros (a one-use ticket for 90 minutes is 1.90). When we took a closer look at the ticket, it was for Bern, which is in Switzerland. I am pretty sure it isn't valid in a town more than 2 hours north of the border. Oh, well--you live and you learn. John learned that sweet-looking little old ladies are not to be trusted. I could have told him that.
Nee in Germany is related to little old ladies of that kind