View from the bus: ignorant woman yelling in German at me
Today was the day I wanted to go home. Despite my initial misgivings about the length of our stay in somewhere I’d never been and had no frame off reference as to whether I’d enjoy, Switzerland has thus far proven to be a generally pleasant and enjoyable place.
Till today, about 15:00.
The day started out quite well as Julie, her dad and I took a train into Thun to wander round the market they have there. Despite not purchasing anything at the market itself (the sole purchase being limited to a set of Lego Alien Conquest figures from a toy store) there was a good selection of antique military pouches for the prospective Star wars costumer and trumpets, which I was not allowed to purchase.
Although the intent had been to visit the castle in Thun, we were short on time having arranged to get the bus to Oberhofen to visit Julie’s aunt and then return to Thun for the evening sailing around Thunersee and only got tot see a small part of the old town. I wasn’t feeling too good by this point, doubtless not helped in the slightest by having only a Capri Sun for lunch, and the bus was hot and standing room only due to what appeared to be a bunch of women on some sort of scavenger hunt. Now keep in mind here that the buses in Switzerland have more than one door, an entry way by the driver and a door in the middle to allow passengers to exit without having to negotiate the queue of people boarding and quite possibly another exit door further towards the back depending on the length of the vehicle.
As I say the door by the driver is generally taken to be the entrance only, indeed there’s a small barrier arm that is only hinged in one direction for people to push through after paying their fare and to exit via that means the driver having to pull it in the opposite direction of it’s intended use. So there we were having stood near the middle of the bus for the majority of our journey from Thun and the bus comes towards a stop where some of the women intend to get off. Now the majority of them head for the middle doors as you’d expect however on in particular tries to push past me in the aisle to get to the driver. Apparently realising with my rucksack on my back that I’m not going to be shifting particularly far in the direction she requires she says something in German. Not directed at me by any means, it seems to be a general exclamation of how busy the bus is, but when I fail to respond she repeats it louder and more directly at me.
Despite feeling lousy (and this is how you know I was A: ill and B: in a foreign country as if it’d been back home I’d have told her to c**t the f**k off) I politely replied, “I’m sorry I don’t speak German” as clearly as I could enunciate.
Clearly it would have been a case of the orange thing calling the non-orange thing “orange” for me to expect a reply in English at this point but I was sure that courtesy would dictate that she would either about turn and proceed through the exit her associates had used three feet behind her or pause until the vehicle had come to a complete stop and some of the other standing and seated passengers between myself and the driver had departed, allowing me to migrate into their vacated space and allow her pass.
Ironically in the style of the British abroad, she proceeded to repeat her statement, not once, not, twice, but three times in a progressively louder and more aggressive manner, until Julie interjected that she thought the woman was asking to get past, a request by this time I was able to oblige thanks to the vacated passengers.
It was extremely off-putting and I spent the remainder of the journey in silence, albeit it was only a couple of stops, regretting coming to the country at all, which was terribly unfair of me because up until that point all the native Swiss I’d met had, where they could, always switched to a second language in an attempt to communicate with me when it became clear I wasn’t understanding them. I can only assume the woman in question wasn’t local.
Getting off the bus miserable and sick I was faced with a vertiginous uphill climb to Julie’s aunts in the hot sun so thanks heavens for the shaded balcony when we got there!
It was a lot easier, though slightly treacherous, coming back down it at the end of our visit for the bus back into Thun, but we got their in plenty of time to get an ice-cream and Slush Puppy and watch the mentalist local teenagers jump off the road bridges into the seething cold waters of the river Aar below before the paddle steamer was due to depart.
The Mootoo twins had tagged along for the boat trip itself, which was enjoyable, if slightly chilly with the wind blowing off the lake, especially later as the sun went down. On the journey out a terrible poseur who was entertaining some female company in a lakeside hotel bar near one of the docks jumped about six feet in the air out of his seat when the ship sounded its horn for departure ruining his image with any luck. We went as far as Spiez, a good hour and forty minutes criss-crossing the lake and stopping at various locations, and got some pictures of the castle from the lake this time before the ship turned back towards Thun.
On the return journey we were boarded by a hen night of pirates although in another astonishing cultural opposite they were both restrained when it came to anyone outside their group and not completely buckled by the time they’d set foot out the door this evening.
A final oddity was what appeared to be a lone individual out on the lake wearing only shorts and a tee-shirt standing on a surfboard with a paddle. He appeared to be intent on riding the bow wave of the ship when it passed him and to his credit didn’t topple over despite the large wake that the paddle steamer creates. More surprising was that he then practically maintained pace with the ship for three or four stops as it continued it’s journey back to repeat the same exercise with a similar level of success.
Leaving the boat behind we were lucky to quickly get a train back to Interlaken and bed…