The next morning, June 7th, we packed up the car, and took off for the town of Chiasso on the Swiss border. At the border stop the Swiss nick you 35€ for the priviledge of driving aound in their country, and what a beautiful country it is! We stopped for breakfast about an hour north at a big rest stop. By the way, diesel fuel was around 1 Euro 70 per litre, or roughly $8.85 per gallon. Eleven gallons cost $99. The car got around 40 miles per gallon though.
We arrived in the town of Zug around Noon, and started our hunt for the apartment of Karl Geiger, the son of Bob and Pam Geiger, good friends of ours at home. Our Google directions were not good, so we called Karl, found out the area where he lives, stopped at a small hotel, got a good city map, and made our way to the hills at the south end of Zug, a pretty town on lake Zug in the middle of German-speaking Switzerland. Karl lives in a nice apartment building. We checked out his abode, hopped in our car, and went to the old town of Zug and a good Italian style restaurant for pasta and beer. We caught up on current family events before Karl headed off to take care of some errands, and we left town to head for Basel, Switzerland, and Hartheim, Germany, 30 miles north of Basel. We just didn’t have enough time in Basel to look up Roger Federer’s home.
We arrived in Hartheim just after 6:00 pm at the home of our long-time friends, Peter and Hahn Kuck. They lived in Plymouth for 18 years before they retired in Germany 20 years ago. Peter was the CEO of two German companies based in Plymouth. Hanh and Kathy have been friends for 35 years. We always try to visit them when we are in Europe. We had another happy reunion that evening and enjoyed the great cooking of Hanh again.
Since we needed to be back in Milan on June 11th, we didn’t have the time to head north and visit friends in Darmstadt and Hannover. Luckily for us, our friend, Elke Aulmann was able to drive down from Darmstadt to spend the day with us. Her sister, Wulle Aulmann, lives nearby in Freiburg, but was on vacation camping in the Swiss Alps. We have been friends since I lived in Germany in 1965/66. After lunch, Peter took us on another guided tour of the beautiful towns and historical sights in this area of Germany. They live close to both France and Switzerland in the warmest part of Germany. It was unseasonably warm for much of this week (around 32C/90F).
Peter always manages to find new surprises for us to visit on his personal tours. We first went up into the wine country by Munzingen. The tiered vineyards are beautiful. The winding road to the top led to an old church carefully preserved by an historical society. We got some good photos and then headed for the French border. The town of Neuf-Brisach lies just across the border and is the home of a famous fortress designed and built by Vauban, a military engineer, in 1698, to protect the border of France. The star shaped fortress is designed to maximize crossfire against an invading army. After some refreshments at an outdoor cafe, we went back to Germany and visited a cloister in Heidersheim that was formerly a center for the order of the Maltese Cross. The grounds and buildings were beautiful.
Hanh had supper ready for us when we returned to the house. We really had fun that day. Thanks for being such great hosts. It was really nice to see Elke again. She just had her bathroom expanded and remodeled, so we definitely have to visit her home on the next trip to Europe. Our German friends always take good care of us.
Then we planned our return trip to Milan via Lake Constance (der Bodensee), Liechtenstein, and eastern Switzerland. We settled on staying in Lindau at the east end of the lake for two nights and found a nice hotel on hotels.com.