When I returned from Montreux, I met Sibylle at the meeting spot in Zurich. We took a leisurely stroll along the river and enjoyed dinner outdoors in Frau Gerold’s Garden.
18 September – St. Gallen
I packed my bags, leaving Zurich for the last time and took the train to St. Gallen, where Sibylle works. We had lunch together in the court building which was much more modern than I expected. In the afternoon, I toured the town center, discovering a Chocolaterie with one of the best Swiss chocolates I’ve tried yet. The Swiss may have the world’s best at milk chocolate, but it’s hard to find anything in my favorite 60-70% range. My handy Swiss Pass got me into the Abbey library, Stiftsbibliothek, one of the most amazing rooms I’ve ever seen (photos not allowed, so I bought a postcard).
After Sibylle got off work, we took a train to Rheineck. Her father was waiting for us, along with his dog, Hela. We stayed in the modern new house he had built a couple years ago in Lutzenberg, with a fantastic view of the Rheintal region. He and Sybille’s mom fixed a most amazing traditional meal: Züri Gschnetzleds (veal or beef with mushrooms, and cream) and Rösti (grated potatoes cooked with butter in a round skillet). Though we couldn’t share a conversation, I can tell that Sibylle’s mom is a very kindhearted person; I’m sorry I missed getting a picture of her. Two of Sibylle’s four siblings, Simone and Daniel joined us. I got a kick watching the five of them taste the meal to get it just right. Thank you all for a most wonderful evening.
19 September – Hike Along the Rhine
In the morning, her father drove us to train station. We road to Chur, stored our bags, and caught a bus to the Graubunden area, near Ilanz, where we hiked through the Rheinschlucht Gorge. This was a gentler hike than my others, through pastureland and along the river. I thoroughly enjoyed walking and chatting with Sibylle and look forward to seeing her when she visits San Francisco next year.
On the train back to Chur, the announcements were made in Romash, a first for me. I surprised myself by getting teary-eyed when I gave Sibylle a goodbye hug, then boarded a bus for a two-hour ride to Bellinzona. It rained much of the way, the first I’ve experienced on this trip.
19-20 September – Bellinzona
The language switched to Italian, as Bellinzona is in the Ticino canton. The streets were nearly deserted when I arrived in the late afternoon. I took a stroll, then ate dinner in the restaurant adjacent to the hotel.
In the morning, I walked up to one of the three castles in town, Castello de Montebella. I had the place to myself, as it wasn’t yet open. Back down in town, I picked up items for lunch at outdoor markets and spent my last francs on chocolate. I then boarded a train to Italy. It was a bit late with an un-Swisslike last minute track stitch. I finished reading Swiss Watching as I left the country. I can see that I’m more Swiss-like than many Americans.