On the way to school...


I had to drive the kids to school today. Bet you’re thinking ‘yeah, so what?’ The reason I had to drive them was because the funicular was broken. The funicular is a ride similar to those found at Disney except it travels in very slow motion and you’re allowed to bring a bike, a dog, luggage, whatever you like. However, eating in a funicular is frowned upon.  It is rumored to be suffering from repeated overloads.  Sam, my 12 year old, blames it on the gaggles of tourists who make daily pilgrimages to the top of the mountain. Information was sketchy at 7:45 am and was delivered by a group of giddy primary school kids.  The school’s response was to dispatch the school van (a nine seater) to truck the 150’ish kids that need to get to the top of the mountain.  After looking around, I decided that I really wanted my kids to get there before lunch. So, I piled my three, plus one extra, back in the Renault Elf (Why don’t I have a fiercer car?  If I am going to be put in these situations I deserve a fiercer car) and began my ascent. 

Wishing I had a Sherpa guide, I entered the fog.  The road is designed to accommodate one car’s width at a time. “The fog” descends on this part of Switzerland at this time every year apparently and the only solution (apart from replacing all the light bulbs in your home with those designed to mimic sunlight) is to drive to the top of the nearest mountain. There the sun shines without fail, so I’ve heard.

Ahhh, but how to get there? You must be brave. To get to the top of this particular mountain, bravery is all I need.  To get to the top of other mountains, snow chains are a legal requirement and a week’s supply of food a prudent one.  Expats regularly buy, sell, and trade chains on local websites. I will have no need for chains. Ever.  But I do need to be brave because the kids need (and I need them) to go to school. So, up I go.  Four chattering kids, two sweaty palms, and only one near miss with a vehicle coming down, we arrive at the top- to sunlight- it’s TRUE.  I let them out to scatter to their various buildings on campus.  I park to compose myself for the ride down.

As I compose myself, I notice several things; the fog creeping in and a city bus. Both were bad news. Like an Alfred Hitchcock movie, the fog crept in, curling its way around the roads, peeking over the ravines. The city bus was bad news because now I risked an encounter as I was descending and it was ascending.  I don’t pretend to understand a lot about Switzerland but I do know this:  The bus TRUMPS.  Everything-pedestrians, cars, small animals, bicyclists.  I wait.  And wait. Fog worsens.

I have several decisions to make. I can:

A.       Stay until spring. 

B.      Wait until fog lifts. Could be spring.

C.      Wait for the bus to return and attach myself to it.  Considering all the kids waiting at the    bottom, might be spring.

I go with option “C”.  Sometime later, the bus emerges from the fog carrying another load of very loud children (I don’t have to be in the bus to know it’s loud. Trust me on this). They disembark (loudly). I start my car, which is on empty by the way- this story could get worse, and I pull behind the bus. My plan is to let the bus do the work, kind of like Bradley Wiggins’ team mates in the Tour de France.  I’m Bradley in this story. It’s going very smoothly. Then the unthinkable happens; a car is ascending. The bus stops. The stare down begins. The car backs down the mountain, in the fog. The car must continue to back down until it can find a spot to wedge into so the bus and me (Bradley Wiggins) can pass. This happens twice.

 Told you…the bus ALWAYS trumps. I might be catching on.
 
 

 
 

Comments

  1. I'm just checking to see if I can post yet. :-)

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  2. OK, it seems that I can only post under anonymous, but this is me.... Pearl.. Jen I LOVE your stories...they are ALL very witty, informative, interesting, suspenseful, and humorous. I think you should write a book! I am looking forward to more stories!!

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  3. I love it! Can't remember how I came across your blog but will now check out more:-)

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  4. Ha! I rode on a funicular in Innsbruck, Austria. I thought they were FOR tourists!

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  5. Always something new to learn while living abroad... driving in different countries can be scary!

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  6. Haha, I like your sense of humour...But isn´t it spring in Switzerland already anyways? It´s almost summer here (Barcelona)...

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    1. It is a beautiful spring now. No longer as scary. :-)

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  7. I had to laugh a lot while reading your article. I am from Austria and know what you are talking about...narrow roads.

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  8. Hilarious! What an adventure just to get the kids off to school. I will say I don't miss needing snow chains in Wisconsin!

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  9. What a great adventure for your kids to go to school in such a different environment!

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  10. Time to upgrade to an H2 and rule the road! lol

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  11. Funny story, really love your style of writing!

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  12. wow. I heard on the news yesterday that school runs are just as stressful as a 9 to 5. Reading your post I can understand how that would be the case.

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  13. Wow, even a school run can be an adventure. Whereabouts in Switzerland are you? I'm just around the corner, in Italy!

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  14. I stayed at a hotel in Crete with its own funicular once... the route from the building to the hotel's private beach was so steep that that was how to get about...

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  15. That sounds like a crazy experience! I have to drive a one lane hilly road for work sometimes but as it is never really that foggy and we don't have snow my experience was much tamer. I love that your kids take a funicular to school, I don't know why but funicular is one of my favorite words!

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