Thursday, December 13, 2012

Thursday, December 6, 2012

Farewell to Doggy Days.

The chaos of the holidays was ending, and the majority of our furry friends had left or were going to be gone by tomorrow as the owners came to claim these canines that didn't want to leave the fun of Doggy Days behind. Some we were happy to see go, and looking forward to the sleep that we might get back from the restless nights of constant late night barking projected out of the hotel into our bedrooms. As the packs decreased in size it was also time for me to depart from Doggy Days. 


There are many dogs that I will miss, but the owner's Romanian sisters are the two that I would take home for myself if I could. Despite their tough shell and distance to newbies at the beginning, we were actually quite good friends by the time I had to go. Instead of running away or barking when I came into a room they would either sit up and looked interested in where I was headed or even run over and jump up to greet me warmly. Earning their affection made me feel like an official member of the house. 


And Artuse, the biggest St. Bernanrd you will ever meet. He is larger than most small horses I've seen, and has a deep stomach rattling bark that makes most of the other dogs quiver, but in reality he is nothing but a softy. Well trained, he doesn't even need a leash when you walk him, because he sticks close to you, in fact he usually knows the path better than whoever is walking him. 




Though I won't miss the constant scrubbing of the floor covered in dog urine, and being pulled down a hillside by an eager puppy while the others pull in three separate directions, or the dog chatter that sometimes never seems to stop, I will miss this dog oasis and the village of Arogno very much. 


Saying farewell to my new friends, helpers and staff, I made some open plans to see them again with the hope of crossing paths in another country again some day. Marcela and I spent one final evening gossiping and dissecting the work day together after letting the dogs out for their final late night bathroom break, and as I went to sleep dreading the early alarm that was to ring in a few hours I thought about how comfortable I had become in that home and how I might  hope to return to Doggy Days again some day. 


Luzern, Switzerland.


Beautiful Luzern is a small city in Switzerland south of Zurich, in the heart of the country. The most famous and recognizable monument of this town is the The Lion Monument. This massive Lion sculpture that measures six meters high and ten across was carved out of sand stone rock in the early 19th century. The Lion in the sculpture portrays a deep sadness as he has been speared and appears to be on his last breathe as he lays on top of scattered shields and weapons to create the imagery of a war zone. Above the wounded Lion is the engraving that reads "Helvetiorum fidei ac virtuti" meaning, "To the loyalty and the bravery of the Swiss. The Lion Monument was erected in memory of the Swiss mercenaries that  were killed through out their service in the French Revolution. During the French Revolution, the service of a mercenary was a necessary trade for Switzerland, and as a result of this, over 40,000 Swiss were serving in foreign countries during that time. 



Climbing up to the edge of the city, at the original border or the town are Musegg wall and towers of Luzern. Wandering along the lifted wall you can climb into the towers to catch a view of the entire city. On this particularly foggy day the view stopped at the city buildings, when on many days of the years you can see out far along the lake. In the center Zyttrum clock tower there is is a large bell that's bell chimes a full minute before all the others in the city, leading the rest in a full chorus on the hour. 


Another well known spot in Luzern is the Chapel Bridge, a wooden walkway that crosses over the Reuss River that runs directly through the centre of town into the Luzern lake. With wooden arches that greet you on either end, the covered wooded walkway has open air look out windows lined with blooming flower boxes where you can observe the beautiful city buildings along the river. Looking up to the covering of the bridge, every few meters is a colorful painting illustrating Luzern's history from the 17th century. 


Family in Switzerland.


Waking early, I groggily stumbled around getting ready,putting my things together and left the dog hotel while the stars were still shining. Lot and I strolled down the driveway and then rolled his car down the lane, waiting to turn on the engine until we were out of ear shot from the sleeping dogs as to not cause an unnecessary early morning orchestra of barking. Saying "hasta manana" at the bus stop, my journey to Ecce Homo began. My dauntingly long train route allowed less than five minutes between each connecting  train, and as each of the first two were just a few minutes behind schedule I ran to meet the third leg of my journey just as it pulled away from the station, leaving me stranded in a tiny cold train port for over an hour while waiting for the next train. On the journey of my final train, I starred out the foggy windows and it was clear that I had left the cities of Switzerland and was fully engulfed by the beautiful countryside. Full of gorgeous large houses with countless windows, and picture perfect streams of smoke trailing out of the silver chimneys on top, all clumped in tiny villages and surrounded by green meadows, this is the picture you create in your mind when you think of Switzerland. Departing this last train, I had one final step in transit, a city bus right outside the station where I was the only passenger. Three stops later I arrived at the Ecce Homo bus stop where I looked up to see directly in front of me my final destination, the home my great-grandmother had once lived in. 


Exactly like the pictures I had seen, the beautiful old house is covered in dark wood on the outside, with bright green shutters that frame the white windows perfectly. Feeling bold and confident after such a complicated journey I walked up to the front door, and looked at the door bell with the name "Josef Lounde" and rang it, not entirely certain that anyone would be home. I heard shuffling around from inside and soon enough the door opened and a familiar face that I had not seen in many years looked back at me. I smiled at him and told him who I was, and without a questioning look or hesitation he simply said, "yes, come in" and led me up the stairs. As he turned into the kitchen I heard his wife, Lottie, speak quickly to him in German, what I assume was something along the lines of "who is it?" after he responded to her  she came beaming around the corner to greet me with shock and surprise as she held her arms open for a big welcoming embrace. Realizing as I turned into the kitchen that I had interrupted their lunchtime, I felt terrible, but Lottie didn't even hesitate before quickly setting a place for me and served me up some of her delicious meal as we sat around the table catching up. It had been over ten years since I had seen these relatives, cousins of my grandfather, when they last visited us in the states. They had also gotten to know my parents during a trip that they had taken to Europe almost just as many years ago. My grandpa often sends family photos and updates about the happenings from the states and about what our family is doing each year, so Josef had many questions about updates on the family members. Though he would disagree with me, Josef's English is great, especially considering the fact that he couldn't remember the last time he had to use it to such an extent. While Lottie and I can not communicate directly, since I do not speak any German and her English is limited, we did manage to find other ways to communicate as she pulled out her photo albums from their visits to the states as well as from my parents trip to visit with them. They gave me a tour of the beautiful home they live in, that was once lived in by Josef's mother as well as my great-grandmother. The inside is very modern because as Josef put it, nothing is original but the walls. We discussed my travels as well as the trips they have been on and it became clear to me that all share a great ambition for travel, and they have even visited places that I would not yet be courageous enough to try. 



As the afternoon progressed I started to think about making my way back, not wanting to over stay my welcome, but they had other plans in mind. Down the road about thirty minutes from their home is a very small village called Illgau where my great-grandfather's family, the Burglers, are from. Josef and Lottie offered to take me there so I could visit the church and cemetery full of my ancestors. On this very foggy day we rode up the hill into the village and I toured around inside the cemetery with the two of them, amazed by how many Burglers there were in one place. Even driving along the road, the name of the construction company advertised their work on the roads was Burgler construction, the same name my grandfather's construction company had for so many years. 


Getting back into the car, certain that this wonderful afternoon with my family was complete, Josef asked if I had a schedule for the day, and I told him I simply had to be in Luzern by late that night in order to check into the hostel. Satisfied with that answer he nodded and said our next destination was the town of Brunnen where we would visit the tourist centre so I could learn more about the area. Along the drive and inside the centre they pointed out many significant pieces of Switzerland's history to me, and we watched some informational videos and chatted with the staff there about all the things this region of Switzerland is known for. After the centre, we popped up to their daughter Bernie's house, who I had never had the chance to meet until now,  and had her join us for an afternoon snack in the city before it was time for me to catch my train. Josef took me to the station and I expected to say our farewells at the car park or after I purchased my ticket, but instead he kindly walked with me all the way to the platform, and kept me company while I waited for the train to arrive. When the train pulled in I gave him a hug and thanked him endlessly for a wonderful day, and Josef stood along side the train as I boarded and waved good bye to me as I headed south to Luzern for the night.