Gute fahrt!

It was a very good trip.

Our daughter’s long-awaited visit from the UK finally happened in early September. We spent two weeks together and it felt like the first true vacation since the pandemic began. It was also our first family holiday in Switzerland since moving here last year, which gave me plenty of material to observe from a new perspective.

During that time, we went from our German-speaking side of the country back to the French before moving on to the Italian part. Just as this old girl was getting her brain retrained NOT to speak French in every public situation, we were navigating between all three languages plus English for the British boyfriend. But that was only one of the (admittedly enjoyable) challenges.

The Simplon car shuttle was my first experience of travelling by car on a train. A bit scary for a claustrophobic who doesn’t trust technology but a good way to cut short the long, twisty drive from French-speaking Valais to Italian-speaking Ticino.

There are two ways to do it: either you drive over the high-mountain pass or you put your car on the train and cut through. After much discussion (read: lively debate, ahem, I mean argument; that’s how we do things in this family), we decided to take the train on the way there and drive on the way back. Husband, the designated driver, will always prefer a mountain-top view. Nervous Nelly here is afraid heights and gets car sick from too many turns. So why do you live in a mountainous country, you ask? Go figure.

On a side note, the experience reminded me of a story I used to read to my daughter when she was little: We’re going on a bear hunt. It’s a wonderful tale about a family that goes through a bunch of stuff on an imaginary bear hunt. Every time the family runs into an obstacle, there’s a recurring theme: We can’t go over it, we can’t go under it. Oh, no, we’ve got to go through it!

It is a perfect metaphor for so much of life, even the good bits.

So, we managed to agree and drive ourselves to the place where you load your car onto the train in Brig. We had calculated the timing fairly well so were first in line and able to grab a coffee and do a WC run while waiting for the train. Generally they leave every hour or two in the busy periods. When the whistle blew we followed the line of cars onto the train, positioned it just behind the car in front and cut the engine. Then the fun began.

I had somehow not realized we would be in the dark during the journey. Also, I read all the emergency instructions in the brochure and tried not to think of what would happen if we got stuck. And there was a fire. Or an earthquake. Truly, having an imagination is a curse.

To nobody’s surprise but my own, twenty minutes later we emerged safely on the other side of the mountain. Then began an hour-and-a-half drive down far more narrow and twisty roads from the Domodossola, in Italy, that would take us to our holiday rental in Locarno.

When I saw the receipt from the car shuttle train I smiled. I’ve posted before about the use of funny words in French.

But somehow I’d never realized how they say ‘good trip’ in German.

More about our holiday later. Until then, good farts to all!


  1. pedmar10 · September 24, 2021

    Nice train ride but you should try the mountain pass with the car lol!

    • MELewis · September 24, 2021

      We did! On the way back….next post! 😎

      • pedmar10 · September 24, 2021

        Great love to read it then;cheers

  2. davidprosser · September 24, 2021

    Well, it’s good for the digestion if not the ozone layer, though it’s perhaps little personal to getting that kind of encouragement from the State.
    Hope you had a wonderful time,

    • MELewis · September 24, 2021

      Lol. Ironically, taking the car on the train is indeed good for the ozone layer, or at least the carbon footprint. And we kept the windows down! Huge hugs

    • Kiki · September 27, 2021

      David, I was just going to ‘tell you off’ re the carbon footprint but then Mel did it very delicately… And don’t you hold back – we’re all more than OK with some of the ‘State’/s’….

  3. Elyse · September 24, 2021

    😂 Delightful post!! Glad you survived to tell about it!! Hugs to all. E

    • MELewis · September 24, 2021

      Lovely to hear from you, dear Elyse. Glad you enjoyed the post. I’m quite sure we would have had a giggle together.

  4. kairosia · September 24, 2021

    What fun! And a joy to be back with your girl, I’m sure. We had all our kids around (24 of us altogether with grandkids) this past July—first time in two years—and I can’t yet begin to write about it. I like the idea of taking it in chunks. Looking forward to your account of the treacherous return!

    • MELewis · September 24, 2021

      It was indeed a joy to see her and have the family together! I totally get needing some time to process these things. Doing it in smaller chunks is the only way for me or I would never post. As for the return, I look forward to sharing that leg (but without spoilers: it wasn’t treacherous…).

  5. margaret21 · September 24, 2021

    Oh, I’d have been with your husband doing the pass. I have a horror of tunnels and being stuck in them. I have fabulous memories of doing the Simplon pass with my parents when I was probably about 10. Special moments.

    • MELewis · September 24, 2021

      Glad it brought back good memories. Will share the Simplon part soon — the views were stunning!

      • margaret21 · September 24, 2021

        Even 10 year old me appreciated them!

  6. Kiki · September 24, 2021

    ha ha ha….. as a good Swiss, I have to say, that ‘word games’ like this arrive VERY often in our daily conversations, HH being a French spoken Swiss, me a trilingual Swiss German Swiss (intentional, as the Swiss German has nothing to do with ‘real’ or ‘high’ German) and I see plenty of fun-material in HIS (trials and errors of) speaking good German. Fahrt is pronounced correctly like faaaaaaaart – which takes the smell out of it 😉

    • MELewis · September 26, 2021

      I am trying to learn a bit of Swiss German but it’s a very slow, twisty road up that mountain! My husband gets by with his ‘Hoch’ Deutsch and it makes me feel less guilty that even after years of exposure he struggles to understand the local dialect(s). Thanks for the pronunciation tip! 😅

  7. Dale · September 25, 2021

    That was a fun ride. Tu pètes le feu, Mel! We use that over here in Quebec, as well 😉
    That train ride would disturb lots of people, I would think…
    Gute fahrt! Love it. Looking forward to the sharing of the rest of your trip.

    • MELewis · September 26, 2021

      Ouf! Good to know I can fart fire on both sides of the pond, Dale! 🤩

      • Dale · September 26, 2021

        Buahahaha! Yes, you can indeed 😉

    • Kiki · September 27, 2021

      oh yes, to pet le feu is a good one too!!!! HH brought me another one this morning, over breakfast (again, me thinks, a ‘Romandism’….): Fait attention à tes sabots. I didn’t see what my garden shoes had to do with our discussion theme but then it turns out that in the olden times it meant: Don’t get hit by a horse hoof – a goodie, non?

      • MELewis · September 27, 2021

        Et oui! 😂

      • Dale · September 27, 2021

        Haha! Effectivement. We don’t use that one as often, though I’ve heard it.

  8. Colin Bisset · September 25, 2021

    I’m all for mountain driving but have now learned you need the right vehicle – we once made the mistake of renting a tiny Twingo for a few days in Switzerland. I still cringe thinking of the line of cars behind us… Looks like a great trip, and how great to be so multinational within a single country. Great farts all round!

    • MELewis · September 26, 2021

      Ha, ha…I feel your pain! Used to drive my Micra up a steep slope coming home from work in France. I practically had to turn off the A/C in order to shift to third gear. You can imagine the line of drivers impatient to pass as soon as we crested the hill. In Switzerland they are a bit more tolerant — and I do love the feeling of being in a ‘bouillion de culture’.

      • Kiki · September 27, 2021

        what a nice thing to say – and your description of trying to go uphil in a Micra – yeah, I get it totally!

      • MELewis · September 27, 2021

        It really does feel that way to me! 😊

  9. Garfield Hug · September 26, 2021

    Enjoy your vacation!!😃👍

    • MELewis · September 26, 2021

      Cheers, Garfield! 🤗

  10. acflory · September 27, 2021

    Scared of heights too so…would probably take the train but…over an hour in the dark in a tunnel? -shiver- This is true fire vs frying pan stuff! Glad you had a gute fahrt regardless. 😉

    • MELewis · September 27, 2021

      It was only 20 minutes! But I kept my eyes on every bit of light…😅

      • acflory · September 28, 2021

        Oh that’s better! Not sure where I got the idea of an hour from. Glad I was wrong! Even 20 minutes can be unpleasant though.

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