I would like to tell you about the previous ten minutes of my life:
I arrived at the hotel where I like to stay in Zumikon, Switzerland, just up to hill, outside of Zurich, in the countryside. It’s named Frohe Assaucht and I highly recommend it.
It’s the only hotel in town. There isn’t much in Zumikon. When I first started coming here 15 years ago there was even less. There was a Migro’s grocery store, a garage, an Audi dealer, a Porsche / Lotus dealer, the gasthaus hotel where I’m staying, and a restaurant...and the school I’m here to visit, where my friend Jonathan Malcolm works. Now there is a second grocery store. Things are hopping here.
About ten minutes ago I got off the tram that brought me up from Stadlhofen Station to this little burg. I walked the two blocks up to the hotel, up the too many stairs, and in the front door to the entry hallway. I walked straight back into the kitchen and saw the many faces I’ve been seeing for years.
The short brunette who runs the bar never remembers me, I guess we Americans all look alike. The other brunette who works in the restaurant never does, either. But around the corner came the tall blonde from Hamburg who always knows me right away and she opened her arms for a hug. Her English is good so we exchanged pleasantries and she went to retrieve the key to my room. Her name is Marianne.
Maybe this is the luxury of a hotel with only 12 rooms and a restaurant.
As I waited for the key to my room, I saw the chef in the back of the kitchen and asked where his dog is. He pointed across the way at his little terrier.
“He’s gotten bigger,” I pointed out.
“So have I,” replied the chef, tapping his palms on his belly.
“I’m right there with you,” I chimed in, as I, too, slapped my palms on my stomach.
“I have bad news for you,” he said. “We are out of bier!”
“Kein problem,” I said. “Haben zie wein?”
“Yes, of course.”
I got the key to my room, room 11, and walked up the two flights of stairs to drop off my stuff.
Before you start thinking this is some exclusive hotel catered to the rich, with only 12 rooms to allow the rich and famous some privacy, I’ll let you know that my room doesn’t have a bathroom...I have to go down the hall. The only thing that MIGHT make this exclusive is that each room gets a small bag of gummies and a Sudoko puzzle on the pillow.
As I headed down to the fumoir, halfway back down the second flight of stairs, Robert, the chef, asked me “what would you like to drink?” He clarified that they did, in fact, have beer and he had just been joking with me.
“It’s my New Years’ joke,” he told me.
“What red wine do you have?” I asked. “I like a full-bodied red.”
“You like a full bottle?” he inquired.
“Yes, but also something with a lot of flavor...like road tar.”
Humor is hard to translate sometimes.
“What do YOU like” I proposed.
He said he had a really nice Portuguese red he was featuring.
“Come, I will let you try it,” he said, motioning for me to follow him into the kitchen. He poured me a very generous glass to “taste.”
So I tasted.
“Ja Danke,” I threw out, as my best attempt at German.
I headed down to the fumoir to have a cigar, read a bit, and wait for Jonathan, when Marianne brought down my wine bottle with two glasses.
As I searched for a cutter for my cigar, Robert came down and educated me that they are called “Schneiders” in German. But he still couldn’t find one. I went to my room to get mine and came back down. I left it with them as my donation to the cause.
In the end, I can’t explain what a wonderful mix of cultures and conversation it was to have a Swiss chef who spent years working in the USA, a German waitress from Hamburg, a school teacher friend from New Zealand, myself, and a dog all hanging out in a small, local bar, in a very small town in Switzerland, exchanging stories, having language breakdowns, drinking too much wine and limoncello, and enjoying each others’ company.
I’m not sure it gets much better than this.