The weather wasn't looking so crash hot but people still wanted to do something this weekend. The books were consulted and a relatively short but still challenging hike was selected near Stein SG. It's one of the closest places to Zürich and yet takes two hours to reach. You have the feeling they don't want better infrastructure to keep the place all to themselves.
Stefan and Charles joined - the latter coming fully waterproofed, both expecting to get wet. The hike started in Stein and followed a road up into the hills. The path broke off and followed a small river through the forest. It wasn't long before it started sprinkling, which quickly turned to raining and then pouring.
The ground because more sodden and muddled the higher you went up. You were looking for the "turn off past the small stream", and it didn't help that there were small streams every few meters. The side track up the Goggeien began in dense mossy forest, and continued up grassy slopes. Just short of the top the path traversed a nasty sliding area secured by a cable; you didn't really want to find out how far the slide would be. Charles seemed pleased to have hiking poles with him. Everyone else was paying special attention to their feet.
The last part to the summit was a scramble, if not a minor climb. Up until now the weather had shown no signs of improving, but once you made it to the cross the clouds cleared and the sun came out. Everyone had a snack while Charles seemed to have half a kiosk with him. The view was, at least briefly, so good you could see tower atop Säntis. It seemed to float on top of the clouds.
Everyone slid back down again, landing at least once awkwardly along the way. You picked up the pace until passing a farm where someone was spraying cow poo with a tanker-truck cannon. You took a safe-looking path over the ridge and headed along the road down the other side.
You kept up a brisk tempo the whole way down, not actually expecting to catch the next bus. Arriving at the outskirts of Arvenbüel and checking the time made you feel really silly that you'd miss it by only minutes. You jogged ahead and found the bus was still there. No one really wanted to run for it, but no one really wanted to wait for an hour for the next one either. Everyone made it, panting, out of breath and bloody hot.
That evening Meike made pumpkin and pfifferling (chanterelle mushroom) mix, which was followed by a retro round of Mario Kart. That game is amusing.
Oepfelchämmer w. Guillaume
Flora had asked around who may be interested to join a surprise dinner to celebrate Guillaume's 34th birthday. She also asked if anyone had any suggestions to where. The Oepfelkämmer was suggested. Now all that was left was to coerce Guillaume towards it none the wiser of any plans. Conveniently, when Flora asked him what he'd like for dinner, he put the same idea forward. He was genuinely surprised to see people waiting at the door.
The Oepfelchammer is Zürich's oldest wine bar (1357). It had been adopted — historically an in spirit — by the university student societies as their meeting place. Thanks to its architecture of large beams and a low roof, a gap just big enough to climb through was created in the middle of the room. The gap was about the width and thickness of a human torso, making it possible to squeeze through. The surrounding beams, however, provide no usable grip to pull or push yourself through. You're left to your own tenacity — be it swinging you legs wildly, kicking wine glasses as you go, or wiggling like a worm — to get through the gap. Once through, the rules state you must hang upside down and call Borris — the waiter with a curly mustache — who shall bring you a glass of white wine filled to the brim, which you must drink in your inverted position. If you manage all this you gain the privilege of engraving your name into any wooden surface you please. The room, being quite old, has no space left untouched.
You were a group of seven for dinner. No one seemed in a rush to order food, or to bring said food. The wine kept coming and the conversation was amusing as usual. His mates, almost all of them French except you and Meike, are a bunch of jolly blokes. One had bought a new motorbike, which remained the topic of conversation for three quarters of the evening on one end of the table. Down your end there was talk of company cost-cutting measures, leaving employees without phones even though there were twenty boxed of them in the storeroom slowly becoming obsolete.
Just before leaving Flora requested you try the climb. You decided to nice enough to give a demonstration to her and the room of obnoxious, loud Americans inhabiting the room. You got ready to climb, which induced the group to start clapping - a strictly forbidden activity in the wine bar. There are actually a long list of rules for place:
- Greet everyone, no one is a stranger
- Before taking a seat, ask if it's free; there's always space for the friendly
- Smooching is frowned upon; naturally greetings are excluded
- When after 6pm you want something other than wein, grape juice, water or port, it's time to move on
- No music, but a guitar is available upon request
- Singing is allowed, local songs only
- If you don't want to sing along, hum or just be quiet
- No commercial music, excluding The Salvation Army
- Clapping is not really the norm here, only knocking on the tables
- For those who wish to attempt the climb, make space and try not to get kicked in the head
- No moving to let people sit: they must climb over the tables
- Do not ask Borris to climb
Although Guillaume thought the movement was like a fish, you thought it was more like a worm, as you wriggles through. The Americans clapped; Borris was not pleased, nor willing to explain in English. You were amused at his ranting about throwing them out. You had your drink while Flora took a video and then people headed outside, some disappearing into an Irish bar while you and Meike headed home. It was well past your bedtime.