Our all too short visit with Dana and Cedric came to a close today. Deanna and I are sad to be leaving. In a short period of time, I feel like they have become good friends. We started the day with a good old Canadian breakfast of pancakes, sausages and maple syrup. Nice to have a bit of taste of home. Dana was waiting for a call from her Doctor. She injured her foot a couple of weeks ago and after seeing a couple of different Doctors and things not apearing to heal very well, she wanted to get it checked out before their trip to the U.K. on Sunday.

Our first stop was at the train station in Sion. We need to make our way to Stuttgart for our flight to Crete tomorrow. It could have been possible to leave very early tomorrow morning to make it to the airport but it’s a six hour train ride with multiple changes and if anything went wrong it would be a ton more stressful than it needed to be. We decided to leave a day early, make our way to Stuttgart and spend the night there. In the morning, we’ll enjoy a nice breakfast, a stroll around Stuttgart before heading to the airport for our 14:00 flight to Chania, Crete.

Friday is market day in Sion. Street markets in Europe are such a treat for us and having Cedric with us made the stroll through the various stalls that much more interesting. We stopped and had a glass of wine with his father and one of his friends. Apparently he’s pretty much a fixture at one of two places on the market. Deanna has pretty much mastered the local three cheek kiss greeting that is common in Switzerland. Dana mentioned this morning that it can be a bit of a challenge to greet and say goodbye to large groups of people with all the cheek kissing going on. Regardless, it’s super special to be treated like a friend in this environment. After having our glass of wine, we travelled up the street a little bit and found a stand serving Raclette. Cedric insisted we try another variation of this cheesy treat and who are we to refuse. We shared a table with a local couple. In some bit of random happenstance, the man was at the 1988 Calgary Olympics working as an ice carver for the American delagation. Weird how being 12 way around and having a shared experience with someone local in Sion.

Dana received a call from her Doctor and rushed down to say good byes to us before heading to her appointment. Leaving us in the capable hands of Cedric. Knowing we couldn’t bring a wheel of Raclette cheese back home, we settled for some of the spice mix that Cedric and Dana had on Tuesday night. When we’re home we’ll see if I can find something similar at one of our specialty cheese shops. It won’t be the same but we’ll try to recreate a tiny bit of our Swiss experience on some snowy day next winter.

We had about an hour before our train left so we walked up to see an old catholic church. I promised Deanna there wouldn’t be too many churches on this trip, but she seemed ok with this small detour. Situated high above the town, it presented some spectacular views of the valley and the town. Inside, the church contains the oldest working pipe organ in Europe. Cedric mentioned every year they have some famous organists come to perform concerts. Like many places, church attendance is on the decline in Switzerland. We had a brief discussion about the difference between religion and spirituality and before we knew it we were back at the car making our way to the train station.

We said our goodbyes to Cedric, hoping to see him, Dana and their son Owen (whom we didn’t get a chance to meet this week) in the not too distant future. They’re planning a trip to Canada next summer to visit Tim and Jennifer so hopefully they can come out to the farm for at least a visit or perhaps to stay for a day or two.

At this point, you might be wondering why they heck we are heading to Stuttgart for our trip to Crete. A fine question. It turns out that flying to Crete from Switzerland was a bit of a challenge. All fights that I could find involved at least one, sometimes two hops with multi hour layovers. Given the hassle of airports, security and all that, I decided to book a flight from Germany and Stuttgart is relatively close to Switzerland so that was the option I chose. The trip to Stuttgart involves two changes. One at Visp, which is only 30 minutes from Sion and another change in Zurich. Here we have 30 minutes between arrival and departure which is good. I’m guessing Zurich will be a very large station which can be confusing to find the correct track. It turns out the track we needed was directly across the corridor from our arrival track so easy peasy. We had time to find a snack. We found a shop that sold pretzels and pretzel sandwiches including a raclette pretzel so Deanna was a happy camper. The last leg of our trip from Sion to Stuttgart will take about three hours. I found a hotel this morning that is a five/ten minute walk from the train station. We might have a bit of time to explore tonight, we’ll see how we feel when we get checked in.

While one the train, I received a call from a European telephone number. Not sure who it was, I answered and talked to a representative from the hotel we are staying at on Crete. It turns out they have an electrical problem in one of the buildings and have to find us an alternate location while it is being fixed. The replacement hotel is not close to the JCrete location which is not ideal. It’s also not ideal from the perspective that one of the reasons we booked this particular location was to spend time with Mark and Kathy. He and I had a text conversation (they’re still in the U.S. planning on leaving tomorrow) and it turns out they’ve been moved to a different hotel as well, not the same as ours. So boo on two fronts. These things happen and we’ll have to figure out logistics of getting to the conference site and meeting up with our friends through the week. The new hotel is apparently much nicer than our (what I thought was a very nice) hotel, plus they’ve put us in some sort of executive suite. So from an amenities point of view, it sounds great. I received an update just now and assuming the parts arrive from Athens as expected, we should be able to get back to our original plans on Monday.

The Swiss portion of our trip is sadly coming to a close. It’s been a wonderful week. Staying with friends in their own country is a really special treat. We got to experience some things that we would have never done if we did this trip on our own. Dierk and Else welcomed us into their home and shared some fantastic meals with us. Having a chance to spend time in their home with their children is something we won’t soon forget. Our trip to Lucerne with Dierk was really something special. Dana and Cedric treated us like old friends from the moment we met. They shared their home and made a special effort to make our stay very memorable. We really felt a part of their family, meeting some of their friends and family. Sharing a drink with Cedric’s dad at the market today was a great way to end our all too brief trip to Sion.