The Prophet Never Said: When in Rome . . . see – July 2015
At the Schynige Platte we’d had our lunch in of rösti and bratwurst with a half litre of Rugenbrüu in the hotel restaurant and we’d been for a walk up the steep stony path to the panorama point in the swirling mist, then back down the other side of the outcrop to the sound of the West Indian steel band tuning up in the fields below (no not really, it was Swiss cows with the steel cowbells round their neck, though the two sound uncannily similar, I was looking out for the rasta with dreadlocks lurking in the hillocks, but never managed to spot him).
Back to the cog-railway station for the five past four train down again into the valley, which pulls in slowly around the bend and lets the people who have ascended get off and another lot on for its gentle and winding hilly descent back down to the valley station at Wilderswil.
Among those getting off the train a Muslim couple, he in the regulation stone-washed jeans and sneakers, she in the female regulation Muslim cloak and head-covering, with the inevitable flimsy sandals on her feet. They got off the train, and I watched them as they came to the awkward realisation: now what?
For it is colder at two thousand-odd metres than it is in the valley, and the clouds were swirling a damp misty haze. Too late to just jump back on the train so they’ll be here for at least forty minutes before the next one down. She went off to the lavatory. Perhaps she’ll hide in there as long as as she can, while he looked forlornly at the shabby-looking café whose only seats were on benches outside and whose fare consisted primarily of coffee in a paper cup and bars of chocolate. I felt quite sorry for him, standing there.
Next time, they should do what the northern Europeans do, and come up in stout walking shoes so you can spend a happy half an hour looking at the plants in the Alpengarten, keeping warm by marching about vigorously, but it will be hard, not to say dangerous, to do that in a Muslim woman’s sandals.
When in Rome, do as the Romans do. Unless you are a Muslim, in which case the proverb goes: When in Switzerland, don’t do as the Swiss sensibly do. Where’s that bloody prophet?
Schynige Platte station
The Brits come well prepared, with their handbag, camera and packet of Fisherman’s Friend
And their packed lunch of course