The family decided to visit Claudia’s dad’s hometown. His family owned several different houses and businesses in the town over the years, so this is very much the ancestral homeland of Claudia and the kids. Being members of the Greek Orthodox Church, the family is used to friends visiting the islands and regions of Greece that their family came from. It was a nice opportunity for the kids to visit the places their family came from – most notably Basel and Gelterkinden.
The town is an iconic small European town. The Church (St. Peter’s) sits on the hill overlooking the town. Of course it has church bells, which you can hear throughout the area. There are other churches in the town these days, reflecting the world post Reformation, but St. Peter’s is clearly the original church. It was very quiet when the family visited there. It is likely that many of the residents work in Zurich or Basel. Gelterkinden used to be home to a major silk ribbon weaving industry. You can read about the history of this craft here. It’s interesting that the silk ribbon industry gave rise to the Swiss chemical industry.
Claudia went to visit the graveyard at St. Peter’s to look for the graves of the family that lived here for several generations. Unfortunately, she was only able to locate the grave of a cousin. Bernhard mentioned that every so many years they remove older graves in many of the Churches to make room for newer ones. Exceptions are made for particularly prominent individuals who’s graves are permitted to remain for longer.
After visiting the church, the family grabbed some lunch at a diner (schnitzel sandwiches mostly) and opted to return to Zurich vs. heading out to Interlaken, as it was getting late in the day and Catherine and Lilo had more than burnt the candle on both ends the night before (earlier that morning?)
Claudia had read that one should call in advance to ensure assistance on and off trains (not the trams, just the trains, and not even all of those), but for the most part the family hadn’t bothered with it. Today, however, after Claudia was lectured getting on the train at the Zurich Hauptbanhof, and the family was met in Olten by a very helpful young man who escorted the group to the next train, the family decided to call ahead when planning the return from Gelterkinden. To some degree that was a mistake.
Of note is that people are people no matter where you go. Plenty of pleasant, helpful people, but unfortunately a few not so pleasant or helpful. Jeff and Andrew were able to easily board the train from Gelterkinden to Olten, but when they arrived in Olten, they were unable to board the connecting train. There was a very helpful station employee who was starting to deploy the ramp but was stopped by the conductor who insisted the train couldn’t handle two wheelchairs. As you can see in this picture
Taken on another train of the same configuration, Jeff and Andrew could get two chairs on fine. It seems likely the conductor is one of those (that many in the disabled world run across regularly) who simply didn’t want to deal with wheelchairs on his train. The family had to wait 30 minutes for a subsequent train. When Jeff and Andrew got on that, however, they weren’t much better off as there was a woman occupying the wheelchair seat with her suitcase and was not interested in moving.