it is Rapperswil, not rapper swill

Posted: January 12, 2018 in Humorous Bits, Photography, Travel
Tags: , , , , , ,

Rapperswil is part of a municipality in northeast Switzerland. It is *not* a questionable brand of bathtub gin marketed to struggling rap artists. You may think offering that lame pun in a local tavern will elicit good-natured laughter, but the only thing you’ll receive is the dreaded Swiss death stare. It is exactly the same look you get when you kid about money with a wealth manager from Credit Suisse. Switzerland may be famously neutral and their knives more functional than deadly, but their aloof contemplation can be withering. So do yourself a favor. Resist the urge to make a bad Rapperswil joke, especially while in Rapperswil. Don’t be the Ugly American.

Rapperswil was settled many centuries ago and for a long, long time was its own thing. Oh sure, an occasional power struggle erupted to keep things interesting, but that was the exception. In 2007 it merged with neighboring Jona and the whole shebang was renamed Rapperswil-Jona. Pretty creative, right? You know, sometimes you get the sense the fine Swiss people have no desire to expend energy on stuff which doesn’t concern numbers. I’m not saying that is true; I’m just saying it isn’t false.

“The R-J” (my creative contribution, obviously not theirs) is comfortably nestled in the bosom of the Alps. It hugs Lake Zürich, 22 miles south of the lake’s more celebrated namesake. The air is so clean you can’t see it. You notice these things when you grew up near New York City. If you’ve read Heidi or seen The Sound of Music you might imagine the surroundings are lush and stunning. They are. And yes, The Sound of Music was set in Austria, but can you distinguish a Swiss alpine meadow from an Austrian one? No, you can’t. So step off.

Don’t be fooled by the otherworldliness of this fairytale land. It is insidious. You can almost hear the distinctive wail of alpenhorns and the soothing lilt of far-off yodelers as you sip a lakeside gin and tonic. The scenery is so beautiful that it distracts you from more immediate matters, like the actual gin in your beverage. With the fresh air and pristine water clogging your normal thought processes and all that imagined yodeling batting about your ears, you can’t tell for certain if the gin was made from high quality juniper berries or cheap huckleberries. One thing is evident. Whatever slides down your throat is certainly not priced like cheap huckleberries. It is almost an out-of-body experience watching many Swiss francs disappear so seamlessly from your wallet. At these prices you try to reason the gin must be specially distilled, redistilled, and redistilled yet again by a master craftsman, a genius with the instincts of an acclaimed botanist and the financial acumen of, well, a Swiss banker. By the third round, you don’t much care, which is probably a big component of the country’s tourism model.

As the lake breeze embraces you and a warm radiance flows through your body, you notice Rapperswil Castle towering above the town. It was built in the early 13th century, ostensibly as a well-positioned fortification. In reality it was simply a ploy to make people climb stairs. Still, it beckons. You manage to get your feet moving in tandem with your brain (remember those three rounds supported by a second mortgage?) and ascend the stairs. The summit is breathtaking. Literally, your breath is taken away like a balloon popped in your chest. You try to appreciate the astounding views, but mostly you realize you are out of shape. Between your struggling gasps and high-pitched wheezes the lake shimmers below and the sun bathes the distant snow-capped peaks. Other people briskly stride past in their perfect perfectness while you remain bent at the waist pretending to search for a contact lens. It is distasteful to think poorly of someone because they so effortlessly move about in their unnaturally fit Euro mountaineer body. But you gladly embrace your coarse prejudices if they will help you stand fully upright.

Nonetheless, Rapperswil is a lovely destination, an enjoyable place to spend a glorious day. Just remember the few strategic essentials. Bring lots of money, leave the jokes at home, bring lots of money, don’t ponder the source of alcohol, bring lots of money, and adopt a strict fitness regimen six months before visiting. Follow these simple tips and you will find yourself dancing in a field of edelweiss. Or maybe huckleberries. Does it really matter?

  1. rangewriter says:

    Lots of money. I will remember that, if I ever have lots of money to bring to Rapperswil. This is a lovely break from all the hate and slander that abounds. Thank you. And, I love that first image of the boats in the water. It really looks like a water color painting.


  2. Candice says:

    So funny! I saw your post listed in Biff, Sock, Pow’s 5 best blog posts he’s read this week.


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