Monday, April 2, 2007

Cafe Terrace At Night

Written by Mr Big W from Working Without A Net



One would usually think of Paris or a similar French town or village upon seeing Van Gogh’s ‘Café Terrace at Night.’ Me? Not so much. The first thing that came to mind for me was a weekend spent in Lucerne, Switzerland nearly 20 years ago.

I was dating a lovely Swiss girl while stationed in Neu Ulm, Germany, back in the early 90s. We would see each other on weekends whenever she came to visit several friends in the area. She invited me and a few of my friends to visit her at her parents’ home – a stunning condo with views of Lake Lucerne and the Alps, specifically Mounts Pilatus and Riga. The views from the balcony were (and I am limited in my ability to provide an accurate description) awe-inspiring to say the least. I half-expected Julie Andrews to be running down the hillside singing about hills being alive and filled with music. I think we even sang a quick rendition of do, re, mi while quaffing pints of heffeweiss.

Our first night in town was spent at a local gasthaus drinking and just enjoying the time away from our barracks. I really just remember not having to be anywhere or do anything and relishing in the moment. The following morning, after a continental breakfast of fruits and breads and strong, strong coffee, we made our way downtown, where we spent several hours just walking around; our hosts providing an impromptu tour. I may be biased but I imagine no one had prettier or friendlier guides than the four of us.

Around midday, we stopped along the Reuss River to take in the scenery. For a mid-February day, it was very mild and rather than sit inside one of the establishments lining the river, we opted to take our drinks river-side. Time passed at once very slowly as we took in everything around us and quickly as we realized we had been sitting there for over three hours. We talked about everything and nothing. We remarked that there were no ugly people in this town – everyone was a GQ or Elle cover model – and how they must all be stopped at the German border. Swans swam their way up to us, boldly searching out snacks and posing for pictures. We even got caught up in a Fasching parade that ran the length of the river. I imagine we were a fairly amusing sight to everyone sitting at the outside cafes.

We walked around more and made our way to that hill I expected to see Julie on and staged our own re-enactment. I have mentioned we spent three hours drinking, right? Back at the condo, we had a delicious dinner and spent the remainder of the evening out on the balcony drinking coffee and admiring the view.

We left the next morning, dreading the return to the dreariness of our military lives. It was one of the best weekends I ever spent while in the army. It was filled with good food, good drink and, most importantly, good friends. And that is why, nearly 20 years later, I remember it as if it were yesterday.

6 comments:

Ray Dotson said...

Great story! I know how those memories can really stick with you, especially when taken in stark contrast to (mostly) boring military life...

Suburban Oblivion said...

What a beautiful description! Thanks for sharing and congrats on the feature piece!!

TOM said...

Great, story..., for me the picture is what I picture a back street of Paris, a city I've never been too, my son and his girlfriend spent the summer in paris 2 years ago and sure enough he took pictures of corners and cafes that look like that painting today...of course his pictures were'nt blurry!!

Top Blog Mag said...

Thank you for giving us such a lovely story, it brought back some rather hazy drunken memories of Fasching in Saas Fee.

Danielle said...

Thanks for sharing such a lovely story. I froze up a little equating the early nineties with twenty years ago.

tere616 said...

It was a touch lovely story. Trying to picture your life at that time ...

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