After yesterday's snow, we needed little temptation to head for the station to begin today's adventure, particularly since Gluehwein might be on offer too - having a car is all very well but someone needs to drive. Though the picture doesn't really reflect it, at 9.50am on a Sunday morning, Zurich Hauptbahnhof was buzzing.
Our (double decker) train arrived almost as soon as we found the right platform and left spot on 10am. Aaaah, Switzerland!
We were headed for Thun, where we'd read there was a Fasching/Carnival event today, but when we got there, the only evidence was a slight scattering of confetti underfoot.
Oh, and possibly the odd person dressed in a somewhat ostentatious fashion...with a painted face....and most likely carrying a trumpet or wheeling a set of drums.
We followed our ears and there in the town square, there was a bunch of "guuggen" musicians, making their presence felt. We got ourselves a cup of gluehwein each and joined them around the "stehtisch", curious to find out more about their fantastic costumes and their programme for 2010. They told us they were from Altstaetten and their costumes were new each year, made by a local expert. But soon, they were off, for another drink in another bar, another impromptu "rehearsal" and probably, most likely a bit more fun before the real show began.
At 1359 (this is Switzerland, remember!) the procession was due to begin, so we took up our places on a street corner and waited for the fun to begin.
52 assorted Guuggenbands, confetti-throwing floats, submarines and tractors later, we were standing, frozen to the spot, covered in bits of paper and snowflakes but totally captivated by the enthusiasm, the spirit and sheer good humour of the crowd. We'd sang and jumped and clapped and danced with the rest - what a great way to spend a bitterly cold and snowy Sunday. Who should bring up the rear, coming in at #52, but the lads from Altstaetten, easily the best band of the afternoon!
What's more, it wasnt over yet. The bands had processed on a circular route and having got ourselves more gluehwein to thaw ourselves out, we spotted the procession coming down the old high street. In Thun, this is a "double decker" kind of street, with walkways on two levels and choosing the upper deck, we had a grandstand view of the whole shebang as it headed for "home" - the town square, where guuggenmusik would be going on into the wee small hours, no doubt fuelled by plenty of beer and bratwurst! We waited for the Altstaetten "heads" and then thought we'd better head for the station and our train.
We were covered with confetti in our hair, all over our coats and shoes, in our bags and our pockets, but so was everyone else. The streets were covered with the stuff and we wondered how on earth the town would deal with it all as the snow was falling quite quickly now.
We might have guessed!
We caught the 4.36pm train back to Zurich together with the rosy cheeked crowd coming home from a day in the mountains and decided to go straight to the restaurant, even though our table wasn't booked for another hour yet. But we really couldn't wait for our supper, for what's the best way to warm up after a long and chilly day in the fresh air?
Tomorrow, when I'm home again, I'll upload a video to share the full "Guuggemusig" experience.