Traveling with the Ambassador – Part 2

May 27, 2011

We know we have a unique situation living in Switzerland compared to in the US. We can take our dog into most public places. At restaurants, it isn’t unusual for a waitress to bring Fiona a bowl of water, sometimes with a dog bone or a slice of meat draped over the side of the bowl. The fact that she can go most places combined with not owning a car means we have to be in public places with people we don’t know; fortunately, odds are good that someone in that crowd is interested enough in Fiona The Ambassador to start a conversation. We’ve had many fun experiences with her traveling locally and in other countries.

We recently did a trip to southern France and Italy with Fiona. We took our bikes and the kinder cart and used trains to get us between bike rides. I think I am the lucky one because I usually ride behind Darrell and Fiona. I get to see the reactions of people as we ride by them. When they see a dog in a cart, they poke their partner in the side and point, they laugh out loud and say something about “hund”, “chien”, or “cane” depending on what country we are in, they clap, they try to hitchhike a ride, they smile and wave, they take pictures… At a market in southern Italy, the cheese vendor stopped us and had a customer bring Fiona a sample of cheese. At a perched village in Provence, a young boy ran back for his push scooter, so he could accompany Darrell and Fiona all the way up the hill. She met and was petted by people from Italy, France, England, Scotland and Australia. She had a massage by a friendly hotel owner in Orange, France. She slept under the desk of another hotel owner in Avignon. She spit up on the floor of a hotel in Marseille in front of the hotel clerk who genuinely told us it was OK (when I told her Fiona wasn’t used to the French food, she laughed and gave Fiona a nice rub to make her feel better).

Spring has only just started here, but we’ll be on our bikes more and open to the connections made through The Ambassador as we explore the local area. Today for example, we went to see a castle in a nearby town, The Ambassador in tow behind Darrell’s bike. We rode by what looked like a restaurant with 4 people sitting at a table outside. As soon as they saw us, all 4 laughed heartily, but in a friendly way. Since we’re used to this by now, we waved and kept going. On our way back, we waved again, but this time realized it wasn’t a restaurant, but was a wine tasting room (a WyStubi). We stopped and hung out for about an hour talking to the 2 customers and the vintners. It turns out they are only at this WyStubi one weekend a month and are at their primary winery on Lake Geneva the rest of the month. By the time we left, Darrell and I had plans to do a bike ride through their part of the country with a stop at the winery as a main attraction – Fiona will join us, of course!

About the guest bloggers – Ruth and Darrell Sofield are living near Zurich until September, 2011. They are keeping a blog of their adventures here. Fiona has given up on the common leash and only wears the Release-N-Run from Rad Dog. It works as well in the urban environments of Switzerland as in the backcountry. Have fun connecting!

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