This weekend was the first one in a long time that me and the missus have had to ourselves. Sure, we always enjoy our time away from the monotony and drudgery of work, but having some alone time is vital in keeping a relationship enjoyable. So I told Celia to plan us a day trip to anywhere she wanted to go. For the longest time, she wanted to visit the town of New Glarus, a Swiss settlement about 40 miles southwest of Madison. As the story goes, about a hundred or so Swiss settlers colonized in New Glarus in the early 1800’s, and set up shop. Since then, it has basically remained the same place, complete with original buildings and more Swiss antiques than you could ever imagine. I was sold.
You immediately notice a few things upon entering New Glarus. First off, there’s painted cows everywhere.
What business these cows serve is really beside the point, because they look beautiful and are fun to touch. So much fun, in fact, that you are specifically instructed not to do so.
Being the rebel I am, I could not help myself.
Another wonderful thing about New Glarus is the attention to detail. While most of the buildings are from the original time of settlement, there are going to be new ones that pop up from time to time. Being a tourist town, they took care of that, and made sure that every new building adapted to the Swiss culture.
After the initial taking-in of the scenery, we went miniature golfing. The Swiss know how to run and properly maintain a mini-golf course. It was certainly one of the prettier courses I’ve played on this year. And hey, check this out!
Goats! On the golf course! They were well-fed, well-maintained, friendly and eager to please. Me and Celia both finished well under par and continued on our venture.
Now, everyone has their fantasies. Some guys wonder what it would be like to sleep with 2 women at the same time. Others think about what it would be like to win the lottery.
My fantasy has always been to play Mini-Golf and then go Bowling immediately afterwards.
Fantasy no more.
Swiss Lanes reminded me of an older, smaller, older, more run-down, older version of Marble Park Lanes. We entered the place thinking it was closed, due to the fact that all of the lights were off and nobody was there. We saw an old woman playing an illegal gambling machine in the corner, and an old man smoking a cigarette and staring off into space behind the bar. We asked him if we could bowl, and he said yes, once he went back and “turned it on”.
8 ancient lanes, dark as night, and not a single person around. The alley was ours, and we couldn’t be happier. The lanes were so warped and crooked that you had to forget everything you knew about physics before you rolled. For example, if you wanted to aim for the center pin, you had to start your throw, say, 4 lanes over. Check out my killer form:
My score suffered because of this.
Nevertheless, it was coolest game of bowling I’ve ever played. We thanked the old man, and continued on our lovely Swiss journey. Next stop on the tour were the souvenir shops.
Handmade Swiss dresses, Cuckoo clocks wall-to-wall, beer steins as big as console television sets. We took in store after store of these wonders, while Polka music filled the air, seemingly following us everywhere throughout the town. I, of course, sought out the music section, which didn’t fail to impress.
Here’s the best part: they were only 20 bucks each! I grabbed an armload of them, and headed for the register.
After blowing most of our budget on yodeling tapes, we decided to take in some of the beautiful architecture. Like this Church, for example.
(Pictured: Ryan Zeinert)
After several hours in New Glarus, I started to feel jealous. I wanted to be Swiss, or at the very least, live in Little Switzerland. These people represented everything I loved in a culture. Non-violence, fine wines and cheese, land-locked for minimal contact with water. I didn’t want to leave. I wanted to spend the rest of my life thinking that I was not only Swiss, but that I was actually living in Switzerland. I made a promise to myself that I would always spell “house” as “haus” from now on. It was the least I could do to remember such a neat place.
But the day wasn’t quite over. We treated ourselves to an authentic Swiss dinner at the New Glarus Hotel.
We got there too early to see the polka band that plays there nightly, and the festive dance that’s sure to follow, but it was great nonetheless. We shared a massive Swiss fondue, and a dish of traditional cheeses. I have yet to go to the bathroom. I finished off with a piece of mint-chocolate cake, and before you knew it, it was time to say goodbye to Little Switzerland. We stopped at the local winery, got a bottle to remember our trip, and headed back to Sun Prairie.
Goodbye New Glarus. We’ll be back soon, but not soon enough.