Happy Swiss Independence Day!

I'm not the only one who's having a birthday today. 

Way back in 1989 a whole crew of us traveled over to Köln, Germany to play in the World Championships of Ultimate Frisbee.  There were nine of us, if memory serves, seven girls and two guys. The girls actually won the tournament. My friend Dale and I picked up on Holland's national team and took 14th place (though we did help them get a win in the all-important blood-sport death-match versus  Germany). After the tournament we took a few weeks to go on a driving tour of a good bit of Europe.

We traveled in two cars, through Germany, Austria, Holland, Lichtenstein (for about five minutes), ultimately ending up in Switzerland and then on back to Frankfurt for the flight home.  Much hilarity and many adventures were lived on this trip, inside stories we all carry with us to this day, including an angry encounter with German police on the Autobahn, a biblical rainstorm the one night we decided to camp out next to our cars, an unscheduled visit to a German dentist (two words which when used together would put real fear into anyone), dinner with a Swiss fish farmer (yes, fish farmer) who lived way up in the Alps, shared with us many, many intoxicants and showed us his government-issued Swiss Army gun, and a near miss rear-end auto accident on the streets of Frankfurt in which the other driver accused us of "brrreaking his t'ousundt Mark zing!!" [emphasis most definitely not added by me.]

On arrival in Zurich, we learned that August 1st is really Swiss National Day, their Fourth of July, if you will, and so it came to pass that on the same day I was celebrating my 27th birthday, the Swiss were celebrating their country’s 698th.   We’ve both aged a bit since then, Switzerland and I. Switzerland is now 721 years old, while I'm a mere 50.  Neither is much worse for the wear and tear.

So on that night 23 years ago, we ended up at this place called the Rote Fabrik (Red Factory) which is an old industrial revolution-era factory converted to what the Swiss call a cultural/community center, euphemistically it seems, because here in the States we would just call it a bar/restaurant.  The place is still there, sitting right on the banks of Lake Zurich, and every year they have a Swiss National Day fireworks display like you wouldn’t believe.  Once the locals found out it was my birthday as well as Switzerland’s…well…let’s just say we partied like it was 1989.

What I'd like to do today is head on down to the Rote Fabrik and celebrate with Switzerland, with a cigarette and a beer, watching the fireworks exploding over Lake Zurich.

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