5. Liestal – Sursee – Along Hermann’s memories

Between Mainz and Strasbourg, my thigh muscles in particular had to put in considerable effort. Today that will be different. From Liestal the road goes up slightly in “false flat” and I feel the constant tension in my thigh muscles.

After 10 miles a large rock formation looms in front of me; the “Unterer Hauenstein“. From here it goes “false up” for 10 km with an average gradient of 6% and my calves are also lashed by the efforts. During the first real showdown, my thoughts turn to the many miles of mountain bike training I’ve accomplished over the past few months. Would it be enough to get to the top well, and what awaits me if I have to bridge the Saint Gotthard pass? Toiling and sweating, I follow a steady pace, shifting between a higher and lower gear to relieve the constant strain on my muscles. After an hour I am upstairs and the suffering is over.

Olten – wooden bridge

What follows is a steep section to Böckten where I wonder what the real benefit is to first climb a height for an hour and then race down to the next valley in ten minutes……

Hermann describes in his travelogue the many places through which he travels with his traveling companion and the horses; Böckten, Olten, Aarburg, Zofingen, Reiden and Sursee. Since I am by bike, the places follow quickly. I take my time at the old wooden bridge in Olten and the Villa Rustica in Zofingen. The latter in particular is very special because in 1826 two mosaic floors of a Roman bath house were found by chance. The population thinks it is so special that the floors were covered in Roman style by 2 villas as early as 1829 at their own expense. Because it now falls under the Swiss Heritage Protection, the villas are freely accessible between 9 am and 5 pm. I love that it is free to visit and look at both mosaic floors with great curiosity.

Zofingen – Villa Rustica with mosaic floor

The next stop is the former “Gasthaus Moren” (Moren Inn) in Reiden, where Hermann met his childhood sweetheart Thrineli. I arrive there at 5 minutes past twelve and notice that the electronics store that is now located there is closed between 12 and 2 pm. Despite ringing the bell, there is no opening. I’m five minutes late for a photo of the interior of the building where the party took place about 169 years ago; a bizarre time difference after so many years…….

Reiden – former Moren Inn

In Switzerland you can cycle on regional roads where you end up in the same lane as car traffic, or opt for the inland route where you are sent through the countryside past farms and meadows. On the other hand, despite the pleasant tinkling of the cow bells, you cover many more kilometers. Sometimes you have to cross the yard of a farm where not only the farmer is in charge, but sometimes also a dog, which is warned in advance. Fortunately, I complete the route from Reiden to Sursee unscathed.

Through these detours I discover a special phenomenon. In the garden of houses, the birth of a child is widely reported by placing all kinds of drawn wooden panels with the name and date of birth of the child. Inquiring at a house where there is even a metal palm tree with name in the garden shows that they are gifts from friends, colleagues or family, so that it prevents that up to 8 plates are placed for 1 child. The friendly lady also points out that on the farms in the area they just hang around, even when the children are already grown up.

I approach Sursee, located on the Sempachersee, and take a hotel room in an immense building that serves as a conference center. Originally it was a training center of the Roman Catholic Church, which explains the presence of some nuns. It is a modern building with little frills; it is white and there is concrete everywhere. Because I have a room in the last building, I have to go through the complex with all my bags like a mule. I get lost through the maze of corridors and ask an employee where building 19 is. She smiles kindly and tells me all I have to do is take those long stairs up. I look at her surprised and look at my many bags and tell her that’s no problem. She understands my situation and, apologizing, walks away.

It is a quiet room with soft clattering in the background. The organic farm with dairy cows in front of the complex is under my room. Fortunately, I was not bothered by that at night and it gives a rural feeling.

Pregnancy Party

I visit the town of Sursee where Hermann had a meal in the inn “der weiβe Schwan” (The White Swan) and also slept. The location is not difficult for me to find as it indicates that it is opposite the town hall. Today it is a restaurant and is called “Zum Schwanen” (The Swan). After taking several photos of the mentioned buildings, I see that there is a party going on on the side of the town hall. There are people dressed in white outerwear that form a guard of honor with ropes with baby clothes hanging on. When the group is set up correctly, the town hall door opens and a pregnant woman and her husband come out. They walk under the guard of honor while they sing for them. After the congratulations everyone goes their way again and the whole scene lasted barely 10 minutes. A beautiful way to celebrate a pregnancy.

Sursee – Restaurant The Swan

I go to the restaurant “Zum Schwanen” and have a meal there. I tell them that the building had a another name in 1853 and show Hermann’s booklet. The waitress is busy and hardly says anything. I then decide to settle the bill and let the past rest slightly disappointed. After all, it’s not everyone’s but my family story…..

On the way to my hotel room, dark clouds suddenly appear and it starts to rain lightly; a welcome refreshment because due to the southerly wind, which has been persistent for days, only dry winds are brought in.