Philip Newton (pne) wrote,
Philip Newton

In which Philip attempts to speak Romansh, with mixed results

So, today I decided to go to Val Müstair.

I had ordered the ticket well in advance, otherwise I probably wouldn't have gone today -- the weather forecast called for rain, pretty much all over Switzerland.

Fortunately, there was no rain in Val Müstair itself -- the rain stopped when the bus drove along the pass road into the valley and resumed on the way back out of it.

Still, things didn't really turn out the way I had envisaged.

First stop: a kiosk. "Have you got La Quotidiana?" No. "Have you got a map of the area?" Over there. (Unfortunately, no map of the village itself, just a 1:25000 hiker's map of the general area.) "Where is the Tessanda?" Straight ahead, then left.

So far, so good.

Then, next door to the Tessanda (a well-known weavery) was a tourist information office, which was open even though the posted opening hours implied otherwise.

So, I go in and ask about a map of the village. The lady looks at me quizzically, and replies, "argle bargle gargle tudais-ch?". My heart sinks, mostly because I only understood the last word and because that was "German". After a pause, she switches to German: "Können Sie Deutsch mit mir sprechen?".

So I did. And apparently, there is no map of the place, period. (But then, it's really not that big.)

But that experience kind of took the entire wind out of the sails of my resolve to try and get by with Romansh. Later, in the bus, I thought of various repartees, from "If I had wanted to speak German, I would have gone elsewhere" (to which one might respond, then it would have been better to learn Jauer, or at least Vallader or Putèr, rather than Rumansh Grischun) to "I'd like to try it in Romansh. May I try to ask my question differently?". But that was esprit de l'escalier, and too late.

I was also disappointed at the amount of German I heard. Not sure whether that was due to the tourist industry (anyone I don't know must be a tourist so I'll use German to and around him), but I thought that Romansh was the predominant language in Val Müstair, and that's not what I particularly noticed there. (Though I did hear a lady at the bakery speak what was presumably Romansh to a customer.)

And besides, the town seemed too small to spend three hours there as I had planned. So in the end, I bought a piece of quiche from the bakery, took the bus to the monastery of St. John in Müstair, took a couple of pictures, and then headed back home again.

And not over the Flüela Pass, either, as I had planned, since I was tired and the weather wasn't that great, either, so I took the train through the Vereina Tunnel again, which was an hour faster than via Flüela Pass and Davos.

Ah well. A mixed day.

Tags: romansh

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