Eating around the blue laws

Being the last day of our trip, we had nothing on the agenda except to cover 250 miles or so back from St Gallen CH to Frankfurt DE. This is pretty easy because almost the entire route is A-road (the equivalent of an Interstate in the US) and so travel is quick along smooth and mostly straight pavement.

The trick was to somehow work our way around the blue laws that prohibit employment on Sunday in Switzerland (with a few exceptions), so we could buy some food for breakfast and lunch. Looking up the generalities of the law we discovered that train stations and other tourist areas are exempted, so after checking out of the hotel we drove to the hauptbahnhof (central train station) and found an open convenience store where we could get a few pastries and some yogurt.

We still had plenty of other small food items in our backpack to augment this, plus the last helpings of Dr Oetker. Breakfast was very glamorous; we tailgated in the parking garage. That’s the second parking garage meal and the fourth or fifth in the car. Can you tell we aren’t “glampers”?

From there it was an uneventful ride through Switzerland and back up to Frankfurt, partly following the route we came down earlier. Since it was uninteresting I can break away from the travel saga to comment on bathrooms.

In Europe, you often are expected to pay for the public bathrooms. This is well worth it because in exchange for half a Euro or Swiss franc you get a facility that is actually clean and stocked with supplies. Today we were out of francs and didn’t want to get more at an ATM because we were leaving the country, so we stopped at a highway rest area with free bathrooms and the difference was … enlightening.

We got to the Frankfurt area around 5:00 pm and didn’t want to go directly to the boring airport hotel, so we called Eleanor’s brother who lived in Weisbaden for several years, and he suggested we go back to Mainz to see a few things we didn’t catch the first time. We took this advice and found a huge Sunday crafts market going on by the river. Parking was a challenge (as it always seems to be in every European city, so nothing new there) and once we got settled we found the crowd at the market to be overwhelming, so we moved on.

We ran into a guy from Florida who was visiting his old friends in Mainz. Like a lot of Americans in this town, he used to be in the military at the nearby American military base. Apparently when we stopped to take pictures of a fragment of the old Berlin Wall (on display here and in many other places), we brought it to his attention. He’d driven past this spot for five years and never noticed it.

He introduced us to his local friend and we got directed to one of the very few restaurants open for dinner in Mainz on a Sunday night. You get a choice on Sunday nights: Greek, Mexican, pizza, or whatever the hotel restaurant serves. We chose Greek.

The last day of a good trip is hard to face. We didn’t want to let the trip go quite yet, so after dinner we wandered through Mainz again and found yet another beautiful church (St. Peter Mainz), the Natural History Museum with its giant hourglass, and some floral parks.


At this point Eleanor started talking about how we should have booked just two more days, and I felt the same way but I knew it wouldn’t be enough. It’s the same reason we set out to travel full-time in our Airstream for six months and ended up traveling for three years. We could travel forever and I think we’d still want just a little more.

Today we fly back, and the next things will start to happen. It’s really not the end of anything, just another step along the long road.

I want to thank those of you who have written in during this trip to say that you enjoyed reading about it. I do occasionally get those notes but in the past ten days I’ve gotten more than usual. I’d probably write the blog even if only one person read it, but it’s nice to know so many people are interested and find the story entertaining.

In tomorrow’s blog I’ll write about the technology that I used to help smooth the trip and keep in contact with work as we traveled. Geeks will like it; others may wish to check in a few days from now!


  1. insightout says

    The return flight, east to west, always seems shorter. Must be illusory.

    Welcome back to the land of free toilets. Who needs Rick Steves when we have the man-in-the-maze ?