It seems that my need for a job coincides most effectively with the needs of the Importner for more staff. Up until a few months ago this hotel had been run and owned by the Eggli family - Herr & Frau Eggli and son Hans-Uli who is in his late twenties. But then Frau Eggli died and Herr Eggli decided to ‘retire’. The hotel was sold to the Ekkhard Hotel, but the Egglis retained management. The hotel is now run by Hans-Uli. I will be working on the floors with Maria, an Italian who speaks neither English nor German lol! It seems Frau Geiger used to work with Maria until the death of Frau Eggli, but voluntarily took on the manageress position lol! So I have now stepped into the position once occupied by her.
There are a great many Italians in Switzerland, consequently, they find that they can get along quite well living in their own little enclave, many Swiss speak some Italian, in fact many Italian words seem to be in daily use, pretty much as we have absorbed French words without even realising it. So Maria, her family and friends get along very well by only having to use the occasional German word. There are several Italians working here, so I soon discover that it would be quite beneficial for me to learn Italian......... I am not averse to this, as I love the lilting accent, much more fun than German. So Maria and I get along very well, I learn lots of words and complete sentences that we use on a daily basis. Maria cannot read, so she brings in Italian newspapers and magazines for me to read to her. In a quiet moment, we will sit on the stairs and I read to her in my best OTT Italian accent lol. Maria corrects my pronunciation as we go along and we have a good giggle. As my pronunciation improves, Maria claps at the end of my reading and shouts verry gooood!! She is now very proud to be able to say gooood morrrning, and I can say buon giorno in my best Italian accent. Maria is rather overweight and has trouble with her legs, so she is pleased to have someone who can run up and down stairs fetching and carrying. The linen cupboard is situated on the 2nd floor, and there are 4 floors, so with Maria on the top floor and me on the second we lean over the bannister and I will call up " Hey Marrreeya, quanti tovaglioli per camera due" (How many towels for room 2) I was apparently very convincing as an Australian women stopped me in the corridor and began jabbering away in Italian, Maria joined us and I looked to her for help, on hearing me speak English, she apologised and said she thought I was Italian lol! They say to have a little knowledge is dangerous, and so it was to prove - time and time again......People simply do not expect to find an English girl working in a Swiss Hotel doing this type of work and imagine me to be any other nationality - mainly I get mistaken for Dutch, partly because of my fair complexion and partly because my German is so ropey lol!
I have a very small room in the attic of the Importner, there’s just enough room for a single bed, a chest of drawers and a sink - not too many parties in here then ;-)
Maria has a family so does not live in the hotel, although she has the use of a room on my floor, as mostly she only works in the morning. I am the first one up at 6.30. I get the huge espresso machine going and have a nice cup of coffee and a cinnamon bun. We don’t have breakfast until 8.0am when the bread delivery arrives - still hot from the oven. It is the best meal of the day in my opinion, as in general I do not like the food here. I love the creamy, saltless butter spread on the hot bread - crunchy on the outside and soft on the inside. The jam and marmalade are quite runny, not a patch on English jams, but I’m content with just bread and butter. Maria, Frau Geiger and myself will devour a whole loaf between us, washed down with lots of hot, fresh coffee. Around about 1.0pm the word ‘mangiare’ (to eat) will echo around the hotel and everyone makes for the café where the staff eat their meals. A favourite meal amongst the others is one I truly despise - great thick pieces of ‘spec’ (belly pork) lay on a bed of over-cooked stringy, green beans. The belly pork is extremely fatty, there are just very thin layers of pork in between the fat. I loathe fat anyway, and always cut it away from my meat, but this is just impossible and I make do with just a desert.
Despite my running up and down stairs all day, I still manage to put on a stone and a half during my time in Switzerland :-(( Because I do not like the food at the Importner, I have got into the habit of going along to Migros (supermarket) where they have a counter devoted to the most incredible assortment of tortes and gateaux. I blame Maria, if she hadn’t sent me along there in the first place I may not have got into this appalling habit, we buy a large assortment and indulge ourselves during our ‘repose’.
Rosemary is very happy that I am now settled in at the Importner, she told me that various people have asked her about the English girl, wanting to know what I am doing here. There is a private boarding school on the outskirts of St Gallen, and the pupils, who are in their late teens, are often to be seen sitting around in the various cafés. They are not Rosemary’s favourite type of customer as they try to get out of tipping her, which makes her very cross. They all come from well to do families, but apparently do not get much pocket money lol! One of them, Roman, who is from Germany, has asked Rosemary to introduce me to him. He’s a nice polite young man who’s command of English is quite good, but he wants to perfect it. We get on very well, and he asks to take me to the cinema. I am aware that he is only 19 and I have just celebrated my 23rd Birthday, but it doesn’t matter because I have no designs on him, lol! My heart still belongs to Eugen. I have Wednesdays off, and if it is convenient, I go up to Walzenhausen, or we will visit the little hamlets on the mountainside. We found a café in a quite remote spot, very high up, which gave us a lovely panoramic view, but what I remember particularly was the tiny jukebox that had just four choices on it - Elvis Presley, Eddie Cochrane, a local song and Gene Pitney!! I had an opportunity to relay this to him, as I got a call from Dottie, the telephonist at Stratters, telling me that Gene was back and he had been asking after me, so she found the number of the Importner and gave it to him. It was a lovely surprise hearing from him - made me feel quite home-sick, he was delighted to hear that he had fans in the mountain tops of Switzerland lol!