One more absinthe and two beers later, I began to swirl in the very goodness of Solothurn and its people. A cool breeze flew down from the Weissenstein – life is good again. I believed no one outside Die Grune Fee could feel or notice this refreshing alpine air blowing down the hill but me. This all, Solothurn, its unique rhythm and amity, where good friends kiss on the cheek or even the lips, was for me. Where life is care-free again in the special atmosphere of Solothurn.
Roger even told me on the next absinthe-filled night, Saturday that on Sunday morning, September 1st, – “The Walkers” will be here en force to take over the ville. The Walkers, three-thousand members strong will group together with two sticks each to trek all over Solothurn – from the Weissenstein, the Hermitage Eglise to Grenchen – just for exercise.
Me, I “walk” to Die Grune Fee for another absinthe the next night.
By the end of Saturday, I am very drunk and wasted, absinthed and all, and thought to myself:
“Leave the car.”
Leave it on the lower platz near Die Grune Fee, as I am way to drunk to move it. I could have easily have moved it safely, but I wanted to be responsible and do what the Zurich police taught me the hard-way: (0.51% = 1,650 CHF) on your credit card payable to Canton Zuerich Polizei.
On the other side of the coin is Marie-Therese Dorfler, freshly widowed this year from the tragic loss of her husband, Gerald.
Now the Hotel Krone is emptier now. A space that is now difficult to fill after the void of his grand personage.
He would always take the time to talk to me, and explained the stories of the hotel history, and how Napoleon’s unpaid fracture stands testament to the many people, high and low – who make history in Solothurn.
His last words to me 18 months ago as he stood up to leave the conversation from the outside tables:
“I have to go to my room and write a letter,” he said astutely.
Staying at Hotel An Der Aare on the other side of the river, I found new revelry and a different side of Solothurn as Friday night was raucous and I slept little. Drunken teens jumped in the Aare at 4:00 a.m. My window is on the river in this old hospital room with the Aare lapping against the stone wall. Nicht schlaffen!
It’s wild on the other side of the Aare. A few store fronts from the hotel, I stumble upon a small unkempt disco with what looks like a small bordello above on the second floor. The prostitutes come down for a drink between customers. Drunken teenagers leer up the steps contemplating edging further up. Not a good indoctrination to the joys of pampered sex, but I am guessing this is one of the ways to learn if the gymnasium girls hold out.
Marie-Therese is a special woman. Some people think if a 4-star hotel can do everything better than a 5-star, it’s still a man’s world, stern, Swiss and perfect. But it’s this women’s touch that underlies a silent heartbeat, affection in this old hotel. There was a scent on the liquid soap that was remarkably feminine, yet masculine in odor. Who do you think selects that fine liquid soap?
Like sunshine that lasts all day, and goes down at night, Marie-Therese may have seemed 2nd lieutenant at Hotel Krone, but she is the pillar of strength that Gerald leaned on, depended on. Now with Gerald gone, she carries on with quiet courage, honour. Her son, Gregory, taking more responsibility, but the heartbeat of the hotel is Marie-Therese, feminine.
The madness of events, when they take over Solothurn, one would think the ville is just an entity, an amusement park that lives for the “Walkers Day” on Sunday, endless Heso Business festival, triathlon for children, rock concerts, weddings and even the Kunstmuseum conveys a stage and becomes an outdoor disco emporium at night.
That Sunday in the lower platz was the primary assembly point for hundreds of walkers. Even though so warned of the event, I left my mittlewagon in the lower platz, disobeying the special no parking signs for the next day.