Before I get into the travel/adventure section. I have to rant a little about life here in Switzerland. We got the “final” decision back from the insurance company telling us that Julie’s “accident” was not an accident. They instead are saying it was caused simply by her getting older. What I find most irritating about this is the insurance company quoted Swiss law as saying that an accident can only be caused by a strike. Meaning that you hit something, or that something hit you. I showed the insurance company that law where it says that a torn meniscus by itself is an accident, that a meniscus cannot simply tear without some sort of force, but that did not do any good. Even worse was that Julie’s surgeon who initially told us that he would work with us to fight the insurance company, decided to back down. He now says he will not assist us with another appeal. Of course at this point the only way we can appeal is to hire an attorney, and attorneys (just like everything else in this country) are a lot more expensive than back in the US.
I have decided that even with all the flaws of the US health care system, I prefer it to the Swiss system. One way that Switzerland olds down medical costs for the citizens is that companies are expected to pay for “accident” insurance. Everyone else is required to take out regular health care insurance. Well other than the very young, and the very old. Most medical expenses are caused by accidents. In fact, when Julie hurt her knee she was encouraged to report it as an accident. This would hold down our costs, because accident insurance does not require any co-pays or shared expenses. It also covers those costs in a more luxurious experience. Go back in February to when I wrote about her surgery and you will see what I mean.
So my beef isn’t just with the cost. If we had simply used our regular insurance from the beginning, we would have had to meet the deductible, and then pay 20% of the cost. Which is exactly what will happen now. What has me angry is that because the two systems work against each other, we now are going to have to pay for this all at once, instead of over the 9 months, that we thought the accident insurance would pay for things. What will really make me angry is if the hospital does bill us for the full private room experience. The insurance we pay for only covers a semi private room for the hospital stay. Even though she was only in hospital one night, that private room could wind up costing us 10000 francs more. We will wind up eating 100% of that, and that means some of the travel we wanted to do might be off the table.
On the bright side. Julie’s surgery really did help her. We went on a long hike over Father’s Day Weekend, and a year ago that would have not been possible. We did a lot of hiking the first few years we lived here, and I really hope that we will be able to pick that up again. Also on the bright side, we have the money to pay for it, it isn’t like we had no insurance at all. I simply think this is a very inefficient way of handling health care.
The Black Forest
The Black Forest, known as Schwarzwald in German, is located in southwestern Germany. Spanning over 6,000 square miles, it is renowned for its dense evergreen forests, charming villages, and stunning natural landscapes. The history of the Black Forest is intertwined with the cultural, economic, and environmental developments of the region, shaping its identity over the centuries.
The earliest evidence of human habitation in the Black Forest dates back to the thousands of years, with artifacts and cave paintings indicating the presence of prehistoric communities. During the Roman Empire, the region was part of the province of Germania, and the Romans established a network of roads and settlements, contributing to its integration into the wider Roman infrastructure.
In the early medieval period, the Black Forest was covered with dense woodlands, which played a crucial role in shaping the region’s history. The forests provided resources for timber, hunting, and gathering, and became the backdrop for various legends and folklore. The Celts and Germanic tribes inhabited the area, and the Roman influence gradually waned with the decline of the Roman Empire.
During the Middle Ages, the Black Forest experienced significant population growth and the emergence of several towns and villages. The region was ruled by various feudal lords and monastic orders, who sought to exploit its natural resources. Timber became a valuable commodity, and the Black Forest gained a reputation for its skilled woodworkers and carpenters. The production of wooden clocks, furniture, and musical instruments became important industries, leading to the establishment of numerous craft guilds.
In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Black Forest faced challenges brought by war and political changes. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) devastated the region, leading to a decline in population and economic activity. However, the subsequent peace brought opportunities for recovery, and the Black Forest experienced a period of resurgence. The region benefited from the growth of trade and the flourishing textile industry, with many farmers engaging in cottage industry to supplement their income.
During the 19th century, the Black Forest witnessed significant changes due to industrialization and urbanization. The advent of steam power and the expansion of rail networks transformed the region’s economy and transportation system. Traditional handicrafts faced competition from mass-produced goods, leading to a decline in some sectors. However, the tourism industry began to flourish, as visitors from near and far were drawn to the Black Forest’s scenic beauty and fresh air.
The Black Forest also played a significant role in the development of the cuckoo clock industry. Originating in the 18th century, the clockmakers of the region crafted intricately designed timepieces that featured the iconic cuckoo bird. These clocks became highly sought after, and the Black Forest became synonymous with this unique form of horology.
In the 20th century, the Black Forest faced the challenges of two world wars. The region saw periods of economic hardship and political changes as Germany grappled with the aftermath of both conflicts. However, the post-war years brought stability and renewed focus on tourism, as the Black Forest continued to attract visitors seeking relaxation and natural beauty.
The Black Forest is a part of the world that we all have known about since we little kids. There are some very famous tales told about the Black Forest, but many in the US do not realize this, because we haven “Americanized” the stories. The four best known fairy tales (at least in the US) are: Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood , and Rumplestiltskin. One I had never heard until I bought a children’s book to help me learn German is The Water of Life.
We experienced one big difference between Switzerland and Germany. Normally when I am going on a hike, even a day hike I make sure I have a map of the area. Well in Switzerland I have not needed that. We have had cell phone coverage everywhere. Even on the most remote mountain hikes we have taken. So I became complacent. We started off with coverage but after about a mile and a half we lost the signal. Even worse, the trails are not marked nearly as well as in Switzerland. We never got lost, but I like being able to look at a map and know exactly where I am! I should probably start downloading the maps onto my cell phone. It really would make a lot of sense.
The picture above is the trail we took from my Garmin Watch. You can ignore the big blue BLOB by the Seebuckhütte. I forgot to turn it off, and as we were going by Julie realized the shops were open. Stores being open on a Sunday are just too big of a temptation!
I hope you enjoy the pictures.