This post is really about sleeping and not a euphuism for having sex. But it’s still going to be interesting, so don’t click to another page!
Hard Swiss Beds
The first time I came to Switzerland and stayed about three months, I stayed in the mansarda. Mansarda is Italian and means either attic or penthouse. Where I stayed was definitely more of an attic than a penthouse. It was one small room on the 6th floor with every inch used. There was a bed and a sink with running water, a cupboard-closet and a small table. You couldn’t have fit more in there with a shoehorn. It was the guest room for anyone who visited Ben’s family and I was okay with that. Ben and I were travelling around Switzerland, so what more did I need than a bed to sleep in?
This “sleeping Swiss” was a lot different than sleeping American, a lot. The bed was much harder than any I had ever slept on before. Pretty close to sleeping on the floor when I think about it. When I mentioned this to Ben he said it was because the mattress was stuffed with horse hair. Under the mattress were rows of springs that creaked every time you rolled over. Certainly not new for sure. I asked Ben if all the beds were like that and he said, of course not. That was just a perfectly good old bed and instead of throwing it away they put it in the guest room. I guess that’s one way from having your guest overstay their welcome.
What I absolutely loved about that bed was the duvet [pronounced doo-vay]. That is a type of comforter which has down filling. It has a bed sheet like cover that can be taken off and washed. It was so warm, but not smothering hot. The pillow was a feather pillow. I think those are just great.
Beds in America
In America there are an abundance of different bed sizes. You’ve got your twin bed, which is a single. Then you’ve got the double beds. There are double, which is about as wide as 1 ½ twin beds. Queen sized beds which are a little wider and King sized beds which are almost two twin beds. There are lots more sizes but those are the most used. Still, on every bed is only one mattress. Under the mattress’ is usually a box spring bed, which looks similar to a mattress but is what adds the support.
Our First Bed
Of course, when Ben and I were buying furniture for our first apartment we also wanted a bed but what kind or size? It was obvious for me, a double or queen size bed would be just fine. But while talking to Ben’s family I realized there was another possibility that I didn’t even know existed.
Basically, two twin beds pushed together. What could possibly be an advantage to two beds? Well, you’ve got that lovely crack down the middle where small children and dogs could fall through and disappear forever. One answer I got about advantages of the two beds was when one person was sick you could change the linen on their side only. Okay… how often are they sick over here? I was also told there were extra foam pieces you can buy to avoid losing anything down the crack.
The box spring bed is virtually unknown in Switzerland. Thanks to Ikea they are slowly becoming popular. Rest assured, Swiss beds no longer have springs under the mattress’ either. The mattress gets most of its support from adjustable wooden slats. Depending on how they are adjusted you can have a super supportive mattress or super soft. Also, unless it’s a single bed there are always two sets of slats. There is a huge advantage to that. Both sides can be adjusted differently and will affect only the part of the mattress over it. At any rate, Ben and I decided on a regular, American double bed with one mattress and two sets of slats.
By the way, the mattress’ sold in Switzerland today are super supportive and use the newest technology. Horse hair is no longer “in”. Which was used during the Second World War and maybe 10 or 15 years after.
Hotel Beds in France
When travelling in Europe Ben and I came across many different types of beds and mattress’. Two singles pushed together with two mattress’ to a huge double with one mattress. None of them were really noteworthy except one, in France.
Ben and I usually stayed in hotels with two stars. We like spending our money on other things and two star hotels can be charming. This hotel was pleasant with a lovely view of the old part of Avignon. At the bottom of the stairwell was a niche where we would be served breakfast. The stairs leading upstairs and to our room were narrow. The room itself was unremarkable but had a double bed with one mattress.
We were in for a big surprise when we got into bed the first night. It was like two people sleeping in one hammock. We both were literally clinging to our respective sides of the bed in order not to roll into the middle. Sure, that was cozy, but we really couldn’t sleep that way. We tried all of maybe 30 minutes. Then decided if we didn’t do something neither of us would get a wink of sleep all night. Ben had the perfect answer. We pulled the mattress off the bed onto the floor and slept there.
The next morning we put the mattress back on the bed and went down for breakfast. While eating warm croissants with butter and a dab of jelly, the owners politely asked how we had slept. “Very well, thank you”. They looked somewhat surprised at our answer, as if they knew how bad the bed was.
Actually, we slept so well, I think we might even have stayed there an additional night.