Tuesday & Wednesday 11/28
BERN AND HOME
Ahhh! The world is a much better place after a decent sleep. I was determined to get some sleep last night so I ignored the snoring symphony and was out like a light about midnight. Persistence can break through so many barriers!
We had a leisurely breakfast and checked out at about 12:30pm. The first thing on the agenda was to return the erdgas car in Bern. Bern is a city about 40 minutes from Interlaken.
We arrived at Hertz Bern to exchange
the car at about 1:30pm. One of the guys on duty kept on saying that it was a
good car, but in our broken communication he conveyed that he really
did not know when the erdgas would be available. They considered
the erdgas car a 7 seater and thought that would we would be more comfortable
in a 7-seater. I don’t thing so – the 5 seat car they offer
us (a Ford Focus “C-Max”(?)) is just fine and we’ll be on our
Since we were already there
and Bern is a reasonably sized town we decide to park and explore.
Not 10 feet from where we parked the car was the Musee de Tireurs (shooting
museum). We decided to go in – it was 2:05 pm and the door was
closed. It said it was open from 2pm – so much for Swiss punctuality
(just kidding). Anyway, just we were about to leave, this lady
walks up saying she is the curator/manager and she just needs to open
the door as she was coming back from lunch. She apologized profusely
for being late, (please, it was not as if there was a long line waiting
for her to open the door) and starts looking for the keys as we wait
and she starts to look in all the pockets of her bag for the keys and
her face looks more and more stricken. She starts to explain that
she can’t find the keys and it is her birthday which is why she was
out to lunch. We wish her a sincere happy birthday and tell her
we will come back because we figured our standing there was causing
her some stress so she could not find the keys.
We had walked away for no more
than 1 minute when she called out that she had found the keys and there
were in a back pocket of her handbag. See, we stressed her out!
She turned on all the lights (it was pretty dark and cavernous with
the lights off). It was 3 floors of guns and gun paraphernalia.
I really hate guns but I was fascinated all the same at the rows and
rows of guns and ammunition they had on the wall of the staircases leading
up to the 3rd floor. The most recent gun was from 2003.
There were also some beautifully ornate ones from the 1800s & 1900s.
They also had displays of all the shooting trophies from way back when.
The other interesting thing was they had a display of what the champion
shooter in the 1800s wore vs. the guy who won in 2000. Amazing
the difference! The guy in the 1800s only wore a dark suit, hat,
and some lenses while the current guy was wearing what seemed to be
a bullet resistant suit which was white (I guess to make sure no one
shoots him!), a visor, goggles with a thingy you flip over one eye to
help with targeting, and it seemed a bunch of other things as well.
Makes you wonder how the other guy all of those years ago would do if
he was shooting in the present. There was also a huge book which
catalogued all the elite members of the gun club. John mentioned
to me that Switzerland is touted as the poster child of how a country
can be infused with guns and not be violent. Almost everyone has
a gun and is required to do something similar to army reserves till
they are 50! Best thing about the museum is it was free – we
gave a donation.
We walked over this bridge to the shopping area of town. We first decided to look at the first hotel we saw to see if we could get a room for the night. Wouldn’t you know - we walked into the most expensive hotel in Bern: Bellevue Palace! (or at least it felt that way!) We were old hat at this now. We asked to see some of the rooms. The rooms were simply exquisite – some overlooked the river and other over looked the city of Bern. Very nice, but at 500+ sfr ($400+) per night we’ll pass, thank you very much!
We went on to walk through
what seemed to be the shopping street in town. This was quite
fun because it was an old and wide cobble stone street and there were
shops both at ground level and underground. To get to the underground
shops you had to climb through what looked like some entrances to the
basement in the Midwest: double wooden doors that are almost flush to
the ground leading to a staircase so you are literally disappearing
into the street – isn’t that cool. We were not in a mood to
shop so our wandering in the shopping area did not last long.
We continued to walk around for a bit till the need to move the car
and find a hotel won out.
Our general heading was in
the Lausanne and Montreux direction. In our quest to get on the
highway we wound up in Fribourg. Actually in old town Fribourg
which had a quaint little stone bridge and buildings right out of the
middle ages. We asked a bit around to figure out where to park
and we were told to go to the post office to get a blue card to put
in the car and that was it! It was here we also noticed that we
started hearing more French instead of Swiss German and English.
We had coffee at a neat little coffee shop/bar while deciding where
to go next as our attempt to find a room in Fribourg did not work out
($200 for a broom-cupboard like room).
We decided to go to a little
village called Avry-Devant-Pont to spend the night after we saw the
hotel in the guide book. Getting there was not exactly easy because
there was horrendous construction in the center of Fribourg, one of
the gentlemen at the pub gave us incorrect directions (the map we had
was not the best), and it was closer than we thought so we passed the
exit heheh. Actually, we passed the exit while we were on the
phone getting directions from the hotel! Go figure. It was
actually a very nice place, it overlooked the river and it had a restaurant.
We got a room and decided to
have dinner at 7pm about an hour after we arrived. They said we
had wireless internet in the rooms at no charge which was a godsend
because I was beginning to worry about work. The Internet signal
in the room was so low and inconsistent that we started trying to find
the one corner of the room that had the best reception. By the
time we had exhausted out scouting efforts it was time for dinner.
The Hostellerie de Vigne has
2 restaurants the brasserie and the fine dining. We had booked
to eat in the fine dining section. John hated the table from the
moment we sat down because it was right by the exit to the kitchen and
even though I had the lady move the table so it wasn’t so near the
service entrance John was still not happy. There were other booked
tables in the restaurant which the hostess would not give us.
Humph! We decided to move to the brasserie section this move probably
save us 60-80 sfrs for the prix fixe menu. My only dislikes about
the move is I hate a fuss and they still served duck liver. When
foie gras is in pate form I have no issue with it but when it is intact,
the consistency reminds me of uni (sea urchin sushi) – in one word:
slimy. Ugh. I swallowed 2 pieces without chewing (my wee
bit to honor the chef – it was brought out with such fanfare that
I felt guilty) and transferred the rest of a still healthy portion to
John’s plate. He enjoyed it immensely. I am blessed that
he seems to like foods I can’t stand so between the both of us the
chef can feel proud.
After dinner it was back up
to the room with a few more acrobatics with the laptop to see if the
reception was any better. It wasn’t so I went down to the bar,
with the hostess’ permission to login to the office intranet and get
some work done. I also found out at this time that we needed to
settle the bill immediately because we needed to leave latest 7:30am
to get to Geneva on time for the 11am flight but no one would be at
the reception till earliest 7:45am. Too glad we asked. The
lady said she would put our breakfast outside our door during the night
so we would have it in the morning. How sweet!
Wednesday morning went as planned,
picked up breakfast outside the door, showered, packed and were on our
way. Getting out of there was again a bit of a pain because there
was more construction and no easily readable signs. We drove most
of the way by Lake Leman at the base of which is Geneva. It was
a very cool drive because the morning mists were about and it gave the
whole morning a very surreal feeling. You couldn’t quite see
the lake but knew it was there. We got to the airport area with
some time to spare but had a little hiccup finding gas. There
was one gas station right at the airport but no apparent way to get
to it. We had to drive further into the nearest city by the airport
to find another gas station. It was a little disconcerting because
you feel so triumphant about having found the airport without incident
that driving further away from your prize in a direction you had not
planned makes you nervous. Well, we got back to the airport after
a couple of near misses.
Everything was relatively perfect
except for the line at SwissAir and the long conversation on how to
get upgraded to better seats since the ones on the flight out were horrendous.
Trying to get an upgrade did not work seemed to be too much fuss and
disconnect between United and SwissAir. Anyway, the seats we did
get were slightly better in comfort even though they were the last possible
seats on the plane – we were in 44A&B. The flights back
home went well with a good couple of naps decent food and lots of snacks
– Swiss chocolate hmm hmmm good!
Once we got here John went
off to teach and I had to figure out how to get home. John wanted
me to wait through his class to get a lift home. Being the stubborn
person that I am and needing to see my house, I decided to find a way
home. For an hour and a half all the long distance buses seemed
to indicate every other city and county except Huntington Beach and
Orange County! One of the buses going to Orange County wanted
too much for the trip. He said he would be circling for a while
and if I changed my mind I should give him a shout. Well, after
his 5th or 6th time circling the airport he has
more passengers in the van mostly going to Anaheim and I bargained him
down to a price I was willing to pay. Ahh, home sweet home about
1.5 hours later! Alls well, the stack of mail was waiting, and
it was freezing! After all the gourmet food we ate in Switzerland
I was quite content with French fries for dinner and some primetime
<<-Previous trip | <-Previous day | Next trip (coming soon!)