Thursday, September 16, 2010

Taking the Road Less Traveled

We tried to check out early at our hotel today, but the server was down.  They could not process our bill on Mastercard.  Fortunately, an ATM a few doors down spit out 6 crisp new $100 franc notes and off we were to the train station.  I don't know how the Swiss can afford to live in Switzerland!

Once our train was in the Bahnhof (station), we looke for our reserved seats in Coach 4.  We were separated for about five minutes with me standing on the platform securing the luggage and Doug on the train looking for our seats.  I was getting nervous as it got closer and closer to departure time; these trains wait for no one.  We are so reliant on cellphones to communicate!  We even call one another in department stores to find out where the other one is.  I did not like feeling alone and abandoned at all ....

Fortunately, Doug found our seats, we boarded the train, and sped our way from St. Gallen to Bern along the beautiful, green countryside of Switzerland.  This train was a double-decker, so our views were spectacular.  We should not have spent the extra fee for reservations since the train was only about 25% full.  How do you know?

Bern architecture
We arrived in Bern and made our way to the Hotel La Pergola.  Unfortunately, the street we chose did not have a sidewalk -- we ended up dragging our bags down steps and over dirt pathways through a park.  I don't think rolling luggage was designed for this type of "travel."  I need to be more forceful with DH when he comes up with these schemes.  I ended up with several big, bad, ugly blue bruises from the luggage banging into my leg.  Of course, if we had been more patient (or, heaven forbid, asked directions!), we could have avoided this route to the hotel.  This is a read-between-the-lines message to friends and family who will know exactly what happened!

A small section of Bern's shopping arcade
The hotel is back off the street a few blocks from the Old City so it is nice and quiet.  We checked in and wandered through the streets of Bern.  As the capital of Switzerland, it is the largest city we have visited since Amsterdam.  Lots of traffic, both foot, bike, scooter, bus, tram, and car.  Even the intermittent rain did not stop us from walking through the seemingly endless arcades of shopping.

The most delightful aspect of travel is the unexpected.  We heard live music coming from a square adjacent to the shopping area.  A military band was playing!  We stayed and listened for a few minutes enjoying the music.  Fun, fun, fun!

Toddler enjoying fountain spray!
The fountains of Bern are quite interesting.  We ran across several today; we will try to see all 11 of them in the Old City before we leave.

We slowly made our way back towards the hotel and came across what looked like the American Embassy.  Three soldiers stood outside, with one female soldier holding an automatic weapon.  DH tried to take a picture of the building, and a soldier shouted at us not to take pictures!  We tend to follow instructions when there are weapons involved .....

There's a first time for everything department:  we can't get ice at this hotel!  So, my favorite bartender served our bottle of red wine unchilled.  We ate dinner at a cozy Italian restaurant across the street owned by a Spaniard -- delicious spaghetti a la carbonara for DH and cannelloni for me.  Weather permitting, tomorrow we walk 'til we drop!

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