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Monday, July 14, 2014

Great Journey to Europe – Part IV

After dinner at the Brew Pub, we all walked leisurely back to the Hotel Schweizerhof where the management had set up an outdoor venue for football watchingSwitzerland was playing Honduras that evening starting at 10 PM. We knew we were to not get much sleep until the game was over as there were several thousand fans outside the back wall of the hotel in the parking area between the hotel and the grocery that occupied the area facing the next street.

We were first treated to the throng singing the Swiss National Anthem. When I finally shut off the light, the Swiss lead 2 – null at the end of the first half. I really didn’t look forward to hearing those horns that are now routine in the world of soccer. As the second half started, the Swiss went up 3 – null and the noise just got louder. The last I remember was most likely the noise at the final whistle and miraculously the crowd cleared out very quickly to probably go to a cheaper venue to celebrate their win.

The next morning we are up at 0630 and have our bags outside to be picked up and taken to the bus by 0755. We quickly head down for our last 5-star hotel breakfast and meet Kevin and Becky, Randy (Class of ’74) and Gail Parker form Sugar Land, and Dave (Class of ’81) and Joyce (Class of ’82) Rencurrel from Lake Jackson. I experience eggs with sausage and bacon for breakfast as I remember back to our trip to Russia some years back were we were gone about two weeks and the first eggs and recognizable breakfast meat I had was on our Lufthansa flight back to the States.

Out back, we identify our baggage and load the bus for today’s trek through the Bernese Oberland with its jagged peaks, rolling hills, the almost subtropical lowlands, the dense forests and the crystal clear lakes. We stop at the top of one pass and get a photo op at the valley below us situated next to one of those pure green lakes.

Overview of Swiss Countryside from Bernese Mountain Pass

Our next stop is the resort at Interlaken, literally the lock between the lakes: Thun and Brienz. We watch the hang gliders take off the mountain behind the village and soar until the land, mostly in tandem, right in front of in the park at the village center. What a great little village this isthe flowers along the main promenade were fantastic.

Joanne & Lee Billingsley with Patsy in park in Interlaken

I was so thirsty that I HAD to duck into the Hooters right there on the main street and get me a Coke (with ice; you have to be specific in Europe). Actually, I tried to adopt the waitress that served me, but she admitted that she had an afternoon shift that she could not possibly miss and thus I trudged on.

 Downtown village park Interlaken

Eventually, we had to depart Interlaken and head on to Bern. Our first stop in Bern took us to a beautiful rose garden overlooking the city proper. The flowers here were even better than those we had seen earlier in the morning.

 Rose Garden in Bern - Howard & Patsy

Back on the bus, we make our way to the Old Town section of Bern (a UNESCO World Heritage site) for lunch in a traditional Bernese restaurant; the Restaurant Kornhauskeller . Another long lunch, but a good one and well worth the time we spent there. Patsy and I decided that we would venture off on our own instead of taking the guided walking tour. Our Granddaughter, Alison, had asked us to check on Albert Einstein (she had studied him in here 5th grade science and history classes) and we didn’t want to disappoint her by not putting forth just the least little bit of effortso off we went.

With our trusty mapI can get anywhere when I have a map; there’s a lot that can’twe headed back down the main street from the clock tower until we came across #46 Kram-Gerechitgkeits grasse, Einstein’s Haus. Check one off for us.

 Einstein Haus

#46 Kram-Gerechitgkeits grasse

After our discovery, we made our way back up to the Kornhauskeller to meet up with our guide to show us to where our bus was parked. As soon as everybody checked in, we were on our way to Basel to meet our riverboat. Arriving in the outskirts of Basel, we encountered our first European traffic jam. It was rush hour and all those German and French workers working in the metropolis of Basel were headed home for the evening. Our driver artfully maneuvered us through the traffic and found our port location where we found our floating hotel (riverboat) for the next few daysthe Amadeus Elegant.

Amadeus Elegant

One we were aboard and checked into our rooms, we had but little time before the evening’s activities: welcome briefing, safety instructions (life vest drill), the Captain’s welcome and our elegant dinner. Before you can say cast off, we were and headed down the Rhine Rivertraveling north in this case.

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