Birthday in Bern

It was Jill’s birthday today – and we spent it in Bern looking at fountains and a bear.
Bern was lovely – it has a steep drop down to the river, so there are fantastic views.
There were lots of fountains and statues –
We walked down a street with arcades on each side – and very classy shops. Can’t see myself with these!

At the other side we found the bear!
Well, we found the cat first – and thought that maybe the bear was tucked up inside in the warm – but like a true professional he was doing his eight hour stint in the bear pit. Although I don’t suppose he has much choice in the matter.

We had long discussions about where to eat, and although Jill and I really really wanted to eat in the but nobody else seemed keen – can’t think why!
We eventually went to an Italian which was lovely. No red wine for the driver – though it looks as if I had drunk a bottle or two here.
We carried on walking around the town – back over the river on a very high, scarey bridge (the bridge itself wasn’t scarey – it was the frail being up high feeling that was) so John and I went across very quickly.
It was this bridge – but we were on it!Personally I think that this high is just showing off.

At the other side we went to a museum on living in the alps – which had this photo which put my fear of heights in perspective!

We crossed back over the river on a lower bridge – seeing this strange sight on the way

The view along the river was beautiful in the dusk, although not sure who would have been swimming along it!
We left Bern with these two last sights – from the sublime –
to the even more sublime!

In the evening we went back to the hotel for a drink – John, Lindi and Margaret had bought Jill a birthday bread – which she was very pleased with – as some genetic aberation means that she doesn’t like cake.
We had a lovely evening – after I took John home Jill went and had some internet time and the ladies had dinner! Very rare roast beef and saute potatoes – gorgeous!

Matterhorn!

In the front of my atlas of Europe there is a list of exciting things to see. Under Switzerland the most exciting thing was the Matterhorn – and it really didn’t look very far on the map. (One day I will get my head around scale)
So we picked John up and set out.
We drove all around the lake that Neuchatel is next to, and stopped in a layby near to a nature reserve to look at the view.
After a many more miles of small country roads John luckily realised that a) I had still got the satnav set to no toll roads, and b) told me that every major road in Switzerland is a toll road – and this was why I had had to spend money on a sticker to go on the windscreen – to enable me to use said major roads.
After that we got on a lot faster.
We saw lots of vineyards – I have never seen any Swiss wine – and still hadn’t at the end of the trip – maybe they just plant them for the grapes? Or they carve cuckoo clocks out of the wood? Whatever function they fulfill they make a wonderful golden contrast to the snow above.
We started to see pointy bits – I kept thinking that I had seen the Matterhorn – but John insisted that it was in a different valley and it wasn’t possible to see it.
We passed Montreux, and then came to Lake Geneva.
We were hungry and I was too frightened to go into a town and find a parking space in German (we had crossed into the German speaking part of Switzerland and as our tame foreign language student was being lazy and only learning two languages, neither of them German – none of us could spreichen ze deutsch)so we stopped at a motorway service station.It was a revelation! There were lots of food stations with different things at each – selections of salads, cakes, puddings, fresh juice, coffee – and hot meals where you could choose the steak and it would be cooked for you. It took us quite a while to choose – then we sat down and read all the tourist leaflets that we should have read on the night before!
We found that there was a train from the town of Tash up to Zermatt at the bottom of the Matterhorn, so decided to drive there and start to climb the Matterhorn from Zermatt.
The road was very, very, bendy – at one point we could see running parallel further up the valley the bridge – the very, very, high bridge – with a very, very, long drop down – which we were about to cross next. Unfortunately everyone was gobsmacked with terror so no-one thought to take a photograph.
The train ride was fun – we were entertained by a fashion show from Jill showing different ways of wearing a hat.

It was a shame that by the time we got to Zermatt it was a little too late to start climbing the Matterhorn. We had to content ourselves with looking at the shops selling cuckoo clocks, toblerone and stuffed St Bernards.
(Yes I did – buy one – not stuff one)
It was starting to get dark when we went to get the train back down to Tash – and I bravely didn’t share my concerns that with the dark would come the ice – and the long fast slide into the valley on the way home – either along the road or down the side of the mountain.
I was so relieved to get to the bottom that I made everyone go into the motorway services again for dinner.
We eventually got back to Neuchatel very late – and not even sure if we had seen the Matterhorn or not.

Although we saw this version – I certainly didn’t see the name on the bag of chocolates on the right when I took the photograph!

Personally I think that they should put a big sign up – a little like the Hollywood sign – or – even better as this is Switzerland – have big doors in the side of the mountain and every hour on the hour – the doors open and a big sign pops out held in the beak of a cuckoo.
Now that would be worth seeing.

Hairpin Bends

I still felt very, very queasy in the morning, so we looked out for a supermarket to buy medicine in. After five minutes we were out of Luxembourg again and back in France -and eventually found a Carrefour. Unfortunately some obscure French law stops them peddling drugs, so my troubled stomach had to make do with bread sticks and Perrier water. We carried on down the motorway for more flatness and trees – and … then…. it got interesting!
There was snow.
So we had to stop!

One of us threw snowballs

One of us hid behind a camera.
One of us posed gracefully.

And I did not sit down!
Then the road got even more interesting!

I was driving on the edge of my seat – not helped by people saying ‘don’t look down!’
and the snow – and mist – but it was beautiful and although it was snowing the road was clear.
We eventually ended up in Neuchatel and found the Ibis we were staying in, after some interesting detours into back streets and carparks – the driver did not listen to the satnav properly.
The room was great – it had practically a seperate bathroom and loo in a ‘lobby’ to the room. I hate ensuite bathrooms so this was bliss to me. Jill and I just ate what we had bought from Carrefour and treated ourselves to some sweeet internet time.

Off We Go!

Jill, Lindi, Margaret Mc …(I suppose I had better not post her whole name even if it is poetry) and I set out for a road trip to go and see MY Lovairrrr in Switzerland.
We had the whole trip set out on the satnav apart from Margaret’s address, which Jill guided me to. If Jill ever provides a satnav voice ‘take next left’ will be ‘this one! this one! this one!’ Once we were all in the car and had stopped for a secret assignation on the A2 (ze sun rises in the Vest and all cowboys are green) we caught the ferry and were on our way!! Jill saw this book which I offered to buy her for a birthday present – can’t think why she refused.
The sky was fantastic as we landed in Calais.
There is not a lot you can say about driving through France, and then through Belgium. Apart from the fact it is flat. We stopped once for something to eat and then drove some more.
More Belgium – and then excitement! We passed an Ikea!
Eventually we arrived in Luxembourg and after five minutes were half way across the country and at our hotel. It was in the middle of a building site – so for a while we weren’t sure if we were at the right Ibis.
But we were – and the rooms were really good – with a shower room eaten out of one corner. We met up for dinner – and after working our way through the imaginatively translated menu – anyone for Prawn Spit? Or Dug Pie? I had the plate of duck.
We had a lovely evening – up until the time I went to bed – when the duck started to take it’s revenge. I was very sick.