Shirley in Bern Switzerland

Trip Start Apr 02, 2013
Trip End Apr 28, 2013

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What I did
Medieval Old Town

Flag of Switzerland  , Bern,
Friday, April 19, 2013

Flew from Amsterdam to Bern, Switzerland yesterday and now have joined a new tour group, Collette Tours, for the next 10 days and will travel around Switzerland and Austria. 

Amsterdam airport was huge but what was really different and most confusing was the large number of small regional airlines with only a very small one person desk - it took me about 20 minutes to find mine, Skyworks. I got a little nervous when my shuttle bus driver said he had never heard of it (HELLLO!! - I had my reservation online in the US - there was no local number to call). It was a very small plane - 31 seats. Bern has a very small local airport, no large planes at all. I had arranged for a airline shuttle to take me into the city. 

When I arrived in Bern yesterday, it was really warm, probably about 80 degrees. Today, it is much cooler (thank goodness) and raining (yuck). Our regular tour program director apparently had plane problems so has not arrived yet. Another guide from a totally different tour company met us at the hotel and has given us a few, very brief instructions but we are all still a bit at large on our own. 

Last night, we went to a local restaurant for typical Swiss cheese fondue (with pieces of bread and small potatoes), weiner schnitzel and noodles. Pretty good. 

This morning, we had a local guide who took us on a bus tour with a few stops around town. Bern means "bear" in Swiss German. Apparently, when the city was founded in the 11th century, the man who founded it loved to hunt so when he went on his first hunt he said he would name the new city after the first animal he killed which was a brown bear, hence the name. 

The bear is the symbol of Bern. Ever since founding, the city has kept some bears in the city. They now live in what is called the "bear pit" which is a deep pit in the middle of the city where 4 bears (from Finland actually) live, parents and their 2 girl cubs. See pictures. It seems kind of sad for the bears but the guide insisted they lived a "happy life."

More later. Actually, I think I am coming down with a Swiss cold. I already tried the Dutch variety cold which only lasted about 2 days so hopefully the Swiss one will be brief as well. 
It is now evening and still raining and cold (but I like it). This afternoon we took a tour of the famous old clock tower (450 year old clock which is still running and has to be wound every day). We had to climb up 5 stories up very narrow steep stairs which was made even more difficult by watching the spry 80 year old man who takes care of the clock and does this about 20 times a day for tours!!!

Food is VERY expensive here in Switzerland. A simple hamburger at a small stand will cost over $25. I have been going across the street to a small market and getting premade sandwiches, chocolate,, orange juice and some take out  kebobs and thai food and eating in my room. Our hotel is right in the middle of the old city, a great location. 

Our regular tour guide finally showed up this afternoon. She acttually lives in Kentucky and got stuck wen her plane flight got cancelled but eventually made it. Her name is Rita and she is reallly nice. 

All for now,  We will and go back and add more info about previous events later. Very busy days. Usual wakeup call at 630 and gone by 8 am. 

Swiss Shirley
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