July 1

The vacation began with the timed sprinklers going on at 7:00 AM just as we getting into the car to go to the airport and filling my lower pants leg and socks and shoes with water. I said to myself; “ Self”, I hope this is not a harbinger of what to expect for the next month.

We arrived at the Tampa airport about 7:30 for an 11:25 departure. It was my first time using electronic tickets and I did not know what increased security to expect and - I thought Continental had a “Presidents lounge” where we could relax after checking our baggage. For those interested they do not.

We had a great take off and landing in Newark and were in the same terminal that we were to catch our next flight to Zurich. There was a 5 hour lay over but it was made easier by their having a “Presidents lounge” and my having 5 free Martinis. Since this was to be my last trip to Europe (at age 79) and it was two months prior to leaving, I had found a fantastic RT business class rate, I decided to go whole hog. Whereas most business class rates where over $7000 when I saw one on Expedia for $2200, I grabbed it. There were restrictions that I must not change any part of the ticket. I gambled!

The Champagne started the instant we hit our seats. It was a fantastic and the flight smooth after a few Bloody Marys. I was very surprised by how much Continental has upgraded it service.

I had taken weeks of planning to arrange air, lodging, auto rental (Hertz) and tours within Switzerland. My plan was to stay in Switzerland for the month of July but after 2 days in Zurich I had changed my complete schedule and all my pre-planning went out the window.

Back to the flight; - we left 1/2 hour late and were only in the air about 20 minutes (One champagne and 3 bloodies) when we chose and were served from the menu, lamb chops, mashed potatoes, salad, and dessert. We had about 6 hours sleep when we touched down in Zurich 1/2 hour ahead of schedule. I dread customs, only because it is so time consuming and tiring with 4 pieces of luggage. We each carried on a backpack and checked in one suitcase each.

I had chosen the Ibis hotel in Zurich because it had a shuttle and was not too far from the airport where I had to return to pick up a car two days later. It had no air conditioning and no fans and it was as hot as blazes and the nearest restaurant was 20 minutes; a bus and train ride away. If you opened the windows there were no screens and the critters would fly in and out like “old home week”. You baked in your own juices. The room was a closet with a bathroom (6’x5’); a sink (no stopper), a shower and toilet paper that was recycled sandpaper. When you sat on the stool, your head was in the sink. So now when I want to leave to go to the bathroom I say; “I’m going to put my head in the sink.”

“But the staff was nice”

Their breakfast was not free as in most other hotels in which we stayed. The cost of breakfast was $12.60. That was our first introduction to prices in Switzerland. It was also responsible for my decision to find air-conditioning in future hotels regardless of price. I repeat I am 79. That was a problem, as most hotels do not have air conditioning, as it is not supposed to be hot in Switzerland. My best decision was arranging for an air-conditioned automatic transmission car. There were several nights when I contemplated sleeping in the car, with the air on, when we could not find a hotel with a/c. On TV we saw the temperatures in Florida were the same or lower than what we experienced in Europe. But Florida has a/c in cars, stores, homes, and hotels. Europe has not caught up with that luxury.

Back to Ibis hotel. A young lady ran the dining room, fluent in three languages (not English) but untrained in food preparation. At 3 PM we viewed the salad buffet where it appeared to have been set out at breakfast and still had 3 hours to go until the restaurant opened.

“But the staff was nice”

This is when I inquired about the next closest restaurant and was told to walk 2 blocks to Bus # 5 and take it to stop # (I could not understand) and switch to the train to (I could not understand). I thought if I get lost no one could ever find this hotel again. I now realized they had a shuttle because it was the only way to find it. It is in the middle of nowhere, situated in an industrial park, and I assume it is a converted warehouse.

“But the staff was nice”

After 5 hours in the sweatbox I inquired about the Hilton that I had seen as we left the airport and canceled our reservation at Ibis for July 29 when we expected to return. P.S. I was quoted $368 a night for the Hilton. I decided to look further.

Deciding not to attempt finding a distant restaurant, we ate at the hotel. I ordered spaghetti and meat sauce with the help of an English girl who had entered the dining room. My first bite ruined my taste buds for two days. The sauce was made with red hot peppers.

In fairness, the staff of three high school girls did try to be helpful and tried to understand our English. At about mid-night the room did cool off with the window open. So, if one is looking for a place to sleep (only), and you arrive about mid-night, it is fairly clean except for the carpet that looked like the floor of an oil change garage. I left my slippers at the hotel.

“But the staff was nice”

The bedding was clean and so was the one towel (for 2 people) and one need not fear of rolling out of bed as it is only a one foot drop. It appears to be secure because no one can find it. With a queen bed (we had reserved twin beds) and a few shelves in the corner, there was room to get around as long as you walked sideways and did not walk abreast.

“But the staff was nice”

But for $85 a night it was a bargain compared to the Hilton. It was rated 3 stars on a 1 to 5 star rating. It could be compared to a Motel 8 in the US being compared to the Waldorf Astoria. The picture on the Internet is too flattering.

I had reserved a room for 2 nights at 89 CHF and on check out were billed 115 CHF for the 2nd night. Their explanation is that rates go up 30 CHF on weekdays. To dispute the charge I had to talk to the manager who would not be in until late afternoon. I had my luggage on the shuttle at 8 AM so they knew I would not stay to protest.

“But the staff was nice”

Well its time for another ‘head in the sink’ so I’ll end this first days event in hotel “NEVER AGAIN”.

July 3

We took the hotel shuttle to the airport to arrange for a tour, as the hotel did not offer tours from the hotel. Then we got brave and took a train to the train station and contracted for a full day Gray Line tour to Lake Lucerne for a guided tour of Lucerne and a lunch at a Switzerland folk show to include yodeling, bell ringing, broom dancing, and audience participation. The lunch was good and the entertainment very, very good.

The lunch did not include any beverages including water, soda beer etc. But the tour was less than mediocre. I asked if the tour was in English and was told yes. Upon leaving Zurich the guide would speak in English, then German, then French but had the microphone so close to his mouth you could not understand what he said. When a passenger told him he said he had not had complaints in the past and proceeded to do the same, so we had little info as to what we were seeing as we proceeded to Lake Lucerne. (Clarify the full tour is in English) In addition he combined 3 tours into one trip and when we arrived in Lucerne he took those who had signed for the Swiss show and pointed to where the show took place up a side street, gave us our lunch tickets and said; ”I’ll meet you here at 5 PM. (He did not give one couple a voucher so they missed the show and lunch.) I grabbed him and asked; “When do we get the guided tour of Lucerne”? He said;” You're in Lucerne, look around, I won’t be back until 5”. I told him it was a guided tour of Lucerne and he denied it so I pulled out the brochure and showed him. He shrugged his shoulders and he jumped back on the bus and took off.

The full bus (3 tours) had such a sad experience that when he asked how everyone enjoyed the tour he had dead silence. He asked how I enjoyed the tour and I told him the show was great and left it there. He asked; “Was that all you enjoyed?” and I remained silent.

He stood at the door of the bus as we departed for his hand out and it remained empty.

July 4

Thankfully with this poor start things picked up in Interlaken with a wonderful, peaceful boat cruise on Lake Thun. (Very much a “must do” event.)

We were to go to Bern but after seeing Zurich we decided not to go to another big city just to see a clock and a zoo, so we went on to Interlaken. To avoid staying in the city I found a Mercure Hotel on top of a mountain overlooking Lake Thun. Interlaken lies between two lakes. The Hotel was on the outskirts of Interlaken in a suburb called Beatenberg. I could never remember the name and kept calling it Bettlebaum or Bettleberg.

It is about a 20-minute drive into Interlaken with very steep curvy roads but it is worth the effort. It was so nice we decided to stay for 4 days. Our room had a balcony, which looked down on the lake, and we could watch the tour boats pass all day, every 20 minutes. We took a ride for almost the full day from one end of Lake Thun to the other where we could get off at any stop and re-board for the full day fee. I can highly recommend this cruise.

I sat next to an oriental woman who was with her husband on her other side and she talked constantly for 2 hours without taking a breath. He had his back to her and would only grunt every 10 minutes. The Orientals know how to get along with their wives. (Can’t you tell I’m no longer married?)

Incidentally, I had purchased the Swiss card on the Internet before leaving the USA, which entitled me to free fares on some transits and 1/2 charge on others. The funicular from top of mountain to boat was free and the boat ride was 1/2 price. The card was a slight savings but would have been a major savings had we traveled by train versus car.

This hotel was a great improvement over the Ibis in Zurich. It did not have air conditioning (a/c) but neither did any other hotel we contacted. It was exceptionally clean, a large room, a beautiful view, and a staff that spoke English. But again I ran into rates. I had booked for 111 CHF a night. When I extended my stay I was billed 144 CHF. I was told that I did not reserve all 4 nights at the same time so the rates differed. This should be a lesson to those booking hotels in Switzerland. Have a definite understanding as to the rates for EACH night and try to avoid extending your stay once you arrive. It might be better to make longer reservations and then cancel which I did not try. There might be a charge then for a cancellation. (Ya can’t beat the system.)

We did a lot of shopping in Interlaken and should have had the store ship our package. Instead we carried the gifts and souvenirs and shipped them days later from Chur. That entailed finding boxes (which we finally bought from post office) and finding a post office and paying outrageous postage. In addition it takes weeks to arrive by standard postage and you worry until it does arrive. Shipping by air you might as well pack your self in the container and save your airfare back. (Suggestion: find a store in US that sells products made in Switzerland.)

Evenings I spent charging batteries for my camcorder and still camera and cell phone (that never worked).

Breakfast again was not included and cost 20 CHF but it was a nice buffet. Dinner was 74 CHF (without drinks). I had a filet. (But the cow had died many years ago after feeding on rocks). However it had great flavor and the salad was excellent and came with the dinner which is unusual in Switzerland. You normally pay extra for salad or bread or water. Just depend on everything costing extra and check with the waiter.

The hotel has underground garages at no additional cost with plenty of spaces. Remember if your garage is on second or first floor. Floor 6 is reception and is the ground level floor (don’t question me further). I think floor 3 and 4 are sauna and pool and floor 5 is a basement room. (Otherwise called dungeon.) We were on floor 8 with a large room that had twin beds, a kitchen with a refrigerator and two burners, a dining area with a good size table, and a lounge area that was next to balcony and overlooked the lake. There was plenty of closet space.

There was a washer and dryer in one of the lower levels so we had a chance to catch up on washing clothes that we had formerly washed in the sink. Cost $3 per load. With me you can always expect a problem. The dryer refused to open and many of our daily traveling clothes were locked in the dryer. It was 10:30 PM and fortunately the hotel had a maintenance man on duty so he came and started the dry cycle all over again hoping it would open upon cycle completion. At midnight he called and told us the door had opened and we could reclaim our clothes. In the meantime (10:30 to 12) Lorraine was in “panicville” that we might never see our clothes again. You do not want to be in the room with Lorraine when she is in “Panicville”.

Another (not so amusing) event took place in the hotel. The bathroom was a very comfortable size but the tub was deep and the sides were high. We found this to be true throughout most of Europe. I was tired and in pain and anxious for a nice hot bath, so I moved my 240 pound frame into the tub. I enjoyed the soaking in hot water but when it came time to get out I found the tub too narrow and too deep and nothing to hold onto to raise myself out. The sides were too high to raise myself and nothing to help pull me up. The soap dish would never hold me and I thought I was entombed for life in a tub in Switzerland. I thought about filling the tub and floating out but didn’t want to drown. I started putting towels under me and didn’t have sufficient towels to get me high enough. I was about to call for a crane when I took the chance of rolling over hoping the narrowness would not wedge me further. I summoned my courage and flip-flopped over like a beached whale and got on my hands and knees and lifted myself upward. By this time I was exhausted and needed another bath but settled for a shower.

What a great camcorder picture that 1/2 hour would have made. This is probably the highlight of the trip and one I will long remember. I took no more baths in Europe, only showers. It still took a ladder to get in and out of the tubs.

We went food shopping in Interlaken. I did not know you must pay for a cart to put in your groceries and pay for a bag to carry groceries from the store. Most bring shopping bags. We parked in a garage beneath the store and had to come through a gate and take a ticket. I should have been smart enough to realize I could not use that ticket to get out without paying somebody. As I attempted to leave garage by going up a curved ramp for about 200 feet, I entered the ticket and ***NOTHING happens. I try again** and again nothing happens and finally get out and ask the woman in the car behind me how to raise the gate. I am told I should have paid as I left the store and had the ticked validated. What NOW? 6 cars behind me had to back down the ramp and I had to negotiate how to handle the curves going backwards; (incidentally the ramp is narrow, what else?) and I have 6 unhappy drivers angry and looking at this jerk who has trapped them in a garage. My name changed to “That stupid idiot” I changed it again to “That DUMB stupid idiot”

We found a lady who spoke English and she showed us the machine back at the elevator to have our exit ticket validated. The cost was $5 for a 3/4 hour shopping experience. But, FREE at last. By the time I paid for the garage, bag, and cart, my beer price had increased by $6.50.

Warning; bring an old bag with you to the market, even if it’s your wife.

You would think I’d learn, but read on for our returning the car to the airport.

We made the mistake of getting up late 7:30 and by the time we got to breakfast the Japanese tour bus was starting to load. Getting food was a major obstacle. Rolls were already being stuffed into pocketbooks for their lunch and dinner, I guess. Anything liquid was still available, as it could not be packed. I amused myself by staring at the women with their hands in the fruit and breadbaskets. When they saw me staring, they quickly replaced them. But they out foxed me. They came back with plates, took the fruits and bread on plates and loaded from their tables under the tablecloth into their carry on bags. But at least I had fun and embarrassed them for a few minutes.

Today I scout Interlaken Railroad station OST (East I learned) in hopes tomorrow we can take the 4 trains up to the top of the Jungfrau mountain and visit the Ice Palace.

Here is where the Swiss Card paid off. I paid 1/2 fare (which was considerable). We paid $70 per person versus $140. Leaving at 9:30AM gave us time to make train changes and spend time at top of Mt., see ice palace, and return by way of Grindelwald (a village I wanted to see) and arrive back by 6PM.

Filled the car with gas at cost of $33 for the 300 miles I had driven.

We had an excellent supper. Caesar salad, lamb chops, freedom fries, 2 glasses of wine [I did not like Swiss red wines], 2 cups of coffee, bowl of cinnamon ice cream in rum sauce with pieces of plumb for $90 for 2 dinners. Got away easy this time. The atmosphere at this hotel is appealing and the “staff were nice”.

Early to bed for the trip to Jungfrau tomorrow.

July 7

What a fantastic thrill. The trip to “Top of Europe”.

It requires 3 train changes and about 2 hours to arrive at the top of Jungfrau Mountain. Many times the trains are riding in a cut out of the mountain and a precipitous ‘fall off’ with about one foot of rock on the side of the train track. (Please everyone, do not all go to that side of train, or sneeze.)

Don’t look down, look up, cause that is where you may be (if you've been good) if the track collapses. As you may discover, I do not like heights.

You pass through a 4 mile long tunnel through Mt. Eiger and the train stops 3 times and you have 5 minutes to get off and walk to the side of the mountain and look through large glass windows straight down the side of the mountain and see the surrounding mountains and glaciers.

When you get high enough you start to see snow on both sides and a glacier between mountain ranges with one at the top of the Jungfrau. You see massive waterfalls and some drop over 1000 feet. No place to stand under to take a shower. The force must be tremendous as the water hits the ground.

There is a restaurant at the top of Jungfrau and a gift shop. What else is new?

The thrill is the Ice Palace. It is a tunnel similar to a mine entrance carved out (and into) the glacier. Naturally the floor, walls, and ceiling are solid ice. There is a rail that you can hold to brace yourself, as it is extremely slippery. After 15 feet I realized it was too hazardous for me, so Lorraine went through with my camera and took photos. Mid way through they have ice carvings of an Eskimo village with sled dogs, igloo’s, fish and people carved from ice. Naturally it is cold. Even in the entrance I almost froze with a shirt, leather vest, and coat.

It was an early overcast day so we did not see the other mountain ranges from the top.

Our train changes were made easier by finding 2 young men from Bern who spoke excellent English. They were also going to the “Top of Europe” so they guided us into the proper train at each station.

Train travel is efficient. We never waited more than 15 minutes to get a train, and in most instances we got off one train and immediately entered another within 10 feet. The same holds true for busses and boats. They are all co-coordinated so you have a very short wait (if any) to change transportation.

On our return to Interlaken we shopped at Grindelwald for lunch and a walk through the village. It is well promoted in all travel programs and is a beautiful village when viewed from the train coming down the mountain, but when you leave the train station it is a long street of souvenir shops. Perhaps if we had wandered beyond the main drag we would have seen the charm that travel shows talk about. If I were to return I would drive into the village and drive up and down streets to see the typical Swiss homes on the mountainside. I would travel up the side roads to see the goats, cows, barns, and listen to the cowbells in the pastures for the atmosphere.

The all day rain did not spoil our day as we were in trains or train stations or on the “Top of Europe” shelters. Occasionally we had to bundle up in the very cold weather. Nice part was that we were never lost. I had feared we would be when I heard of all of the train changes (6) going up and down.

Back to Interlaken train station and up the mountain to Beattlebaum ie. (Beatenberg) in the rain with cars pushing me all of the way. I was doing close to the speed limit except on the hairpin turns. I’ve never seen hairpin turns as bad as in Switzerland. You can see cars going in the opposite direction 30 feet to your left AND right on the same road you are on. I would get down to 10 miles per hour to the dismay of those behind me. I would pull over as soon as I found the smallest 50’ pull off and they would whiz by me. I even had a truck driver and a bicyclist give me the finger. I guess I should have had my Florida license plates on the car, as my handicap sign could not be seen from the rear.

I found most Swiss people friendly, especially the young, but I also found some extremely rude. One instance was when I left the car to ask directions from a man who was parked behind me. He was opening his trunk when I said; “Do you speak English?” He completely ignored me, so I tried: “Bitte”[9]. Poor man, - he must be deaf. Then he pulls out his cell phone and dials a number and starts talking. He must not be deaf! When he finishes several minutes later I get in his face and point to my map and where I want to go, again saying; “bitte”. It was as if I were invisible! He couldn’t have been blind; he was driving.

However as I said, I found most young people, train station, hotel and shop personnel trying to be helpful and understanding even if they could not speak English, and yes, I know, I am in their country not able to speak their language; however, a smile and a nod would have been appreciated from the deaf mute. (Later I will tell about the truck driver who I will remember always who went out of his way to be of assistance.)

July 8

We found a route directly west from Interlaken to Lausanne and then south to Geneva, about 127 miles.

About 3/4 of the way to Lausanne I must have missed a turn and found myself headed north to Bern. I kept looking for signs to Lausanne but they all pointed in the same direction as Bern. I was coming to the conclusion that you can’t get to Geneva from Interlaken, when we entered the outskirts of Bern. After an hour I had driven the 127 miles and I was 127 miles from Geneva. OH well, it was a pretty drive. We entered the city about 2 PM and had a heck of a time trying to find the hotel. There are so many one-way streets that you can be one block from hotel but must drive 6 blocks to get to it. I was so close so many times. The same street can go East, West, North and South and all begin with “Rau”. That must mean something? Again I lucked out and found a young couple that spoke English and had a GPS unit. We were within a mile of the Ibis hotel Central.

I parked across the street to find where to park for my 2-day stay. I had booked an Ibis Hotel in the center of Geneva a few blocks (?) from the lake and when I arrived they told me the elevator was not working and they could get me a room in Lausanne. They called ahead for my reservation. I was not displeased because the hotel was in a busy and bad section of the city, and hotel parking was 5 blocks away and there was no a/c.

I drove through the city to the lake and drove along the lake for a few miles to say to be able to say I saw it, then got back on route ? (I think it was Rt. A-1)

We did see the 457’ fountain shooting high into the air and the “Palace of nations”; that was enough for me so we headed north again on Route 1 (one). We accidentally crossed into France. It was getting late in the afternoon and about 10 miles north of Geneva I saw a large Best Western that looked new so I detoured to the hotel and asked them to first cancel the hotel Ibis in Luasanne and then rented an a/c room which had a distant view of the (a) lake.

Clean, roomy, some English speaking staff and $215 a night. One doesn’t argue when tired after driving all day and in need of a Manhattan. (Which does not seem to exist in Switzerland.

The room had a view of Lake Geneva in the distance and was A/C. With 2 glasses of wine and a wedding party in the Hotel the evening was enjoyable. There were craftomatic beds and as I sat on one end the other end would rise up off the floor. (Another challenge). Tomorrow I’ll pin my money belt to my shirttail.

I went out to the car to bring in the luggage and felt something creeping down my leg. I looked down and realized my money belt had opened and was hanging out of my pants leg around my ankles. I tried to pull it out but the waistband was stuck to Velcro somewhere in my pants. Now the dilemma, I am in a parking lot, - do I reach down into my pants to free the waistband or - pull up my pants leg, or - take down my pants?

At this point Lorraine was doubled up laughing which did nothing to mask my embarrassment. I was about to ask her to reach into my pants but several people were watching me twist and turn as it was. After several tugs I freed the strap. She gets her biggest joy and laughs when I am in this type of predicament. I’d like to have heard the comments of those passing by. “Look at that pervert with his hands in his pants”. Tomorrow I'll pin my money belt to my shirt tail.

We had a nice dinner but decided that beef was not the meat to order in Switzerland. The cows have too many miles on them. I ordered a filet and had lockjaw by the end of the meal. It would have made a better jacket. It was tasty though; And “the staff was nice.”

Henceforth I will order “Flan”.

July 9

We left the Best Western in Geneva in AM after a free breakfast. The hotel had a/c so I had a good night’s sleep and a nice buffet breakfast. We headed for Vevey and Montreux but took the first turn off from A1 to see a small village. I enjoy going down back roads and not knowing where I am going. I usually find things other tourists do not see. It turned out great as we found a road that borders Lake Geneva all the way to Montreux. Going through Lausanne we saw the Lake boats loading and unloading passengers and decided to catch the boat and hope we could find a hotel room in the late afternoon. The boat was ready to leave at 12:30 and to return at 3:20. We crossed Lake Geneva to the French side and made a landing in St. Gingolph-le Bouvert, Villeneuve, Chateau de Chillon, (a very famous castle) Montreux, Vevey, back to Lausanne where we had started. We found the car parked very close to the dock where we had left it. Luckily we had found a handicap space so close but I was not certain how long I could park there. I asked several people but no one had an answer. I took the chance and it was a pleasant surprise to see it in the same place with no ticket on it.

We left Lausanne about 3:45 and made stops for gas and at several hotels looking for an a/c room. None were found by the time we reached Montreux so when I saw another Best Western in the center of town I pulled in and again was lucky to find a room, but the hotel had no a/c. At 4:30 I did not want to chance going on and so paid the $300. The receptionist took pity on a gray haired, over-weight old man with a cane and discounted the room from $350 to $300. Again I found you get what you pay for. She was also kind enough to provide us with a fan.

It was a suite of rooms on the 14th floor overlooking the lake and most of Montreux. The jazz festival had tents all along the boulevard under our window so we were serenaded most of the night and looked down on all of the activity. Boats were docking, dirigibles were floating by our window, and air kites were flying off the mountain and landing on a raft floating in the lake. Our balcony with table, chairs and a wet-bar looked down upon the lake as far as you could see to the south and north. I could not have found a better room and view. It is all I could have wished for when planning my visit to Vevey and Montreux and Lake Geneva.

So the day was a success with one small glitz. When we rushed for the boat I left my camcorder supplies in the car and ran out of Disc 1/2 way down the lake. However I made up for it by re-loading the camera in the hotel and getting the best of the sights from our balcony.

I am beginning to get comfortable with putting money in a machine at gas stations (and elsewhere) and hoping that the pump will turn on. I used small denominations in case I guessed wrong on what button to push or if I had a cranky machine and then I would not lose a large amount. I dreaded putting my credit card in a machine for fear of it never coming back or returning it in shreds. Amazingly it never happened. I hope I can share with everyone the photos and movies, as I tried to capture the highlights of each day.

July 10

We left Montreux about 8:30 and on the way to Zermatt we passed Chateau Chillon - a fortress, which doubled as a palace on its lakeside. This is the Castle referred to in Lord Byron in 1816 and was inspired by Bonevard chained for 4 years as a prisoner in the Castle during the 16th century I could not resist the temptation to walk through another castle so we turned around and crossed the moat into the castle for 16 CHF ($13).

With my bad knees I could only tour the first level but Lorraine went up stairs into the parapets and down to the dungeons that were about 200‘ below floor level. Ladders were lowered and raised for prisoners. There are several courtyards, and multiple huge fireplaces used to cook and to heat the rooms. There are canons and armories, and storerooms.

Chillon was built to guard the narrow defile between the lake and the mountains and to collect taxes. The entrance dates from the 15th century (about the time I was born) The castle dates back to the 13th century and has a history of many wars. There are beautiful “Coats of arms” in the Knights hall. It was the home to Dukes, Baliffs, and Lords from 1536 to 1733. Out of 32 rooms I got to about 10. This Castle is a MUST if you are in the vicinity of Lake Geneva.

Vineyard on the road to Zermatt...

We did not expect to enter Zermatt for evening but saw no attractive hotels on our route, - so about 4 PM we took the hazardous roads to reach Zermatt. You can’t drive a car into Zermatt nor would I suggest it, if you could. You stop in Tersch and take a train into Zermatt or as you enter Tersch you will be greeted by Taxi and parking businesses that have signs “Information,” to lure you in.

Incidentally, when you take a taxi you are trapped. They take your car to a parking space or garage so you are almost obligated to take the same taxi to pick you up on your return from Zermatt for another $30. Then you are told parking is extra and at $15 a day so that is $60 you pay when you return. Oh well, it only took me a lifetime to save for this trip and I don’t have that many years left anyway.

I stopped and was quickly maneuvered into letting them take me to the outskirts of Zermatt where I would be picked up with our luggage by a hotel golf cart (electric).

I chose the Best Western so the taxi company host called ahead for my reservation and found 1 of 2 B/W [B/W = Best Western which we found to be the most consistent quality.] We booked a room at The Alpine Resort Hotel for $230 a night.

Our parking/taxi host quoted us $30 to take us to city limits and took care of parking our car. The drive took about 10 minutes with a woman driver who thought she was Danica Patrick. The road is narrow and at sections room for only one car. It is a series of curves where you cannot see if a car is approaching from the other direction but that didn’t seem to bother her. A few times we screeched to a halt within 50 feet of the car coming in the opposite direction. I prayed a little. (And a little more). The cart was waiting for us and now with 9 pieces of luggage and cameras and souvenir boxes it was fully loaded. I did not want to trust leaving an open car so we took it all.

Again, a very nice clean large sitting room and a balcony looking directly at the Matterhorn. In all of the B/W we have had superb service with no one looking for tips and very grateful when you offer one.

On our way here I stopped at a winery and bought a small bottle of red wine; “Domaine du Montdor 2005 which turned out to be very good but also too little contents (37,5 cl) whatever that means. It was 3 small water glasses for $8.

We passed so many apricot orchards that we stopped at a stand and bought about 15 in a basket. They seemed hard but after one bite I doubted they would last a day. They were extra sweet and best I’ve ever tasted.

Do not depend on roadside signs. The cities you find as you travel the roads you cannot find on a map.

We went through “Sion” and for 30 miles did not see a sign that had a city on our map or a route sign to tell us if we were still on the road we planned to travel.

Back to Zermatt! We walked (actually hotel golf cart ride) into town to get a 2nd bottle of wine and several chocolate bars. Chocolate is the best ever, very creamy.

One of the available modes of transportation in Zermatt.

July 11

Buffet breakfast came with the room and was substantial; scrambled eggs & bacon, cold cuts, cereals, Rolls and jams, coffee, orange juice and always cheese.

Each morning between 9 and 9:30 they bring goats down the main street to go to pasture. You can hear the bells clanging as they approach. They stop the goats in front of a day care center where they let the children feed them for about 5 minutes.

We walked through town to the end of the street that looked up at the Matterhorn. There is no other mountain like the Matterhorn. It is distinct and beautiful. You stand in awe of the jagged snow covered peaks unlike any other mountain. I took many photos and hope to some day try to paint its magnificence. I found a bench and sat in the shade and listened to church bells. Fell sway to novelty shops for a few post cards and gifts of Chocolate to bring home. I slowly started back to the hotel finding a bench in the shade wherever I could. I cashed some more dollars into franks and bought more water and a sandwich. I watched para-sailing off the mountains and watched tourist helicopters fly over the Matterhorn. On one bench I watched young teen-age girls play soccer; peaceful, restful, quiet, and cool in the shade. Where is Lorraine all of this time? In and out of stores shopping. She can’t pass a store without going in. She was bored today, as I didn’t do anything embarrassing like getting stuck in a tub. She did get a laugh when I woke up at night and getting out of bed hit my head on a ladder going to a loft room.

Tomorrow we take the ride back to the taxi parking lot with that Kamikaze woman driver.

The host in B/W was kind enough to advise us not to stay at B/W in Locarno the next day as it was on top of a mountain and 1/2 hour from lake Maggiore. He called ahead to the “Pestalozzi Hotel” and reserved a room for us.

He also gave me a very easy route ???? [I later questioned the route and the Hotel] Other than the one I had chosen which he said had many switchbacks.

Most menus, in addition to being in French or German are in Japanese. (Not English). It tells you where the dollars are coming from.

Had a fantastic pizza for dinner. It is recognizable on the menu.

Part 2