Sunday, June 20, 2010

Europe 2010 - Day Two

We got off to an early start today and took advantage of a full day's worth of activities. Breakfast at the Pension began at 8 a.m., and as soon as it was ready, Brooke and I were dressed, showered and ready to get things started.

David didn't disappoint with the breakfast spread. Bread with fruit spread and butter, yogurt with granola-type cereal, dried meats and cheeses as well as apple and banana slices--it was all as fresh as it could possibly be. I'd love to know how recently the milk that made the butter and yogurt was sloshing around in the belly of a cow on some nearby hillside.

After breakfast, we took the cable car down to the Schilthornbahn station, caught a Post bus to Lauterbrunnen and boarded the train once again headed to Bern.

The national capital, Bern is a fantastic city that boasts a lot of great personality. I could definitely spend more time there. It was especially meaningful to Brooke and I due to the fact that Bern is where our boy Crockett can trace his ancestry (Bernese Mountain Dog)!

During our stroll through town we saw most of the city's famous 11 fountains (each topped with a character based on biblical or Swiss folklore (such as Samson and a child-eating Ogre), we explored a beautiful 15th-century Cathedral, saw the riverfront brown bear dwellings where four brown bears--the symbol of Bern, as depicted on the canton's official seal--go about their business while locals and tourists alike observe.

Another great part of our stroll through Bern was visiting the apartment where Albert Einstein lived from 1902-05 and where he worked out his famous theory of relativity. It is now a museum dedicated to Einstein, and although our Swiss Passes would have allowed us free admission for the 20-minute audio tour, we settled for a few pictures out front and headed to one of the bustling squares for lunch.

The trademark Swiss dish Rosti, which I explained in Saturday's blog post, originiated in Bern. So naturally that's what we both got at a place called le Mazot. I got the "rosti sportsman," which is basically hash browns topped with a slice of ham, covered in melted swiss cheese and topped with a sunny-side-up egg.

Cooked eggs here look different than they do in the states. Our egg yokes have a yellow look in comparison to the bright "Florida Gator" orange that they take on here. I'm no expert on the matter, but my guess is that it may have to do with the chickens here lacking some of the steroids and other chemicals that we feed to or inject into the chickens back home.

We did a bit of shopping in Bern. I bought a great water- and wind-proof jacket that will surely serve me well on future hiking trips. It is made by a really cool brand I had never heard of before: Sherpa Adventure Gear. Brooke looked at dozens of nice, Swiss-manufactured watches but couldn't settle on one. Many of the nicer watches sold for up to CHF 4000 (close to $4,000).

On our way back to Gimmelwald in the afternoon, we got off the train at the Interlaken West station and walked through that city all the way to the East station. Brooke made a good find at one of the shops, purchasing a red Swiss World Cup team jersey that I must admit is pretty cool. The Swiss play tomorrow at 4 p.m. and we'd like to find a nice little pub or restaurant with a good scene in which to watch the game, but we'll see how the day progresses.

I'm still holding up hope that the clouds will clear out of the area and make a paragliding trip a possibility for tomorrow.

Dinner this evening was at the restaurant in Hotel Alpina, which is up in Murren. Brooke and I each had the Raclette, which is another trademark Swiss dish of melted cheese with boiled potatoes and cucumbers and onions. Like all our other meals thus far, it was stellar.

Well, walking all around Bern and Interlaken really wore us out, so are ready to call it a night. We hope everyone back home is doing well. Aside from missing Crockett terribly already, we are having an extraordinary time here.


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