Sunday 17 Jun 07

A smooth flight from Cork to Dublin on Ryanair, then smooth also to Zurich on Swiss. Complimentary food served on board: a small roll with salami filling plus a drink (tea, coffee, juice …) and also a small bar of chocolate.

In Zurich, meet Hotel shuttle between adjacent terminals 1 and 2 (between arrivals A and B). Bus full but another soon came and took us to the Movenpic Airport. Room spacious and comfortable.

Met with Tour Director (SM) and the other tourists, all 40 of us from English speaking countries: US, Oz, New Zealand, Canada, South Africa, UK and a few (6) from Ireland.

We had a meal with the only other Irish couple (T and C) in the hotel. The ladies each had Rostie with Veal while I had Chicken breast on hot stone, still cooking as it arrived on table, accompanied by tomato and cheese, corn on the cob, fries, butter sauce and barbecue dip.

Our own meal (we both started with a tomato and basil soup), which included two pichets of white house wine, came to 95 SFR.

Up early for breakfast (huge selection of hot and cold buffet). Then off to Bern, the capital (pop. 140,000). First stop is the rose-garden (with a view of the old town, grouped around the church). Then a call to see the European Brown bear (pictured above, in the confines of the pit) from which the town gets its name.

Parked by the federal parliament buildings (under restoration), by the big square from a section of which periodically and apparently, unexpectedly, spout water fountains, which can drench the unsuspecting tourist and willing local kid alike.

Back to the top of the main street to see the hardly exciting (but rather ancient and certainly well visited mechanical clock and its figurines, active on the hour), followed by a stroll down the flag be-decked main street.

Back then to the coach and off to Murten. A quick spot of lunch and then a little walking tour, highlights of which are a view of the lake, the story of the failed siege of the town that finished off would-be invader Charles the Bold and then a walk along the ramparts (photo above) that his forces failed to take.

Now a change of plan and a visit to and tour of Chillon Castle where an enthusiastic local guide gave an irreverent account of the religious follies that made its history, with some reference to the “hippy” Lord Byron (who carved his name on one of the pillars). Bryon was one of the unwitting pioneers of Euro tourism and wrote a once famous poem about a prisoner in Chillon. The lakeside castle is also credited with having inspired Mary Shelly to write Frankenstein.

From Lake Geneva, we climb up to Villars (1400 metres) and the Hotel du Golf where we enjoy a very tasty (if not very large ) dinner and afterwards enjoy a bottle of Swiss beer in the bar (Le Green). Price note: 1 bottle of beer and 1 glass of wine cost SFR 8.20 (about 5.00 euro).