Apr. 8th, 2010

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Today was another very busy day.  We set off from Lausanne after breakfast and headed off to the Gruyère region, where we visited a cheese factory.  It was interesting to see what's involved in making the cheese, and we also then had the opportunity to taste some of it in the shop and it was delicious! 

After the cheese factory we headed to the medieval town of Gruyères, which was beautiful.  We had quite a while to walk around there, and so we explored the little streets and walked around the outside of the castle.  There is a museum there of models from the Alien films, which seems a very random location if you ask me!  Of course, I haven't seen the films but I would still have gone in except you had to pay so I decided against it.  We had a look around a couple of little gift shops but Flo had told us that when we're in Lucerne tomorrow we'll have time to hit the shops and that's a good place to buy souvenirs, so we've decided we'll do it then.

After leaving Gruyères our next stop was Bern, the capital of Switzerland.  It's a small city and it's not bad, but it's not particularly colourful and so I didn't like it as much as some of the other places that we'd visited.  Probably if we'd gone there first, I'd have enjoyed it a bit more, but it just sort of paled in comparison really.  We did have a lovely lunch though.  We were brave and picked something off the menu without really knowing for certain just what it was, and it was a delicious chicken thing with a wonderful side salad.  Gorgeous stuff! 

Two of the people on our trip are called Patrick and Patrick's grandmother (she's actually called Janet but I didn't find this out until we were leaving the hotel on Saturday morning to head to the airport - if anyone else did know her name they never let on because she was always just referred to as Patrick's grandmother).  Anyway, while we were in Bern, Patrick's grandmother decided to pop into a bank to find out what sort of interest rate she could get if she desposited $10,000 into a Swiss bank account.  She explained to the cashier what she wanted, and the cashier said she'd have to speak to her boss about this and then showed them into a small room to wait for a while.  After a while, this woman came back and double checked the amount that Patrick's grandmother was wishing to deposit.  When she confirmed that it was $10,000 she shook her head and apologised but explained that unfortunately, the minimum deposit for opening an account at that particular bank would be $1,000,000!!!  WTF?  That's just mental!  Still, it gave us all a laugh when she told us!

After leaving the centre of Bern we headed to the bear park, which is beside the river.  I don't like seeing animals in captivity but the enclosures that the bears are in now are much better than the ones they were in not too long ago.  Those ones were just little concrete pits and in the end so many people complained that they built a new enclosure which is much bigger and which gives them the chance to graze.  The two adult bears have now had babies - they were just so cute!  I still would prefer to see them in the wild, though.

From Bern we headed to Interlaken, which is another really pretty town.  We could just about make out the Jungfrau mountain through the clouds, but the views weren't anything like as good as the ones we had of the Matterhorn yesterday.  We found a nice little garden and sat and ate an ice cream (can you detect a theme from this holiday btw?) before getting back onto the coach and heading towards Lucerne, via the Brunnig Pass.  We didn't stop here because the weather was a bit murky and the scenery wasn't as stunning as on the other passes that we've gone through. 

Our hotel in Lucerne is nice, although I'm surprised that it has four stars because it's quite basic.  Mum unpacked and then we went to find the bar.  The receptionist directed us out of the lobby and along the pavement and then back in through another door into the hotel's bar, and when we got in we were confused to see that the American family who'd been in reception at the same time as us had already made it into the bar.  It turns out that there was a secret door at the end of the corridor opposite the lifts, which we hadn't spotted and for some reason the receptionist failed to mention to us.  Most bizarre.  We found Glenys and George in the bar and had a drink with them, and then it was time to get ready for another evening trip.

This one was to a nearby restaurant, where they do traditional Swiss food, music and singing.  We'd done something similar in Austria when we went there on a walking holiday and we'd had a load of fun, so we had high hopes for this evening.  And we weren't disappointed.  We were on a table with Sue and Dick from Wales and another Sue and Barry (a couple from Australia), and we had so much fun.  We started off with proper cheese fondue, which I'd never had before and which was delicious, followed by a salad and then some veal in a sauce with potato rosti, followed by ice cream, all washed down by a beer or three.  And the entertainment was excellent - there was singing and music and yodelling, and a pantomime cow thing and they even got people from the audience up on the stage at various times.  It really was a cracking night out!

We decided against having any more drinks in the bar when we got back - unfortunately we have yet another early start tomorrow...

Some photos from today )

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