The morning we left Amsterdam to go to Zürich is the day I should not have worn my money belt around my waist, because that’s when I got frisked at the airport. I had gotten used to strapping the belt on every morning. When the lady who worked at the airport started patting me down is when I realized the money belt that held my passport and credit cards was triggering this activity. “Next time, don’t wear that when going through security,” she politely said. Whoops! 🙂 Before leaving on our trip to Europe, I read a few articles about the pickpockets, which is why I was careful about wearing the money belt. For that reason and the reason that a friend of mine had her purse and passport stolen when she was in Italy. It’s a big mess to go through when losing a passport. I wanted to make sure that didn’t happen to me.
After the frisk, we boarded our flight on KLM Airlines. The flight attendants wear white blouses, light blue blazers and skirts with a matching pill hat balanced on top of their heads. It seemed as if they were coming out of a decade we’d already lived through, but it was nice to see! Plus, they gave us little chicken sandwiches in a white and Dutch blue paper box covered with pictures of old-fashioned windmills. It was the simplest of meals, but left quite an impression.
When we arrived, there was a different feeling from what we experienced in Amsterdam. Zürich seemed to be a bit more serious, quiet, and less crowded. We found the office of the train station, and the lady there pointed us to the train tunnel. This is where I started to feel a little anxious. What were we thinking? Could we really navigate our way through Switzerland by ourselves via train? What if we ended up on the wrong train? But all went well. The lady at the train station handed us a train schedule and told us about the SBB Mobile app. The app has the timetables and has the ability to purchase tickets. We didn’t have to worry about buying tickets since we purchased them before we left for our trip.
The tunnel wasn’t very crowded, and since I didn’t have the app loaded on my phone yet, I asked one of the train workers if the trains have numbers (like the bus I take at home). He said, “No, it all works by timetable.” In true Swiss fashion, each train has a spot on the car where it indicates its destination. All the trains ran on time, just as you would expect when traveling in Switzerland, the clockmakers of the world. There was no need to be nervous about numbers on trains. To be sure though, we asked fellow travelers if the train was going to Bern. 🙂
We noticed a lot of graffiti on walls and under bridges as we travelled to Bern, which I didn’t expect to see. I also saw billboards or signs for Electrolux vacuum cleaners and Elna sewing machines – things my dad bought when I was younger. After we got off the train in Bern and were trying to figure out where to go next, a lady walked up to me and asked for directions in English! I thought I must look like I belonged there but told her we were trying to figure out the same thing. We ended up following everyone else and found our way to the restrooms and some restaurants. Luckily, we bought the best chocolate, chocolate chip muffin I’ve ever eaten. Back to the tracks, we found our next train, which was going to Interlaken.
The scenery improved more and more as we traveled along and left the big city of Bern. When we got to a valley by a lake and mountains surrounded us, I knew we were in Interlaken. The beauty of it all took my breath away! So much so, that I did not take pictures at that time. After a few more minutes of train travel, we were at the train station in Interlaken and took a cab to our hotel.
We stayed at the Hotel Bellevue, which has been in business since 1801 and is located on the River Aare. Above are pictures of the outside of the hotel and an adjacent restaurant, reception area, headboard on bed (thought it was cute!), updated bathroom with clear shower doors, and view from our hotel. Carla, at reception, told us “people around here like to watch the parasailers jump off the mountain and try to land in Hohematte Park,” a short walk away. After checking in, we leisurely walked around town where we found a beautiful church, the park, the spot to go to buy a wristwatch – there were many watch shops there – and more beautiful architecture. Even though we enjoyed our short stay in the Netherlands, it was nice to be away from the Hectically Moving Crowds and busyness of Amsterdam.
Fancy Hotel, Where we Did Not Stay
We ended up having dinner at the restaurant next door to our hotel – Goldener Anker (Golden Egg) – which Carla recommended. Our waitress brought us a little basket of bread. We both had a dinner salad which came with finely-shredded beets and carrots. I had chicken schnitzel. In case you don’t know, schnitzel means the meat is tenderized and pounded thin and covered in flour, beaten eggs, and bread crumbs. Instead of bread crumbs though, mine was covered in coconut flakes and came with a mustard sauce. My husband had fresh perch with a rice medley. The atmosphere was relaxed with hushed conversations and soft American rock music in the background. The staff was very accommodating and the food was delicious.
The reason we travelled to Switzerland was to see where my grandpa grew up. My dad received many postcards that were sent to him from his cousin, John, who traveled there many times. John encouraged my dad to visit, but Dad did not like to travel by airplane and never went. Those postcards, the picture calendars Grandpa received from his hometown, and Grandpa’s stories made me want to visit my ancestral home. Knowing we could get to Grandpa’s birthplace by train the next day made me excited for our next adventure.
Next stop: Ringgenberg and Brienz, with more mountain pictures to come.