>Day 3: Out of Reverse

>What a difference a cool room can make! We did much better on the sleeping at the Hotel Cornavin. It was right next to the train station, so we checked out, wheeled our luggage across the street and got the train to the airport to pick up our rental car. The train ride took about 7 minutes to the airport, the only stop on the line. Had we known how easy it was (and if we thought we’d have been able to locate our original hotel easily), it would have been much better to have taken the train originally.

We picked up some baked goods at a supermarket at the airport (why don’t we have options like that back home), and then picked up the car. We had chosen a Mercedes A100 class car, but found that the “or similar model” got us a Renault Scenic 1.4. It’s fine for our purposes, and had a trunk large enough to hold both of our suitcases.

We had bought a Garmin Nuvi 275t recently because we needed a GPS for the kids car, but wanted one that had European maps before. In prior driving vacations, we had frequently had problems finding our hotels in city centers, since maps often don’t give that detail. So we plugged the GPS in, put in our hotel in Bern and away we went.

Beautiful drive between Geneva and Bern. We decided to stop around lunch in Fribourg. We parked near the church in the centre city. It was then that I realized that I hadn’t quite figured out how to get the car in reverse. Most sticks it just requires pushing hard to the left, sometimes pushing down and to the left. This was no longer an idle curiosity, as I had parked in a space leaning downhill and directly behind another car. We took the manual out of the car, but it didn’t seem that either the French or the German explained anything about reverse. Ellen was worried, but I was sure it would work itself out. Just wasn’t sure how.

We took a quick walk through the church, then walked through the town. Since it was Sunday, not much was open. We found a creperie that was open, and enjoyed a pleasant lunch outside. Going back to the car, Ellen decided it might be better if she wasn’t it while I figured out exactly how to get the car in reverse. This was a good decision for all parties involved. First hope going back to the car was that the car in front had moved. It hadn’t. Playing with the gears awhile, it was clear that pushing left or pushing down then left still left the car in 1st gear. So there must be something else that does it. Careful examination brought my eyes to a black ring just below the gear shift knob. I found that pulling that knob up was the secret to moving the gearshift over to find reverse. Then hard on the gas while letting go of the clutch allowed me to back up uphill and get out of the space. When I pulled around the church to pick up Ellen, the first thing she did was look for damage on the front bumper. Psych!, there wasn’t any!

We drove about ½ an hour to Bern. The GPS got a little confused with the small narrow streets when we approached the city centre, but driving in circles soon allowed us to drive through the square to the hotel street. It was a familiar feeling to not be sure if you were allowed to be driving in mainly pedestrian areas, but the GPS soon showed the finish flag and we pulled up. We are staying at the Hotel Savoy, just a block off the main square. We have a nice air conditioned room, and well, we’ve learned that that is all that really counts.

We soon headed out on a Rick Steves walking tour of the city. Bern is the capitol of Switzerland, so I was glad the tour included the parliament building. With any luck tomorrow, we’ll take a tour. Here’s me in front of the parliament building.

We saw the normal churches, towers, clocks and fountains of European cities. We also say the apartment house Einstein stayed in for two years. Bern is bear in German, and Ellen wanted to see the official Bern bears. We walked across the river just 15 minutes before their den closed and saw the dad bear who was beating on the door of his cage, unaware that the bear union had committed him to be on display until 5pm. Mom and 2 baby bears were on the other side of a fence, probably because of dad’s temper.

Having been here 3 days now, we had adjusted enough that we were ready to start drinking again. So we had an afternoon cafe drink, that we love to have while in Europe. Why don’t we do that in the US? I’d love to sit on a square in the sun for ½ an hour and have a beer every day!

We then walked back to the hotel, looking for a restaurant recommendation. Many restaurants in Bern are closed on Sunday. We got several recommendations from our hotelier, which was a good thing because the one she recommended most was closed on holiday for the weekend. So we dined outside at the restaurant of Hotel Bern instead. We had been told they specialized in traditional Swiss dishes. We both had veal, mine breaded and Ellen’s in sauce. Both were delicious. Include a ½ litre of wine and chocolate mouse for dessert, and we were happy.

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