Zermatt to Bern

While Dad was showering and dressing, Ron used the tablet to go online briefly.  He noticed that the battery power was down to less than 70%.  So he plugged it in through the converter to recharge.  This was the terrific converter we had found at RadioShack at home, with amperage up to 65 and easily strong enough for all of our electronics.  We had used it successfully several times earlier in the trip.  We’re not sure what happened this time, but sometime shortly thereafter the screen went totally black.  We each tried to find a hidden button that had somehow turned off the screen.  No luck.  We each tried cold-booting it.  No luck.  What made this potentially heartbreaking was that Ron had erased the images on the camera after transferring them the night before.  All of those gorgeous picture-perfect-day mountain photos …. lost.

Last summer on vacation in the Rocky Mountains, the camera’s disc failed.  Berry Camera was later able to retrieve the images.  And of course, our main PC had once crashed.  Best Buy was able to retrieve its documents.  So I was reasonably sure that someone at home would have the technical tools to retrieve our photos, but it could be a week or longer before we knew for sure.  At breakfast, Ron was understandably crestfallen.  This was our morning to leave Zermatt and head for Bern.  We would be leaving with once-in-a-lifetime memories, but no photos.

I was pretty sure that our best chance of photo recovery would require not using that camera disc for the rest of our trip, due to the risk of overwriting content.  We had trouble in the US finding a suitable disc while in the Rockies ~ and resorted to using our little camera as a result.  So I had no real hope that we could find a replacement disc in Zermatt (or even Bern, due to the upcoming holiday).  But I did remember seeing a digital photo print service on the plaza by the train station.  So, after checking out of our room at Hotel Butterfly, Dad and I went to get a cart for our luggage, while Ron went to the photo shop.

He came with news in minutes.  The good news was that a little electronics shop in the neighborhood would likely have a replacement disc.  The great news was that the photo shop had software to retrieve the “deleted” images from the camera and had time to run it today.  The bad news was that it would take 2-3 hours.  So we would have to “bum around” Zermatt while we waited.

At that point, I really didn’t care how long it took or how much it cost.  It would be worth it to rescue the trip for Ron.  And Dad agreed, without hesitation.  In fact, while Ron went back to the photo shop to start the recovery, Dad suggested that we send Ron back to the Gornergrat for new photos, just in case.  He even offered to pay half of the train fare.  What a thoughtful and generous idea!  I chose not to pursue this for two reasons.  The first is that it would be tough for Ron to go back with a much shorter timeframe, given how long he clicked and hiked yesterday.  The second is that I was pretty sure he was dehydrated after being out in the sun for so long on Tuesday.

It was 10:30.  We agreed to do a little more shopping, then check in at the photo place by 12:30.  So we did just that, after stowing our luggage in lockers below the train station.

Ron found a reasonably priced pocket watch.  Dad and I each found a few more souvenirs.  Then we headed for the Katholische Kirche (Catholic Church), a little further along the Bahnhofstrasse than we had previously walked.  It was open, so we stepped into the entrance.  Literally as we opened the second/inner door, an organ note sounded … followed by another and another.   We were there listening for every note of “Air on a G String” by J.S. Bach.  We have the most amazing travel guardian angel!  That’s probably my favorite air by JSB.  And what a gift for Dad to serendipitously hear a tracker pipe organ in that little church, even with a few wrong notes as the organist continued to practice.  ❤

I remembered from Rick Steves’ travel book that there would be a sandwich shop across from the church.  Take-Away Wilde-Hilde is on the ground floor of the former home of Peter Taugwalder Sr and Jr, father and son who were mountain guides on the first successful Matterhorn ascent.  Perfect place for lunch.  The woman behind the counter was a little brusque and officious, but the prices were reasonable and the portions were double what we expected.

More photo ops after lunch.  A fun bronze sculpture outside the Matterhorn museum features marmots on one side and a mountain goat stag on the other.  Fun shots!

The (600+) photos had been retrieved by 12:30, but they were still burning the CD when we checked in.  They finished just in time for us to board the 13:40 train to Täsch ~and with much more upbeat demeanors than the day seemed to bode at first.

With just one brief routing on regional highway (80 kph) rather than autobahn (100 kph), our trip from Täsch to Bern was uneventful.  Well, uneventful as to road hazards, detours, and alternate routes.  We have renamed our GPS voice, at Dad’s initiative.  She’s no longer Siri.  She’s now Brunhilde.  Much more fitting! =D

Driving west to Martigny and then north through Montreux was its own treat.  We were now just a few kilometers from France.  The hillsides were filled with grape arbors.  The architecture was noticeably different, including barns that adjoin farmhouses.  Even the road signs changed from German (and Italian) to French until we reached Fribourg!

Bruny did a pretty good job of getting us to the bahnhofplatz in Bern.  And the hotel entrance photo from the internet did the rest in getting us to Hotel City am Bahnhof with minimal diversions.

The concierge volunteered that we could park for free at Hotel Ambassador, which she described as a 7-minute walk back.  So Dad waited in the lobby with some of our luggage, while Ron and I parked the car.

Thank goodness for Brunhilde.  I would not have found the other hotel without her.  And once I saw it, I recognized Hotel Ambassador as the four-star accommodation we had been offered (as an alternative with shower, rather than bathtub) and had declined ~ the one several km from the city center.  Oh dear.  Definitely too far to walk in hilly Bern while schlepping luggage after a long day.

Ron got directions, instructions, and tram tickets from the concierge at the Hotel Ambassador.  Not familiar with the tram system, the key instruction to insert our tickets for date/time stamp and punch in the machine on the platform before boarding didn’t click for us.  Halfway back, a stern and no-nonsense train attendant advised us that our tickets were unacceptable.  OH CRAP!  We could be fined 100 CHF (about $120 US) apiece for fraud.  I think she finally realized that our confusion was unfeigned.  She showed us which stop to exit ~ even exited with us and showed us how to use the ticket machine.  A Swiss angel after all.  ~CH~

Forty-five minutes after leaving Dad, we were back to the hotel lobby with another adventure to recount.  On our walk from the tram stop, I had spotted a Mexican/Spanish restaurant just around the corner from our hotel.  We all agreed that sounded good for supper, even if not authentic Swiss fare.  Well, it would have been good if they hadn’t been remodeling their kitchen!  =P  So we walked a long block to Papa Joe’s, which their host had suggested.  It seemed to be a Spanish/Mexican restaurant too, with much of the décor in English.  Maybe owned by an American expatriate?

Since it was already almost 20:00, we ordered menu items to share: nachos with “hot salsa” (temperature, not spiciness), vegetarian fajitas, and a small order of onion rings. Yummy and filling.

Room 205 at Hotel City am Bahnhof is spartan, but functional.  Not even any artwork on the walls.  It really is adjacent to the bahnhofplatz, with a great view of the train/bus/tram station and HeiligGeist Kirche (a modest size Catholic Church).  It’s a terrific location for what we had planned: a train ride to Interlaken.  A great location … unless the outside temperature is 10 degrees higher than normal, you have to leave both windows wide open to get any minimal relief, and you must therefore cope with the city lights, traffic noise, pedestrian voices, and cigarette/hashish smoke from the tram below all night … and unless it’s also the eve of the Swiss National Day (comparable to our July 4th), with unusually high pedestrian and bike traffic and loud fireworks set off randomly through the night!!!  =/

Dad was exhausted and handily won the “first asleep” award.  Ron had overeaten at supper, so was up later and not asleep until well after midnight.  I had taken two diphenhydramine tablets to ward off reaction to the urban pollution.  Even so, I think it was after 3:00 before I really fell asleep because of the heat.


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