Eventually, I hope someone will get a chance to read these posts from Europe. I’ve had a frustrating time getting decent wi-fi signal to work on webpages or post photos. With each day, I keep hoping the situation will improve. I know this is frustrating for parents, family, and friends wanting to read about the daily adventures of this group of hardy travelers.
Thursday started with our walk across the street to the train station and we boarded our train for Bern, Switzerland. We had a “regional” train to Basel where we needed to switch trains. The first train was a “hop on with pass” train meaning the seats could not be reserved. No problem because with the Eurail passes being first class, there’s generally more room in that section than the rest of the train because riders don’t worry about going “first class” for such a short run. I don’t think there’s much of a difference between first and second…but the boys like the idea that they’re in first class. In Basel we were to take a train where we had reservations but no actual seat numbers. I was told by my booking agent to either listen for a PA announcement or look for a sign posted in a window with our group’s name on it. I knew I would never hear any such announcement so it was a relief to find our name (MindStretch Travel Adventures) actually posted in a couple of windows. The kids loved this train because our car had plenty of room to stretch out, play games, sleep. And there was a food car, however only a small handful took advantage of it. The total riding time was under two hours and we arrived in Bern right on schedule.
The next adventure is always finding our lodging and even with a map this usually proves to be a challenge. It wasn’t too bad this time and the “ten minute” walk was only about a 25 minute walk and soon we made it to our abode for the next two nights – an Hostelling International Association hostel. I explained to the kids what hostels were and that it was NO hotel. We arrived prior to check-in time but were able to store our packs in a workroom so that we could go out an explore the city and find lunch. We enjoyed an afternoon of eating, shopping, site-seeing, playing in a fountain (at the national capital building), and just relaxing a bit.
We returned to our hostel to check in. They were ready for us. Now, I had explained to the boys about what a hostel might be like…but perhaps you don’t know. It’s not like any other lodging experience most people have ever encountered. We had a dorm room with bunk beds for our entire group. (To confess, I had a different room but that’s a different story). The hostel provided us with bed linens (bottom sheet, top sheet, pillow case) and a towel. Now to watch 17 boys make beds was quite a show. It was apparent some didn’t have a clue and others were experts. Boys and leaders weren’t quite sure what to expect of this new lodging option. (We’re staying in a hostel only because there were no hotel rooms in the city during our exact stay because of a bike race coming through. The leaders and I agreed months ago to take the hostel instead of passing up our chance to go to Grindewald the next day.)
This hostel is also packed and most of the travelers are school kids between the ages of 10 and 16. They’re all on school trips. Their schools aren’t out for three weeks yet, so this is apparent an end-of-the-year experience for them. And maybe you can imagine the noise level this many kids can make. Our boys engaged in spirited play with some of the other travels, mostly boys from Switzerland.
Dinner was buffet style with seconds and thirds being offered. Not to bore you, but it consisted of pasta with meat sauce, bread, green salad, soup, apple sauce, and dessert.
The rest of the evening was spent taking showers, washing clothes, having more spirited play with the other travelers, a discussion about the spirited play with the other travelers. Let’s just say it was getting a little too spirited. And finally, we ended with a slow-down, calm down story told by yours truly.
And that was our first day in Switzerland.