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Greetings from Bern, Switzerland.

We are now safely in Bern and finally have our very own wifi connection.  The wifi card on my pda simply would not connect anywhere along the way.  This evening as we have a free wifi at our free hotel (along with free mini bar, yay), I was certain it would connect.  But it refused yet again.  So, I hooked the card up to Andrew's pda, and it connected right away but wouldn't resolve the internet properly.  Then the wifi card failed entirely in his pda, too.  So, I put the card back in my pda, and it connected right away and worked perfectly to download all our emails, both of our accounts.  I hope it connects again to send this.  I hope all the problems with the wifi are finished now and that we'll have no problems henceforth.

Merry Christmas.  Tomorrow it is Christmas here for us at Bern.  For some of you it is already Christmas.  For others, you'll have Christmas six to nine hours after ours begins.  Anyway, have a great day with your family and loved ones as we enjoy our time together here.  We love and miss you all and wish you a wonderful day.

Today we got into the Alps, and the weather was wonderful.  Finally, after two of my previous visits into the Alps and seeing not much, we could see every peak all around us.  It is impressive, very pretty.  We hiked a couple of kilometers on the Schiltalp, from Almendubal down to Murren.  We then enjoyed a hot chocolate sitting outside a cafe in Murren and ate a chocolate muffin, enjoying the amazing views.  (We were the only ones eating outside, everyone else was inside enjoying the warmth.)  It was a warmish day compared to others we have had at 6 deg C (about 43 F).  The HIGH in Amsterdam when we left two days ago was -2 C (about 28 F).  I think we are getting used to the cold.  I didn't even wear my jacket all day, it was too hot for me.  I did wear my sweater and gloves and scarf, though the sweater was usually unzipped.

Saturday we'll head west into France, stopping at the chocolate factory near Fribourg, stopping at Geneva and maybe a quick trip to the south side of Lake Geneva.  Lyon is our stop for Saturday and Sunday nights.  Oh, you have our itinerary, so you already know all this, sorry.

Luzern was very nice yesterday, though it was an extremely fast tour of that cute small town.  Our hosts invited us to a "nice restaurant" up on Mount Pilatus, and this after we had asked if there was a CHEAP (inexpensive) place for the two of us to eat dinner.  We didn't know customs and wondered if that meant they would pay, especially after we found out that we would have to pay ten Francs each (about $9.50 US) just to ride the cable car up to the restaurant.  The dinner prices, as expected, were considerably higher than we wanted.  After we finished dinner, we sat for quite a long while, wondering if we were supposed to say something or do something to indicate that we were ready to be finished with dinner and were ready to go.  Finally, Andrew signalled for the check.  When the bill finally came, they asked us if 50/50 was okay with us (meaning we would pay half the bill).  By then I was so tired and sore from sitting with no seat back and from driving most of the day and walking and everything, that we agreed.  This was the most either of us ever have paid for a dinner.  So much for the "cheap" dinner we had wanted.  It's okay, though, it was a nice experience.  We got to try three foods that were on my list to try for Switzerland -- Rosti, Raclette, and Rivella (look them up on the internet to find out what they are).  We enjoyed the company, as well.  Also, it completed one of the things we wanted to do in Switzerland, namely ride up Mout Pilatus and see the view from there, although we had wanted to see it during the daylight.  It cost less for the dinner and cable car this way than it would have cost us to get to the very top (the restaurant is not quite at the top).

  The tour through the Rhine area was nice, as well, back on Tuesday.  We toured a castle that was very interesting, the Marsburg Castle (Google it for info if you like), and we rode a ferry across the Rhine River twice, so that we could tour Boppard town's church and square and Roman Ruins.  Before we even drove down into the Rhine River, the first thing we did in the morning, we walked into a large fortress that overlooks the town of Koblenz, and got a magnificent view of the river and town.  That night, then, we walked through the town of Koblenz and enjoyed their Christmas Market.

All in all, this is a great trip so far, and we are not even quite yet one week into our 2.5 week tour.  It is great.  Today was my favorite day, being able to finally walk through the Alps when I can actually see them.

Please feel free to write to either of us.  We would enjoy hearing from you, especially how your Christmas is.



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