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Thursday, June 30, 2011

The "Holly leg" of the trip

Today's destination: Bern, Switzerland.   Since it is soooooo far away... we took a car from the hotel to the train station.  We met a smelly, but friendly world traveler who kindly informed us that we were headed on a train in the opposite direction of Bern.  Just fyi, Im calling this the "Holly leg" of the trip (which totally infuriates her, but I have been hands off letting her plan the Bern part of the trip since we are here for her conference).  Naturally she gets blamed for the "Holly leg" mistakes.  Back to the train ride:  we got off at the next stop and headed to the vending machine for breakfast (since we weren't sure when/if we would actually make it to Bern... and walking these mountains here really burns the calories and causes us to feel famished).   Suddenly we were surround by armed military... not quite sure what was going on but we definitely hopped the next train out of there and into Bern... and yes... we made it.  We walked around the streets and visited the markets.  We saw the bears of Bern, which is a zoo-type enclosure of bears, since they are the symbol of the city.  Then we headed to the airport because our mission for the day was to get a rental car since we have a 6 am flight and our hotel is so far away.  We arrived to the car rental area just as the guy set up his sign and booked it out of there... before we could even stop him.  We pleaded with the airport workers and they agreed to rent us a car... even though Holly didnt have her passport.  However they wanted to put a $1200 franc hold on our credit card in case of damages.  First... we are grad students... second... what the heck is that????? What happened to a $200 deposit.  We decided that we couldnt part with a $1200franc hold on a credit card and after a small airport meltdown from Holly.. we went out front.  I suggested that we hire a cabbie for the day, until we left in the morning.  I thought Holly might pummel me.  Her response was... "You knew we could do this all along... you made me struggle".  Hahaha.  It was just an idea... an idea that worked.  Now we have a personal driver for the remainder of our trip.  He is kind, patient, and even follows our directions to drive down really small, windy roads that are definitely not made for cars.  He questions us when we tell him to drive the wrong way up one way streets and laughs, thinks about it, and then finds a safer route.  He even reminded Holly that we need to get some sleep tonight and suggested that we set an earlier bedtime than my nocturnal travel partner had previously suggested.  He is great. We are now at the poster presentation... yes we made it... slightly wrinkled... no blow dryer at the hotel because Holly burned it up (that is hair dryer #2 that Holly killed) but we have the poster and we were on time.  Holly is doing great, despite her anxiety at the start.  Her poster looks as professional as she does.  She is meeting psychologists from all over the world and talking to them about her research.  Another amazing day in Switzerland.   The "Holly leg" has been perfectly imperfect.  "Do not go where the path may lead, go instead where there is no path and leave a trail"-Ralph Waldo Emerson

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