A Journalist to the Swiss Alps, Zurich and Bern Gets Beautiful Local Swiss Tour Guides, With One Notable Exception
They kept appearing like angels falling from the sky, each new one as beautiful as the previous starlet.
The street parade is in August but this was a parade all right – a parade of beautiful women.
I was on a press trip to Switzerland for PubClub.com and I am referring to all the girls from the various Swiss tourism boards that were assigned to show us journalists around their specific areas. It started in Saas-Fee, a true Swiss village in the Swiss Alps (snowboarders love the place). We were greeted by not one, but two, beautiful girls from Tourism Saas-Fee and when the next day rolled around to go skiing, a third presented herself in the hotel lobby. Nice!
We skied together and during lunch at the skyview restaurant at the top of the mountain, I was sure to position myself among them all. While they did not accompany me to the Apres bar or join me as I downed a few in Nestie’s Skibar (my favorite Saas-Fee watering hole), I did meet a beautiful local named Estelle which further endeared me to the country’s treasures.
Too soon, it seemed, we were on our way to the next stop, Lenk. While billed as mostly a family resort, I found the place quite pleasing as a PubClubber. The Apres bar is – and I’m not kidding – a teepee! Well who the heck couldn’t just love THAT!? It just goes to show that when traveling, there’s fun things to be found just about anywhere if you just look around a bit.
After a few spirited koffee drinks, I returned to the plush Lenkerhof hotel to meet up with up our new tour guide. Ladies and gentlemen, meet Denise, a petite brunette so adorable I immediately had the urge to lift her up in my arms and inquire about the whereabouts of the nearest chapel.
I instead took a handshake and the rest of the trip played the part of the helpless American unable to grasp the concept of something called a T-bar. This required that Denise be by my side at all times.
Alas, after two wonderful days I had to leave Denise and the others behind, as I now journeyed solo to the capitol city of Bern and then onto the dynamic and exotic-sounding Zurich. In each, local tour guides had been arranged to show me the cities.
A press packet was waiting for me at the Bern hotel and attached to it was the card of a Tourism Bern representative. The card had a picture of the person and once again, it was a very attractive girl. This is unbelievable, I thought!
I was not due to meet her for an hour, so I did a quick walk around the town (it’s pretty small), though I was too excited thinking about the ravishing beauty that would soon be in my company to notice much of anything. I returned to the lobby a few minutes early and the hotel clerk said he thought that the short, somewhat elderly lady in the corner was there to meet me.
“No, that can’t be,” I said, pulling out the business card with the attractive girl’s picture. “I’m supposed to be meeting a beautiful blonde…”
I was interrupted by the little older lady (about 4-feet-nothing, mid-50s and carrying a pointing stick) who announced that it would be she – and not the lovely Swiss Miss on the card – that would be showing me the city.
The disappointment in my face must have been quite obvious because the hotel clerk gave me a little “I don’t know” shrug as we exited.
Now let it be stated, I was very grateful to be on this trip and especially thankful to Tourism Switzerland for arranging personal guided tours to their cities. It sure makes it easier to write about a place when someone who knows the area can point out things and talk about the culture and history of a destination.
It’s just that this little ol’ lady apparently failed to notice the cocktail glass on my card and the fact that she was taking around PubClub.com, not BoringUselessHistoricalFactsOfBern.com. She pointed out where churches stood back in the 13th century, talked a lot about children and spent a good 15 minutes describing every aspect of a fountain that featured a statue of an adolescent male. “Look at the little boy,” she kept saying. “Look at the little boy!”
We walked over a tall bridge and when she told me the river is so clean you can actually swim in it, I was tempted to jump over the side and personally see if it were true (I was later assured by others it is, by the way). The Bern Lady, as I began to call her (to myself) was less of a tour guide than a schoolmaster who reminded me of Ms. Smith, my fifth-grade teacher. Ms. Smith would throw erasers at us when we were not paying attention. Which, in the case of Ms. Smith’s class, was frequent.
The Bern Lady did not have erasers so she used her stick to tap objects to keep me in line and my mind from wandering. She even made climbing to the top of the Clock Tower, which provided me with a commanding view over the city, an agonizing experience. She explained in painful detail exactly how the clock worked and then began to quiz me on what she had said, throwing in a few whacks on its mechanisms for effect.
This went on and on and on, my only saving grace being that she pointed to a building we passed and said “that’s where the other person is taking you to dinner tonite.” Another person!? You mean someone else was taking me to dinner!? By this time, I had forgotten all about the girl on the business card. I didn’t care if the entire Swiss National Hockey Team showed up, at least I would be rid of The Bern Lady.
We waited for my dinner companion beneath the Clock Tower and The Bern Lady confessed she had not met her replacement. I did learn it was a girl, someone relatively new to Bern Tourism.
Suddenly – and right on time, of course, for this is Switzerland and everything happens right on time – she appeared. To say this girl was a looker would not be doing her the least bit of justice. Tall and thin with shoulder-length blonde hair and wearing a stylish button-down coat, she looked as if she had just stepped off a fashion runway. My eyes became wider than than a Saas-Fee ski run. I began to hear violins playing.
She stuck out her hand and introduced herself as Flurina. Flurina, what interesting names the Swiss have, I thought to myself. Well, actually what I was really thinking was let’s get out of here, have a couple of drinks, engage in some idle chit-chat and then start making plans for her to come back to California with me.
“Well,” I heard a familiar voice say, “I guess you’re in good hands now.” It was The Bern Lady; in less than 30 seconds I had forgotten all about her!
But I did thank her for her services, then put out my arm to Flurina and together we walked to the restaurant.
She – or someone – had chosen a beautiful place for dinner. It was elegant, quiet and softly lit. I chose the most secluded table I could find and spent the time trying to comprehend my sudden change of fortunes. A mere hour earlier I was seriously considering leaping headfirst off a bridge and now I was in a romantic restaurant with a young and sophisticated goddess, her hair shining and eyes sparkling with each flicker of the candle’s flame.
Actually, I could be slightly overstating Flurina’s true attractiveness. The dramatic night-and-day contrast between her and The Bern Lady was so stark that were I to have encountered Flurina in, say, a bar, I may have merely considered her attractive rather than so magnificently breathtaking. In another situation, she would be equal, and not superior, to Estelle, Denise or any of the Saas-Fee girls.
I’m not sure what we talked about but I wanted it to last as long as humanly possible. I did ask her to join me as I set out to explore the bars but Flurina sidestepped this by saying she was going to visit someone in another town that night (darn lucky dude, I thought, though it could also have been a friend or family member).
So I set about the town alone, initially walking around in kind of a post-Flurina daze. And, in a bit of irony, a place The Bern Lady pointed out called Lorenzini turned out to be one of the city’s best hang-out bars.
My final stop was Zurich. I had spent a fun night there at the start of the trip, so I knew a bit about Old Town already. As I was in the hotel elevator to meet my guide (by name I knew it would be a woman), I kept saying “please don’t be the Zurich version of The Bern Lady. Please don’t be a Zurich version of the Bern Lady!”
Well, standing there was a lovely Swiss gal, well dressed and wearing those cool Euro eyeglasses. She was much more Flurina than The Bern Lady and showed me all around different and interesting parts of Zurich.
She was another Swiss babe in a trip of Swiss babes. Except, of course, for one.