Potential tour guests sometimes ask me what they can expect in Europe, especially if it is their first trip coming from America. I’ve been traveling to Europe since 1973. I feel very comfortable there so it takes some effort for me to imagine what it would be like if I were coming for the first time but, I’ll try.
Unless you get off the airplane at a gateway city such as Amsterdam or Munich your first on the ground exposure will probably be the Zurich, Geneva or Bern airport. English is readily spoken. These airports are not much different from similar sized airports here in the states.
There are various ways to get from the airport to Thun. If you land in Zurich or Geneva you will likely take the train to Thun. I provide some detailed info on how to take the train from Zurich. If you land in Bern you will either be picked up by the motorcycle shop or take a taxi. Either way the ride to Thun takes approx. a 20 – 25 minute. In Switzerland the highway is filled with BMW’s, Audi’s, VW’s, Mercedes, plus occasional American cars and minivans. The countryside is mostly hilly farmland surrounded by mountains with the occasional cluster of industrial buildings, homes, or apartments along the way.
Thun is a vibrant modern city with a mixture of new and old architecture. In the old section of the city you’ll find the European Alpine architecture that you would expect with lots of outdoor cafes, small shops and the occasional department type store.
Once outside the city, be it in Switzerland, France, Austria or Italy, you’ll find it familiar and exotic at the same time. The countryside is gorgeous and loaded with the kinds of Alpine and Tyrolean buildings you’d expect. There are nicely manicured farms within the mountains everywhere you go. Most hotel and restaurant personnel speak English. So while you may not recognize what’s on the menu the server will be able to explain it to you.
The gas pumps work they way they do in the states. You just pay much more for it. The roads in the mountains are generally narrow but well paved and well maintained.
The people in all the countries we travel to are nice to Americans. While they may not agree with American governmental policy Europeans are courteous to Americans and usually just as curious to talk to us as we are to find out about them. Most of the areas we travel in rely on tourism for their livelihood so that alone assures us of a warm welcome.
I have never knowingly been mistreated or felt put out. I enjoy the Alpine region very much. Europeans seem to have a better sense of balance between work and play than Americans do. I could very easily live in the Alps year round.