Day 8
June 7, 2000


Today we visited Fribourg and the nearby Cistercian Abbey. Our trip began as we climbed from our apartment to the Spiez rail station to catch the 10:02 train headed for Bern. When the train pulled into Bern at 10:34 we headed for the 10:47 headed for Fribourg. We arrived there at 11:08.

After walking the short distance to the Information office to get a map we headed for the St. Nicholas Cathedral. The route took us down Avenue de la Gare which turned into Rue de Romont which took us to Place Georges-Python. On the other side of this intersection the street name changed to Rue de Lausanne.

Before we made it to the cathedral we encountered a shoe store where Geri bought a pair of walking shoes. Not far from the shoe store we spotted the "Touring Restaurant" that for some reason drew us in. We had a wonderful lunch that started with a bowl of soup involving carrots. Next came a small salad. Then the main dish with a generous portion of beef, potatoes and broccoli. Finally we received a delicious desert with strawberries on the bottom topped with a scoop of orange sherbet another scoop of a lemony sherbet and a generous squirt of whipped cream. It was the lunch of the day for 15 Swiss Francs (about $9.00).

After lunch we finished the trip to the wonderful old Cathedral. We didn't spend much time there since we had to be back at the train station (la gare) at 1:43 to meet four other Untourists and Vincent, our Untour guide du jour, for a visit to the Cistercian abbey.

We boarded a city bus and departed the train/bus station at 2. After a 10-minute ride and a 15-minute walk we arrived at the Cistercian abbey. A monk by the name of Michael guided us through the abbey. He spoke in German (I think) while Vincent translated. The monks at the abbey can speak only 30 minutes a day. They get up at 4 AM, but don't eat breakfast until about 8. Religious activities occupy their time between 4 and 8.

The abbey was begun in 1112. Thirty monks live here in almost total seclusion and submit themselves to the strict rules of the order's founder, St. Bernard of Clairvaux. They live of absolute poverty and strict silence. The monks and novices range in age from 25-78 years. They do all of their own sewing of habits, gardening, cleaning, cooking, etc. Their day consists of prayer, study, work, eating and 30 minutes each day for talking and recreation.

We walked back to the bus stop, caught the bus after a short wait and arrived at the train station after the 10-minute ride. At 5:16 we left Fribourg for Bern arriving at 5:38. We left Bern at 5:57 and arrived back in Spiez at 6:19 PM. We hotfooted it to the Migros grocery store but arrived a couple of minutes too late. The store is open 8-6:30 Mon-Thur, 8 am - 9 PM on Friday, 8-4 on Sat and is closed on Sunday. These hours are hard for us to get used to.