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Alpine Holiday

Editor's Note: Joyce Main lives in Toronto, Ontario, and has three children and four grandchildren. She is President of Guide Dog Users of Canada and actively lobbies for equality rights for persons who are blind, deaf-blind and partially sighted.

I arrived in Zurich, Switzerland, a little tired and eagerly anticipating a reunion with my daughter, Elsa, who had left Canada to work in Europe almost 20 years ago. After being escorted through customs and baggage area by a courteous Agent, I heard Elsa's voice calling me. I was introduced to her employer, Herr Kanel, and then we were on our way!

We stopped at a lovely park outside Zurich, where Raquel had a run and we enjoyed coffee and pastry. Herr Kanel and Elsa described the countryside as we drove through villages, towns and the city of Interlaken, just five miles from Bonigen, where Elsa lives. It is a typical Swiss village on Lake Bienz in the Interlaken-Jungfrau region, known throughout the world for its hospitality and skiing.

The two weeks that followed were wonderful! Every day before we walked by the lake, Elsa picked up her landlady's two dogs. Lake Brienz is calm and very beautiful, and Raquel and her companions swam in the lake and could even drink the water!

One Sunday we took the ferry around the lake. We had lunch onboard and stopped at the Geisback waterfalls, which are located higher in the Alps. Another day we took the cable car to the first plateau above the valley, enjoyed a Swiss meal at the restaurant and hiked the trails. On the way back to Bonigen, we hiked to an animal refuge located just above the village.

During the last week in September, cattle are brought down from the mountains and new cheese is made. I enjoyed a traditional meal with new friends and was given some cheese and gifts.

Everyone we met on our trip was friendly and helpful. They loved Raquel and were very well informed about guide dogs. My Guiding Eyes For the Blind Training Centre identification was accepted in lieu of fares on all public transit. Best of all, we were welcomed everywhere we travelled.

In Switzerland, the attitude towards blind persons is unique. We are tourists and paying guests--NOT STEREOTYPES. AND ISN'T THAT WHAT WE WANT--EVERYWHERE WE GO?

You can find out more about this beautiful country by visiting www.myswitzerland.com on the net. I recently sent one of AEBC's members some information about Bonigen, and I can give you specific information about the hotel and JungFrau region if you email me at: Raquel3@rogers.com

"Gruezi!" HAVE A WONDERFUL DAY!

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