Switzerland
Bern / Matte

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7 travelers at this place:

  • Day20

    Oct 9 - Bern

    October 9 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    We then headed towards Bern, working our way down through more little villages. The landscape gradually changed and became flatter. Cows don’t need two different lengths of legs here to be able to graze. As we drove, William gave us short synopses on Switzerland’s educational system, its economic status and its political system. Switzerland developed the International Baccalaureate high school graduation program that is recognized world-wide. And of course, Switzerland is renowned for its banking system and its secret bank accounts. Don’t think I have any accounts here…..

    Tonight we are staying in Bern which is the capital of Switzerland. Geneva was deemed to be too French and Zurich was deemed to be too German, so Bern was chosen as a compromise capital city. This is very similar to what happened in Australia where Melbourne and Sydney were both rejected in favour of the purpose-built capital city of Canberra. In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bern has a population of about 140,000. Many of the residents work in federal government type jobs. We drove into the city down embassy row - we waved at the Canadian Embassy.

    Before we got to the hotel, we made one stop - at a bear pit which houses several huge brown bears. “Why??”, you ask? Bern was founded by a nobleman who founded the city and who vowed to name it after the first animal that he encountered on the hunt, which turned out to be a bear. The bear became the heraldic symbol of the city in the 1200s and bears have been kept since the 1400s.

    The hotel we are staying at in Bern is the Hotel Bellevue which is the official guesthouse of the Swiss government. It is located right beside the Swiss Parliament Buildings. Its got a magnificent lounge with a spectacular ceiling (there are a lot of those in Europe) and superb views of the Bernese Alps – always a ‘belle vue’. It’s full of brocade drapes, velvet-covered chairs, polished bronze railings and elegant floral arrangements.

    Our room (alas for just one glorious night) is a suite - with a lovely desk with built-in USB ports, a sofa and an easy chair, a king sized bed (not just two single beds butted up to one another), a separate toilet room, double sinks in the bath/shower room, and a fabulous view of the city and the Aare River. Scenic is spoiling us very badly.

    William took us out for a 45-minute walking tour. We saw the parliament buildings, the Swiss National Bank, the 15th-century astronomical clock, several of the city’s fountains, the house where Einstein lived, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Catholic Church), the Münster of Bern (Swiss Reformed Church) and the City Hall. The rain was kicking up again, so William released us to our own devices for dinner.

    We found the local grocery store and picked up salads, pineapple, honey yogurt, milk and chocolate digestive biscuits. One of the reasons we search out grocery stores is that restaurant meals are incredibly expensive in Switzerland. We considered having spaghetti at a little place - each plate would have been $30. Not happening. While we dined Chez Hotel Suite - pretty posh settings for an indoor picnic - we watched a British TV game show that we have endured before just because it’s in English. The housekeeping staff had been in while we were out to turn down the giant bed and to lay little mats on the floor on each side with a pair of slippers for each of us. We have to be on the bus at 9:00 a.m., so there’s not going to be much time for lounging around wearing our Bern slippers.

    Tomorrow we are off to Luzern (Lucerne) and from there to our final Swiss destination of Zurich.
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Bern / Matte

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