Winter wonderland in Bern
Trip Start Dec 06, 2009
55Trip End Feb 05, 2010
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Where I stayed
Alison and Nathan's place
Well we are in beautiful Bern, the capital of Switzerland after doing a very scenic train ride from Milan. We easily caught the train from Venice to Milan and changed over to a Swiss train taking us to Bern. On the way we saw some beautiful scenary including some lovely looking big italian farmhouses, lakes and snow capped mountains. It was amazing to see the transformation from Venice, to Milan the city and then to snow covered trees and houses!
The train again was really comfortable and we are really loving this train travel and not having to deal with airport security and the delays associated with that. Trains run on time especially with the Swiss trains and they are very clean.
When we arrived in the Swiss train station, we were shocked to see how expensive food was in Swiss francs. The currency notes look very different to any other currency we've seen with big $5 coins. Daniel rang Alison his cousin from the train station which went straight to voicemail. He was starting to curse the pay phone think it took his 5 swiss francs when Alison called the phone box! She and her husband Nathan came to meet us and took us back to their lovely warm home. We are lucky enough to have our own comfortable room here. Having someone to come and meet you to take you to their home is just bliss!!! We had a lovely warm cup of tea and of course some swiss chocolate. We caught up on lots of family talk and I learnt alot more about Daniel's cousins. Alison and Nathan are just so friendly and chatty and really have made us feel so comfortable and welcome here. It's also just so good to have some new company too!
Alison is Daniel's father sister (Wendy his twin) daughter who is a international school teacher here in Bern.She teaches students from year 9 - 12 who are mainly children of diplomats and business people working here. Nathan teaches english to business people here.
So we chatted away hungry for information on the Swiss and how they live. Alison told us that the city goes into shutdown after 10pm. Most of the lights around the city are switched off at 10pm with most people going to bed then. Everyone also is expected to be really quiet after then to so no loud late parties and the Swiss will often leave a party at 9:30pm.
Politeness and courtesy is expected here. There is very low crime and no young hooligans here despite the fact they allow you to drink on the trams and trains here. Young groups of guys are very polite and greet people. Everyone here says hello and you feel very safe here with Bern mostly being populated by families and the elderly. The streets are very clean and certainly we dont see anywhere near as much graffiti as we did in Spain and Italy.
The mix of languages here is really interesting. I never knew that the Swiss speak german as their first language, french as their second, italian and then a weird derivation of latin called rumansch - which is the oldest closest language to latin. That's not to say that the Swiss dont speak English. Most young people here do have a good command of english, the elderly dont.
We have seen lots of people with dogs here and we asked Alison how the Swiss manage to keep their dogs quiet here after 10pm. The Council here enforce these rules that basically means that if your dog doesnt pass obedience school, which the dog must be tested every year, then the dog is put down. Horrible but goes to show the Swiss seem to be very controlled and planned. On Sundays all shops are shut, Sunday is still a day of rest to them for religious purposes I think.
After much chatting and talk of planning more scenic train rides and ski trips we decided to head out for some fondue! We thought we would freeze here because the temparature at its highest is always in the negatives but what's good about Switzerland is that everywhere you go is really well heated. We've been lucky there is no wind. It's very still here and because we never spend too much time outside we haven't experienced the numb and freezing cold conditions we did in New York.
We caught a very well heated tram to the city and found a nice too warm restaurant which served up many swiss dishes. We were happy to let Alison and Nathan decide on the dishes and we enjoyed some tasty rosti - a potato shredded dish with garlic and cheese. There are many different types of rosti and it is very tasty and a wonderful winter comfort dish. The waiter then set up a fondue set and we ordered ours with mushroom. Bread was served and the fondue surprisingly didnt taste too cheesy. They add an ingredient called Kirsch which is very strong and takes a lot of the cheesy taste away. Fondue and potato rosti was very filling. We washed it down with some dark lager and felt very warm and content.
We then wandered home, shared some more chocolate and tea and chatted until we were too tired.
All in all a wonderful day with a very informative introduction to Switzerland thanks to Alison and Nathan and it's good to be socialising with a very lovely and interesting couple.