Sunday, July 3, 2011

Switzerland, A City View: Bern

We arrived at our hotel in Zurich around 8:30pm on Monday. Easy to find and great location. Typical Swiss hotel, no AC. It was around 25ºC/90ºF with our room on the 5th floor of the hotel. HOT! But the beds were comfortable as well as the sofa sleeper so that was the most important. We took military style showers or sponge baths as the water was ice cold. Apparently the water heater must have been out and they couldn't divert the sun to heat the shower water. Once we were out it felt good in the room.

First thing Tuesday morning we found breakfast at the pastry shop on the corner. Then we gathered our belongings to head to Bern. We'll be back in Zurich for the weekend so we didn't take the time to see any of it at the moment.

We hit Bern around 11:30 and quickly caught a tram to the Backpackers Hostel. They are closed between 12-3pm so we would have been stuck with our luggage if we hadn't arrived in time. Our room is phenomenal. Spacious with 2 single beds and 2 bunk beds along with lots of floor space, a very unusual find in Switzerland.

Another sweltering hot 90 degree day. We grabbed picnic lunch and headed to a park. Challah and salami with gruyere followed by some fruit hits the spot. By the way, the pre-made challah sandwiches were with ham. I never quite understood that combination but it always humors me.

We then headed down the main shopping street towards the bear pit or perhaps I should now say enclosure as it is a much improved space over the original dry barren pit. The pit now has a small gift shop and the enclosure is a large hillside with a water stream below.

We abandoned our original plan to head to the Rosengarten due to the heat. Instead we opted to head back to the hotel for our bathing suits and check out the free public pool beside the river, a perfect spot for a steamy hot day. The pool was definitely refreshing. After a bit of swimming, Maia and I decided on a short float down the river. The current is extremely fast and we didn't have good shoes to wear so we went barefoot. Staying close to the shoreline was a bit hard on our feet but we weren't going to venture too far, only from one stop to the next. A nice experience but a bit scary with a kid. Maia, my amusement park thrill rider, didn't want to do any more than what we had done. The float part was fine but the getting out was challenging. Maybe when she is older we'll be a bit more adventurous about the experience.

After a brat, another dip in the pool, and some ice cream, we were ready to head back to the hostel. We walked by the Parliament and the splash park after riding the tram up the hill.

On our way back we realized that the stores close at 7pm and we still needed to buy dinner and breakfast. One of the nice things about our hostel is the ability to buy, store and cook food in the kitchen. So after a bit of grocery shopping we were in for the night. Fed, showered and exhausted, we headed for bed.

Scenes of Bern

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