Published: June 3rd 2012May 25th 2012
I had got a train ticket from Salzburg to Bern to avoid two 10 hour bus trips and a compulsory stop in Paris. I met Jack and Carol at the station in the morning and said hello, before, parting ways as they were in first class and I was in economy. The train was not too packed so I spread out and began to update my blog while intermittently checking for amazing views from my windows. Jack had told me the previous night that the trip was one of the prettiest anywhere in Europe and it definately did not dissapoint! Beautiful snow capped mountains between valleys that were almost too green was a sensational way to begin my day. The mountain lakes that appeared almost out of nowhere where so crystal clear and looked very inviting, except I knew their temperatures were not so comfortable. I had to change trains at Zurich and then get a bus to the hostel, the whole time telling myself I was stupid for buying more stuff and I need to pack much much lighter.
The rooms at the laudhouse hotel are really nice, 6 beds in a room, but each bunk bed has its own room within the room and for my first night I had the whole 2 bunks, table, chair and window with a view of the river all to myself! I settled in and then wandered into the old town over the picturesque bridges to meander happily through the cobble stone streets to get my bearings. My first impression was that Bern was full of churches! Every alleyway I took I came upon yet another beautiful church! My second impression was that Bern is super expensive. The cost of living in Townsville is pretty high but here, there isn't even a cheap option, I bought a bag of veges to cook for dinner, bananas, grapes and yoghurt for my musli and it cost me $12. Strawberries looked good but not for $9! I cooked up my dinner at the hostel and investigated where the salsa was in Bern. There was two events on, one entry fee was $28 for the night and the other $10... I went with the cheaper option and wandered back into town to find it.
It turned out it was only pretending to be a salsa club, very snooty crowd, ratio of 20 females to every 1 guy and the guys couldn't really do many salsa moves. Even the dj was playing more reggaton and club-latin. I was a little disspointed as I need my salsa fix! Luckily a local guy, who wasn't even there for the salsa - his friend was having a birthday party on the same night. So we had a chat, after we established I didn't speak German, Italian or Spanish...the 3 other languages he already spoke! I am blown away by how many languages people can speak here. We had a dance (merenge) and then he introduced me to his other friends outside. His name was Valerio and although born in Bern he lived from the age of 15 in Italy. But now, closer to 40 he works as a lawyer to kill the banks, his description not mine. Very passionate about his history, Valerio was happy to tell me all about both Swiss and Italian history of wars, government and interesting anecdotes. He walked me back through town to my hostel showing me various points of architecture and interesting historical facts, and I got a free guided tour of Bern at 1am in the morning! Haha
The next morning I slept in before making a skype call home and then also managed to facebook chat with the lovley Dan who is leaving Townsville soon to go back to the U.S.A. One of the things I miss most is just hearing the everyday news from friends and family back home, so I felt invigorated and refreshed after lots of Aussie news. After changing into a summer top and shorts for the amazing weather Bern is having I headed first to the bear pits which were next to the river, Valerio had pointed them out in the dark but I hadn't seen them awake. Bern's mascot and animal on their coat of arms is a bear, so getting to see the bear family of Mum, Dad and the 2 cubs was great! I then walked up a reasonably steep hill to the Rose gardens which boasted excelleng views of all of the city. I wasn't disappointed, it was amazing to see all the red tiled roofs, church steeples and green hills beyond. I explored the gardens, took lots of pictures and then sat on a bench for a couple of hours to catch up in some blog writing. It was very relaxing. What struck me most was the glorious ringing ofnthe bells. With so many churches, when one starts ringing the others are soon to follow and it's a cacophony of tonal (and atonal) ringing!
I walked into town, bought goodies for a packed lunch and headed over to the other end of town to see the botanic gardens, I was surprised that te gardens were a little wild in parts, lots of weeds and dandilions. It seemed a very casual botanic garden, not worrying too much about having clean and precise edges. I sat next to a pond, had my lunch and read my book. Bern was prooving very restful indeed. I finally left at 6pm and walked into town to find lonely planets recommendation fof a cheap meal....at 25-30 for a main, it wasn't what I considered cheap so I went back to the hostel to eat my own meal! Haha Valerio messaged me he was out and about so later in the eveninb I went to meet him and all his Swiss/Italian friends for drinks and chats. Mostly the conversations revolved around Australia vs Italy animals....(Europeans in general think everything will kill you in Australia!), history and politics! Valerio's friends were all really lovely down go earth people who were very welcome and accomodating considering I can't speak any other languages....yet! Again I had my second late night guided tour of Bern as we walked back to my hostel, where Valerio also quized me on how much I had remembered from the previous night. Haha My last day was again fairly uneventful, I had a pucnic lunch by the river, walked around the Einstein Museum, saw the main clock in Bern strike the hour and watch the figures dance underneath and then hopped on the bus to Lauterbrunen. All in all a very relaxing and pretty place to spend 2 days.