I Wouldn’t Go There If I Were You…

Published: September 1st 2013
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F: So where are you going next after Amsterdam?

Me: Uhm, the plan is to go to Brussels, Paris, Frankfurt, Freiburg, Bern, …

F: Wait – why would you wanna go to Freiburg? There’s nothing to see there. I wouldn’t go there if I were you.

Me: Errr…. Have you been there?

F just shrugged his shoulder. That’s a good enough answer. Well, travel planning is something very personal. It’s almost as personal as how your last appointment with OB/GYN went. I know someone who had the goals to visit places that she cannot pronounce (Ljubljana being one of them), or someone who would go where the discount ticket goes (suddenly she said – yo Y – I’m going Tibet. I’m like wha???).

For me, I’m all about value for money and efficiency. From Frankfurt I’m going to Zermatt. Google map it and you’ll realize it’s pretty damn far (over 550 km away). Playing around with the train timetables and I realized I can break the journey in Freiburg im Breisgau and Bern before spending the night in Zermatt – in one day! Yes I could only spend couple of hours in each stop – but hey, it’s better than none. And it’s damn more efficient itinerary vs if I’m insisting going to Strasbourg or Munich! (we’ll save those for next time).

I have low expectation for Freiburg but I actually enjoyed it a lot! It’s not exactly a charming cute village – it’s more of a small town but with some modern shops but old world cobbled street charms. And gosh, there really not much tourists are there? I was looking around and there’s hardly any! (I only saw like 2, literally – I guessed it from their camera). The locals were using the town square for fresh produce markets. You can’t really see the cathedral’s gate, or the old fountains in the middle, because it’s covered between the stalls! Not touristy at all. And there’s no sarcastic in my word at all this time! Wow. The place actually reminds me glimpse of Prague. Maybe it looked like this before it was famous. Well, Prague is nicer, but Freiburg is pretty too even in a cloudy day! My short visit there is enough to inspire me to roam off the beaten track next time. Just because a place is not as famous, that doesn’t mean it’s not as nice.

Next stop: Bern in Switzerland! By now I’m used to move around different countries in Europe and no one really checks my passport/visa except when you first entered. But when we almost passed the Switzerland border, I did get check on the train itself. Was a bit nervous as they carefully examine my passport and visa, and asked what am I doing there? Why am I alone? Etc etc. But luckily that was it and there’s no further drama.

In Bern again I decided not to store my luggage (trying to save some money he he) – and instead I just carry around my backpack (it’s about 9-10 kg or so). Before roaming the town, I purchased a 1-month half fare card for 120 CHF at the train station. It will basically give me 50%!o(MISSING)ff on most of the transportation means including the private railways. Transportation in Switzerland is so so so damn expensive (no joke) – so it pays to do some research first to understand which pass will give you the most saving (SEE HERE). Many people in the tripadvisor forum asked around “which pass is the best” but the answer really depends on your itinerary. Don’t assume the Swiss Card is the best. It doesn’t cover the private railways (such as if you want to go to Jungraujoch) and instead only gives 25% discount. I actually calculate with excel spreadsheet and compare before deciding to get the half fare card.

Bern turned out to me more hectic & crowded than I thought. There’s also a lot of people smoking – which somehow I don’t expect. I was assuming – with the beautiful scenery and fresh air – why would you ruin it with cigarette smokes? It wasn’t as bad as Oslo though. Well, this is my first time to Switzerland. What do I know?

One of the first things I noticed about Switzerland is just so many giant chess boards. Not only in Bern but I also found it in other cities too. So cute! I visited the famous Zyglotte (clock tower) and took picture in the road with many giant flags on it. Also passed the Einstein house but was not tempted to go in. Initially I wasn’t sure whether I’ll be strong enough to walk up to the Bear Pit (especially as I’m still lugging my
Untouristy SquareUntouristy SquareUntouristy Square

Can't even take picture of it without the stalls!
big backpack) – but somehow made it there. The Bear Pit is like a small park with high fences acting as cage. There were 4 small bears. Maybe they intentionally selected the small bears in case they manage to escape? From around there, you can also take picture of the iconic Aare river with the charming town.

I was about to take the bus back to train station but then I realized my half fare card is only activated tomorrow; so I can’t use it today. Way to go, genius. Gah. But perhaps walking is not that bad too. I got the chance to buy few things for dinner. According to my estimation – it will be quite late already when I arrived in Zermatt and I’m not sure whether any groceries store still open. Or whether they have any.

As I’m riding the train to Zermatt – I am in awe on how beautiful Switzerland is. Their transportation is so advanced & comprehensive that even the strangest nook upon the hill got houses on it. This is one of the jam packed day – but I’m glad I visited these places; and I’m glad I took those extra jogs at the gym. Otherwise I might collapse by now.

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1st September 2013

I like the way you plan trips...
value for money and efficiency. It's also good to get off the beaten path...the one not promoted by travel magazines and tourist agencies.
1st September 2013

indeed, that's true!

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