Is Switzerland the country that seems to have everything? Our two-week stay visiting friends and family once again proves that this tiny landlocked country is truly special.
Let’s see if I can tempt you to visit Bern the capital of Switzerland with its old town charm.
Days 407 – 423 – April 13th – April 29th, 2015.
We are very fortunate to have great friends in this UNESCO listed old city of Berne and had the pleasure of staying with them throughout our visit.
And we are into the wines already… Enjoyed with fine foods and even more special wines on many occasions.
Day 2 we took a drive to Vully and admired the views over the lake with the snow-capped mountain range in the distance.
Driving through some very picturesque villages, that look like model towns from my old Hornby railway days.
Up to Mt Chasseral
Where we enjoyed a drink on the terrace and admired the views. At the top of Chasseral which is just over 1600 metre above sea-level, which is not that high when mentioning the mountains in Switzerland.
As you can see there was still pockets of snow up here and the 3000 meter plus peaks are all covered in snow. Unfortunately the photos don’t do it enough justice being able to see the length of the alpine range in the distance. We were very lucky to be able to see views like this during our entire stay in Switzerland, the weather was fantastic for this time of year.
Who couldn’t resist throwing a few snowballs, even though it was a bit icy. The weather was ideal for the hang gliders and we watched as they took off from this peak and then flew around on the thermals.
Back home we enjoyed some fine food and wine.
Day 3 we had lunch at the iconic Bierhübeli in Bern. This is the place where many business people go for lunch and so we had our business lunch as well.
Bierhübeli in Bern Switzerland
Our lunch meals at Bierhübeli Bern were very nice and the service was top as well. Did I mention Swiss prices are on the expensive side of the coin, these three meals cost $80 AUD with a glass of wine.
Bern Switzerland 2015
The old town of Berne is listed under the UNESCO as having outstanding universal value. It is truly a wonderful city, not just the old town area but all of Bern and its Kanton (district). Both Moni and I have a strong connection to Bern as we spent a few years living, working and partying well into the wee hours of many a new day.
The old part of town has the streets lined with wappen flags (coat of arms flags) from all the districts of Switzerland and the shops are all under the arches keeping you dry when it rains. Offices and flats are above some of the shops and restaurants.
These are the two 5* hotels where I worked during my stint in Switzerland.
I’ve lost track of what day it is now and so I’ll just continue with what we got up to…
Tibits restaurant in Bern Switzerland
Lunch with Moni’s mum and sister in the new hit healthy restaurant in Bern called Tibits. There are two of them, this one near the shopping area and the other above the train station, both close enough to walk to each other!!
It was busy and we had to wait for a table. Anyway, we had lunch which tasted very nice and is presented well at a central buffet which unfortunately is far too small and awkward to get access to as many people are obviously doing the same thing.
The biggest grudge I have of establishments like this is that, not only is it not cheap being a buffet that you help yourself at, once you have your meal, hot and cold, you must then queue up to have your plate weighed and then you can pay… Absolutely crazy system and one that I would not do again, no matter how tasty the meal was.
This is the drinks menu as for meals it was the buffet with the individual dishes named at each place. The plate of food in the picture above cost $25 AUD
For our afternoon coffee fix we visited one of the many cafe, bar, restaurants that line the Bärenplatz (bear plaza). The bear plaza which is splits the shopping area in half, the top end from the bottom end which is often called the altstadt, and where they have huge screens showing important sport games like the world cup.
They were huge slices of tart and very yummy. The Wäie is a Swiss speciality of blind baked pastry shell filled with fruit like cherry, apricot, plum, rhubarb and an egg custard then baked, often served with cream.
Even after all this food throughout the day we enjoyed yet another fine meal and wine oh and did I mention the Grappa…
The Aare river in Bern
Perfect weather for a walk along the edge of the Aare river in Bern.
You can cross the river Aare in a tin boat that is tied on the rope which spans the river and is guided across by the man at the rudder using the flow of the water to move, or you could use the bridge..lol
Schwellenmåtteli Restaurant Riviera Bern
We stopped in the Schwellenmåtteli Restaurant for a drink which is in a beautiful spot where the river enters the old town area.
A special time on the Ducati
This was my very first time on the back of a BIG bike… Did I love it or did I LOVE it?
Safe to say that once was not enough and thanks to Stefano and Brigitte who so generously came with her Ducati so that we all could go out together for a ride.
We rode the curves fast and safe for a couple of hours before returning home to enjoy fine wine and food.
As you can see we enjoyed not just any old wine, pun intended, but some very very fine drops.
Dinner @ latavolapronta.ch in Bern 2015
Tonight we enjoyed a lovely dinner at our friends restaurant in Bern. La Tavola Pronta has 14 Gault Milau points and is the pride and joy of Beat Thomi and he treated us to a delicious degustation. This 6 course dinner for 4 was a whopping $990 AUD including three bottles of wine and coffee.
Would we do it again? Hell yeah.
Big thanks to Beat, his staff and Thomas & Stefano for making it a wonderful evening for Moni & I. Friends forever.
How can you top what we have done so far? Each time we meet up with our friends it’s an energy that is hard to explain, it’s like we had never left, be it 6 months or 6 years. The places and things we see are just the icing on the cake.
Brienzersee in Switzerland
Hotel Giessbach Switzerland
This place looks like something out of a fairytale. No wonder that there is a Kur hotel here as well for those in need of peace and tranquility can come to rest.
The inside of the hotel is pretty nice too.
As for the views, yeah, not bad I suppose…
The bach (stream) that runs through the hotel grounds, and hence the name Giessbach is close by and visible from the hotel and also up close, really close…
Yes that’s us walking behind the wall of water, it’s all pretty safe on a path and you don’t need to get wet. All that sightseeing makes for a good appetite and so home for another fine dinner and wine. Is there a pattern to these days with Stefano? No we don’t wana stoppa, but really we do want a Stoppa… A very fine wine, actually, every wine we have had the pleasure of sharing whilst at Stefano’s place has been spectacular. Most are no longer available.
Catching up with old friends Antonia & Andrea in Bern
A meet up with an old work colleague of Moni who just happened to play a major part in our moving to Australia all those years ago thankyou Antonia & Andrea for taking the time to connect today.
World heritage listed City of Bern in Switzerland
Some more sights from the UNESCO city of Bern
Look at some of the wines we enjoyed tonight. You would probably think we’d be totally drunk and alcoholics consuming this amount of wine between the three of us. But far from it, consumed over four or five hours with water is absolutely perfect.
Another day out, this time lunch in a very normal restaurant in Bern, the Bären where we had huge cordon bleu’s with fries and a mixed salad to begin. Meals that you can have in nearly every standard restaurant in Switzerland. Oh how I miss the standard of food from Switzerland. This meal was just under $55 AUD with only a soft drink.
Next up we had a spontaneous surprise visit to another friend from way back that we had not seen in 17 years… Wow what an awesome day.
Nicole in Kirchlindach Switzerland
We used to spend many nights out clubbing and weekends with Nicole back in the old days. And a visit to her busy hair salon was a special moment.
Taking the tram in Bern
Is very easy and they were clean and comfortable. You need Swiss francs or credit card to buy your tickets at the machines which are at each stop. A single trip costs 4.40 SF per person about $5.80 AUD once again very expensive, but if you lived here you would buy a half tax card which gets you all tickets at half price which would seriously make sense.
Tram lines in Bern, near the Bärenplatz
Zytglogge in Bern
This clock tower in Bern is probably one of the most photographed buildings in the capital. The Zytglogge in Bern is a fully working clock tower that chimes every 15 minutes and on the hour. The 12 o’clock chimes draw a huge crowd that watch as the figures come out and do their thing.
With Bern being a city that has a major river flowing through and with the region being a little hilly, there are a few bridges that give you great views over the city and towards the Alps in the distance.
Some side streets in the UNESCO city of Bern, followed by the proud parliament house that over looks the river and city below from the rear side.
Even after living and working next door to the house of parliament I didn’t know that you could take free guided tours of the parliament building. Probably due to the hectic lifestyle we used to live back then… working all hours and then sleep and party, not so sure I was into walking around the government buildings, but hey, 110,000 people did in 2013!! were you one of them?
Evening out with Juerg & Susi
Tonight we met up with Swiss friends that we got to know whilst living in Yeppoon, QLD Australia. We had dinner with Juerg & Susi at another new restaurant in the city next to the train station called Toi & Moi.
Plain street frontage with a side door entrance, inside it’s quite nice with some quirky features, bright coloured toilets, pictures hanging on the wrong side etc.
The toi & moi menu available in English if needed, was rather limited in my opinion.
I personally didn’t find the menu or meals overly exciting. The service was good and the location is ideal. I must add that some of the meals that I saw coming from the kitchen during the evening were huge especially the fillet steak and some soup turine covered with pastry… Info incase you get to go.
Anyway, we had a great time catching up on each others lives since we all departed Yeppoon. Great photo guy’s, thanks to Juerg, Susi & Moni.
So there you have it, a glimpse at what we got up to while in Bern. Sure, this visit was more about catching up with friends and family than sight-seeing, but apart from spending an awesome time with our friends, eating and drinking all those wonderful meals and wines you can see in the photos we did see just a tiny bit of the area.
I must be fair here and say that with Moni being Swiss and myself having lived here for a few years, we’ve seen lots more of Switzerland and the bordering countries so we don’t feel the need to try and go crazy to see everything.
Switzerland is a wonderful country, and offers so much to see and do, in fact, if it was just for looks, the countryside, clean air, quality of commodities etc, it would be top of my list right now. However, not everything that shines is gold right, and the country does have its own set of problems which I’m not going to get into here… I’d never stop, lol.
Bern to us both is a place we feel very much at home and it could easily be our home with the awesome friends and family we have here, just that Australia has such a pull on us that we feel it calling and tempting us back all the time. The saying I always remember is… ‘If you never go, you’ll never know’.
I dedicate this post and the most wonderful time to Stefano and Thomas, two of the very best friends you could every have.