Ever since watching season 10 episode 24 of Grey’s Anatomy when Christina finally moves to Zurich, Switzerland, I have always wanted to visit the place where the buildings look like something from a storybook and wake up to the amazing mountain views.
The journey started from London City airport. It was a Friday morning trip after my meeting which overran and I wondered if I was going to miss my flight at some point but thank God for the amazing taxi driver who knew different routes and got me there with plenty of time to spare. This airport is small and mostly used by business travellers so checking through security was a breeze as everyone pretty much clears through security without any fuse (I will soon write how you can beat security without any delay).
The plane was the smallest I have ever flown on so that was a new experience. The plane held about 30 passengers and we were only 11 in total so from boarding the plane to taking off, happened within a blink of an eye.
Before we knew it we were safely tucked between the clouds, my favourite place in the world. The small plane allowed an almost private sky tour of the capital city Bern, the plane swooshed past the greenery and important landmarks before finally landing at the local airport. It was a bus journey to the local train station, then a train to the city centre and then a tram to my hotel. This allowed me to make use of the three key local transport systems.
Lonely Planet describes Switzerland as being contemporary and cultured; That’s the best way to put it. It should also be noted that it is one of the most expensive countries in Europe. Switzerland’s mountains pierce the horizon so beautifully. The almost infinite greenery holds such beauty that makes the price tag much less unpleasant. Beauty does come at a price!
I was lucky that free transport around the city came with my hotel booking, so it worth checking to see if you are lucky when you visit. I made use of the tram to the city centre and I must admit it was a reliable way of travel and ran like a clock.
The capital of Switzerland, Bern has an amazing historic town centre that you’ll want to walk around all day long (though it only takes a few hours). I was lucky to meet very friendly locals, which were more than happy to take pictures of me, some were better than others but when you’ve got no choice you can’t really complain.
The city centre is filled with ancient clock towers (one, In particular, is known as the Zytglogge clock) which every day four minutes before the hour tourists watch its colourful glockenspiel mechanism of twirling bears and medieval figures, leading to the striking of the bell by the Greek god of time, Chronos. For £15 you can have a guided tour of the inside of the Zytglogge Clock.
In the old town, the cobblestone streets give it a medieval feel and with the water fountains every few steps, the underground drainage system could be heard on the street level providing a soothing sound effect. The decorative fountains really make Bern special.
The small churches provided an intimate feel to the city, beautifying it with the stain windows. I walked through the river way stopping frequently and admiring the blend of the city with the three elements water, wind and earth. The scenery was surreal and I was left in awe. Did such place actually exist? I found a local bookstore which was totally deserted. I bought a book which I then read at the local park and relaxed with some ice-cream. The history museum is also a must see.
I also checked out the local bear! Yes, you read that right BEAR. Obviously, they are not left roaming freely but neither were they encaged. Instead, they were located in a large enclosure (The BearPark) with enough room to roam around.
I quickly discovered that eating out can be very expensive when put into perspective Starbucks coffee is 8 CHF ( £6.50) whilst McDonald’s is 15 CHF (£12). The alternative I found was to buy food from local supermarkets at a cheaper rate.
The next day I was able to see the Bern’s Renaissance-style Bundeshaus (Parliament building). This building stands on the edge of the high ground above the Aare. I think it’s important to always visit the Parliaments building of any country you visit; as I see it as the powerhouse of that country. I was especially impressed with the Swiss Parliament building due to its golden details and turquoise patina that is typical of aged copper.
The afternoon was spent sightseeing and taking in the green backdrop to everything. I walked past a man size chess board and it was fun sitting for a moment to watch the game. To be honest, I really don’t know who was winning but both participants seemed to be deeply engrossed in the game.
The cloud opened up and it started raining whilst a musical band were about to play. I decided to relax and warm up by a close-by café and have some hot chocolate whilst watching the live band. The show ended speedily due to the downpour of rain. I was grateful to be somewhere warm, not getting drenched by the rain as I watch pedestrian run for cover.
The rain came to an end and I found my way to my warm bed. Visiting Switzerland was a dream come through and waking up to the mountain view was certainly a blessing. If I am being honest I would say keep your trip short and sweet. That’s probably the best advice I can give to you if you don’t want to break your account.
Here are a few more activities you can check out if you have more time than I did:
- Hiking in the Swiss Nationa Park
- Aletsch Glacier
- Lake Geneva
- The Glacier Express
I leave you with this quote
“Travel makes one modest. You see what a tiny place you occupy in the world.” – Scott Cameron
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