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Last updated : Nov 2009
Zurich and Bern, Switzerland
Pros: Geneva-picturesque, Zurich-classy and sophisticated downtown, Bern -beautiful
Cons: extremely high prices

Zurich and Bern, Switzerland

Saturday, Sep 15, 2001 16:20

'Human Chess'

After what seemed to be just about the right number of days in Barcelona, Julia and I trucked it on out of Spain. Personally, I'm glad to be moving on to another country. Although it has been a great two weeks, I feel as if I've been very much Spain-ed out. There becomes a point where you can only take so much Gaudi and so much spaghetti or pizza for dinner.

About 7pm, on Sept. 12, we caught a train to Cerbere, France, and then made a switch onto another train which was heading for Geneva, Switzerland. Fortunately it was a tolerable train ride this time. On our connector train, we shared a couchette (sleeping quarters) with four other people. I became a little worried when three of them broke open a bottle of wine, but they turned out to be very quiet. Before we knew it, we were in Geneva.

Sept. 13: (Geneva/Zurich/Baden)

The plan for today was to quickly explore Geneva on foot and then catch another train to Zurich, where we would meet up with a friend of ours, Erin Salo. Both her and her boyfriend, Raimund, have been living and working in Switzerland since April this year. Luckily this meant we had a place to stay.

The train from Cerbere to Geneva arrived at 8:04am... right on time. Groggy and sleepy-eyed we clambered from the constricting top bunks and wandered off into Geneva. I remember prior to leaving for this trip researching what there was to see in Geneva, but at that time in the morning, I had no hope in remembering anything. So we were on our own. It turned out fine though; the train station is situated right in the middle of town. So as soon as we stepped out of the station, we were faced with what looked like traditional Swiss streets to roam. Before long, we stumbled across Lake Geneva. I guess their big attraction, in Geneva, is a big water spout that sprays hundreds of feet into the air. Very picturesque but easily forgettable. If you're making your way to see Geneva just for this stream of water, don't. We were intrigued for a few minutes and then we kept going on. The rest of our time in Geneva involved us watching swans on the lake and that was about it. When I was assulted by a sprinkler, we decided to head back to the station and book it on out of there. I think we spent a total of around 2 hours in Geneva and that was fine for us.

We arrived in Zurich and we were pleased to see that Erin was actually waiting for us. We hadn't been able to reach her prior to this, only through an answering machine, so we were unsure if she was going to be there. Thankfully she came through. We caught a train to her home in Baden and then spent the night chowing down food with her and Raimund.

One thing that I have noticed about Switzerland though, besides the extremely high prices, is that the cows here are a lot smarter. During our train rides, we were entertained by many herds of cows. However, the difference between these and the ones in Canada, is that the Swiss cows lay down when they're tired. I guess the Canadian cows aren't smart enough to figure out that they should be sick of standing all day and probably lay down.

Sept. 14: (Zurich)

With no plans for today, we accidently slept in for a long period of time. Oops, that's going to affect where we go today. It was similar to the parakeet-effect in our room. Thanks to the high quality window blinds, the room continued to stay dark and we kept sleeping.

Unable to take any big day trips, Julia and I decided to go to Zurich and look around. Wow, what a difference from Spain. It was so classy and sophisticated downtown. Everybody seemed to be a Swiss banker. And if they weren't, they were probably selling watches or Swiss army knifes.

Sept. 15: (Bern)

We were more successful today in waking up and thanks to that, we were able to make a trip to the capital city of Switzerland, Bern. Because it is a weekend, Erin, Raimund and a couple of their friends were able to show us around.

The trip started off by meeting the neatest elderly lady on the train. We met her when she grabbed a seat by Julia and began to talk to her in German. Raimund (who speaks fluent German) told her we couldn't understand and that we spoke English. "Oh that's okay, I speak English too," she replied. Obviously this isn't anything extraordinary, but she certainly was interesting to talk to. First of all, she was very educated. She had some great insight on where the future would head after the terrorist attacks in the U.S. and she was also very excited about Japanese culture (she could even speak Japanese). And finally, it also turns out that she has a sister who lives in the S.W. of Calgary. I guess she has been to our neck of the woods numerous times. When we left the lady at Bern, she was on her way to participate in a peaceful protest at the government buildings. A very interesting individual.

Bern is beautiful. We took to the old city and found it so much more vibrant than Zurich. All the snooty banker-types were gone and you were left with a mixture of people who were just enjoying the day around town. The town was alive on this Saturday afternoon. The open-air market was a bustling. A kid's triathalon type of event was being held in the city centre. And people were just sitting, above the river, watching the time slip by. At one point, we stumbled across a massive chess board, where you would have to walk the pieces around the board, and it wasn't before long before we were locked in a 2 on 2 game. Erin and Julia decided to sit that one out. There's something about playing a big game of chess beside the parliament buildings and under beautiful skies, which seemed very peaceful. We finished up, found the house where Einstein developed his Theory of Relativity (it was closed)... and then head back to Baden. All in all, a great day in Switzerland.

Tomorrow should also be very memorable. We're heading to Interlaken for the day. Supposedly it doesn't get much better than that.

All is well. Catch you later,