Catching Up (Episode III/IV) – Mountains, cheese and chocolates

4 09 2010

With summer reaching its peak and the offices of the Italy-based company emptying up due to August retreats of its inhabitants, time had come also for me to leave Vienna and go see some of the world, to relax, to meet old friends and new acquaintances.

The first week of doing so I spent in Austria’s neighboring country Switzerland, to pay long overdue visits to friends who had moved to work there – to be more precise in Bern and Neuchâtel. The first thing you can notice about Switzerland when you travel from Vienna is that supposedly no one travels there, at least not for leisure. This can be derived from the fact that in the airport bookshop you can find travel guidebooks for some very exotic destinations, but none for Switzerland. The second thing you might notice is how organized that country is. Getting a half-fare card for the swiss train system plus a ticket from Zurich Airport to Bern took me roughly two minutes (!), including a brief wait in line, filling in a form (done by the SBB official) and the payment. And the trains themselves have a no-nonsense approach to punctuality: if it says 18.27 then it is 18.27, and not 18.26 and definitely not 18.28… scary, kind of! 🙂

So what is there to do beyond the obvious sightseeing

Downtown Bern

Downtown Bern

(e.g. the city of Bern, nice!): Certainly enjoying the nature in its different aspects – the most fun one being a boat ride in a rubber boat down the Aare river from Thun to Bern, in Captain Jörg’s very own river yacht. This turned out to be a favorite day out for quite many people, as we arrived on the departing point there were already a lot of other boat crews getting ready for the ride. And as pointed out previously also there organization Swiss style prevailed as there was a guy offering “inflate your boat with my compressor for a couple of Swiss francs”. The only obstacle on the otherwise quite relaxing float are the rapids near Uttigen, called the “Uttiger Schnelle” or “Uttiger Welle” by locals. Maybe the same locals who suggested us to pass it on the very right part, which we ultimately decided to ignore as the waters where really white there (right) but not on the left… the reason for this being – as we were soon to find out – the fact that on the left where we tried to pass there is an upstream current. Which took us around in circles, until we managed to row clear of it and went straight through the middle of the fun – wet, but ultimately happy! (I am giving this detailed recount as I was not in a position to shoot pictures or movies during the action, sfortunatamente. 🙂 ) Get an impression on some other guy’s video below:

The second part of my visit then brought me to the French speaking part of Switzerland, namely the quaint city of Neuchâtel where I was very nicely hosted by Judith and Magali, who took me on the first day up a little natural marvel in the Swiss Jura mountains: the Creux Du Van,

Creux Du Van

Creux Du Van

a massive cliff in an otherwise gently hilled landscape. Other than that experiences featured my first cheese fondue (yum!), a bike tour of the three lake country (beautiful!) a hike on the foot of Eiger, Moench & Jungfrau glaciers (fantastic!)

Glacier Views

Glacier Views

and swimming in the Aare river (17.5 °C, by free will, not by boat accident!) as well as Lakes Neuchâtel (refreshing) and Morat (summerly bathing temperature). And to fill train and plane traveling times I read Dan Brown’s latest “The Lost Symbol” and got quite disappointed by the ending. But anyway. OK, and if you have been patient enough to read to here than you may also want to take a look at the picture gallery for sake of completeness.

A trip to Switzerland – August 2010
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