Saturday, November 06, 2004

Spring Break, Part IV - Bern and Murten

Hello Kari:

A while back I started to share about my "spring break" vacation to Switzerland and France. I didn't quite finish up that bit of vacation-photo-blogging.

Here are the links to part I, part II, and part III.

Sunday 21 March 2004

Since we were staying with my friend in Bern in the old town section, parking was an issue. We had to get up in the morning to feed the meter. While up that early Sunday morning, we decided to take our rental car for a spin around the neighborhood. When we saw the bend in the river and the bridge to the old town section, we had to stop to take these photos.

One running joke we had with our host Michele was her observation that the Swiss are law-abiding sedate people. Oddly enough, on Saturday night as we were winding down our dinner, we heard noise from outside. We looked out the window to see a protest march! Suffice to say, that provided all the incentive we needed to teasingly question her view of the Swiss.

Anyway, that night, young people were shouting, waving signs and carrying on about fascism and globalization! Beer bottles were broken, one fight broke out and stickers were pasted onto the windows of the local businesses and the cars on the street. Anyway, that little "civil disturbance" certainly added to the night's conversation.

On Sunday, we stopped for some picture taking and I left the camera bag at a bench. We drove off and I forgot all about it until 30 minutes later. We drove back and being used to crime in America, I wasn't too hopeful about finding the bag with the lens in it. Michele assured us the honest Swiss would not run off with it. Indeed, her assessment proved correct when we pulled up to the bench and I found the bag with the lens. Whew! It was a borrowed lens!

Later that day, we took a short road trip to the nearby town of Murten. We browsed the various little shops. It was a little cold so we eventually made our obligatory stop for afternoon hot chocolate as we did the day before at Thun Lake. We finished our visit to Murten buying some items for that night's after dinner dessert.

One bit of fun I had with Michele was trying to "speak" German to her. I saw a sign at one of the fancy places (they are castles or mansions of the old wealth and royalty) near the river on the edge of Murran. The sign was all in German. Unfortunately, I only took one year of German (eons ago in high school) and had long forgotten all of it. Nonetheless, I took to "reading" the sign and tried to pronounce the best I could what I "read." Michele then would translate into English based on my attempted pronounciation. It actually worked!

Travel tip:
* Swiss do love their chocolate. In the market, the chocolate section is much larger than in the USA. The dark ones have the highest percent of cocoa. It is usually indicated on the label. I'm told the better brands have the chocolate wrapped in foil rather than wax paper. Also, I discovered liquor filled chocolates. Being Asian with low tolerance for alcohol, I should only enjoy a few small pieces!
* Languages: French, German and Italian. Since Switzerland shares borders with those countries, all three languages are used. English is pretty widely spoken in the cities; nonetheless, it is always good to have phrasebook handy just in case. Michele knows German so we were fine. The following two days we were on our own and it was a bit more challenging to be on our own and mono-lingual!

Stay tuned for more from my "Spring Break 2004" holiday!

Happy travels,

go to part V


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