Honorary Bernese – July 10

After wandering around Zermatt last night I realized there didn’t seem to be much to do but shop. Not my thing. So I packed up yet again and began my journey to Bern.

I’m not really sure why I had chosen Bern. After talking to some Swiss they didn’t seem to think it much of a tourist destination. I liked it for its proximity to Interlaken and the fact I’d found a couchsurfing host with a room waiting for me.

Another beautiful train ride through more of the Alps. I could probably spend a lot of time just riding the rails in Switzerland. So stunning!

This is how I spent several hours of my day.

I arrived at the Bern station and Andy had graciously agreed to meet me at the train station. We walked the 10 or so minutes to his apartment, dropped my things off, and headed out for some lunch. We continued the conversation over beer a few doors down. It was another pretty toasty day and he suggested we take a swim in the Aare River. The idea of hopping into some water was pretty appealing until he started describing the river to me.

The water is cold (mountain run off), the current is pretty strong, its too deep to stand up in. Hmmmm, doesn’t sound terribly relaxing. Somehow I still decided a trip to the river to check out the situation was in order. We returned to his apartment, put on our suits, and headed to the park. The park was pretty amazing. Lots of grass and trees, tons of people but not all crammed together, cafes, lockers, showers, ping pong tables, on and on. We walked over to the river to check it out. Ummm…I don’t know. Lets sit and think about it for a bit.

The park atmosphere was great, and after some convincing by Andy I decided I’d try to muster the courage to jump in. We went to an entry point where I sat for quite some time. Andy was quite a good cheerleader. You see all these people having a great time but the water is moving so fast. Finally I looked at him, gave him a not and pushed myself away from the bank. My gosh the water felt cold. Definitely takes your breath away for a second. You get swept away without much effort. It was actually a lot of fun to just “go with the flow”. My biggest concern was getting back to the bank to exit. With a power plant downstream I didn’t want to miss the exit!

The return to the bank was way easier than I had expected. Whew! Wow, that was fun! Let’s do it again! Here is a video that shows the floating heads in the river.

We went returned to our towels and chatted in the sun while we warmed up. He suggested we go and I suggested we do another quick “swim” in the river first. I think he was surprised. We jumped in for another quick trip, toweled off, and headed back to his apartment. He wanted to get changed and back downtown in time to watch the EURO2016 championship match at an outdoor café. Not being a huge follower I wasn’t convinced I wanted to go but I’d had such a nice time hanging out with Andy I accepted the invitation. He pointed out a few spots as we hurried to the café. We found a seat outside with a good view of one of the televisions.

Several beers and most of the way through the match Andy ordered something unrecognizable from the waiter. Not surprising considering I don’t speak Swiss German. The waiter arrived with a tray of espresso and Williams (pear schnapps’) shots. He introduced me to a traditional drink from Lucerne, flamblee. I’m not certain that’s the proper spelling. Essentially you dump a bunch of sugar into an espresso (don’t stir!), drink most of the shot leaving enough coffee to cover the sugar. Pour the William shot into the espresso cup and light it on fire. Slowly spoon up the sugar into the flame to caramelize. Once the sugar seems sufficiently caramelized pour the drink back into the shot glass. When I attempted this I spilled some on the table and it started everything on fire. Whoops! Once the shot is transferred put your hand over the glass to put out the flame and sip away. It is really delicious. Like a caramelized pear.

The match finished. Much to Andy’s disappointment Portugal won. We finished up our drinks and headed back home for the evening.

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