Friday, April 26, 2013

Day 1 in Bern, Self-Guided Tour Around the City

I got up around 5:30 am for another early morning train ride, today's destination, Bern Switzerland.  I checked out of my hostel a little after 6 am and walked to Munich's main train station.  I bought breakfast, a ham and cheese croissant, when I arrived at the train station and waited in a cafe until 7 am.  I checked the departure board at 7 am, found my train and settled into my seat in first class. The first class carriage was not full so I had plenty of leg room, I could relax.

German Scenery from the Train 
I at my breakfast after the train left the station, I then fell asleep for a couple of hours.  When I woke up, I took a few pictures of the German countryside and did some reading on my Kindle. I talked to some men from Bangladesh on the train, gave them my CIA/FBI cards, told them some of my story.  The Bangladeshis were both medical doctors, vacationing in Europe, their stop was Zurich.

We stopped in Zurich and I had about a 20 minute layover until the train to Bern.  I was hungry, but I did not have any Swiss Francs, the Swiss do not use the Euro,Switzerland is not a member of the European Union.  I found an ATM, I had to look for awhile, I got a Doner Kebab wrap at a stand at the train station and hurried to my train, it was on a platform near the Doner Kebab stand.  I showed a conductor my reservation, asked him which carriage, he pointed me to first class, I could not find my seat assignment, but the train was not full, it did not matter. I sat down, ate my Doner Kebab wrap and settled in for the short trip to Bern.

When we arrived in Bern, I made my way out of the train station, I looked for the tourist information center to see if they had any useful information about Bern or day trips.  The man I spoke to in the tourist office was not a strong English speaker, instead of answering my questions about day excursions, he pushed a pamphlet in my direction, without providing any information himself.  From what I saw, Bern's tourist office does not have the amount of information as Munich's office.

I left the tourist office and went to find the tram that would take me to my hostel.  Bern is a small city, many of the cities I have traveled to are relatively small, however when you do not know an area, a small city can seem big.  I found the information staff when I walked to the tram area outside Bern station, I spoke to the man in English, he responded, "Parlez Vous Francais?" I realized I was in another country that viewed me as a French speaker, if only I spoke French.

I told the information man I did not speak French, he gave me directions in halting English.  I went to look for the tram he directed me to, I then read the instructions from the hostel, the directions conflicted.  I decided to follow the hostel's directions, a bad choice, I got on a tram going the wrong direction.  I only went one stop, I asked a woman on the tram if I was on the right tram, she told me she was not Swiss, did not speak English, but she spoke enough English to tell me where to go, in my book she speaks English.

I got off the tram, there was a Bangladeshi man at the stop, he spoke English and gave me directions, we talked a little, he got political asylum in Switzerland.  He told me where to go and which bus to take to get to my hostel.  I gave him my CIA/FBI card, he said "God Bless You" I said same to you, take care.

I found my way to the right bus, a Swiss man confirmed I had the right bus and told me to get off the bus in two stops.  I found my hostel, I had to ask for directions to the street the hostel was on, when I found the street, I got to the hostel easily.  I arrived about an hour before check in, I got the hostel's WIFI password and completed my TEFL certification course application while I waited for check in time.

After check in, I left the hostel to explore Bern, I got a map from the hostel, but then I read my book Europe by Eurail and decided to go back to the Tourist Office for a map recommended in that book, turns out it was the same map the hostel gave me.  My trip back to the station was not a complete waste of time, it helped orient me with the area, I will walk to the station when I leave Bern on Sunday.

From the station I decided to head for Bern's Bear Park.  I stopped in an electronics store on the way to buy a power adapter for my Nintendo 3DS, the power adapter I have from the US does not work in Europe, even when I use a converter. After I got my Nintendo 3DS I resumed my walk to the Bear Park, Bern is an easy city to navigate, I got to the area of the Bear Park on Bern's Aare River with no problems.

Bern's Aare River Near the Bear Park 
I did not see any signs for Bern's Bear Park, I saw two Swiss men exiting an area near the Bear Park store and asked them for directions to the park, they told me it was below the bridge I had just crossed.  They told me, if you stand on the bridge you can see the bears, they also told me I could walk down by the Aare River to see the bear Park, it is free and open 24 hours a day, 7 days per week.  The Swiss men asked me where I was from, then pointed out the bears to me.  I took some pictures then walked down the stairs to the river to get another view of the bears. 

Bear in Bern's Bear Park

Me on my way down stairs to Bern's Bear Park on Aare River
I saw a bear playing with what looked like a cloth when I walked past the bear park on the Aare River, I took a few pictures of the bear, then I left the park.  I walked back through Bern, taking pictures as I went along. Bern has many fountains, each with different characters, symbolizing something different.  There's an ogre eating a child, a justice fountain, a Samson fountain and many others.  I also walked past some of Bern's Churches.

Lynnae next to the Justice Fountain 
 I eventually ended up on the road I took to get to Bern's Bear Park, I shot pics near some of the many fountains on the street.  My destination was Albert Einstein's house, Einstein lived in Bern for 7 years.  Albert Einstein has many great quotes, one I liked that I found today on the Einstein House website is, "blind belief in authority is the enemy of truth." After the Einstein house, I went to the Prison Tower, there was a lot of construction but I got a decent picture, I ended my self guided Bern walking tour in front of the Swiss Parliament.  

Lynnae at Einstein's House
My evening was uneventful, I met a hostel mate from Burkina Faso, the first person I have ever met from that country, we exchanged business cards.  I talked with a hostel mate from Australia and washed my clothes.  I am sitting in the common area's living room, tonight's English movie was Get Smart, I caught snippets of it but did not really watch the movie.  Tomorrow's forecast is heavy rain, I had considered going to Lucerne, but  I am going to spend the rainy day in Bern, I will visit Albert Einstein's house (I did not go inside today, I arrived after closing time) and go to the Einstein Museum.

Day 1 in Bern Photo Album

No comments:

Post a Comment