Saturday, October 16, 2010

September 19, 2010 - Sunday - Bern/Nice

We had an ample breakfast with our host in Biel. He had purchased yogurts and breads and cheeses and juice. We tasted a popular bread called butterzopf. Zopf is a big, braided loaf with a very soft and light, but dense interior. So good!

Our host showed us the Swiss capital of Bern. It is a city that has been built upon a peninsula that is formed in a bend of the river Aare. Originally, the river served as a natural moat, as it formed a gorge of defense for the city. As the city grew, the planners would build a new fortification wall further out. Today, those walls provide character and distinction to the city. Five tall bridges give access to the city from the elevated surrounding land. Bern’s mascot and namesake is the brown bear. On the far side of the cities eastern bridge, there is a bear pit, which has since been moved and renovated to be a bear zoo. Bears are free to climb up and down the banks and swim in the river.

The center of town has the Swiss National Bank in addition to other banking buildings, government buildings and the Munster church.

We stopped in one of the many cafes for a local treat called nidlachuecha. This pie slice-shaped treat has a pastry crust with thick, sweet cream inside. Great stuff.

With minutes to spare, our host delivered us to the Bern train station and we jumped aboard a train for Nice via Geneva.

We were stunned by the views of Lake Geneva and the many vineyards that covered its north shore.

The ride through France was pleasant and then striking as we made it to the coast. The train cut through the beach communities along the Mediterranean. We caught a quick glance of Cannes. Looking back, we would have preferred seeing that instead of Nice.

Nice was not as quite as great as we thought it would be. I feel like the people who love Nice would come from the same stalk who love Las Vegas. Perhaps Nice is for those people with enough money to stay in one of its thousand big hotels. Certainly not for the poor young backpacker. In hindsight, we would have preferred a better look at Cannes.

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