Switzerland – Subingen, Bern, October 21-25, 2014

Monday it was from Reutlingen via Stuttgart and Karlsruhe to Basel for the last part of my trip, Switzerland.

In Basel I had a brief visit with Margaret and Georges, who own a wonderful shop for antiques and decoration. Margaret is an American who is a treasure trove of info about most anything Swiss-American.

After a quick cup of coffee, I dash for the train to get to Solothurn. Somehow I manage to get the wrong one and end up late. However, this gives my friend and former colleague Silvia a chance to get to the grocery. Then we’re off to her place in Subingen, outside Solothurn.

The weather, which has been really nice, turns chilly and rainy. Silvia has to go to work. I wander around Subingen to check out the bus to get to the train station on Wednesday. I use the day to relax. Silvia has a nice laptop and a fast Internet connection, so it’s also a chance to catch up a little on e-mails.

Silvia bought this fused glass plate on a trip to Istanbul

Silvia bought this fused glass plate on a trip to Istanbul

Wednesday Silvia kindly takes me to the train station in Solothurn so I can continue on to Bern. My big adventure in Bern is trying Air BnB. The place I’m going is in a part of town I’m not too familiar with, though I lived there for six years and Bern is not that large. The apartment is only a few minutes from the train station — but in an area not served by public transportation. It’s down a steep hill and across a bridge over the River Aare. The apartment itself is on the fifth floor — no elevator. Other than that, it’s super — very clean and quiet. It’s basically in the attic, with a bedroom and bathroom. The host helps me up the stairs with one suitcase. He’s around, but I rarely see him or his family.

Altenbergstrasse, by the river

Altenbergstrasse, by the river, near the Air BnB apartment. The train station is above, where the bridge is.

I had a chance to catch up with many friends. I had a Turkish lunch with Irmela, my former Russian teacher, and her partner Stein, a former colleague; a Greek dinner with Gabi, a former colleague, and her husband Dieter. Thursday it was lunch with Max, a former colleague from Washington, D.C., and dinner with Esther and Elisabeth, fellow Russian students. Friday I finished up errands and went to Zollikofen, a Bern suburb, for tea with an ex-boss in our Washington days and his wife.

Pretty much every morning I enjoyed breakfast at one of the Beck Glatz locations. I always liked the bakery’s Mandelbärli, almond-flavored pound cake in the shape of a bear (for which Bern is named). I didn’t eat a Schocki-Igel (chocolate hedgehog) at the Bäckerei Eichenberger, but I had to take a picture (through the window, with a lot of glare).

Schocki-Igel (chocolate hedgehogs) in the window of the Bäckerei Eichenberger, Bern

Schocki-Igel (chocolate hedgehogs) in the window of the Bäckerei Eichenberger, Bern

Saturday I walked past the market in front of the Bundeshaus (house of parliament). Only in Switzerland: As you face the Bundeshaus, the Swiss National Bank is on the left of the plaza, another bank is on the right, and yet another bank is across the plaza.

Farmers market in front of the Bundeshaus

On Saturdays a farmers market appears on the plaza in front of the Bundeshaus in Bern.

I had coffee with Urs, whom I met through work in Bern, and his partner Sabine, in the lobby of the Hotel Bellevue, where I found this stained glass ceiling.

Stained glass ceiling in the Hotel Bellevue, Bern

Stained glass ceiling in the Hotel Bellevue, Bern

They happened to have a car and kindly took me to the apartment to get my suitcases and then dropped me off at the train station. I had been worried about getting two heavy suitcases up the hill to the station. Next stop: Zurich.

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