In Centovalli we met Biena and Ajit (they live in Singapore but come from India). They told us about their stops on their tour of Switzerland. They didn't even mention the word Bern in their list. THAT, of course, is not possible.
So I remarked more than once that they would have to stay in Bern for at least one, two, if not several days. They gave each other questioning looks and were probably a little unsure. The question spread through me, how could one miss what is probably the most beautiful city in Switzerland?
Apparently there was a bit of a spark. Because a week later, a message flashed on my mobile phone: "We'll be in Bern tomorrow, would you have time?"
We quickly made an appointment and in the afternoon of the next day we meet at Bärengraben. You get to know Gerd. Quickly we all get together and discover the city. The bears themselves are not yet in hibernation, Bern itself somehow almost always is. So we stroll leisurely through the alleys, jump out of the way of the buses and trams, marvel at the fountains and the colourful street signs.
In our best English we try to explain why Bern has the Chindlifresser fountain (Children-Eater?). We wait at the Zytglogge for the little men who come out at the top of the hour and turn in circles (and smile rather at the many tourists with their mobile phones out - just like us!) and stroll to the Bundeshaus, where there are no security guards at the front and back, right and left. Biena and Ajit are amazed that everything in Federal Bern is somehow more leisurely.
We look across to the snow-covered Alps, ask Gerd for all 26 canton names (haha!) and watch the heavily flowing Aare from the Münster platform as it flows down.
I try to explain in my Holper-English that the Rhine should actually be called Aare, because the Aare is the stronger river when it flows together. However, the Romans were better at pronouncing Rhine than Aare and so it is not called Aareland-Pfalz or Aare-Hessen and so on. A little later I realise from their looks that they have no idea what I'm talking about. So I struggled absolutely unnecessarily, but no matter, I still liked my story.
After two hours of walking around the city (it's always nice to show others the city, you suddenly see your homeland through different eyes), we enjoy ourselves in the Rosengarten, say goodbye to them and wish them a good time in Grindelwald, where they are heading this evening. As a farewell gift, we give them a pack of Kägi Fret (which, to be honest, I would also like to receive as a subscription) and are delighted to be able to give something back.
After all, what could be better than meeting people in a foreign country who show us their culture, their homeland (and their sweets)?
In the evening we receive the following message: "And truly thank you for a beautiful afternoon in Bern. It wouldn't have been the same without you and Gant (did I get the spelling right?) Hope to see you guys sometime. Do let us know if you plan Singapore or around, we would love to meet and if you come to Singapore we will be happy to cook Indian food for you."
Gant (as my husband is now called) and I are now once again full of joy about all the travel acquaintances we make over time.
News #1 On 24 June we will give a talk about our trip in the van in Konolfingen, Bern, Switzerland. All info and the possibility to Registration here. We look forward to seeing you!
News #2 I am currently writing a book about the encounters on our journey. If you would like to test-read a chapter or two this summer, please contact me by email.
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