Many have asked why Bern? How did I pick this location. Well, other than the obvious places that were on my bucket list, most of my choices made the short list because I read something interesting about them in the many books I have read over the last year in planning for this trip.  I first took notice of  Bern, in my Europe by Eurail book, simply,  it was a location for an overnight train from Amsterdam.  So, let me see if I can raise your interest in Bern Switzerland in this short post.

For starters Bern, is the capital of Switzerland. A picturesque setting on the River Aare with fine buildings lining the cobble streets of it’s Medieval centre.  Bern’s historic center is scenic and walkable – this seemed like a good place to slow my pace for a day or so.  The Aare River is so unpolluted that the locals can actually swim in it and do.  Legend has it that the city was named after the first animal caught in the area – a Bear, thus the name, Bern.  The city still cherishes it’s bears..  The bear pits are a favorite site for travelers. 

I plan to spend about 36 to 48 hours in Bern. Why so much time in a place that was just a stop over.  Well I found several things of interest that I would like to explore while in Bern.  Part of that time will be to take a slight detour up the mountain side to get a closer glimps of the Alps. This day excursion is know as the Golden Pass. Now, I don’t like the cold or the snow, which is why I love the Arizona heat. . . to take a note from the movie “The Bucket List” – I couldn’t come so close to this majestic mountain and not spend a little time exploring it.

This trip up the mountain via train will be on the Panoramic Express, a train with an unobstructed view of the breathtaking scenery  This route through Lucerne, Interlaken and Montreux.

I should arrive in Bern a little after 12:00 noon.  I think I will start with lunch.  Then head across the river to visit the Bears at Barengraben – Bern’s famous Bear Pits.  Then I will climb the hill to the Rosengarten for a picture session capturing the beautiful Rose Garden and a great view of the city.  From here I will float down the Aare river (in a boat) to the free public beach.  If the weather is warm enough, I’ll join the locals for a dip in the river.  Then wander around the city and explore in search of the best Swiss chocolate and an interesting place to have dinner.

My second day in Bern will be to do a side trip to the Alps and explore the mountain through the Golden Pass.  My train leaves Bern at 9:00 a.m.  I have requested the Golden Pass Panoramic, a luxury first class train with a glass ceiling for a panoramic view and large windows.  This train offers an unobstructed views of the breathtaking scenery between Zweisimmen and Montreux, the last leg of the trip.  Before arriving in Montreux around noon,  the train will pass through the town of Spiez and Zweisimmen on our climb toward the top.  I will hope for a clear sunny day.  The clearer the day the better the view of the Alps.  In Montreux there will be time to get off have lunch and visit the the famous castle Chateau de Chillon.

After a couple of nice days in Bern, it’s on to Italy.