Bern ~ and Swiss National Day

Happy Swiss National Day!  A celebration of national independent and spirit.

We had a “family council” meeting last night after researching Interlaken, discovering that it would take an hour by train just to get there, and confirming that roundtrip trolley/cable tickets up the Jungfrau would cost 200 CHF ($225 US) per person.  Dad proposed that we “stay local” in Bern today, which passed unanimously after modest deliberation.  OK, well, … Dad and I voted and Ron relented.

We arrived downstairs for breakfast (served 6:30 to 10:00) at 9:15.  I wasn’t impressed with the choices.  There were four totally empty bread baskets, leaving only one tray with white bread to slice.  The meat trays were about half full, but the cheese tray only had little neufchatels in wrappers plus a few slices of “Swiss cheese.”  No fresh fruit.

That said, there were several positives.  A toaster-style appliance with 8 little baskets made it possible to boil an egg to one’s own taste.  There were lots of choices for jam, including at least one that was sugarfree.  The cereal section contained dark chocolate cornflakes that were very tasty with raspberry yogurt.  Walnut chunks, sunflower seeds, and pumpkin seeds were also available to top cereal.  There was even an espresso machine for Ron’s kaffee (and Dad’s hot water for Folger’s decaf packet).

Our destinations today were all accessible on foot, walking through the city center (similar to what we mean by “downtown”).  We planned to visit the Heilig Geist Kirche (oops ~ evangelical Reformed, not Catholic), then walk over to the marketplatz.  Depending upon our energy and stamina, we might also visit the Prison Tower, the Clock Tower, and the Einstein House.  Alas, it was not to be … at least not for me.

As we were crossing the tram tracks at the bahnhofplatz to go to the church, I missed one of the pavement lips that separates the tracks.  In one of those horrible slow-motion moments, I crashed and slammed into the pavement.  Ron and Dad moved quickly to help me up.  I had hit hard on my left knee, hit secondarily on my right knee, and wrenched my right ankle.  Massive bruises instantly.

With help from my personal guardian angels, I hobbled over to the church and rested on the top step.  Feeling less shaky after resting briefly, I stood up.  That was a mistake.  I immediately felt light-headed and woozy, telling Ron that I needed to find a place to sit down.

I stepped through the first door of the church.  And then I fainted.  No real warning … or at least none that I recognized as such.  So I crashed down again.  I don’t remember that, of course.  I only remember hearing the voices of my dad, my husband, and a woman I didn’t know.  Regina, apparently a deacon or similar at the back of the church, came at once when she heard me fall.

With everyone’s help, I was able to sit up and then move onto a chair.  Regina brought a wet towel as a cold compress, which she used on my wrists, neck, and forehead.  ~CH~

Eventually, Dad and Ron helped me walk back to the hotel.  Dad stayed with me, checking pupil dilation every 20 minutes or so for possible signs of concussion.  Ron went downstairs.  Alex, the concierge on duty, personally hunted for ice in the breakfast area, but not success.  So Ron went on to the train station in search of ice.  ~USA~

No way that I was leaving the room this afternoon, that was certain.  Ron and Dad eventually went out to explore the city, once we were all confident that I would be OK alone.  I spent the afternoon watching holiday party-ers in the plaza and updating my trip journal.

Dad and Ron found a hearty, cheap lunch at a tiny sandwich shop right across the street.  Dad had a hotdog and Ron had a cheese sub.  They brought me their fries and a cold Coke Zero.  =)

The guys went on a two-hour walking excursion in historic Bern.  As it turns out, the “market” mentioned in the travel books is more a mall with permanent shops, not an open-air market with stalls.  Nothing was open due to the national holiday.  They walked to several of the clock towers and statues/fountains.  Toured the Einstein House where Albert Einstein lived while working as a patent clerk.  And found the government center on the Bundesplatz, too.

By the time the guys returned to the room, I was feeling enough stronger that I wanted to try a short walk.  We went to Rail City, which is standardly the big mall/shopping area on street level and underground adjacent to the Bahnhofplatz.  An excellent choice!

When excavating the area beneath the existing train and transport center for Bern, developers discovered portions of the original city wall and fortress towers still intact.  These are preserved in special glass casings found throughout the lowest level of the Bern center.  Wow!  It’s understandable that UNESCO has designated this as a world heritage site!

This station had a food court, similar to those in American malls.  Dad found a stand that offered freshly (re)grilled bratwurst, while Ron and I found a different stand that sold robust fresh salads.  That was just what I wanted.  We didn’t linger long for other shopping, but it was good to feel strong enough to walk a little.

At 20:00, the clock and church tower bells throughout the center city pealed continuously for 15 minutes in celebration of Swiss independence, just as they had done earlier in the day from 10:15 TO 10:30.  It brought goosebumps for me both times, thinking of how many centuries the Swiss nation has been independent … as well as realizing that bells have pealed in my lifetime when independence and self-sovereignty has been won in other parts of the world.

The Murphy bed in our room was apparently designed for Minbari (Babylon 5).  I don’t see how Dad managed to sleep on it without sliding off last night.  It looked as if it was designed to have one bar that held it in place for storage and a second bar that leveled it horizontally for sleeping, but the first bar seemed to have been replaced.  Anyway, we asked Alex (the morning concierge) if the bed could be adjusted to a more horizontal position.  Not possible, he said.  So instead, he offered Room 207 (a smaller room with double bed) just for Dad at no extra cost.  Dad was reluctant at first, but Ron and I were both concerned about his rest and his health if not getting sufficient rest.  So, he agreed.  We still spent the evening together in our room, but then Dad left at about 20:00 to relax and get to sleep in a full-size, level bed.  =)

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