#26Cantons52Weeks: Bern


Springtime in Wilderswil

Canton: Bern

Destination: Wilderswil

Special guests: An informal writing group on retreat

Interesting thing: In Bern you’ll find Jungfraujoch, which is the highest railway station in Europe (3,454 m above sea level)

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It’s the one you’ve been waiting for! I promised to write up Bern months ago but, I’ll be honest, I was waiting for a better offer… I had hoped to take a trip here with my parents, possibly to Mürren (best place in the country, according to Swiss Family Sabbatical). Alas it never happened, although we did manage to visit Basel-Stadt, Schwyz, Obwalden and Schaffhausen so I shouldn’t complain!

I’ll also be in Bern in a few weeks for my annual ‘lonely freelancer Xmas drinks’ but time marches on and I’m going to try to honour my commitment to myself by finishing #26Cantons52Weeks in, well, 52 weeks. So… to Bern.

As a canton, Bern has a lot to offer. It kind of seems like it should qualify as two cantons: Bern the city – capital of Switzerland with a UNESCO listed old town centre – and the Bernese Oberland, which encompasses the Bernese Alps and contains more than its fair share of stunning spots such as the Oschinenesee, Reichenbach falls (of Sherlock Holmes fame), gorgeous towns such as the above-mentioned Mürren and the Big Three mountains: Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau.

Back in April, I attended an informal writer’s retreat weekend organised by my friend and fellow blogger Tara Grioud, where I wrote poetry (for poetry month) and fiction with a can’t-quite-believe-it’s-real backdrop of the mountains out my window at the Hotel Berghof. I’m thinking a lot about writing at the moment (well, perhaps I always am) because I’m trying to work out my gameplan for next year: get back to the novel? Pitch more stuff? Try to find a job? Stubbornly attempt to finish the #26Cantons project even if I don’t make it by December 31? Er… yes.

Anyway, what more can I say that you don’t already know about Bern… the towns are pretty, the views are incred. The writing went as it did. It takes bloody ages to get here from Zurich so is worth staying overnight or longer. There are plenty of other amazing spots in the Bernese Oberland I want to visit in future. It’s a very full canton. But this post is getting too long so I’ll leave you to enjoy the slideshow.

Oh, and before you go, here’s my poem about Bern


Cantons visited / to go so far. 


Appenzell Ausserrhoden

Appenzell Innerrhoden
















St. Gallen









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I took a turn

to Bern

The bears

weren’t there

Oh durn


I met a friend

I’d only penned


it was she

who works with me


Walked by the Aare

It wasn’t far

from town

But steeply down

Lucky there’s a cable car…


It was broke!

So we walked and spoke

Talked shop

(tho sometimes stopped

to make a joke)


Saw the Zytglogge

What a clock

The Bundeshaus

And had the nous

To know when to stop (for coffee)


A lovely day

To get away

From home

And roam

With baby too – hooray!

Toucan time

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We got our new (second hand) car last week so there was only one thing to do on the weekend: Road Trip!

We drove about 2 hours to Papiliorama – a slice of Belize Rainforest located just south of Switzerland’s capital city, Bern. It was great. The outside temp was about 1 degree Celsius but inside the geodomes it was a toasty 20-27.  So actually quite a worthwhile winter jaunt!

There were several different sections. First we went into the Jungle Trek bit – it’s a recreation of a 10,000 hectare piece of rainforest the Papiliorama Foundation sponsors in South America and contains exotic birds, lizards (chamelions etc), coatis and peccary pigs. The toucans were particularly impressive. I don’t think I’ve seen one in real life before and I kind of expected them to be bigger. But they’re a good size, similar to a Kookaburra and with that fantastic beak. I mostly hate birds but Kookaburras and Toucans are awesome.

Next we did a circuit of the outside bit – maybe not as successful in winter. Particularly the Swiss Highland bug dome, where everything was dead or hibernating. The farm section was good though – cute baby dwarf goats and the large hairy pigs were excellent grunters: SQUEEEEHHH!

Next we visited the butterfly dome, which was really enchanting. So many colourful and beautifully patterned butterflies flitting about. P wasn’t wildly impressed by this, he is a man after my own heart – seen it, move on! But it was warm and somehow quite peaceful to be there among the floating insects and stinky fruit they feed on. Speaking of stinky, the final bit we visited was the Nocturnarama dome – and I’m glad we did. It was almost pitch black and had an excellent musky stink from the nocturnal beasts housed within – mostly monkey / rodent type things – like tree racooons. Tiny bats were flitting all about and in the centre they had a big pool with freshwater stingrays (P LOVES stingrays) and big Amazonian fish. There were also Ocelots but we couldn’t spot them, and Caimans, which looked completely freaky in the UV lights – like glowing dinosaurs.

The whole place was sweetly un-crowded in the way of many Swiss attractions (not sure if this was due to the season/Christmas being so close or just the usual Swiss thing of less people, less craziness: I am still getting used to good things being “easy” and not rammed after London!) and also sweetly dinky with a crappy, expensive cafe that was exactly what we wanted after our drive. Definitely worth the trip and looking forward to exploring more Swiss family attractions in 2015!

PS: Thanks to everyone who contacted me after my last Sux Baby post. I really appreciate all the support and I am feeling a bit better. x