Big European cities never cease to amaze me. Stand on any-corner. To the left? St. Peter's Cathedral. To the right? Claire's. They're such a mix of worlds but that's what I love about them. I got some good city time in this week. Back to Bern and then to Geneva.
I wanted to get more of my bearings (no pun intended) in Bern so in addition to cruising the cool Altstadt (Old Town) in better weather this time, I ventured outside of the city center to check out more of the local environs. A 45 minute walk delivered me to their free public zoo, quiet, neat neighborhoods, and the rushing River Aare as my cruising companion. I hadn't gotten that close to the river yet and it is such an active part of the city. It's mesmerizing to watch the strong current pass you by yet you're able to just walk right in at any one of the numerous stairwells along the banks and just hop right in. (See pictures below.) Apparently people plunk right in the river all the time on hot summer days, but I watched a speedo-clad man walk in this week, do a few breast strokes, and swim up to one of the river staircases to nonchalantly climb right out! Brrrrr.... Just another day in Bern I guess!
I wasn't sure I was going to go to Geneva but I figured it would round out my exploration of the French side of the country. I was pleasantly surprised! As usual, I was initially baffled by why people think the city is so great when my keen sense of direction sent me the wrong way, but once I got back to where the action was, I saw that staggering city mix of old and new. The Geneva harbor is very impressive with its Jet d'Eau shooting toward the sky and lined with many stately, Baroque-style facades. There are probably more watch and chocolate shops per capita here than anywhere (and it worked on me- I bought both). And I heard a lot of American english on the street. But amidst the visible money and modernity of this city, you still happen upon the cobblestone streets, historic buildings, museums, and open plazas that create that wow factor around every corner. I wound down my time (pun intended) in Geneva with a glass of Chasselas wine (one of the special Swiss white varietals) at a swanky little wine pavilion at the harbor.
And toasted to the metropolitan cities and farms on the rolling hills alike. I'm appreciating it all.