From Rome I headed in a general North by Northwest direction, aiming to eventually meet my flight home from London. I had one night in Venice, but I wasn't actually that impressed. Yep, I saw the canals and St. Mark's Square. That took about ... forty minutes. After that I got bored and couldn't afford a gondola ride, so I moved on to Switzerland.

Bern, the rather understated Swiss capital, was an unexpected highlight of my trip. Old Town in Bern is built into the bank of the River Aar. There was the usual bustle of a captial city, but on the whole it felt extremely peaceful (possibily even neutral?) after the utter chaos of Italy.

The afternoon of my arrival was apparently quite hot for the locals, although it just felt like a nice summer day to me. The thermometer showed twenty-eight degrees centigrade in the sun, which to the Swiss is an absolute scorcher. Basically anyone with spare time had gone down for a swim in the Aar, which looked like great fun, so I joined them. The water was cool and clean (which made a nice change from Venice); you could see the bottom of the River from just below the surface. The current was quite swift, so the idea was to walk a few hundred metres up the bank and then jump in and float back down. After an hour or so of this I was feeling thoroughly refreshed, so I decided to take a walk around Old Town.

Another big feature of Old Town is the apartment in which Albert Einstein lived with his wife and in which he is believed to have written much of the theories of General and Special Relativity. It's now a museum with letters and photographs from his life. Not being a physicist, I appreciated it more for the insight into the great man's personality and lifestyle than for the fact that it was the room in which our understanding of the physical universe was turned upside down (or downside up, depending on your frame of reference).

On my way out of Switzerland I also had one night in Lausanne in the French-speaking west of the country. My guidebook described it as Switzerland's sexiest city, but it didn't seem all that sexy to me. There again, it's likely that the guidebook authors and I have very different ideas on what constitutes sexy. I didn't see any cellists or monsoon storms anywhere. The waterfront around the edge of Lake Geneva was colourful and fun, but a bit glitzy and touristy for my taste.

I didn't visit the Swiss Alps, but I did stock up on some Swiss chocolate. I couldn't find any Swiss cheese, but I did buy a Swiss army knife, so I didn't do too badly from three nights.

Far from home



Garry with 2 Rs

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