Wednesday, September 29, 2010

Market Day

September 18 - I asked the receptionist at the hotel this morning if there was anything special going on in Bern on Saturdays.  She directed us to the Saturday Market in Parliament Square.  What a great suggestion!  The market was full of wonderful fresh produce, bread, meats, cheeses and flowers. At one stand, a vendor cut lunchmeat to individual orders.  Nothing seems to be on ice! This would not be permitted with our US health laws, I am sure. The crowded market bustled with shoppers and children.  One adorable little girl excitedly showed her daddy what mommy had bought for her - chocolat!  Seems toddlers and chocolate are a common language.  There was one stand with all sorts of small dried gourds, etc., for making flower arrangements which tempted me -- but I don't think I'd be permitted to bring these through customs.

At the market

Our Eurorail pass entitles us to eight days of transportation during our stay in Switzerland.  I think DH is determined to use all eight days!  We decided to take the train from Bern to Neuchatel, a town located on Lake Neuchatel in the French-speaking area of Switzerland.  Once in Neuchatel, we walked through town and ran across another Saturday market.  Every so often, there was a picnic table set up among the vendors and we saw many families eating market food along with a glass of wine or beer on this sunny day.

We opted for lunch at Les Brasseurs, a brewery.  We finally had "flammenkueches," a type of pizza with very, very thin crust.  Mine was loaded with mushrooms and DH had the caprese version.  Of course, we had beer.  Throughout our trip, we've noticed two things about the beer glasses:  they are etched with volume marks and they always have the brand name of the beer on them.  If you order a .5dl beer, the beer is poured up to the .5dl mark etched on the glass.  DH says that this is due to a law that protects the buyer from being short-changed on their beer purchase.  Ah, Swiss precision!

Drivers drive fast in this part of Switzerland -- the French area!  Reminds me of how fast my BIL drives.  Hmmm....  Also, as soon as we entered this area on the train route, the signs turned to French in rail stations and the announcements on the train were made in French first, followed by German.  Up until now, the announcements have been in German first, then French, and English in the larger stations.  It must be interesting to live in a country with four official languages - German, French, Italian, and Rumantsch.

Approaching the castle
We shopped in the old town then hiked to the castle for a wonderful view of the city.  There's a first time for everything department:  We both desperately needed to use a restroom and the one and only one at the castle happened to have two stalls.  We felt very liberated taking a dual potty break!

As we were walking towards the cathedral next to the castle, a wedding party with a few hundred guests arrived and the church bells chimed.  This is the third wedding that we've just happened across on our trip - a nice touch since this trip is partly to celebrate our 40th wedding anniversary.  I hope all three couples enjoy a marriage at least as long as ours!

I was hungry when we got back to the Bern railway station so picked up a Movenpick ice cream cup - delicious!  I've had ice cream on my mind for the whole trip but the weather hasn't been ice cream weather.  I finally decided to have it anyway and just deal with the chill!

I could live in a castle - couldn't you?
Since our lunch was a bit late and very filling, we planned on a takeout dinner from the Coop.  We relaxed in our room for a bit, then found that the Coop was closed!  On Saturday, many stores either close at noon or early in the afternoon.  We ended up at the bar across the street from the hotel for a beer and saw people eating food that looked scrumptious.  Seems the bar owner is from Sri Lanka so we ordered what we thought was the same as the people near us. Well, our food didn’t look anything like what we expected to get!  It was still good and quite spicy.

Our nice waitress hails from Bangladesh.  She told us that she has been here 8 years and hasn’t had fondue yet.  She also commented that the Swiss eat then have salad then another drink then coffee, etc., etc., etc.  In other words, very long meals!

Tomorrow, we're off to Lucerne -- our last city before the long trip home.

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