Cities as Barcelona, Paris, Tokyo, New York, London are so famous that when you think about them there are immediately popping up images in your head of their famous landmarks. But what do you see when you close your eyes and think about Bern? In my case the answer was simple: nothing. I had no clue what to expect from the de facto capital of Switzerland. So I was curious about how it would be like, strolling through Bern’s streets.
Turns out the historical city center of Bern is well worth a visit. It’s a shame really that this city isn’t more known internationally, but that also means you can enjoy this beautiful place without begin bothered by too many other tourists. What really makes Bern’s city center stand out are the incredibly well preserved medieval buildings with arcades that shield you from the elements and the 16th century fountains with allegorical statues on top. The most gruesome of those fountains, the Kindlifresserbrunnen, represents an ogre eating children. Not for the faint of heart. It’s no wonder the historical center has been recognized by UNESCO as a Cultural World Heritage Site.
The medieval part of Bern lies on a peninsula formed by the river Aare. You can cross the river by multiple bridges and enjoy stunning views on the historical buildings on the other side of the river. We visited in winter, but it is clear people enjoy being outdoor when weather permits. There are lots of places to relax, enjoy the view and have something to drink.
Moreover, did you know that Bern has had a bear pit, the Bärengraben, since the 15th century? Not to worry, nowadays the bears lead a life of luxury! The bear is the heraldic animal of the seal and coat of arms of Bern and you’ll find depictions of bears throughout the whole city. We even stayed in a Bear Hotel!
You should definitely visit the separate chapel, very beautiful. In the cathedral you can see the chair of Calvin which is very small. I enjoyed the view from the towers of the cathedral. It is a climb, but worth the effort.
I have to say, this is definitely the best meal I’ve had in Geneva so far. Looking for a nice restaurant to spend the evening, we were very lucky to find a table for two, since we failed to make reservations. The restaurant can only accommodate 25 people, so reservations are normally needed.
The food really was outstanding. Sort of a Japanese fusion style. We opted for the menu and were not disappointed. The yellowtail sashimi with chilipepper and seabass sashimi were just incredible. Also loved the lobster and baby spinach. And a restaurant that serves ice mochi as dessert, can do no wrong (just a small tip for the staff: the mochi were served too cold).
Be warned though, drinks are very expensive. We were kind of shocked when we saw the prices of the champagne we choose as aperitif on the bill. Skip the aperitif and go straight for the sake, which is very good. Still pricy, but not as expensive as the champagne.
Really loved the atmosphere in the restaurant, very cosy. Service was also excellent! Staff was very helpful in explaining the courses and very attentive. Never in my life have I been asked so many times if I enjoyed my mail. (I did, very much, so thank you.)
Next time we visit Geneva, we’ll certainly be back! With reservations!
And now for something completely different, because this blog is all about experiences that are unforgettable. And boy, those Giants sure left their mark on Geneva this weekend. It was fortunate that two out of the three days of their visit, the weather was really nice. So people came out in droves to look at those enormous, yet endearing creatures. My personal favorite was the Grand-Ma Giant, who didn’t shy away of just taking a squat in the middle of the road and let it all flow. To the delight of all the children standing around me.
But what am I talking about? Here are some pictures and movies!
Hats off to Royal de Luxe which created such a marvelous and mythical spectacle.
Other reviews said Gelato Mania offers the best ice cream in Geneva, but since this was the only ice cream shop I tried during my stay in Geneva, I can’t compare. The ice cream was nice enough though, decent quality and lots of different flavors to choose from. I went for cinnamon and dark chocolate, both flavors were very good. I paid 5 francs for my ice cream, which I consider value for money, because the ice cream is clearly home made.
It is always surprising to me that in Asia you can have excellent fast food at airports, whereas in Europe they try selling Asian foods, but hardly succeed in making them taste like the original. Granted TUK is a street food style restaurants with ready-made wok dishes. But I’ve had lots of street food which I enjoyed very much. I ordered the pad thai, which sadly turned out to be a mistake. Should have gone for the curry. The pad thai only vaguely resembled this popular Asian dish. The noodles were overcooked and not warm enough. A very sad dish and way too expensive for this disappointment.
I enjoyed a drink on this beautiful terrace on a lovely spring day with temperatures well above 25 degrees. This terrace is very aptly named: the colorful beach chairs and umbrellas at the bank of the river Rhône instantaneously bring you into the holiday mood. Since I didn’t order food, I can’t commend on that. I did try the house specialty though: a refreshing glass of citronnade. I found my visit very relaxing and enjoyed watching the water and the people nearby from my beach chair.
Vapiano Geneva is part of a chain of restaurants. Normally, I’m not a big fan of those type of restaurants, but I have to be honest: Vapiano was a pleasant surprise. The restaurant is located in the heart of Geneva and has a pleasant and very light interior. The wooden furniture is absolutely gorgeous.
The concept is simple: you order at the counter and your food is prepared right in front of you. My risotto was very good and the pizza of my friends also looked great with fresh ingredients and an abundance of toppings. Everything you order is registered on a key card and you pay when you leave the restaurant.
My only minor concern are the paper bags that Vapiano uses for each serving of fresh pasta. Are those really necessary? Seems to me like a lot of unnecessary waste production.
Having lunch outdoor in November is quite exceptionally, autumn is not wat it used to be, but you don’t hear me complaining. La Buvette du Bain de Paquis is a lovely place to have a quick basic lunch sitting outside enjoying the beautiful surroundings. Concept is self service, but you are served very quick and the food is decent. the Plat du Jour was nice enough. Location is key though, with a gorgeous view on Geneva Lake. They don’t accept credit cards, but you can pay with euros.
It can be a little chilly (and wet) in Geneva in November, so when we were looking for a place to warm up, we found this charming Salon de Thé in the old town center. So many different flavours of tea that I couldn’t choose, so I ended up with the Chocola Chaud Maison Rohr, with wipped cream, of course. The hot chocolate was excellent, as was my apple cake. Although I was a little bit jealous of the chocolate cake my boyfriend chose.
Service was very friendly. The interior of Vivel Patisserie was bright and inviting and our drinks and food were beautifully presented. Would love to come back when the weather is better to sit outsite on the little terras.
Tea lovers, don’t miss out on this one!
VIVEL Patisserie, rue d’ Enfer 1 Rue d’Enfer, Geneva 1204, Switzerland http://www.vivel.ch/
+41 22 312 23 33