A rich-girl trip through Switzerland would not be complete without visiting one of the legendary watch companies. Zürich is full of them, and the one we visit is the Bucherer watch and jewellery maker, the biggest retailer for watches in Europe.We marvel at some watches worth an entire apartment in a nice European city as well as diamond rings in the four-storey shop. Then, before we head to our second stop in Switzerland, Bern, we have lunch at the oldest vegetarian restaurant in the world, Haus Hiltl, or at least the first vegetarian restaurant to register itself as such. What started in 1898 has grown to become a favorite place in town for meeting friends, having a business lunch, or even going wild at the Hiltl club. Many dishes are inspired by Indian cuisine, though not all of them.
As a vegetarian and fervent advocate of Indian cuisine, I simply love the restaurant and wish I could have lunch there everyday. Some of my meat-loving media partners, however, are not entirely pleased by the look and taste of the food on their plate.
In the afternoon, we take the train to Bern, the capital, which supposedly is a charming small town with an old, UNESCO-enlisted center. The view while walking to the hotel is already worth one hour of taking snapshots. Credits to our guide, who has been so patient with us!
We stay next to the Swiss parliament, at the Bellevue Palace, Switzerland’s official state guesthouse right in the heart of Bern. While very luxurious, staying at the 5-star superior hotel feels like living in an old, 19th century palace (which it is, in fact) where etiquette and other formalities still thrive – definitely not the casual atmosphere we experienced at the Dolder in Zürich. But everything has its charm, and the suite I stay at is equipped with everything I may need, including Molton Brown hair and skin products.
After a tour through the hotel we have dinner at “La Terrasse”, which boasts of 16 GaultMillau points and, according to the Bellevue Palace website, is “one of Bern’s exquisite gourmet restaurants”. The four-course dinner shows it is indeed exquisite. We even get the chance to peek into the kitchen seeing our dishes being prepared on the iPads we receive at our table.
The next day I wake up early again to go for a run along the Aare, the river that runs along Bern’s historical center. It is a nice and bright morning with even some sun, and refreshed I return to the hotel, where I find a jogging bar with water, towels, and apples waiting for me. This Wednesday we are meeting another guide who will show us the old town. We spend a good deal of the morning inside the Zytglogge, the medieval clock tower with moving puppets. The whole mechanism the clock functions with is phenomenal.
We also see the town’s other main sights: the 15th century Gothic cathedral; several of the town’s public fountains, which all have allegorical statues on them; the arcades in the main (shopping) street; the Einsteinhaus, where Albert Einstein lived for three years; and of course the bear pit Bern is famous for and has been part of the town since the 16th century. (According to legend, the city’s founder Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, vowed to name the city after the first animal he encountered, and this turned out to be a bear.)
We have lunch in the Rosengarten, or Rose Garden, from where we have another beautiful view over Bern; however, as it starts to rain, we decide to spend the few hours we have left until we take the train to our third and last destination at the Paul Klee Museum, which is housed in a very interesting building designed by the famous Italian architect Renzo Piano and appears to be part of the surrounding hills.
We then take the bus back to the station and catch the train that will take us to our third and last destination of this media tour, so stay tuned!