I have always wanted to travel alone but was always slightly anxious about it but I thought “why not, let’s do this!” I really wanted to visit Budapest and Croatia but none of the flights/dates were compatible with my schedule so I guess l’ll have to plan those trips for another time. I wanted to visit somewhere pretty accessible by train and Switzerland just happens to be right above Italy, perfect!
So this was my very first experience traveling solo and I have to say that I really enjoyed it; being able to do what I want and when I want to do it. I took the fast train from Firenze S.M. Novella, the main train station in Florence, to Milano Centrale, the main train station of Milan. From there I took a train straight to Bern, the capital of Switzerland, who knew right? I guess I just assumed Geneva or Zurich were the capitals of this picturesque country but nope! The whole trip took a little over five hours, not bad considering it probably would have taken the same amount of time flying when you factor in going to the airport early and waiting there or if you had any layovers.
Here are a few snapshots from my train ride up to Bern.
I arrived at the main train station in Bern around 2:30pm and headed straight to Hotel City Am Bahnhof to check in and drop my bag off. Luckily, the hotel is located five minutes walking from the train station!
After freshening up a bit, I headed out to explore the old town of Bern. The historic center of Bern is quite small, similar to Florence, making it very accessible to walk everywhere. If you’re not much of a walker, you can easily take the local bus or tram to numerous destinations within the city! My hotel was nice enough to give me a free bus/tram ticket that was valid for all the days I would be staying in the city and the hotel was right next to several different bus/tram lines.
After exploring the old town, I headed back to my hotel before heading to dinner. I decided to dine at Altes Tramdepot, a brewery/restaurant serving traditional Swiss cuisine.
If you come to Altes Tramdepot, you must order the potato rösti! Creamy potatoes with a nice crust on the outside gratinated with funky Gruyère cheese topped with crisp salty bacon and served with sweet apple sauce. SO GOOD! The other version of the rösti was also with cheese but with onions and a fried egg on top. I also really wanted to try the spätzle, a type of noodle served with cheese and vegetables or meat, but since I was alone I couldn’t eat all the food. I would definitely recommend Altes Tramdepot for a fun lively atmosphere serving delicious traditional cuisine so my overall rating is a 7.5-8/10. After dinner, I headed back to my hotel since I was pretty tired from waking up early and traveling all day.
The next day, I also walked around the old town again visiting areas that I didn’t see the previous day. First, I took a nice stroll through Kleine Schanze Park, right near my hotel.
After the park, I visited Einsteinhaus where Albert Einstein lived on the second floor from 1903 to 1905. The flat has been restored to reflect the period of that time.
Since it was around lunch time, I headed towards the same restaurant as I dined the night before, Altes Tramdepot, to grab a quick lunch before walking around more.
Right next to the restaurant there is Bärenpark which I was so looking forward to because they have real bears! Unfortunately, they were doing construction work on the park so the bears are at another park in Switzerland for the time being. I was so disappointed! 😦
If there were bears at the park, it would look something like this…so cute!
After my disappointment from Bärenpark, I walked up to Rosengarten for a spectacular view of Bern and then visited Zentrum Paul Klee, a museum dedicated to the artist Paul Klee.
That night I dined at Meridiano, a one Michelin star restaurant overlooking the city of Bern. The chef, Jan Leimbach, offers European cuisine using local ingredients from the surrounding land. They had two tasting menus (four courses or six courses) and à la carte menu. I was having trouble deciding between the two tasting menus because both sounded delicious and offered different dishes! I ended up going with the six course tasting menu since it had some of the chef’s signature dishes.
Not only is Meridiano set in a beautiful atmosphere, the food served here was equally as stunning. Highlights of the meal were the duck liver cherries, white asparagus, turbot, and the veal. The duck liver cherries were not only a playful and fun presentation but tasted amazing. Creamy rich duck liver mousse encased in a sweet cherry jelly paired with dark chocolate, pumpernickel crisp, and served with a piece of buttery brioche on the side. The locally sourced white asparagus dish was something that completely caught me off guard; I love white asparagus so I was excited to see it on the tasting menu. The dish was complex with perfectly cooked delicate white asparagus, warm and frozen hollandaise sauce (a nice contrast of temperatures), gooey free range egg yolks, creamy purple and white baby potatoes, crunchy crumble, and thinly sliced earthy black truffle. The turbot, cooked to moist perfection, was divine with fresh spring peas, vibrant mint, crab, and a superb butter type sauce made from crab shells. The last savory course, the veal with morels, was a fantastic spring dish; tender veal with earthy morel mushrooms, sharp spring onion, and buttery Ricotta cheese truffles dusted in mushroom powder served with a delicious demi-glace. Overall, Meridiano was a delectable meal with elegant food so my rating would be a 8/10.
My last day in Bern I visited Gurten mountain for a relaxing day away from the city center.
My final night in Bern I went to a traditional restaurant called Gourmanderie Moléson where they serve cheese fondue! They had several types of cheese fondue including traditional, garlic and herbs, and mushroom. I decided to order the cheese fondue with garlic and herbs. YUM! 😀
Gourmanderie Moléson is the place to go if you’re craving a pot of bubbling hot cheese fondue. It was delicious! Other mouthwatering looking items on the menu included duck liver mousse, country pâté, beef tartare, and cordon bleu. I’d rate the restaurant at a 7.5/10.
The city of Bern surrounded by rolling green hills and mountains in the distance truly looks straight out of a postcard. I had a great time exploring the capital of Switzerland and I can’t wait for my next destination in this beautiful country.