May 18, 2014
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I noticed an interesting phenomenon as I was traveling through Switzerland, Austria, and Slovakia. Whether voluntarily or not, I began associating certain points of interest with songs as I hopped from place to place. Sometimes a very obviously related song would automatically pop into my head while sometimes the connection came later, as I reflected. Some even become stuck in my head for a while. I noted these songs and the respective landmarks each one is linked to, and I thought I’d share them here.
Song: Johann Strauss II – The Blue Danube
Location: Danube river, Vienna and Bratislava
Whenever I passed by the Danube, whether it was in Vienna or Bratislava, the orchestral masterpiece by Strauss sounded in my head. My dad loved this piece and he would always ask me where in Europe the river is located, so when I actually got to see it, the song immediately began to ring. The gentle flow of the Danube accompanied by the light, fluttering beats of the dancing instruments…with a majestic sunset over the river, seen from the Novy Most in Bratislava – perfection at its best!
May 15, 2014
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If Bratislava was the city of statues, then Bern would be the city of fountains. Well, of statues too, since each fountain was guarded by a statue. As I walked through the old town of Bern, I started noticing them on every street, standing in the middle as if observing every passerby. I also saw them labeled on a map of the city, spread out around Bern in various corners and intersections. So, let me introduce you to some fountains of Bern and their guardians that I have had the chance to meet.
First up, the Anna-Seiler-Brunnen (or Anna Seiler Fountain). She stands in the middle of Marktgasse, the main street running through Bern, and represents the founder of the first hospital of the city.
The capital of one of the most beautiful countries in Europe, Switzerland, is not its largest city Zurich nor the internationally renowned Geneva. It is Bern, comfortably and humbly tucked behind other more popular Swiss tourist destinations. It’s true. One doesn’t usually make a stop in Bern aside from making a transfer, and I guess…that was exactly why I went. I mean, there has to be SOME reason why it’s the capital of such a magical country, no?
It would also be the final stop in my week-long trip in mid-January and the final Swiss city I visit before I leave Europe. The night I arrived, it rain. It rained hard, and it was the first time that I saw rain during the entire week of travel, thank God.
Instead of staying at a hotel or hostel, I decided to go for Air BNB after hearing great things from several friends. As I was arriving in Bern rather late, Air BNB seemed to be the most convenient and budget-friendly option. I found my host Slawek’s place, after getting slightly lost around the train station, soaked all over. Thankfully my host provided a very warm and cozy night’s accommodation, especially as I was exhausted near the end of the trip. In the morning, I felt well-rested and ready to tackle the last day, exploring the humble Swiss capital.
The old town of Bern is very compact and could be easily navigated on foot. There were light drizzles in the morning and no snow as predicted in the weather forecast, but that didn’t dampen my mood. I started out down the main street in the old town and followed a map on a fountain hunt (which I will talk about in the next post), passing by the Zytglogge (Clock Tower) on the way.