Saturday, July 28, 2007


I woke up expecting to buy some berries from the market and hop on a train to Bern via Geneva, but I met a Danish couple named Lasse and Tanja in the subway. I'd seen them at the hostel, and it turned out they were going to Bern as well so we decided to go together.

Most of our initial conversation was standard fareç where we've been, where we're going, what we've been studying, and language. I learned to pronounce some Danish vowels, which took a lot of concentration. There was even a short episode of frantically trying to find food in Geneva before our next train left.

You can tell you're in Switzerland when everything outside gets beautiful.. Villages on hills overlooking lakes, mountains looming on the horizon, fluffy clouds in the sky, etc. Bern is more of that, but a lot more beuildings and a river instead of a lake.

There's a lot of construction going on in central Bern right now, so we had to double check our path to the hostel, but we made it all the way down a long hill and booked three spots in a 20 bed room. Evening was just beginning, so we walked from the hostel to the south side of the river (it sort of envelopes the city, bending around the east side), and over to the "main" street.

The prices, all in CHF — Swiss francs — were initially disorienting (by the way, if a hundredth of a euro is a eurocent, is a hundredth of a franc a frankencent? are two of them frankincense?). But instead of being really expensive, we slowly realized everything was just fairly expensive. We settled on drinks at Starbucks and sandwiches at a nice bar/cafe down the street. Lasse and Tanja are the only people my age I've met who admit to feeling childish for not liking coffee. I felt the same way, and then my sister Kiera instroduced me to breves and lattes with fair amounts of sugar, cinnamon, and everything else. Now I don't mind esperesso-based drinks, but I still don't like coffee. Anyway — I had some tea.

The conversation quickly turned more serious, and we started talking about stereotypes and cultural difficulties. I found out a bunch about the practically socialist system in Denmark that does everything it can to distribute wealth evenly and not provide any motivation for high acheivers. I told them about what feels to me like the cultural homogenity and isolation of the United States. It was great.

We walked almost directly back to the hostel and went to bed — rest after lots of travel and intense conversation.

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