In Bern, Switzerland, hidden bargains and worthwhile treats await. That's a formula even Einstein would approve of!
This is especially true of Bern, home to the seat of the Swiss government. It's smaller and less flashy than other Swiss cities and is often underrated by many as a result. But not by me! Bern has had a special place in my heart from my very first trip - and I was eager to discover it once more from a new perspective and with a new budget.
Save: Hosteling International Bern (for sleep AND eats!)
Every quest deserves a happy ending and I'm THRILLED to report that they are STILL serving the same jam as they did in 2001! But surprise! It's wild sour cherry jam, not plum. So I was on a misguided search for over a decade. That could happen on any great quest, right?
So what was it like devouring a breakfast of rustic homemade bread, butter, cherry jam, hot chocolate, orange juice, and yogurt? Oddly satisfying - and not just because it's one of the better hostel breakfasts out there. I felt at peace, like I was honoring 21 year old me, concluding my 'grown up' European tour the same way I concluded my very first backpacking trip. It was a wonderful, full circle travel moment.
If you're not convinced to try hosteling based on cherry jam alone, I should point out that any basic hotel in Bern that shares these same descriptors (clean, comfortable, basic) costs at least 4 times as much a private hostel room, while a more luxurious property could cost 10 times as much. Now's the time to bunk with HI!
Splurge: The Einstein Museum Cafe
But splurge you should! We sure did, and our visit was the better for it. (And can be just take a moment to acknowledge that Switzerland's cafe scene never gets the credit it deserves?) We indulged in apple cake (there were two on the menu - I unabashedly asked for the less expensive of the two) and an extravagant cappuccino for me and a large black coffee for Ryan. It all felt very Einstein-like, getting cheap cake and expensive coffee and pondering the ways of the world as only a young patent clerk or blogger can. The cafe's motto is "Relatively The Best" and that's definitely an understatement.
Steal: Europe's Best Gelato
Bern has an upper and lower town, happily connected by a user-friendly funicular (which is FREE for hostel and hotel guests as these tourist oriented properties issue complimentary transit passes during your stay. Read more here!) The hostel, as well as the outdoor pool and recreation complex beside the river's jumping off point are all in the city's understated and underrated lower town. I'm glad the cool temperatures didn't dampen our lower town exploration plans as we found the best gelato in Bern - nay, in all of Europe!
Why I'll go back to Bern again and again.
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Our visit to Bern was facilitated in part by the local tourism board and HI Switzerland and we thank them for their support.