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Mostly Food & Travel Journal

Bern – classic and chic

Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland!

Southend Airport to Bern with SkyWork

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Travel Reviews
- Switzerland

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Bern – classic and chic

Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland!

Southend Airport to Bern with SkyWork


Bern – classic and chic

Bern might not be the first place one would think of for a short city-break.Bern In fact, Switzerland probably isn’t a country one would list first for a quick holiday. It’s all Alps, chocolate, or chocolate in the shape of Alps, isn’t it? Well, no! And it’s easier to get there than one might expect.

Southend Airport is fast becoming my airport of choice …and I live on the opposite side of London. It has easy connections from Liverpool Street Station and the railway station is right at the Airport, not a shuttle bus ride, not a taxi ride and not a healthy hike – it is actually just a few steps from train to terminal. There is just one thing missing – crowds of people. SkyWork operates convenient services from Southend, which makes Bern more accessible than some other cities in Europe. Read more here.

The Old City of Bern, founded in 1191, is the medieval heart of a more modern town. “It is the most beautiful that we have ever seen,” wrote Goethe in 1779. It is a UNESCO Cultural World Heritage Site and has been since 1983. It sits atop a hill skirted on three sides by the River Aare. It’s easily walked and well defined following the lines of its 12th to 15th-century constructions. There was a major fire in 1405 and much of the city was rebuilt but this time the wooden homes and businesses were erected in stone.bern Despite various changes the city has retained much of its original charm. Many buildings in the Old City have been designated as Swiss Cultural Properties of National Significance.

One can stroll through its 6 km of wide streets and along arcades which now house contemporary boutiques offering chic fashion instead of vegetables. There is plenty that reminds one of local history, culture and legend. Every intersection seems to sport a fountain. In fact Bern is famed for its Renaissance water features. There are over 100 public fountains and eleven are crowned with iconic allegorical statues. The statues were created during the 16th century and were originally built to decorate conduits to supply fresh water to the general public.

The celebrated Clock Tower (Zytglogge) was Bern's first western city gate but is now one of Bern's most visited attractions. The name Zytglogge translates as "time bell" and this was one of the earliest public clocks, one of the three oldest clocks in Switzerland. The Zytglogge building was converted into a women's prison at one point in its long life. It’s said to have been used to house Pfaddendirnen or "priests' whores", ladies found guilty of having sex with clerics. Nowhere is mention made of the punishment meted out to the lusty men of the cloth!

The astronomical clock is indeed something of a mechanical wonder. It achieved the state which we see today in 1530. In addition to the clock, the Zytglogge features a group of amusing figures. At three minutes before each hour the characters - a rooster, a fool, a knight, a piper, a lion and bears, come to life: the animals chase each other, the fool rings his bells and the chicken crows.

Albert Einstein lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905 and it is here that he developed his Theory of Relativity. The Einstein House is small and decorated for the period when the Einsteins were in residence. Not all of the furniture was owned by Albert but there are plenty of photographs on display and guides who, if you get a good one, will tell stories of the great man’s life. One can learn some surprising facts that might change your mind about Einstein.

Bern fountain The Granary (Kornhaus) is stunning but its unprepossessing entrance can easily be missed. The Kornhaus is considered to be one of Bern's finest examples of High Baroque architecture. As it was no longer serving as a grain store, it was turned into a festival hall in 1893. The Kornhaus is in the middle of Bern on Granary Square (Kornhausplatz) next to the City Theatre. This cellar, now a restaurant, is one of Switzerland's most impressive public spaces, astounding just for its size alone and seeming more like a subterranean church than a dining room. Perhaps ‘church’ gives a misleading perspective: it’s a culinary cathedral and a must-visit for the gastronomically-minded.

Perhaps the most famous spot for a luxurious stay is The Hotel Schweizerhof. This was known as “Hotel Fetzer” or “Zähringerhof” in the 18th century but was given its current name in 1859. In 1911 the Hotel Schweizerhof was torn down, rebuilt and reopened in July 1913. A comprehensive, two-year renovation started in 2009 and it’s now open for business again. It has that appealing melange of contemporary and classic décor. Its restaurant is just what any visitor would want from a European eatery: dark wood, gleaming glass and impeccable service. If you go over winter and spring there might be a sumptuous afternoon tea on offer.

Bern has so much within a small area. The visitor won’t feel compelled to hire a car. Everything to fill a short vacation is within a few square kilometres. There is history at every turn, food to tempt and tease, and suites to pamper. Bern is classy and chic and worth exploring.

Visit Hotel Schweizerhof Bern here

Visit SkyWork Airlines here

Visit Southend Airport here

Visit Bern here


food and travel reviews

Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland!

Now I have the attention of my dear, curious reader! Always eager for some dramatic news.Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland! Did our hero trip over a ski pole? Perhaps a slide on a fondue slick? Who is this unfortunate sleuth, anyway? In truth, this is old news …over one hundred year-old news, and the aforementioned detective is none other than Sherlock Holmes.

His fall was documented in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's The Final Problem which was published in The Strand Magazine in December 1893. The magazine’s readers were so shocked by the untimely death of their favourite fictional character that over 20,000 subscriptions were cancelled and The Strand narrowly missed following Holmes into premature oblivion. The Reichenbach Falls evidently made a great impression on Sir Arthur Conan Doyle, who was introduced to them on a holiday to the area by his host, Sir Henry Lunn, who was the founder of the Lunn Poly holiday travel empire.

In The Final Problem, Holmes comes up against Professor Moriarty, a master of crime and his personal nemesis. Holmes is forced to flee to the Continent with Moriarty in pursuit. ‘It was on the third of May that we reached the little village of Meiringen, where we put up at the Englischer Hof, then kept by Peter Steiler the Elder,’ writes Dr Watson, Holmes’s faithful companion.

Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland! These days the Reichenbach Falls are just a short drive away. The Falls are also accessible by the Reichenbach Fall funicular. The lower station is 20 minutes’ walk, or a 6 minute bus ride, from Meiringen station. The actual ledge from which Moriarty and Holmes fell is reached by climbing the path to the top of the Falls, crossing the bridge and following the path down the hill. The ledge is marked by a plaque reading: ‘At this fearful place, Sherlock Holmes vanquished Professor Moriarty, on 4 May 1891.’

The town of Meiringen, unlike the detective, does really exist, and is believed to be the birthplace of the meringue that we know today. The invention of meringue in 1720 is attributed to a Swiss pastry-cook named Gasparini. The Guinness Book of Records lists the biggest meringue as that produced 1985 in Meiringen. It was 2.5 metres long, 1.5 metres wide and 1 metre high. The usual-sized meringues are often eaten as cases filled with fruit and cream, such as Pavlova. They are still served with whipped cream in local cafés; one could hardly visit this small town without trying one or two of these airy and sweet delights.

But back to Sherlock standing by the Reichenbach Falls: ‘As I turned away I saw Holmes, with his back against a rock and his arms folded, gazing down at the rush of the waters. It was the last that I was ever destined to see of him in this world.’Famous Detective Falls in Switzerland! Dr Watson tells of the emotional discovery of his friend’s assumed death: ‘There was Holmes's Alpine-stick still leaning against the rock by which I had left him. But there was no sign of him, and it was in vain that I shouted. My only answer was my own voice reverberating in a rolling echo from the cliffs around me.’

Meiringen has taken its fictitious visitor, Sherlock Holmes, to its heart. There are hotels, bars and restaurants named after the detective and the hotel which features in the book is still welcoming guests. Park Hotel du Sauvage is conveniently situated next to the Sherlock Holmes Museum which draws fans from around the world.
The museum opened in 1991 on the 100th anniversary of the death of Sherlock Holmes, and in the presence of the Sherlock Holmes Society of London and Dame Jean Conan Doyle, daughter of the author. The museum is found in the basement of the old English church in the centre of the village. It’s a small museum but one of the most memorable I have visited. The sitting room of the Victorian lodgings at 221b Baker Street where Holmes and Dr. Watson lived has been thoughtfully recreated in sufficient detail to please even the most dedicated Holmes aficionados.

One can reach Meiringen via Bern with SkyWork Airlines who fly from Southend Airport. From Bern travel time is 1 hr 31 minutes using the celebrated Swiss train network with 1 change, going via Interlaken Ost.

Visit Sherlock Holmes Museum here

Visit Park Hotel du Sauvage here

Visit SkyWork Airlines here

Visit Southend Airport here


food and travel reviews

Southend Airport to Bern with SkyWork

Southend Airport to Bern with SkyWorkI have flown from London’s Southend Airport a couple of times and I must admit that I first considered the prospect to be something of a joke: Where was Southend, to start with? Isn’t it somewhere near the edge? It sounded a long way off, but then I actually tried it. Seems Essex isn’t that far away after all.

Southend Airport is a gem. One can speed from tarmac to baggage carousel in less than 10 minutes. For those using public transport the news gets better – the station is just outside the front door, with frequent services to Liverpool Street which is just 53 minutes away. No waiting for shuttle buses and no taxi needed.

Realistically there might be folks who arrive by car and they have ample short- and long-term parking available and it’s just yards from the terminal, so no confusion with pick-up points and ‘Red Zones’. There is a Holiday Inn within 5 minutes’ walk; yes, that is an honest 5 minutes and not an estate agent’s ramble of a bracing couple of miles. Southend Airport is compact and marvellously appointed. The airport has been voted Best in Britain by readers of Which? Magazine for two years running and has had more than £120 million invested in it since the Stobart Group acquired it in 2008. More retail outlets are now being added.

I was heading for Bern in Switzerland and flying with SkyWork Airlines. They now run a twice-daily service between Southend and Bern during the week, and one flight on Sundays. The airline moved its operation to Southend from London City Airport and it’s proving to be a great success for the airport, SkyWorks and travellers from across the South East of England. The first flight leaves London Southend each day at 8.15am and arrives in Bern at 10.55am, with the return flight taking off from Bern at 6.40pm and arriving in Southend at 7.30pm.

Southend Airport to Bern with SkyWork This was to be my first flight with SkyWork Airlines. The plane was a Dornier 328s. That meant nothing to me but suffice it to say it’s a 31-seater with propellers. I am a poor traveller, a terrible admission for a travel writer, but at least I have that in common with a good percentage of the population. I was braced for an iffy, bumpy ride with the possibility of disgracing myself before touchdown. In reality the flight was as smooth as I have experienced with even the biggest aircraft.

The seats were a cut above anything but business class with other carriers, and the service was attentive. We were offered a drink and a snack during even this short adventure of only one hour and 40 minutes. Larger national companies might take note of the quality of SkyWork Airlines. Inflight entertainment was thoughtful. This company offers an iPad to its passengers although by the time one has enjoyed a hot ‘beverage’ and a cookie one will be approaching one’s destination, in this case the beautiful city of Bern. (Article to follow shortly.) Bern city centre is designated as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. It has an impressive medieval cathedral and an iconic clock tower. Bern is also close to skiing resorts in the Jungfrau region, so ideal as part of a two venue vacation.

The partnership of SkyWork Airlines and Southend Airport offers both business and holiday flyers a taste of polished travel. Speedy service, comfort and the only thing missing is stress.

Visit SkyWork Airlines here

Visit Southend Airport here

Visit Bern here



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