Sunday, August 7, 2011

The Reitschule and the Bicycle

We woke to pounding rain, but it eventually let up, and we headed off to the monthly flea market at the Reitschule.  This alternative area in Bern was originally a Riding School (Reitschule) but it is now the well-tolerated hang-out of the radical left which uses it as an arts center and activist collective.  It has an alternative theater and some impressive graffiti.  Trains rattle over the bridge overhead.

Vendors and buyers at the Reitschule flea market
Vendors in front of the entrance to the theater
There were hundreds of vendors at the flea market.  We were in the market for a bike for me, especially after my misadventure with the flat tire on the borrowed bike from yesterday.  We eventually bought one from this Portuguese man and his partner.  Somehow we bargained in miscellaneous Spanish, German and English and arrived at an agreement on a decent mountain bike with 21 gears (more than I can get out of mine at home!), and a bike pump, lock, and a basket for the back of Darrell's bike.  Most people have baskets here for transporting everything from groceries to puppies!

The Portuguese couple we bought the bike from
The picture above is a little weird looking because I tried to blur out the background a little.  I don't have a picture of the bike - I'm sure one will show up eventually - but here are two pictures that show how bike-friendly Switzerland is.

Note both the separate bike lane and the light that has a bike on it!
The bicycle in the light is a little tough to see - but at busy intersections they actually have separate lights for cars, bikes, and pedestrians!

Convenient bike routes are well-signed and easy to follow!
Yesterday, Darrell and I followed Route 99 for part of our trip.  Today I followed 94 through Bern to a bit out of town.  The routes are not the most direct, but they take advantage of quieter and more scenic roads.  There is a great website at that you can use to check out different routes and get information on areas of interest, where on the route there are bike shops available, where you can rent bikes, catch trains, etc.  So, for now, my hiking has been overtaken by biking!

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