Friday, November 11, 2011

Catching up in Stockholm!

I'm hoping over the next few days I can finally catch up on our adventures!  We moved from our apartment in Bern on October 28th, two weeks ago.  Since then we have been to Klagenfurt and Vienna, Austria; Cologne, Germany; Louvain-la-neuve and Brussels, Belgium; Amsterdam, Netherlands; Copenhagen, Denmark; Oslo and Bergen, Norway; and now we are in Stockholm, Sweden!  That is ten cities and seven countries in 2 weeks - a little crazy!  And not, not, the normal way we travel.  But that is what happens when you get a one month Eurail Pass and when Darrell is trying to connect with his Arctic research colleagues working in northern Europe!

So, drift back in time and I will take you to our last days in Bern before our trip began...

October 24, 2011
Yesterday was the national election day for Switzerland.  They had all the seats in the equivalent of their house and senate up for grabs – so there were many candidates for over 400 positions.  Their house seats are won by simple majority, but the senate seats (with two senators from each canton like we have two senators from each state) had runoff elections if no candidate got a large enough percentage of the vote.  There are also seven ministers, and the President is a rotating position among the ministers, so if you want to meet with the President of Switzerland, you often meet with all seven people!

A special light-show on the Parliament building in Bern
Diccon Bewes, an English expat living in Bern, wrote in his blog:
“Swiss politics became the ultimate soufflé yesterday: full of hot air and with the middle rising nicely. Left and right lost votes and seats, while the two new parties in the center broke through in spectacular fashion.”

The people we know in Switzerland were quite happy with the results.  The rightist party was running on an anti-immigration campaign, but they were not successful.  Switzerland has only 3% unemployment and so immigration is not that large of an issue for most people.

Diccon has written a book “Swiss Watching: Inside Europe’s Landlocked Island” that I should read – but haven’t yet.  It is #1 on the bestseller list in Switzerland – I guess the Swiss want to know what an Englishman is writing about them!

Another view of the Bundeshaus with the light show images
Our very last night in Bern, after we were all packed up to travel, we went to the Bundeshaus plaza to see a special light show that was illuminated on the Parliament building.  It was about 20 minutes long and it was amazing!

I also want to leave you with some of the fall images of Bern from some walks and a COLD bike ride that I took soon before we left.

View of Bern from the Rose Garden
We lived on the right side of the bridge in this image in the lovely mixed Lorraine neighborhood.

The oldest bridge in Bern, replaced many times since the middle ages.
Houses on the hill above the Aare River.

Classic Swiss sign showing towns, hiking and biking directions.
The last bike ride took me climbing up high for almost an hour, and then freezing my hands as I cruised down the steep hills.  I took a picture of the farm near this sign.  Another sweet Swiss adventure.

Swiss goats are even cuter than Swiss cows!

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