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Swiss National Day in Bern – Punks, Fireworks and Fondue

So what would you think if you stepped out of Bern train station at 8.00pm, in the pouring rain and found yourself surrounded by hordes of Punks, drinking beer and letting off fireworks in the street, whilst wearing t-shirts of which the only word which you can understand is ‘Nazi’?

Well my first thought was ‘Fuck This!’ My instinct was to get the hell out of there! But thanks to me not reserving a seat on my train to Italy and the French national holiday starting (no trains seats left on any train!), Bern was my only option. Luckily I had a friend staying a 20 minute bus ride from the station and a bed with my name on it! So I put my head down, held on tightly to my backpack straps and weaved my way through the crowd. As I walked, I prayed to a god that I don’t believe in that I wouldn’t be the next victim of a near miss with a firework resulting in my smalls becoming slightly dirtier than they already were!

The instructions from my friend were – “Catch bus number 19 towards Blinzern, get off at the last stop and turn right, follow the path until you reach some houses, you will find us.” Now you could give me a map with a drawn on route and I will start walking south instead of north! (that has actually happened to me a few times, but I feel like I explore more of a city that way! :P). Twenty minutes on the bus and I find myself pretty much in the country side. I am starting to worry whether I’m on the right bus now!

I get off the bus at the last stop as directed. As I am walking down what seems to be a footpath, 100% sure I am going the wrong way, I stumble upon what I can only describe as some kind of witchcraft. Bern is getting weird now. What I see is: Out in the torrential rain, in the middle of this footpath a group of Swiss people are stood around what I can only describe as a cauldron with flames roaring below. The only way to my destination is through this party of wizards and witches, but before I get to the awkward situation of saying ‘Excuse me’ in a foreign language to a load of strangers, I hear my name being shouted…
Turns out I had walked into a fondue party where my friend, Mary was hanging out. Apparently, a bit (AKA a lot) of rain doesn’t stop the Swiss from having their fondue! Now fondue to me is some melted chocolate in a pot and some marshmallows, maybe a strawberry or two if they were on offer in Tescos. Fondue in Switzerland is a cauldron full of cheese and wine which you dip everything you can imagine into, AMAZING! So far I’m a big fan of this National Day thing! I even get given an apron to put my bread and wine glass in, these guys have made these fondue parties like well oiled machines!
Sadly as the rain is so bad the fireworks are cancelled, so it turns out our 30 minute hike up the side of a mountain, in the pouring rain, in the pitch black night, with no torch, was a wasted endeavour!
Now I had found Mary and wasn’t hopelessly lost I was settled, but I was still a little concerned about walking into the set of ‘Doomsday 2 – Swiss Wasteland’. But all is well, the Swiss government had recently had a vote on immigration laws which resulted in stricter rules. According to Mary, the T-shirts I saw said ‘Say no to nazi’s – Say yes to immigrants’, as there was a pro immigration rally earlier that day. That made the fireworks in the street a lot less intimidating, and the punks seem almost on my side. Now I feel stupid for not daring get my out camera and shooting the carnage!

Moral of the story, when plans change you find something wonderful and exciting that you hadn’t imagined, punks are friendly, and even the most uncoordinated can find their way when they need to.


Ever been to Switzerland, or lost in translation, comment below!


4 thoughts on “Swiss National Day in Bern – Punks, Fireworks and Fondue

  1. I can relate to misunderstanding the situation when you don’t know the language or the culture. We have tons of funny stories about things getting lost in translation when we lived in Panama.

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