Yesterday I read that the quality of life in Zurich is supposed to be the second best in the world, falling only behind Helsinki as annoited by Monocle magazine.  Having been to Bern recently, an admittedly smaller and quiter place than Zurich, I felt it perhaps time to post a few photos from the visit.  One of the major attractions of Swiss cities apparently, also quoted by Monocle, is the idea that you go to work in a picturesque setting, then at the end of the day walk out of your office, spontaneously strip off your work clothes, and swim in the crystal clear acquamarine waters that run through seemingly all of the major downtown areas.  The amazement I guess being that the waters are actually safe enough to do this in, and seem to be absent any actual commerical traffic!  Now, while I'm somewhat skeptical of how useful that really is on a daily basis for most people, I can say that it is actually possible, and also great fun!  

 In Bern one can base out of one of the downtown pools, from which swimmers walk up the banks of the Aare river as far as they dare, then enter at strategic points along the way.  Diving into the at most 19C water, is a shock in itself, as is being pushed downstream much faster than one might expect or be in any position to slow or stop.  The current is so quick that one doesn't really swim so much as float on the surface, while noticing the constant churning noises of pebbles and stones being propelled along the bottom at high speed in their rush out of the mountains.  It's as if a giant grinder is at work, with the noise being so loud as to be heard with your head out of the water!  Floating for less than five minutes brings one back to the main pool area, where there are handrails extending out into the rushing current for people to grab onto and yank themselves out of the water if they can.  If you miss the first exit point, several more jut out along the way.  It's a blast, although not for weak swimmers or the faint of heart.  There were signs warning people to not go past the last exit, but what happens if one does was not entirely clear...maybe they go into the bear pits that also happen to be located right on the river? 

In any case, here are a few shots of the experience, and I may try and post a short video to show just how quickly the water was rushing by....

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