Monday, August 27, 2007

Riverbank rooftops

Funky Swiss houses. There was no hassle from the building planning dept. about uniformity in the old days!

Saturday, August 25, 2007

The River Aare

Summer by the Aare, lower old town. The river is very high at the moment.

Tuesday, August 21, 2007

Urban Bern / Die Reitschule

Here's the heavily graffitied Reitschule a.k.a. Reithalle (Riding School / Riding Hall), the somewhat dodgy but nonetheless best alternative venue in town. It was originally the Berne riding school. Nowadays it's a leftist hang-out, hosting underground and political publishing presses, a theatre/cinema and a number of smokey alternative bars and concert halls. Much of it is sponsored by the state, stemming from a deal whereby the former squat was saved from conversion into a multi-storey car-park by the clever anarchists claiming it (rightly, at least these days) to be a cultural centre.

Tuesday, August 07, 2007

Early morning walk

Taken from the Kornhaus Bridge into the city.

Wednesday, August 01, 2007

Swiss National Day

1st August is Swiss National Day (Nationalfeiertag / Fête National). It's a celebration of the signing of the Helvetic Confederation on 1st August 1291. Full history here on Wikipedia.

In short, 1st August is about countryside brunches (provided on farms all over the country), a day of work (everything is closed), and lots and lots of fireworks. People don't seem to have much regard for safety and fireworks were screaming all over the place, particularly in crowded areas. Dangerous, surely, but also a lotta fun.

Celebrations on the Rütli meadow where the confederation was agreed and documented have been marred in recent years by Hitler-saluting nationalists who support the continuation of Swiss independence and resistance to calls to join the European Union (Switzerland is surrounded by EU countries). The reality of neutral Switzerland's position vis-à-vis the EU is complicated and by no means defined by neo-nazism, but this remains a disturbing trend. Most Swiss distance themselves from these extremists.