The Canton of Berne


All cars that are registered in Switzerland have to display the typical Swiss license plates. The license plate shows that the car is Swiss (watch out for the Swiss flag on the left hand side) and the flag of the canton (on the right). This car here is from the canton of Berne (BE).

The canton of Berne is the second largest of the 26 cantons in terms of population with just a little over 1 mio inhabitants. It is also the second largest in terms of surface (just barely 6’000m2). Car license numbers go up to just under 1 Mio. Lower number plates (under 100’000) are perceived as more prestigious. Low numbers can be especially purchased. The lower and ‘nicer’ the number the more expensive it tends to be.

The Canton of Berne is bilingual. About 85% speak Swiss German (a more melodious Swiss German dialect) and about 15% are French speaking Swiss. However around 15% of the population of the canton consists of residential foreigners without a Swiss passport, speaking many different languages. The canton is rather a protestant area.

A bear is the in the flag of the canton. The story goes that at the beginning days of the city of Berne, by 1191 the founder Berthold von Zähringen killed a bear on his first hunt in the area.

The canton of Berne joined the Swiss Federation in 1353. The canton has a colorful history with a roman period, the middle ages, the Burgundian wars in (15C), the reformation and a Napoleonic period (19C).

The canton of Berne has a very varied topography with the alps (quite an impressive mountain range up to 4000m), several lakes surrounded by fruitful farmland, rolling hills (the Emmental) and the Jura (a lower mountain range in the North). There are countless beautiful spots within a very small area that most foreign tourists would never get to see.

The capital of Switzerland is the city of Berne. The canton connects the German and the French speaking areas of Switzerland. Quite a few famous watch companies along with other high tech brands are located in the canton of Berne. Tourism is also important with key sites such as Interlaken and the Jungfraujoch station (or the top of Europa, at 3’454m). Also check out our post on the Niesen. In that area is so much exciting stuff to do!

The Canton of Berne 2016-06-12T20:38:41+00:00

Winter Forest


These last few weeks have been rather warm for this season. But finally winter has arrived and temperatures have now dropped to 0°C and below that. Only now snow stays on as it is cold enough not to melt anymore. And there is certainly more snow to come…

The forest is beautiful in all seasons. About a third of our trees are many different types of broad-leaved trees that mark the seasons clearly. Two thirds are various coniferous trees.

The forest has a long tradition of being well tended. It covers about a third of the country. A third of the forested areas is found on our mountains (Jura and alps). Year by year an army of forest workers cut specific trees and keep the many roads and hiking trails in the forests in good shape. 70% of the forest is in public hands.

Today our forests are very much parceled up. There are not many spots in Switzerland where you won’t see some artificial lights caused through cars or housing.


Winter Forest 2016-02-14T23:00:40+00:00

Heidi, A Heart Warming New Movie


The brand new movie “Heidi” is set in the middle of the 19th century. The story was written by the Swiss Johanna Spyri and published in 1879. The book became such a success that it was translated into more then 50 languages. The new movie follows very faithfully the original book. The film makers took tremendous shots of the scenery of mountains in Graubünden (southeastern part of Switzerland) and interesting perspectives of the 19th century German city of Frankfurt. Here is the trailer of the movie in the original languages (Swiss German and German).

Heidi is an orphan girl that gets placed with her loner grandfather called Alpöhi. Up on the mountains she leads a carefree and simple life. Her best friend is a shepherd boy (Geisspeter) who daily comes by to mind the few goats of Alpöhi.

One day Heidi’s aunt Dete snatches Heidi away and takes her to the far away city of Frankfurt. Here Heidi is placed in the house of a rich German family. Klara is the daughter of the house owner and just a little older than Heidi. Klara is bound to a wheelchair. The two quickly become best friends even though culturally they are from incredibly different backgrounds. As time goes on Heidi gets so homesick that she is allowed to return home to her Alpöhi living high up in the mountains.

Later on Klara comes to visit Heidi in her remote spot. The visit even has the effect of her learning to walk again.

Heidi, A Heart Warming New Movie 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

On January 6: The Three Kings Cake


At the beginning of January the three kings cake is a very popular bakery product. Leavened sweet bread is rolled into buns. In one of the buns a small plastic figure is hidden. The person who finds the figure has the privilege to wear the crown that comes along with it. Obviously every year the kids are very excited to search for the hidden treasure!

The three kings cake is sold in supermarkets and bakeries. This one here cost CHF 4.70 at Migros and weighs 420g. It really is delicious.

Nowadays most people are probably hardly aware what the three kings cake is all about. The biblical record states: “After Jesus’ birth, Wise Men from the east came to Jerusalem. They asked, “Where is the child who has been born to be king of the Jews? When we were in the east, we saw his star. Now we have come to worship him.”” (Gospel of Matthew, Chapter 2, Verse 1-2)

By the third century legends started mentioning three kings. By the 6th century they were called Caspar, Melchior and Balthasar. In Switzerland the tradition of the three kings cake was only introduced after WWII.

On January 6: The Three Kings Cake 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00

At End of Year SMI at 8’818 Points


From a financial perspective 2015 turned out to be a year with a high volatility on the stock market. At the end of the year the SMI reached almost the same position as at the beginning.

The Swiss Market Index (SMI) is Switzerland’s most important blue chip index. It is made up of 20 of the largest Swiss equities. Among those are health care titles (Novartis, Roche), consumer goods (Nestlé, Richemont, Swatch), financial titles (UBS, CS, Zurich insurance, Swiss Re), industrial titles (ABB, Holcim), financial titles (Baloise, Swiss Life) and quite a few other big names.

The Swiss economy is doing amazingly well in the middle of a very challenging situation in Europe. The Swiss Franc (CHF) is one oft he world’s most stable currencies and the country one of the richest in the world.

At End of Year SMI at 8’818 Points 2017-08-03T12:14:27+00:00