Freedom of Speech

2016-10-30T11:13:34+00:00

Switzerland is one of the oldest democracies. Freedom of speech and freedom of religion are some basic human rights. Anybody can say what they think and believe without having to fear negative consequences.

Especially in Berne, being the capital city, there are frequent events where people stand up

  • and solicit signature for a new referendum against the Swiss Intelligence Service collecting more information
  • for the persecuted Christians in Iran
  • or voice their support for a vegan life style
  • etc etc

For these official events the police has to grant a permit. To obtain a permit actually isn’t too difficult.

Normally these events are not really getting very much attention. For one they are quite frequent and people on the whole are not very easily moved.

However I was amazed at the very violent and loud opposition to a rather peaceful manifestation of maybe a thousand Christians from diverse backgrounds. These folks gathered in front of the parliament building (on the Bundesplatz) to show their support for the unborn child. The organisers called it a „pro-life manifestation“.

In the event diverse speakers stood up and celebrated life. They argued that neither abortion nor euthanasia was ethical.

A small group of maybe 200 activists violently and noisily opposed the event. They argued that a woman should have freedom over her own body and thus be able to choose an abortion.

A great number of police units from the wider area were called in to reinforce the local units. The protection of the pro-life flock must have costs enormous amounts of tax money. Yet at the same time it showed the freedom of speech is still highly valued, even though at times it gets under more and more pressure.

Freedom of Speech 2016-10-30T11:13:34+00:00

Thun, the Main City of the Bernese Oberland

2016-11-19T20:05:03+00:00

This beautiful city is located at the lower end of lake Thun. The river Aare flows through the city and about 20km further down passes the city of Berne. On a clear day a massive range of mountains towers high up on the other side of lake Thun.

The city has only about 44’000 inhabitants and is quite compact with a charming old town overlooked by a castle. Just taking a stroll through the city and across some of its many bridges, enjoying a drink in one of the many restaurants is a wonderful activity on a day off.

The small harbour just opposite the train station is a great starting point for an excursion with one of the boats on to few other places on lake Thun. The trip offers a magnificent perspective of the alps and ends up in Interlaken.

The city goes back to the day of the Romans, who were driven out of Thun and Switzerland by the Burgundians around 400 AD. The Aare became the border between the Burgundians who were Christians and the non-Christians on the northern side of the river. The town is first mentioned in 1133. Around 1190 the Duke Berthold V of Zähringen built the castle of Thun.

A Military School was founded in 1819 which became the main military school in Switzerland. Ruag is a defence, space and aviation company with its seat in Thun.

Today Thun is a modern city with a somewhat laid-back atmosphere. It hasn’t really been discovered by mass tourism yet. To me this is a must see place.

Thun, the Main City of the Bernese Oberland 2016-11-19T20:05:03+00:00

Chillon Castle

2016-10-15T10:39:41+00:00

The picturesque Château de Chillon is on Lake Geneva in the canton de Vaud (french speaking). It is one of the most famous castles in Switzerland and probably Europe as well.

It started as a Roman outpost, guarding the strategic road from France and Switzerland over the alps down to Italy.

The first written records date back to 1005. It belonged to the counts of Savoy until the Bernese took over in the 16th century. The bernese coat of arms is still visible on the picture above (with the big bear). By 1798 the Vaudois threw out the Bernese German speaking authorities with the help of French troops. In 1803 the castle was taken over by the canton of Vaud.

There are great audioguides to visit the castle offering helpful explanations.

Chillon often has special events and exhibitions going. Check out their calendar here.

It is about an hour’s car ride away from Berne.

Chillon Castle 2016-10-15T10:39:41+00:00

The Justis Valley

2016-10-22T18:53:37+00:00

The Justis valley is rather untouched yet not far from the city of Thun!

It is situated high above lake Thun and about 7.5km long. The Grön creek flows through the valley and deep down at the village of Merligen it enters lake Thun. At the end of the valley a pass leads over to another beautiful the valley: the Eriz.

The Justis valley is great for a nice and easy hike. For those who are more ambitious there are also a couple of more challenging tracks!

In September on a particular Friday a big farmers’ festival takes place up there. It is all about the cheese produced up. During the summer months quite a number of cows peacefully graze up there. Their milk is turned into cheese. At the end of that festival day the beautifully decorated cows are lead down from the valley in an “Alpabzug” to the different farmers homes much further down for the winter season.

Sometime in October is the mating season of the deer. Then the valley is filled with the very impressive sound of roaring deer. Taking some binoculars along you can look out for these beasts that are marking their territory.

Going to the top of the Niederhorn one can easily look down into the Justis valley (as in picture).

The Justis Valley 2016-10-22T18:53:37+00:00