20: Strolling with the Smokers

We spent Saturday strolling around Biel, Bern and Murten with visiting Canadians Gord and Sandi Smoker, who have woven their way up from Israel, Turkey and who knows where else to spend some time in Switzerland.

For almost 12 hours, we got to speak English without thinking a moment about cultural nuances, or our listeners’ comprehension. It is just possible we talked their ears off. This morning, my jaw hurts and as I write this they are fleeing Switzerland on a train, headed for Frankfurt and then home to Vancouver Island. We don’t blame them.

The Smokers made Switzerland all the more fun – Gord provides a non-stop comedic patter that made Sandi groan and us laugh. We got the best restaurant service we’ve ever had here, which may be because Gord charmed the waiters, in particular in one Italian/German/English exchange where he told the waiter that 15% was a normal tip in Canada at which the waiter exclaimed “50 per cent??!!” We imagine he is somewhere right now filling out Canadian visa application forms.

A typical Bern picture of the town clock tower. 

 

A not-so-typical Bern photo. What goes on in this city’s underbelly?

We don’t know what this is, but it was in one of the Bern basements we glimpsed in at off Marktgasse (Market Street).

 

Bern’s basement boutiques include barber shops and fancy clothing stores.

 

This cellar door is named for the genius who worked in the patent office above it from 1902 to 1909. For some reason, an online biography says this office is located at Speichergasse and the Genfergasse, while the street we found it on was Marktgasse. It is possible the street was renamed, but we have no way of knowing for sure.

 

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