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Take a coffee break in a new city, get to know new places and have a chat with an old friend? I experienced that in Fribourg. A city where two languages are in your ear and the Röstigraben even has a monument. Are you joining me on another day trip?
Denise – my tour guide extraordinaire
Denise answered my call to show me her city. Denise was a classmate in high school in Solothurn and we kept in touch. We not only exchange ideas about parenting, but also about the extra burden of being a working mother. Sometimes a chat like that is simply good for you.
Getting to Fribourg from the far, far Zurich was not so easy, but it was affordable thanks to a practical day ticket for public transportation. A bus brought me from Bern to Fribourg because of the renovation work on the rail tracks.
Fun fact: Busses in Zurich have “I'm also a train" on the back... as the ticket is valid for any kind of transportation (even ships and gondolas!)
We made an appointment shortly before noon in the station concourse, one of the cooler places on this hot July day.
Fribourg is just under 30 km from Bern and lies on both sides of the banks of the river Saane. A funicular takes you from the new to the old part of the city just a few minutes' walk from the train station. We conquered the more than 50 meters downhill in 2 minutes. It is the last water-ballast-run funicular in Switzerland. There was a special scent in the air; the funicular isn’t run by a motor, but rather by wastewater from the upper town.
Bridges to cross
We walked along the Rue de la Neuveville and I quickly realized why Fribourg is the largest historic town in Switzerland. Numerous, well-preserved buildings from the Middle Ages lined up in front of me. My explorer heart was delighted to see this! On the way Denise told me about her new job as a tour designer for city hunts in Swiss cities. Exploring a new city in around 2 hours and discovering unknown corners? Exactly my taste! And in Fribourg I practically got a VIP tour from Denise.
Over the Pont de Saint-Jean I looked over the Saane for the first time and was amazed at the art that I discovered on the bank a few meters below me. The milestone for the Röstigraben really does exist. The legendary Röstigraben is often equated with the course of the Saane (Sarine in French) near Fribourg. Alors, then we continued our adventure as we went on to lunch.
We had the lunch break at the Port of Fribourg and remembered our school days with a smile. Was sport class such agony for you too? We were filmed and at least it was quickly clear to me back then that sports are NOT my thing. The bilingualism in Fribourg is very noticeable. Street signs are in both languages and French is spoken in shops. Bien sûr, then it was time to unpack my rusty knowledge. Je prend le menu vegetarian (that’s how I ordered my French dish), ... and it tasted delicious.
Updating each other after the long lockdown break with lots of news in our private life and the hot weather had left us in the shade for longer than planned. The view of the cathedral of Fribourg was wonderful from our shady spot. Did I go there too? Unfortunately, we didn’t make the hike through the old town that led to the Cathedral. Legend says the cathedral has an unfinished bell tower, but I’ll have to find out on my next trip here.
I had made a recommended photo stop over the Pont du Milieu, the middle bridge. Denise's friend said that only from there can you have the best view of the old town, the cathedral in the background and water in the foreground. He was definitely right; it was worth stopping for a snap. What do you think?
Well, each a little trip comes to an end at some point, so the way soon led me back to the train station. Further impressions of Fribourg:
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Ah, Switzerland, my home, the land of legendary cheese and chocolate, where Roger Federer greets you on the street — a whole country running as smooth as… well… a Swiss watch! If you’ve ever made it here, wear this shirt with pride. Preferably while eating chocolate.