Bern: Swiss Section Meeting, 26 – 28 August 2022

The beautiful capital of Switzerland, Bern was the location of this year’s Swiss Fly in.  The hotel was conveniently located close to the City Center and was situated within a bend of the river Aare, and with panoramic rooftop views of the City and the Alps beyond.  50 IFFR members and guests participated and 12 GA aircraft flew into Bern-Belp airport from several other European Sections. 

Right base to land at Bern
The ramp was packed by the time the last arrivals landed

The weekend began with a gathering at the Airport on the Friday lunchtime, and greetings from the airfield manager, himself a local Rotarian  

Friday’s informal lunch at Bern airport
Swiss Section Chair Nik Amman welcomes us all to Bern

After lunch, it was a short ride into the city for a tour of the Swiss Parliament building. 

Rotarian and member of the Swiss Parliament Melanie Mettler gave a fascinating perspective on Swiss government and representation. Presentations were given in the two chambers and the lobby. 

President of Switzerland – for one brief moment!

Toward the end of the presentation Esther Brönnimann-Zellweger (wife of Rotarian Markus) sang a very moving Yodel, then described how this form of communication had developed in the mountains. 

Enjoy the beautiful yodeling of Esther Brönnimann-Zellweger

Friday dinner was in the restaurant at the Zoo located close to the middle of the city.

Bern is an environmentally friendly city, so we took the bus to the zoo
Friday dinner in the zoo restaurant – rapidly moved indoors, due to evening showers

On Saturday, we separated into groups and were treated to a not to be missed, walking tour of the old town in glorious sunshine. This medieval federal city is deservedly a UNESCO World Heritage Site, oozing wealth and immaculately kept.

Crowds gather each our to see the 13th century clock in the Zytglogge perform its magical routine

After lunch, we had time to ourselves to explore the city.  Some headed down the hill to the Bärengraben to see the bears. Bears are of particular significance in Bern because the bear is a symbol of both the city and surrounding canton, and is featured in their coat of arms.

Iconic Bern Brown Bear – having a snooze

Tony and Rosi Flinn had brought their son Richard and partner Emma as guests for the trip.  In the afternoon, while Tony and Rosi visited an art gallery (Bern Fine Art museum) with an exhibition of Vuillard and Bonnard paintings, Richard went for a swim in the river echoing a pastime beloved of Bern residents.  Not for the faint hearted or weak swimmer in this fast-flowing river though.

Fast moving waters of the river Aare which encircles the city of Bern

Self-selected Rotarians then listened to a talk by Dr P Messerli, director of the Wyss Academy for Nature with a talk entitled “Creating a new relationship with nature”. Following that, we all assembled on the panoramic terrace of the hotel with stunning views over the city to drank aperitifs and eat petit fours before an excellent Gala Dinner.

Canapes and pre-Gala Dinner drinks on the terrace overlooking the city
Gala dinner was in the lit up dining room, overlooking the city

As is ever the way in Europe in summer, the weather was changeable.  On the way out, the Ritchies and the Wadias had managed to leave for Bern a day earlier, before bad weather arrived in the UK.  Toni and Rosi Flinn could only leave on the Thursday.  Their outbound flight from North Lincs in the UK was pretty awful, delayed due to the passing line of thunderstorms and in IMC until the Kent coast.  Fortunately, thereafter they had good conditions, with a fuel and customs stop in Northern France.  Everyone heading back to the UK on the Sunday had an easier journey home on the Sunday. Instead, it was the pilots heading into Germany who had the “joys” of the thundery weather that had been in the UK a few days earlier.

Sunday morning “scramble” for departure

Based on an article by Dr Tony Flinn which appeared in The Rotating Beacon (the newsletter of IFFR UK).

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