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Wednesday, 9 April 2008

Switzerland - Biel Town Between Rhine and Rhone.

Keywords: Lakes, Mountains and Medieval Town. switzerland
23.04.2006 - 30.04.2006 30 °C
Biel (as Germans call it) and Bienne (as is called by French), is barely 30 kilometers from Berne, the capital city of switzerland,a Popular Travel Destination both summer and winter. It is in fact a district of Berne. Driving to Biel was easy, highways are new and we encountered little traffic. Every body drives at a moderate speed although most of the vehicles were 4-wheel drive. When you near Biel, the highway turns into motorway and then into one lane. When you reach the town, it feels as if you have always been there. You enter the center and are at the water front, you park your car easily, stretch your legs and look at the boats lolling on the water and a sense of well being enters your body. No wonder Switzerland is a Popular Travel Destination not only for europeans but visitors from many Asian Countries.

Biel is a small harbour town with a population of about 53,000 but we were told that there are more than one hundred nationalities living there. It must be the modern industries and world famous watch factories. It can not be that all those people are there for the Chess Tournament or the Wine Festival.

The Tourist brochure told us that originally the town was inhabitated by Celts and later by Romans, which means around l0th- llth Century. Biel is also famous for the Jura mountain range which seperates the Rhine and Rhone river here. The route of river Aare was redirected in Lake Biel as it was flooding the whole area. A stroll around the old city center is a thrilling experience, houses with medieval facades, streets so narrow as if they have been cut and chiseled out in between the buildings and even houses. Small town squares and peaceful atmosphere enveloped us. The day we were there in April 2006 it was a sunny and warm day, the water front cafes and bars were full. We felt as if we were in Cadiz or Huelva in Spain. It was wonderful.

In a Cafe we met two waitresses, one from Philipines and another from South America. They told us that Biel was famous for celebrating Chess Tournament (apart from making Watches). And that it was a wine making region. We had already seen the vineyards on the slopes of mountains when we were travelling but I was not aware that it was an important wine growing region. In May and in september there is wine tasting and in september a Wine Festival. If you are awine afficionado, head towards Biel. I think that summer is the best time to visit switzerland. We saw many bikers who had come on bicycles from Bern and mountain hikes is a popular way of visiting the place. Switzerland is such a Popular Travel destination that film producers from Bollywood come here to film mountain sceneries both in summer and winter, since they no longer film such beautiful scenes in Kashmir (India).

After staying in the town we headed towards the Lake. The first sight which caught our attention was the views of St. Peter's Island. The whole region has wild and dense mountains on both sides and we could see typical country houses perched upon hills in remote and deep valleys. We were wondering how the inhabitants came down to the town from such heights. And how it would be in winter, deep snow covering every gorge and every path. But I would not mind living in such remote places, I am a loner and solitute does not haunt me.

Lake Biel is a beautiful eyefull, boats and ships were coming and going, there are guided tours of the connecting lakes but the prices were not cheap. We also saw boats berthed on the pier with restaurants on open decks. So we took off our clothes and put on swimming costumes and sat down on the rocks to take sun and feast our eyes on the beautiful lake and the mountain range stretching all the way out.
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