We finally departed Geneva and spent the rest of our vacation staying in various hotels and Airbnbs. Our first stop was Bern. It was a 2-hour train ride from Geneva. We had 2 big suitcases and we couldn’t find a place to easily store them on the first level without taking extra seats (there is space to store luggage under the seats, but our suitcases were too big) so we took them upstairs where there was a storage rack for the luggage. It was very comfortable up there, and we enjoyed the 2-hour train ride with the most incredible views. Once we arrived at the Bern train station we walked 15 minutes to the train stop where we took the train that stopped directly across the street from our hotel. We stayed at IBIS Bern Expo. The rooms were reasonably priced ($140/night), small but comfortable, and they have air conditioning. They provide you with a card for free local transportation on the buses, but since we had the Swiss Pass we didn’t use it. We spent the first day walking around the city, admiring the Aare River, the beautiful streets and architecture, and the beautiful church. There is a funicular, which takes you down to the river, or you can walk down the steps. There are also 3 bears that were fun to watch. What was really cool about the old city was they have stores, bars, and, restaurants that are below street level. It looks like you are going into a basement and instead there is an entire business there. We also visited the Rose Garden, which had great views of the city.
Our first morning in Bern we took the train to Zermatt (a 2-hour train ride with one transfer) and then purchased tickets to take Europe’s highest open-air cogway railway to Gornergrat, a mountain with beautiful views, including that of the Matterhorn. It was a 45-minute ride. The cost was around $100/person round trip, but with the Swiss Pass it was 50 percent off. We also paid an additional $10 per ticket for a priority ticket. We got there 15 minutes before the next train was going up and the line was huge to board the train. We wanted to make sure to sit on the right side as it has incredible views of the Matterhorn on the way up. It turns out we were the only ones that paid the $10 extra so we were the first ones on the train and got the best seats. The train was crowded and others had to stand so I felt it was worth the extra $10. Once you get to the top you can walk around and hike. We went to the very top for the panoramic view, but I have to say, it was exhausting at that altitude to climb higher. We had lunch at the restaurant at the top, which was enjoyable. After spending time enjoying the views, we took the railway back down to Zermatt and spent the day wandering there. It is truly beautiful there with the cute houses and all the greenery and the views of the Matterhorn from there as well. We visited the Matterhorn Museum, which was free with our Swiss Pass. We had a very enjoyable dinner at Say Cheese, an upscale fondue restaurant. It was delicious and fun. We returned to Bern to discover a music festival going on. There were different bands playing up and down the street in Old town and food booths set up…it was quite the party scene.