That leads me to today's travel fantasy: floating down the River Aare in Bern Switzerland! Hopping into the clear, crisp river has been a long standing tradition for locals. They hike up alongside the river, barefoot and empty-handed, to a launch point upstream. Once they are in, the strong current quickly takes them back downstream. Since the water flows from melting glaciers, it is shockingly cold (62 degrees!) and is said to literally take your breath away.
Experienced floaters naturally head toward to middle of the river to avoid tree branches, yet know that they need to start swimming back to the side well before the last hand-rail. Amateurs, on the other hand, need to heed the advice of others (since there are no signs, suggestions, or directions for getting in and out):
- Begin swimming toward the side of the river well before the last hand railing, the current will get you there faster than you realize
- If you get caught in a whirlpool, let the water take you all the way to the river floor and then launch yourself up from there once you reach the bottom (-_-)
- Float down the river at least twice, so that you are a bit more used to the temperature and are (hopefully) a little less afraid of dying
Floating through a capital city is an amazingly unique experience that doesn't present itself often. I'm sure I would be an absolute basket case fearing I was going to miss the last hand rail and end up in the dam, but I also know that it is an incredible once in a lifetime opportunity that I wouldn't want to skip.
Would you float down the Aare River? What is a travel fantasy of yours?
(Photos: Full Aperture)