Urban Swimming in the Aare

The capital of Switzerland, is the city of Bern. Flowing through this city, you find the river Aare. On the banks of the river Aare, you find river beach Eichholz. This beach, would technically be in the suburb of Wabern, this is just outside of Bern. What I am about to tell you, is a long standing tradition in the warm summer months of Bern. 

To partake in this tradition, you will need: one swimming attire, one small floating device – like a pool noodle, a camera, a towel and a stranger thats willing to watch your stuff or a couple of francs to pay for a locker. (The locker options are possible at the public baths at Marzili). Okay, back to Eichholz. To enter this fast flowing river you have a few options. You can either take on the pebble beach and enter the river at the beach Eichholz or you can walk upstream about a km or two and float down towards the beach or even past the beach. 

As soon as you hit the water you are taken by the 2m/sec stream. The two kilometers you just walked upstream, that took 20min, will fly by in a few minutes and soon enough you will pass by beach Eichholz again. Twenty counts further and you are almost half way on your way to the first bridge in the distance. This experience is quite refreshing in the summer heat but equally exciting. What a rush! 

Listen closely while floating down the river, you will hear the sound of clashing pebble stones echoing through the water. When you feel comfortable to get out, you can swim towards the left hand side of the river, and every now and then you will see these red bars or balustrade looking pipes sticking out of the water. As you approach one of these bars, be careful to take the power of the stream in consideration as you grab them. Getting out is pretty easy if you know what to do though. You can do this run over and over again. 

The river is a beautiful asphalt blue colour, they say its all the minerals in the melted glacier water. On a hot summers day the water can reach up to 20 deg C. Later on the river Aare reaches and merges with the river Rhine, but you will not be able to float all the way to this point. Approaching the city centre of Bern you will have to ‘disembark’ or else you’ll hit the water barricade, prohibiting swimmers to float through the city centre. This is the best kept secret of Bern. Please be safe. Even if you are a good swimmer. Its advisable to take a small floating device with. Enjoy and have fun. 

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