Interview with Diccon Bewes, best selling author
As an avid reader and a lover of all things Swiss, I’m always looking for books about Switzerland – and there aren’t a lot available, in English, at least.
If Italy or France are your European destination of choice, you’ll find hundreds, and probably thousands, of both fiction and non-fiction books to choose from.
But for Switzerland, it’s a little more difficult.
So, when I stumbled across a book called Slow Train to Switzerland, the story of a reenactment, if you like, of the very first package tour to Switzerland in 1863, I was intrigued.
I purchased the book and was fascinated by both the similarities and the differences between travelling in Switzerland today and almost 160 years ago.
Googling the name of the author, Diccon Bewes, I discovered that he lives in Bern and is the author of seven books about Switzerland.
He is also a wealth of knowledge when it comes to Switzerland – ask him about Swiss history, chocolate, watches, famous Swiss residents or practically any topic related to Switzerland, and there’s a fair chance Diccon will know the answer.
Diccon kindly agreed to come on the podcast to tell us about his books and to share his top tips for visiting his home city of Bern.
Even if you’re not an avid reader like me, I’m sure you’ll find Diccon’s knowledge of Switzerland and his insider tips really helpful.
Click the green button below to listen:
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In this episode, we chat about:
- Diccon’s previous career as a travel writer
- How Diccon, an Englishman, came to be living in Switzerland and writing books about the country
- The inspiration behind Diccon’s seven books about Switzerland
- “Slow Train to Switzerland” – Diccon’s second book in which he writes about his reenactment of the first package tour to Switzerland, a journey that took place in 1863
- Diccon’s tips for what to see and do in his home city, Bern
- Annual not-to-be-missed events in Bern
- Local culinary specialties to try in Bern
- Swiss chocolate
Places, events and food mentioned in this episode:
>> Berner Munster – Dating back to the 14th century, Bern Cathedral features a 100-metre-high spire and magnificent stained glass windows.
>> Saturday Farmers Market – a weekly market held at Federal Parliament Square (Bundesplatz).
>> River Aare – the longest river in Switzerland surrounds Bern on three sides. It is a popular spot for swimming during the warmer months.
>> Rose garden – Bern’s former cemetery is now home to a garden displaying over 200 species of roses as well as numerous other flowering trees and plants.
>> Bear Park – the symbol of Bern, the brown bear, can be seen at the Bear Park, a large, purpose-built park on the bank of the River Aare.
>> Zytglogge – a 12th century clock tower featuring a 15th century astronomical clock.
>> Onion Festival – Bern’s most famous festival is held on the fourth Monday in November and pays homage to the humble onion.
>> Carnival – a celebration of the end of winter when a ‘bear’ is released from his winter hibernation in the old Prison Tower. Music and bright costumes make this a fun event to enjoy.
>> Bernerteller – a traditional dish of Bern, this dish consists of a plate various meats and is often served with potatoes or sauerkraut.
>> Zopf – a braided bread that is usually eaten at weekends and festivals.
>> Rösti – boiled potatoes are then grated and fried to create rösti, which is believed to have originated just outside Bern.
>> Toblerone – Switzerland’s world famous triangular shaped chocolate was first created in Bern where it is still produced today.
>> Cailler chocolate – Founded in 1819, Cailler is Switzerland’s oldest chocolate brand. Tours of the factory are possible at the Maison Cailler in Broc, near Gruyères.
You can learn more about Diccon and his books on his website dicconbewes.com where he also blogs about life in Switzerland.
You’ll also find some useful articles for planning a visit to Bern on the links below:
Would you like to win a copy of one of Diccon’s books about Switzerland*? Thanks to his publisher, Bergli Books*, you can! Simply send an email to email@example.com with the answer to the following question:
Which of Diccon’s books is aimed at helping children to learn more about Switzerland?
Send your answer to the email address above no later than December 1. One correct entry will be drawn and the winner announced on December 2, 2021. The prize will be posted directly to the winner by Bergli Books.
*Bergli Books is an imprint of Helvetiq
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