(1) Swam at the 16C Aare River (17.06.2012)


It was finally friday, a sunny stunning friday, everyone is in the parks enjoying the sun that rarely shines in Switzerland, I left work around 5pm, decided to take a long tour with my bike. I always have this passion of jumping on a bus/tram without having or knowing a known destination, of riding my bike on a road that I have never rode on or to just walk in a certain direction to discover a new area (for safety reasons i always do this during the day).
So I rode the bike on several new roads till I reached an amazing place, it’s in the woods i would say, an incredibly beautiful hiking area with people chilling, turning on music, bbq-ing, lovers holding hands, some others cycling just like me then I found the Aare river on my right hand side people dressed in swimsuits getting tanned or jumping in the river while my heart jumped out of my chest. I was dyiiiiing to jump in the river as well, months before I arrive to Berne I googled a loooot about Berne and Switzerland in general, i thought that Berne is the least fun Swiss city where you can’t really do anything only to find a BBC video about the amazing Aare river swim, pretty awesooome and definitely on my bucket list.
After cycling for approximately two or two and a half hours I decided to take a break by sitting by the river while surrounded by 4 huge swimming pools overlooking the Federal -seat of the Swiss Federal Council-, so many people enjoying the sun or a refreshing swim, while having a snack, reading a book, listening to music or chatting with friends. Didn’t have my swimsuit so I decided to come the next day and have a swim.

on the web

On saturday it took me more than 1 hour to get to that same place called Marzili in Marzilistrasse because I don’t have any sense of directions, and getting lost is part of my daily routine, not exaggerating I suck big time. Rented a locker -I didn’t have enough cash, but in Switzerland it’s not a problem, the ATM is behind the cashiers-, put on my swimsuit, had a quick swim at the pool, touched the Aare water with my feet till it reached my knees, it was 18C literally FREEZIIIING, I thought that I’d never be able to swim at the Aare. I decided to text one of my friends who’s known at work as the “Aare Guru”, he swims in there all year long -even in winter-, a fair swimmer he is, he even has a locker at Marzili with his name, who might encourage me to do the swim. He only got back to me the next morning to tell me that he might go around 5pm, I jumped out of bed all energetic, texted another friend to meet her there as well, went to the supermarket -COOP at Berne Bahnhof- bought Coke & some snacks, it took me around an hour to be at Marzili because guess what? I got lost again :D. Parked my bike, sat on my towel to enjoy the sun and get tanned. Steffi joined me but she couldn’t swim as she had a knee surgery, then Jan joined as well. We started to chit chat, until we finally decided to have a swim, the aare water was 16C, the river was flowing very quickly, it looks very scary but pretty fun and refreshing as well, we walked a bit until we could reach the place where most of the people jump off the stairs which were approximately at the same level of the water. I have been looking forward to this very moment for more than 5 months, but when the moment of truth has arrived I became so numb, it’s dangerous, cold and I can’t do it.

BBC Aare River Swim

Me: No Jan, this is crazy, i really can’t do it.
Jan: Come on, it’s sooo much fun.
Me: I know, but it’s too freaking cold and the water flow is very quick.
Jan: Don’t worry, I am with you. Put some water on your arms and back to get used to the water and then jump.
Me: It is too cold and I’m so scared.
Jan: Do you know how to swim?
Me: Well, I’m not the best swimmer, but I can help myself not to drown.
Jan: There is nothing dangerous then, and I’ll be there if you needed help.
Me: But someone at work told me that many tourists drown at the Aare. And since I have a real bad luck I might drown as well.
Jan: No you won’t drown, only stupid people drown at the Aare, or people who jump from dangerous places but this one is really safe.
Me: But what if my heart stopped?
Jan: How old are you?
Me: 25
Jan (laughing): Mmmmm, then it won’t stop.
Me: Jaaan, You know that I’m meeting with my mum in 2 days, and I’m going back to Egypt in 2 weeks, I really don’t wanna die before then.
Jan (laughing harder): You won’t die, put on some water and jump or I’ll jump.
Me: Noooo, please don’t, I just need some time.
Jan: Some time? we have been here for more than 15 minutes.
Me: I’m not sure if I can do it.
Jan: Come on, you cannot give up now, if you don’t do it now, you’ll regret it later. You cannot be in Berne and not swim at the Aare River, it’s a must do.
Me: Yes I know and I’ll do it but let this group of people jump first.
Jan: No more waiting, once you step here -pointing on the stairs going downwards- you cannot go back no more.
Me: Oh my Gooood, okay hold my hand, oh ohhh it’s sooo freaking coooold, okay okay I’m gonna jump now…Splaaaaash! Wouhouuuu, it’s awesooome, it’s not cold, it’s insanely cool, I did it, I swam at the Aare.

20120914-123650.jpgI kept the stone that Jan got me from the bottom of the Aare River during our swim.

I jumped again twice; once with Jan and another all alone. But there is only a FIRST time 🙂

Lessons learnt:
1. The Aare River swim is a must do in your life – I really wanna do it in winter as well.

2. If you suck at directions don’t go or try new places at night, because it’s not safe & you might bump into bad/drunk people who will lead you to the wrong direction.

3. Face your fears, to enjoy life to the fullest.

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