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Books Bern’s biggest bookstore, and the only one with a sizeable quality range in English, is Stauffacher, Neuengasse 25 (Mon–Sat 8am–6.30pm, Thurs until 9pm). You’ll find travel accessories and books – including Rough Guides – at Atlas, Schauplatzgasse 21. For English-language newspapers, your best bet is the large kiosk next to platforms U1–4 in the train station.
Car rental Avis, Egghölzlistrasse 1 (031/352 63 66) or Wabernstrasse 41 (031/378 15 15); Budget, Gewerbezone Ey 5, Ittigen (031/928 24 24); Europcar, Laupenstrasse 22 (031/381 75 55) or Wankdorffeldstrasse 60 (031/337 57 57); Hertz, Kasinoplatz (031/318 21 60). Bantiger, Bernstrasse 37 in Ostermundigen (031/932 28 88), rents cut-price two-seater Smart cars.
Changing money The best place is the change bureau on the lower level of the train station (June to mid-Oct daily 6.15am–9.45pm; mid-Oct to May daily 6.15am–8.45pm).
Email and Internet In the basement of the Loeb department store opposite the train station (Mon–Fri 9am–6.30pm, Thurs until 9pm, Sat 8am–4pm) is a Jäggi bookshop, with four PCs under the escalators. Two of them are first-come-first-served, limited to 20min per person but free of charge; the other two are bookable in advance, but cost Fr.10/hr. The train station’s Internet terminal, in the same room as the Crédit Suisse ATMs (daily 24hr) costs Fr.1 for 6min.
Embassies Australia, Alpenstrasse 29 (031/351 01 43); Canada, Kirchenfeldstrasse 88 (031/352 63 81); Ireland, Kirchenfeldstrasse 68 (031/352 14 41); South Africa, Jungfraustrasse 1 (031/352 20 11); UK, Thunstrasse 50 (031/352 50 21); USA, Jubiläumstrasse 93 (031/357 70 11). New Zealand has no full embassy in Switzerland, and is represented only by its UN mission in Geneva (p.105).
Flights For all domestic and international flight enquiries from Bern-Belp airport, call 031/960 21 11. Alpar (031/960 22 22, www.alpar.ch) flies light aircraft on nine sightseeing routes over the surrounding landscapes, ranging from a short overfly of Bern (Fr.65pp), or a one-hour circuit over the mountains (Fr.160pp), to flights as far afield as Mont Blanc (Fr.265pp).
Gay and lesbian lifeAnderland, Mühleplatz 11, is the most popular gay café-bar, also home to HAB, the Homosexuelle Arbeitsgruppen Bern (031/311 63 53). Both the Reithalle and the ISC have reasonably regular gay and lesbian nights (and the Reithalle café is gay- and lesbian-friendly at all times). Schwulenbüro Schweiz, nicknamed The Pink Cross, is a national gay pressure group based in Bern at Zinggstrasse 16 – they have an information Rainbowline on 0848/805 080 (email@example.com). LesBi-ruf is an information line for lesbians and bisexual women (Mon 7.30–9.30pm; 031/311 07 73).
Language schools Bern is not a bad place to study the idiosyncracies of Schwyzertüetsch – both the Volkshochschule (Kornhausplatz 7, Postfach, CH-3000 Bern 7; 031/311 41 92, fax 312 40 02) and the Migros Klubschule (Marktgasse 46, Postfach, CH-3000 Bern 7; 031/310 36 36, fax 310 36 01) run part-time courses over several months in Bernese Swiss-German, from around Fr.220, although you’ll need to know some High German to start with.
Libraries The Schweizerische Landesbibliothek (Swiss National Library; Hallwylstrasse 15; Mon–Fri 9am–6pm, Wed until 8pm, Sat 9am–4pm) has a massive collection documenting the cultural, scientific and economic past and present of Switzerland. The central library of the University of Bern (Münstergasse 61; Mon–Fri 8am–9pm, Sat 8am–noon) is no less huge, and includes the attraction of English-language books and newspapers.
Lost property If you’ve lost something in town, head for the police Fundbüro (Zeughausgasse 18; Mon–Fri 8am–noon & 1–4.30pm, Thurs until 6pm; 031/321 50 50). For enquiries about tracking property lost on the trains, head for the train station’s Fundbüro (Mon–Fri 8am–noon & 2–6pm; 0512/202 337).
Markets Bern has a wealth of markets, both year-round and annual one-off events. There are general markets on Tuesdays and Saturdays all year on Waisenhausplatz, Bundesplatz and Bärenplatz, with Bärenplatz in particular turned into a daily open-air jumble of stalls throughout the summer. Münsterplatz has a handicrafts market on the first Saturday of every month, and there’s a wonderful riverside flea market on Mühlerplatz in Matte on the third Saturday of the month (May–Oct only). In December Münsterplatz and Waisenhausplatz both have Christmas markets, featuring scented candles and mulled wine. Bern’s famous Onion Market is more of an excuse for a street party than anything else.
Medical facilities The Inselspital university hospital on Freiburgstrasse (0900 57 67 47) has a 24-hour emergency room. Dial 031/311 22 11 if you need a doctor or dentist, or for details of night pharmacies. Pharmacy Hörning, on the upper level of the train station, is open daily 6.30am to 10pm.
Parks and gardens The glorious Botanischer Garten (Altenbergrain 21; Mon–Fri 7am–6pm, Sat & Sun 8am–5pm; free), has a host of Alpine flora in open-air cultivation, as well as hothouses (daily 8–11.30am & 2–5pm). To the south, Tierpark Dählhölzi (Tierparkweg 1; daily 24hr) is an open-access riverside park, with a section devoted to local fauna such as wolves, chamois and bears and a vivarium (daily: April–Sept 8am–6.30pm, Oct–March 9am–5pm; Fr.7) housing reptiles and fish.
Police Headquarters is at Waisenhausplatz 32 (031/321 21 21), but a more convenient office is in the change bureau in the train station lower level (daily 7am–9.15pm).
Post Bern’s main post office (CH-3001 Bern 1) is the Schanzenpost on Schanzenstrasse just behind the train station. You can collect poste restante mail from counter 16 with your passport.
Radio One of Switzerland’s more engaging radio stations is Radio Bern (known as RaBe), at 91.1FM, with diverse, multicultural programming by everyone from Brazilian expats spinning salsa to Reithalle activists condemning the city council to a soundtrack of deep ambient beats.
Travel agents Discount flight agents SSR Reisen’s Old Town office is at Rathausgasse 64 (Mon–Fri 9.30am–6pm, Thurs until 8pm, Sat 10am–1pm; 031/312 07 24). Compare prices at Jugitours, Belpstrasse 49 (031/380 68 68).
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