IT and Sound Equipment
We will have one Laptop (a Mac in 001 and a PC in 002) in each room available. It will thus be easiest to store your presentation on a memory stick and to download it directly on the computer. In case you bring your own computer, please be also equipped with adapters. However, we will also try to provide adapters (we have a number of Mac and electricity adapters – note that Switzerland has a different plug system).
The rooms will be equipped with a sound system (CD, video, cassette tape).
Electrical Power and Power Plug/Adapter
Voltage (220-230V) and frequency (50Hz) are the same in most European countries. The wall outlets are unique to Switzerland, however (this is not EU….).
The standard continental type hexagonal plugs with two round pins (Euroconnectors, pin distance 19 mm [3/4 inch], pin diameter 4.0 mm [1/6 inch]), applied for many electrical travel products, may be used without problems. Please note that the older German, Austrian French plugs with thick pins do not fit.
We will try to provide the standard adapters (and these should also be available at the hotels; and – as a case of emergency, they can also be purchased at the Migros in the train station).
Currency, Exchange Rates
Switzerland’s official currency is the Swiss Franc (abbreviations CHF, sFr, Fr.), and is divided into 100 Rappen [Rp]. Coins are available as 5 Rp, 10Rp, 20 Rp, 1/2Fr. (=50 RP; note that this silvery coin is much smaller than the 10 RP), 1 Fr., 2 Fr., 5 Fr.. The colourful banknotes are available as 10 Fr., 20 Fr., 50 Fr., 100 Fr., 200 Fr., 1000 Fr. (there are no 500 Fr. notes).
Examples of exchange rates (Aug. 17, 2013):
1 Euro = 1.24 CHF
1 GBP= 1.45 CHF
1 USD = 0.93 CHF
You get the best rates at the numerous cash machines.
Getting around in Bern: Language
The main language spoken in Berne is Bernese-German, a local Swiss-German dialect, although most people also speak Standard German. The dialect is mostly spoken in everyday life. In official publications and announcements, Standard German is used.
However, it is usually easy to get around with English, which seems to be supplanting French as the favorite second language (even though the canton of Berne is a bilingual German and French speaking canton).
Länggasse Area (conference site): Länggassstrasse 37 (7:30-12:00; 13:45-18:00)
In the city center: Bärenplatz 8, 3011 Bern (close to the Bundeshaus; 9:00-18:30; Thursday-21:00).
Shopping is expensive in Switzerland. However, there are ways to get around. The central supermarkets are:
– Migros (there is one directly in the train station; others can be found at Bubenbergplatz 8 (at the corner of Schanzenstrasse; Marktgasse 44),
– Coop (train station; a large store at Aarbergergasse 53 (in the basement of the department store), Spitalgasse 2, Marktgasse 24), and,
– on the budget side, Denner (two Denner shops are directly in the City Center; Marktgasse 44 (right above the Migros Store) and one is almost opposite, Marktgasse 37).
Opening hours (around 8/9-19h; Thursdays: until 21h, Fridays: until 20h).
Bern has a huge Farmer’s Market, the stalls are partly directly in front of the Bundeshaus:
Tuesdays, Saturdays, 8:00-12:30h; partly until 18h; a smaller market is also on the Bärenplatz/Waisenhausplatz (also Thursdays 9:00-20h).
Switzerland is a very safe place, considering both technical safety standards and security aspects (low rate of criminality, cautiousness of the population). But nobody and no system is perfect. Bern has a little violent crime, but be cautious of pocket thieves, especially in crowded places.
The central railway station often hosts drunks and vagrants at night, but they are rarely dangerous, yet avoid groups of drunkards (which can happen at weekends).
Statistics tell us that next to smoking, eating too much, drinking alcohol excessively, climbing chairs to reach the ceiling and using electrical devices in bathrooms, there are two major risks for Switzerland’s inhabitants: Sports and traffic accidents (if anyone intends to swim in the Aare: please let us know and/or talk to Sarah Ross).
In cases of emergency call:
The next emergency ambulance is very close to the conference site:
City Notfall: daily: 07.00 – 22.00 Uhr (0044-31 326 20 00)
Bubenbergzentrum/Bubenbergplatz 10, 3011 Bern
Drinking tab water is not a problem. Furthermore, you will also notice many fountains in and around the city. The icy crystal-clear water is very clean (the city of Bern has recently started an advertising campaign) – just bring your water bottle.
Weather in early September can still be around 20-22 degrees Celsius during the daytime, but will already fall to drop 10°C or less at night. The mountains above 2000 meters can already have first snow (which is why the so-called Almabtrieb takes place already during the time of our conference).
For those attending the excursion: Bring a raincoat or umbrella (just in case), a warm jacket, good shoes, and a sun hat/ sun lotion (the solar radiation is strong in the mountains).