Wednesday, November 5, 2008

The new Westside Shopping Mall in Bern

Since Wednesday's are half school days, picking up Payton is kind of a social event. You see and meet other parents you usually don't see. Today we met the grandmother of 6 yr. old Vincent. During our conversation she told us of a new Starbucks in Bern which is in the newly opened Westside Shopping Mall. We were going to go to Starbucks in Bern this afternoon and were pleased to learn of a new location. So off we went to Westside Mall.

The mall has only been open one month and is of modern architecture. It is built over the motorway (Interstate). The tunnel isn't new. It existed before the mall. Parking is all underground. Things are built vertically here vs. horizontally in the USA. A small footprint is paramount. The exterior's wood cladding is meant to 'harmonize with the countryside'. I'm not so sure about that.

Inside is pretty much like an American mall. The interior could use, well, something. It is stark white. I didn't care for it. I would have liked to see some color. Two differences I noticed were 1) no 'teenager' shops, such as Spencer Gifts and the likes. Almost all shops were clothing, but not grungy stuff. All were nice stores. The place just didn't seem like a hang out for teenagers. And 2) the food court. There was a McDonald's, but no other fast food. The restaurants were nice sit down types.

There is an 11 screen cinema which will become our cinema of choice. The reason for this - Kinder Land. A 'for pay' kid play and learning center. It is a very nice, secure place in the mall to leave the little ones while you shop, or see a movie. The price is only $2.50/hour. We left Payton in there for 2 hours today and he wasn't ready to leave. When we did pull him out he was a sweaty mess. Kinder Land has many options for playing, sliding, climbing, building or painting. What a deal!

There is also a year-round pool and fitness spa. It is said to have 18 different outdoor and indoor pools and the longest covered water slides in Switzerland. Now how cool is that? There's the Roman-Irish bathing experience. - a combination of Roman steam baths and Irish dry hot-air baths, suana and spa too. I think Kathleen will enjoy checking these things out.

Oh, the Starbucks. Well it was a Starbucks, and one attached to a bookstore. Unlike Barnes and Noble, you can't bring books into it unless you have bought them. No free rides. The hours are more convenient. It's open everyday except Sunday from 9 am to 8 pm (later on Friday, a little earlier on Saturday) - same as the entire mall.

Lastly, and this isn't so unusual, they even put in a train stop at the mall. Yep, we could just hop on the train and go to the mall. I'm telling you that the train system here is pretty cool. You can go just about anywhere. No, it doesn't quite replace the a car. But then again because of it you don't really need to have a car.

We had a good day and will no doubt return again.

(I tried something new with this post. Click on the small thumbnail images to see larger more expansive pictures.)

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