Spoiler alert: this post contains innuendo, a naughty word and references to English and Swiss football, please don’t read if easily offended.
A response to today’s WordPress word challenge – ‘Bern’
Back in January ’99, the Nigerian football player Kanu, signed for English club, Arsenal, but unlike other players who are known by a single name (Pele being the most famous), the British press would refer to him as Kanu, not because he had a single name, but because his first name was one that they did not like to use – Nwanko – a name to make most Brits snicker! So whilst it was ok for a commentator to scream ‘David Beckham!’ when he scored a goal, it wasn’t the same with ‘Nwanko Kanu!’ – so he forever had the simple moniker of Kanu.
What has this to do with Bern I hear you ask. Well, in 2012 and 2013 I had the pleasure of working on a project in Bern – the capital of Switzerland; which despite being the capital, is one of Switzerland’s lesser known treasures. As major cities go, Zurich and Geneva have far more notoriety, yet Bern is a gorgeous city, and one definitely worth visiting.
However, to continue with my tale and the footballing theme – Bern’s local football club has the unusual name of ‘Young Boys’, and a few years back one of their players was the now uber-famous Liverpool striker, Mo Salah. Young Boys feature regularly in European matches, so the club is well known to English fans.
For those fans that travel around the globe to watch their team, the football stadiums they visit are often places of pilgrimage; England’s ‘Anfield’, or ‘Old Trafford’, or Spain’s ‘Camp Nou’ are great examples – and the stadium that plays host to Bern’s Young Boys has a name that is as unique as it’s team name – Wankdorfstadion! (or Wankdorf Stadium as us Brits would say). I’m sorry, I may be in my senior years and should know better, but as with Nwanko Kanu, I cannot see or say that name without a giggle – imagine if Nwanko Kanu had played at The Wankdorf Stadium!
Wankdorf is an area of Bern that hosts not only its football stadium but also a major railway station and shopping centre, and along with Mrs E, I once had the pleasure of staying in the area’s Novotel Bern Expo Hotel.
So, once the giggling stops, it’s also worth mentioning one or two other things about Bern – it’s most famous past resident is probably Albert Einstein, who lived in the city between 1903 and 1905 whist he was working on his Theory of Relativity, in fact a major tourist attraction today is his former residence – imaginatively called ‘Einstein House’.
The city has more than 100 fountains, and plays host to 4 bears, in ‘Bear Park’. It also has what is considered by some to be the most famous clock tower in the world, The ‘Zytglogge’.
From a personal perspective, I particularly loved it’s Airport – Bern Belp is very small, and offers passengers an ease of passage that major airports can only dream of. It is also probably one of the most scenic, as it is surrounded by the stunning Swiss Alps.
So, do visit Bern, it is definitely worth your time, and if you pass through Wankdorf, maybe, if you have a juvenile sense of humour like me, it will make you giggle also.
As for Kanu, since retiring from football, he has established the Kanu Heart Foundation, which supports underprivileged children and young adults who suffer from heart ailments, both in Nigeria and across Africa – he is also a UNICEF Goodwill Ambassador. More information about the Kanu Heart Foundation can be found here.