Bernina Creative Centre, Switzerland
written by Lynda Ford
The first thing you see upon arrival at the Bernina Factory in Steckborn,Switzerland is a gigantic model of an 830 sewing machine, on the lawn in
front of the factory. The second thing is an eye-catching little smart car inthe car park, again decorated as an 830 – this turned out to be the
favoured mode of transport of Mr H.P. Ueltschi, President of Bernina.
There were 26 of us met up in Zurich, from 11 UK counties, and one couple from Canada. Our tour was led by Karin Hellaby, and by
Jackie, our Arena Travel Tour Manager. En route to our hotel we stoppedfor lunch at a service station. What a find - fantastic offerings, including
home-made cakes and ice cream – yes, our holiday had certainly begun.
Our hotel was on the shores of Bodensee (Lake Constance) and ourrooms all had balconies overlooking the lake. Part of the building was very
old, with a lakeside terrace and a spiral staircase leading up to the towerroom, an attic with ancient, heavy beams, a bar and a wood-burning stove
– the perfect place to get together in the evenings, to relax, chat and laugh– and we certainly did lots of that!
On our first morning, we had a short walk through the rose garden to thefactory. Just inside the entrance is an interesting display of all the models
Bernina has made since inception. We were then taken on a tour of the factory, and each process on the production line was explained to us.
Some of the processes are done by machine, but many of the machine components are assembled by hand. It was truly fascinating. I shall never
again complain about the cost of a machine foot – it took four machines,each costing £15,000 just to line up the shank with the foot!
In the afternoon we were given a demonstration of the 830, and some ofthe software available. We sat open mouthed at the wonderful creations
produced. There followed three days of play – pure pleasure and delight –some of us experimenting with the 830s and receiving expert tuition from
the friendly Bernina staff, and some being tutored by Karin and exploring the capabilities of the 440. Everyone was delighted at what they achieved.
The Creative Centre was light, spacious and extremely well equipped.Steckborn is close to Stein am Rhein, a beautiful Medieval town, where the
walls of many of the houses are painted with interesting figures andscenes. Several depicted St George and the Dragon. There were lots of
lovely cafes and gift shops, and a special restaurant where we sampledtraditional Swiss Rosti – delicious! We also ventured across the border into
Germany and enjoyed the delights of an exquisite chocolate shop – pure heaven!
I could go on and on about this trip. It was a pleasure to have the opportunity to meet all of our fellow travellers – we may have started out as
strangers but we soon became friends. Jackie, our Tour Manager was amazing –always good humoured, she organised us so well – she found
excellent Italian and Swiss restaurants to take us to and coped with every language spoken to her.
We were not blessed with sunny weather – in fact it rained torrentially for most of the time (even Jackie had no control over that), but it did not
dampen our spirits. The rain did help produce lots of greenery, and of course the lovely roses, and being a gardener I really appreciated them.