Aarau is a small town of about 20,000 people, and is the capital of the northern Swiss canton of Aargau. The town is also the capital of the district of Aarau. It is German-speaking, or Schweizer Deutsch as I should really say, and predominantly Protestant. Aarau is situated on the River Aare (where it got its name!) and at the southern foot of the Jura mountains and to the west of Zürich.
Life here goes way back, to prehistory in fact, as the ruins of a settlement from the Bronze Age (about 1000 BC) were found in the town. The Romans also passed through, but the first mention of the town was in 1248 as “Arowe” in the Middle Ages. The town developed over time and on the 2nd of March 1798 the town was actually declared the capital of the Helvetic Republic, a precursor to a unified Switzerland, and home to Switzerland’s first Houses of Parliament. But it didn’t last too long as a few months later the capital was moved to Lucerne.
We move onto Napoleon who in 1803, ordered that the cantons of Aargau, Baden and Fricktal amalgamate, with Aarau as the new capital of the enlarged canton of Aargau, and this is pretty much what we have today.
Aarau is mostly well known for is its painted gables and beautiful eaves, a special feature of the old town of Aarau, from which the town is often regarded as the “town of beautiful Gables”, as good as you can find anywhere else in Switzerland. The old town, Laurenzenvorstadt, government building, cantonal library, state archive and art museum are all listed as heritage sites of national significance, all dating back to the 16th century when the town underwent considerable extension. On the other hand The “Schlössli” (small Castle), the Rore Tower and the upper gate tower have remained nearly unchanged since the 13th century, with the castle the oldest building left standing in the city, circa 1200.
One notable resident of the town was a Albert Einstein who attended a local high school for a while.
Other interesting things about Aarau is that there is a shoe museum in the city, in 2005 the city held the Swiss National Yodelling Festival and as Aarau has an unemployment rate of about 2.35% (with most working for the government, typical!) statistically it has the most jobs per capita of any Swiss city, (thanks to Wiki for that last one!)
But perhaps the most interesting thing I found about the city is that it has a horse racing track. I didn’t even know the Swiss were into that kind of thing! Apparently its meant to be one of the nicest tracks in the whole of Europe and has been on the go since 1921, but is it any good for racing on? Who knows, but I know as we are in Switzerland you definitely dont want to be backing fucking losers that is for sure……..
Getting to the town is relatively easy as it is well connected by train to Basel (about 40 minutes) and to Zurich it takes about 30 minutes by train. A little later by car for both destinations, but still within the hour.
Overall Aarau is a nice enough place, lovely street and those cool gables that they are oh so proud of, overall it is a bit quiet and not a whole lot going on, but I liked the Church tower that was a nice marker in the town centre. Not a bad place to visit for a day out,but not enough bars to keep me happy here.
Penny Farthing Pub
Address: Bahnhofstrasse 57, 5000 Aarau
The Penny Farthing Pub is a traditional British Pub situated not too far from the main train station, easily found as you make your way from the station into the city.
First pub of the day, a short walk from the train station where I got my train from Basel to Aarau which only took me about 30 minutes or so.
Thought it was closed as the doors looked slammed shut, but joy they were open. Early about 12. or so, but still a few other souls in the bar. The bar has a good selection of beers from the UK and Ireland, and some interesting Scottish whiskies as well. Ordered a Brooklyn Brewery lager, a first timer for me, which was on tap, and poured by a friendly bar lady. Pint looked good but wasn’t impressed with it, nothing to the quality of the pint poured but found it hard to drink. Not a Brooklyn fan I guess.
The decor has some references to the Penny Farthing bicycle of the 1870’s with photos and an actual bike itself on one of the walls, which was pretty cool to see. Of course the pub was also decked out with a dart board and plenty of TV screens for sports for the more modern customer!
I liked this bar, good friendly service, nice decor, nice long bar, and good atmosphere for that time of the day. Overall a good pub to start the day.
Mr. Pickwick Pub
Address: Graben 6, 5000 Aarau
There are a few of these Mr Pickwick Pubs dotted around Switzerland. They are quintessential British style pubs.
Have some decent fare on tap here, but I ordered some Valaisanne Zwickelbier (bière de cave), a lager from Sion. I had never tried it before but on the recommendation of the barman I went for it. I tell you he wasn’t wrong, it was delicious, so good in fact that I had ordered another one straight after the first, this breaking my one pint one pub rule. Heck there were fuck all pubs in the town anyway!!
Pub had the usual decor to be expected from a British style bar, service was decent enough and in a very relaxed style, bar staff were a bit chatty
Didn’t detect any “British” style atmosphere here, but it was a comfy place to have a few beers and they went down fairly well too, so no complaints! And they charged my phone!
Place was busy enough for the middle of the day.
As I couldn’t find a whole lot of bars in the town I did return here again later in the day. Second time round a different bar man, friendly, said he never met an Irish man in the bar before…..but i doubt that’s true. Just had the usual Feldschlossen beer lager, which was fine, nice and refreshing and cold.
Liked this bar, quiet and a good place to while away a few hours. Comfy and good pints
Address: Pelzgasse 25, 5000 Aarau
An interesting one this, easy to pass as it is has very small frontage. Bierstübli, the smallest bar in Aarau, is in the heart of the town, a tiny bar with some very rustic settings inside. Altogether I counted about 8 seats and four bar stools in this box of a bar!
You have to be careful of the time as this place doesn’t open until 2.00 most days, so for me when I arrived at 1 I had to walk around the block a few times to kill time!
The bar is very old fashioned, there are numerous old beer jugs on display, models of Swiss warriors from the Second World War on the ceiling and all bills are paid from a cashier from the 60’s, all the while an old wooden clock slowly ticks in the corner of the bar.
As its a small bar I guess it can be easy to meet new friends, but alas at just after opening time, midday, I was the only customer! Also the bar man smoking from a pipe, was wondering why this strange looking foreigner with a bad haircut and a smirk was in his bar. This was most definitely a local bar for local people.
Anyway these days you will find less and less of these kind of places in Switzerland as modern bars aiming to make the big bucks entice all the crowds and custom.
The bar is well stocked in beers though, selling 15 different types of beer. I went for a Cardinal Rousse, a 5.2% ale from Sion, which was fine and a Boxer Old, a pale lager from Yverdon-les-Bains (west Switzerland) another 5.2% beer, again a fine beer. On an empty stomach these beers definitely did the business. Good that you can get beers that otherwise you might not try.
As it was myself and the bar man in a very quiet and small environment, i decided to lighten the mood by picking a few tunes on the Jukebox, all 1950’s to early 1960’s stuff…….I struggled to find something good but I did…..Chuck Berry for example, early Beatles stuff, Elvis (cant beat a bit of Elvis!)
Truth be told I liked this place, if only to try out some new beers and it was nice to reflect on life in a quiet bar while humming along to the King on the jukebox, guess I most really be getting old!
Address: Schlossplatz 1, 5000 Aarau
Not finding many bars in the town for my beer crawl I got desperate and ventured into OscarOne, a hip looking Lounge, CockTail and Wine Bar. I say desperate as these are really not establishments I feel comfortable in! I’m not hip or cool enough for these kind of places, I’m an ordinary fella who has simple pleasures……football and beer, not really into strobe lighting, fancy cocktails and showing off my new designer gear, if I had any!
Took a long time to get served, a long time. Which was funny as there really wasn’t anyone else at the bar. Sure the place was busy but I was the only one sitting up at the bar. The two staff were doing the age old art of looking busy without actually doing anything, you know…. moving around here and there, the long walk, a wipe here and wipe there, pick up a few glasses, etc. Having said that though the service was friendly all the same.
Anyway, got served eventually, got a Franziskaner Weissbier, which was pretty difficult to stomach, but that;s just me, as I’m not a great fan of Weissbiers.
The route to the toilet is a real hazard, a very steep spiral staircase to the basement, in a darkly lit bar it was a bit too steep and I’m sure if this was Ireland it would definitely be popular for those that like to partake in frivolous insurance claims!
Had a nice interior, quite high class, all nicely decorated and stylish, and everyone seemed to be enjoying themselves, a good crowd in for a mid day Saturday, albeit a bit quiet, but you know it didn’t do anything for me, so overall OscarOne didn’t impress me too much.
Arena/Stadium: Brügglifeld stadium
Location: Brügglifeldweg in Aarau
Manager: Marco Schällibaum
Leagues: Swiss Challenge League
Nicknames: “The Unabstandable” (“that can not be relegated”)
FC Aarau is a Swiss football club, based in the small town of Aarau. They play in the Swiss second tier in the Challenge League, relegated last season from the top division.
FC Aarau were formed on the 26th May 1902 by workers from a local brewery, and within ten years they won the Swiss Championship in 1911/12, repeating it again in 1913/14. It wasn’t until the 1992/93 season that they won the Swiss National League again, a break of 79 years.
In 1985 Aarau won the Swiss Cup for the first time, coached by Ottmar Hitzfeld, yes that Ottmar Hitzfield, two time CL winner with Bayern Munich and Borussia Dortmund. There for 4 seasons it was here that he first tasted success as a manager.
FC Aarau have got the nickname ‘Die Unabsteigbaren’ which in English means ‘those that cannot be relegated.’, as they were seen as a lucky team that could not be demoted, in the top league since 1981, with one exception (relegated in 2010), and generally escaping relegation by the skin of their teeth on a few occasions. They were relegated though last season 2016/2017. I guess they need to get a new nickname so….
But the biggest challenge the club faced was in 2002 when the club was in serious financial debt, but thanks to the help of the fans who put their hands in their pockets buying 4,500 shares that were made available by the club helped stave off liquidation. The sale made 1,510,000 Swiss Francs (roughly 1.4 Million Euro) for the club and a holding company, FC Aarau Ltd, was set up to run the club.
They have played in European competition on 5 different occasions, but never getting past the first round of the various competitions they entered. They did however give the mighty AC Milan a good run for their money in the Champions League, only going out 1-0 on aggregate to the same team that eventually went on to win the competition by hammering Barcelona 4-0 in the final. Not bad!
FC Aarau play in the Brügglifeld stadium, which has a capacity of 9’249, and have been doing this for more than 90 years (opened in 1924). The stadium is an old style ground and somewhat unique in this era of modern shiny soulless stadia, the stands are close to the pitch, with most of the ground uncovered terracing, and a ground in which the fans can easily make their feelings known to the players, small and compact.
The club play in all white, and take the Aarau city coat of arms of a Black Eagle as their club logo
To the game
FC Aarau 4 – 2 FC Le Mont LS
18.02.2017 Stadium Brügglifeld
5 ‘Geoffrey Treand
34’ Sandro Burki
53 ‘Helios Sessolo (Le M)
65’ Zoran Josipovic
87’Patrick Bengondo (Le M)
Good game with a cracking atmosphere. I must say I enjoyed my time seeing FC Aarau.
Another Swiss game, another early goal for me. This time after just 5 minutes. Geoffrey Tréand with a long range shot from outside the box placing it nicely past the goalkeeper. Nice strike, good start. Two more goals followed and by half time FC Aarau were well in control.
Le Mont got one back in the 53rd minute but Aarau replied in the 65th minute to put the game to bed.
Good game, FC Aarau had little problem putting Le Mont to the sword, good atmosphere in the old ground and despite the weather and wet conditions it was a good day out.
Overall the day was good, good pubs, decent beers, a nice place to stroll around and a good old style ground with a cracking atmosphere. Yes, might be back for another game in the future.