So, I’m still suffering jetlag and getting our house back into order – trying to remember where we put things in storage that we absolutely must have (like my library card!), so please forgive me if I have pre-written this post while still in Zürich.
We planned to have all the major cleaning and packing finished a day early, just to be sure we didn’t forget anything and to give us some wiggle room. When all went according to plan, we had an extra half day to play around with and we chose to go to Bern, Switzerland’s capital. I’ve been there twice, once in November for the onion festival and once in February for dinner during our blitz tour, but I really wanted to be able to wander the city at leisure.
We followed the Rick Steves walking tour to see the main sights, but I would like to return to the city to find more of the hidden gems someday. Throughout the walk we saw a number of these kinds of fountains, Bern’s signature style. The colors bring life to the surrounding buildings of gray stones.
The creepy one is of an ogre eating children. No one seems to have an official explanation of this, but maybe it was intended to scare children off of the city walls.
The streets of Bern are fairly wide and look very different than any other Swiss town with covered arcades for shopping. I think it rains a lot in Bern (but it didn’t on Thursday!). There are also shops below ground level, accessible by old-time hatches that look like the cellar door that Dorothy can’t open in The Wizard of Oz.
Parliament tours in English are on some Saturdays, so we just admired the building from the outside.
Like many old cities, Bern would not be complete without a clock tower. In Berner German it is called the Zyteglogge Turm. Dating from around 1530, there is a little, tiny show at four minutes before the hour. The jester moves, Father Time turns the hourglass, some bears march around the bottom, and then at the hour, the golden man strikes the hour. Rick Steves says “Apparently this nonevent was considered quite entertaining five centuries ago.” I would say that “Apparently many people still find this nonevent quite entertaining.” There was quite a crowd when we just happened to arrive a few minutes before the show.
Einstein lived in Bern from 1903 to 1905, and his apartment is now a museum. This is where he lived when he came up with Theory of Special Relativity while working at the Patent Office.
The Berner Münster dominates the skyline of this city which is on a hill that is a peninsula sticking into the Aare River. Over the main doorway is this particularly detailed version of Judgment Day. I read in the Lonely Planet guide that the mayor of Zürich is on his way down on the right side, while Bern’s Bürgermeister is going in the opposite direction on the right.
At the end of the self-guided walk, you come to the famous Bear Pit / Bear Park where Bern’s three bears live. But not today. They are renovating the space, so the bears are in an animal park in Jura for the time being. Oh, well.
From this NY Times article about favorite streets in European cities, we took the author’s advice and strolled up past the Bear Pit on Grosser Muristalden for this perfect overlook of the city.
Such a lovely city.