Wednesday, July 30, 2014

Bern for an Hour!

On our way from France to the Bernese Oberland, we really didn't have much time. We'd spent the morning in Colmar and wanted to make certain that we didn't miss the last train to Wengen since we had to leave our car at the bottom. But we were driving right by Bern and I had never been. Rob had seen it once before in 1992. So Rob agreed to stop in Bern and I made a guess about parking and we changed the destination on the GPS.

 I'd brought along a self-guided walking tour of Bern from Rick Steves, so we picked up right next to the Kindlifresserbrunnen on Kornhausplatz (the Children Eater Fountain at Corn House Square). I just looked it up and the explanations for the fountain are all far-fetched, so I can't enlighten anyone on that count. But right next to it was the awesome Zytglogge with its astronomical clock. It's been around for eight centuries and has served as a prison and a guard tower as well as a clock and tourist attraction. 
 We walked down Kramgasse and saw the Einstein house and took a detour toward the Bern cathedral. One of the interesting bits about Bern are all of the basements -- in most of these buildings there are basements that take off from the street with steep little stairs. They were used for food storage, and then for wine storage (leading to the city being known as "merry Bern"), then Napoleon's forces came along and drank up most of the wine and they are now used for little stores. We went into one that was all indian spices and belly dancing wear.
This is Rob looking back up from the bridge by Kramgasse. On the other side is an older building that used to be the Lindt chocolate factory.
Bern was lovely and in good spirits in the run up to Swiss National Day. 

 I was glad I got to see it, even for an hour. It gave me a little feel for the layout of the city. For example, I knew that it was surrounded by the river Aarne, but I didn't realize how high up it was perched above it. I sort of thought it was a flat little town. It was more grand and more cosmopolitan than I'd pictured it.
Our walk ended over by the bear pits. We'd heard that the bears would be in their new digs--a whole hillside full of trees and even a river to fish in--but when we arrived, they were all hanging out in the bear pits and looking like they loved the attention. There are three of them now: mother, father and daughter Ursina. The other daughter Berna had to be relocated because of adolescent fighting with her mother.
We had a great time in Bern, but I would love to go back and spend some more time there!

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