Thursday, July 24, 2014


Wednesday, I went to Bern, the last place on my Switzerland checklist! I think it now ties for my favorite city with Luzern. Bern might actually be a little bit ahead because there are so many fewer tourists! Buuut then Luzern has the views-- so probably tied. The old town of Bern encompasses most of a  peninsula in the curvy Aare River. Its definitely my favorite old town because its a nice mix of lively city happenings and beautiful/traditional architecture. Bern really makes use of the old town beyond just a tourist destination and it is very lively. Bern is also the capital city so that helps.

I started out my journey by getting a map from the tourist office-- I highly recommend doing this in any city, especially outside of the US. It gives a much better picture of what to do and where things are than relying on trip advisor and google maps. I have a cell phone here, though, so I do use wikipedia a lot to find out the significance of what I'm looking at.

From the train station, I headed towards the Bundeshaus which is the Swiss Parliament Building. It was really pretty and had some awesome views from the back. During midday, when I walked by again, the fountains in the square were filled with kids playing!

From there, I headed north past the Käfigturn (Prison Tower) and the Holländerturn (Dutch Tower). The prison tower was built sometime in the early 21th century and served as both a city gate and prison. The Dutch Tower, probably part of the city wall at some point, is called such because it was purchased by a Bernese mercenary after he served in Holland.

Then, I found the first of 11 special water fountains. All over Switzerland, there are tons of water fountains continuously flowing with clean drinking water. In the olden days, these were a center of activity for the town serving as a gathering place for the locals. In the 16th century, Bern contracted Hans Gieng to decorate their fountains to reflect the city's growth in power. He decorated them with various "fairy tale" characters. From what I understand, they don't represent actually fairy tales but are styled in a fairy-tale-like format and represent fairy-tale-like morals and values. Here is the most famous. The rest are at the bottom of the blog.

Next, I found a non-fairy tale fountain: the Meret-Oppenheim-Brunnen. Designed by Meret Oppenheim in the 16th century, its supposed to represent economic growth and prowess but to me it looks like a hot spring!

Then I found the city theatre which is next to the the Französische Kirche (French Church)

And the Korhhaus (Granary). Back in the day, the upper floors were used to store grain and the cellar was used to store wine.

Then I found the Zeitglockentrun/Zytglogge, or the clock tower. It was once a city gate and has an astronomical clock as well as a regular clock. It right in the middle of old town, which is one of my favorites.

From there, I headed down Marktgasse to Albert Einstein's house!

After that, I headed to the Münster/Stiftsgebäude, which is the main cathedral in Bern. It was beautiful and I climbed over 350 steps to get to the top of the tower! This church actually has the largest bell in Switzerland! 

There was a park behind the cathedral with really good views!

Then I went in the Kirche Sankt Peter und Paul. The wiring at the top of the columns is in all different languages. Not sure what it says though.

And walked past the Nydeggkirche (Nydegg Church)

To get to the Ländtetor or the Landing Gate where boats accessed the city. To river is so high that the buoy boats tie off to is at least 6 inches underwater!

Then, climbing back up to the city level, I saw some ponies!!

After that, I crossed the river and visited with the bears in the BärenPark. Bears are a huge symbol of both Switzerland and Germany. These bears seemed pretty happy!

Then, I went to Altes Tramdepot for an amazing lunch! I ordered the beer sampler, because its a brewery, and was expecting flight-sized beers. Nope. They were at least twice the size I was expecting, but they were tasty!! I also got sausage and rostï with onion sauce. It was delicious and I ate it all!

Then, I headed up to the rose garden.

Then I walked through a residential section to get to the Botanical Gardens on the University Campus.

At that point, I had pretty much done Bern so I headed back to Baden.

For dinner, L and I decided to go out to eat since it's my last real dinner in Switzerland. We went to the Arcade. L had Spaghetti Carbonara and I had pork chops with mushroom sauce and egg noodles. Both were delicious!

Here are the rest of the Bern fountains. I think I might have missed one!


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