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  • Day20

    Oct 9 - Bern

    October 9, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    We then headed towards Bern, working our way down through more little villages. The landscape gradually changed and became flatter. Cows don’t need two different lengths of legs here to be able to graze. As we drove, William gave us short synopses on Switzerland’s educational system, its economic status and its political system. Switzerland developed the International Baccalaureate high school graduation program that is recognized world-wide. And of course, Switzerland is renowned for its banking system and its secret bank accounts. Don’t think I have any accounts here…..

    Tonight we are staying in Bern which is the capital of Switzerland. Geneva was deemed to be too French and Zurich was deemed to be too German, so Bern was chosen as a compromise capital city. This is very similar to what happened in Australia where Melbourne and Sydney were both rejected in favour of the purpose-built capital city of Canberra. In 1983, the historic old town in the centre of Bern became a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Bern has a population of about 140,000. Many of the residents work in federal government type jobs. We drove into the city down embassy row - we waved at the Canadian Embassy.

    Before we got to the hotel, we made one stop - at a bear pit which houses several huge brown bears. “Why??”, you ask? Bern was founded by a nobleman who founded the city and who vowed to name it after the first animal that he encountered on the hunt, which turned out to be a bear. The bear became the heraldic symbol of the city in the 1200s and bears have been kept since the 1400s.

    The hotel we are staying at in Bern is the Hotel Bellevue which is the official guesthouse of the Swiss government. It is located right beside the Swiss Parliament Buildings. Its got a magnificent lounge with a spectacular ceiling (there are a lot of those in Europe) and superb views of the Bernese Alps – always a ‘belle vue’. It’s full of brocade drapes, velvet-covered chairs, polished bronze railings and elegant floral arrangements.

    Our room (alas for just one glorious night) is a suite - with a lovely desk with built-in USB ports, a sofa and an easy chair, a king sized bed (not just two single beds butted up to one another), a separate toilet room, double sinks in the bath/shower room, and a fabulous view of the city and the Aare River. Scenic is spoiling us very badly.

    William took us out for a 45-minute walking tour. We saw the parliament buildings, the Swiss National Bank, the 15th-century astronomical clock, several of the city’s fountains, the house where Einstein lived, the Church of St. Peter and St. Paul (Catholic Church), the Münster of Bern (Swiss Reformed Church) and the City Hall. The rain was kicking up again, so William released us to our own devices for dinner.

    We found the local grocery store and picked up salads, pineapple, honey yogurt, milk and chocolate digestive biscuits. One of the reasons we search out grocery stores is that restaurant meals are incredibly expensive in Switzerland. We considered having spaghetti at a little place - each plate would have been $30. Not happening. While we dined Chez Hotel Suite - pretty posh settings for an indoor picnic - we watched a British TV game show that we have endured before just because it’s in English. The housekeeping staff had been in while we were out to turn down the giant bed and to lay little mats on the floor on each side with a pair of slippers for each of us. We have to be on the bus at 9:00 a.m., so there’s not going to be much time for lounging around wearing our Bern slippers.

    Tomorrow we are off to Luzern (Lucerne) and from there to our final Swiss destination of Zurich.
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  • Day2

    Das Wunder von Bern

    July 17 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 19 °C

    Oh je, war wohl doch ein bisschen zu viel gefeiert gestern - heute morgen etwas verkatert aufgewacht und erstmal unter die Dusche gesprungen.
    Danach noch schnell den neuen Kleiderschrank aufgebaut und schon gab es Frühstück - Steffi hat leckere schwäbische Backwaren frisch vom Bäcker geholt.
    Gegen 12 Uhr sind wir dann erst aus Biberach los und haben uns schnell dafür entschieden heute nicht mehr so weit zu fahren. Bern war das Ziel. Leider sind wir auch dort aufgrund von diversen Staus erst gegen halb 5 angekommen. Nach einem kurzen Stadtbummel durch die sehr schöne Altstadt von Bern mussten wir feststellen, dass am Samstag alle Läden um 17 Uhr schließen. Also konzentrierten wir uns auf die Sehenswürdigkeiten, wie den Berner Münster, Rathaus und die Altstadt an sich. Bern ist auf jeden Fall einen Besuch wert und gehört nicht umsonst zum UNESCO Weltkulturerbe.
    Auf der Kornhausbrücke fand das Sure Le Pon Festival statt, wo wir mit unseren gestrigen negativen Coronatest rein kamen. Dort gab es verschiedenes Streetfood und Getränke mit gutem Blick auf die Aare und die Berner Altstadt. Wir haben uns für Gyros und Waffeln zum Nachtisch entschieden.
    Bern war zum Glück nicht so stark vom Hochwasser betroffen, dennoch sind einige Wege gesperrt, gerade direkt an der Aare, da das Wasser doch sehr hoch steht und die Straßen überflutet sind, wie auch auf den Bildern zu sehen.
    Etwas außerhalb von Bern, in der Nähe von Freiburg, haben wir ein gutes und günstiges Hotel gefunden, bevor es dann morgen rüber nach Frankreich geht.
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  • Day4

    Day 4: Bern

    January 16, 2020 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    Bern, Switzerland’s capital city is beautiful. Medieval architecture, friendly people, chocolate, chocolate and more amazing chocolate! We have had an amazing day walking and exploring the city. Bern is a Swiss German city. Hopefully tomorrow we will enjoy Chris’s favourite - schnitzel 😋Read more

    Marcy Nyyssonen


  • Day17


    December 24, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 45 °F

    My day started out with a lot of unknowns but ended up great. Bern is the Capitol and there was so much to see. Bern means bear so that animal was a common theme all over the town.

    Except for the one weird statue of the creepy guy who is eating a child and has several more kids in baskets. The reason for that statue, according to the tour book, is still a mystery. It's a mystery to me why it is still there after all these years.Read more

  • Day31


    August 22, 2020 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 22 °C

    Bern, the capital city of Switzerland, is built around a crook in the Aare River. It traces its origins back to the 12th century, with medieval architecture preserved in the Altstadt (Old Town). The Swiss Parliament and diplomats meet in the Neo-Renaissance Bundeshaus (Federal Palace). The Französische Kirche (French Church) and the nearby medieval tower known as the Zytglogge both date to the 13th century.Read more

  • Day1


    February 24, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 2 °C

    Was isst man zum Einstieg in Bern?

    Genau: Käse. Und zwar einen ganzen Teller voll :D

    6 verschiedene Sorten haben wir probiert: Sbrinz AOP, Emmentaler AOP, L'Etivaz AOP, Berner Alpkäse AOP, Gruyère AOP, Tête de Moine

    Sehr lecker!
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    Sehr lecker den hätte ich auch gerne Mana

  • Day174


    February 24, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 4 °C

    Beautiful train trip from Lausanne to Bern, and only one hour 26 minutes. The country side and mountains were beautiful. Got into Bern and spent 3 hours roaming around. Very homogeneous here with all the buildings the same colour of communist green. Very weird. Only spending one night here and then heading to Lucerne. Saw five guys swimming in the river today, holy wow, because I was cold in my down jacket. I had to take a picture of them. Super expensive in this city and so glad I groceries yesterday. Very clean but very tourist driven. They have these shops and restaurants that are in cellars underground. What happens when it rains? Where does the water go? Also noticed that there is no wheelchair access to many sites or cathedrals. When I was here 30 years ago they had the Bern bears in a hole in the ground. The girl at reception said they are still here in hibernation but their hole is bigger.Read more


    Zyglocloke in Bern, famous clock built on 1121.


    Museum of natural history


    Puppet theatre belie ground, lots of businesses like this? What happens when it rains? Floods? No wheelchair access here.

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  • Day188

    Day 189: Old City of Bern

    August 22, 2017 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌙 17 °C

    Since Switzerland is so expensive, we'd decided that our journey through the country would be as crammed full as possible - no time to relax and basically going closely point-by-point to the UNESCO sites. Maybe we'll come back another time and do a few other bits.

    Out quite early this morning, since our parking expired at 9am and Swiss parking fines are apparently quite expensive. We were heading into the Old City, a fairly small and compact area so it made no sense for us to drive in. Instead we headed for a Park & Ride carpark about 15 minutes away, where we dropped the car off and caught a bus into the city. Quite quick, only 10 minutes to the main bahnhof.

    The Old City of Bern is a long, narrow peninsula of land surrounded on three sides by a river. It's quite a high hill as well, since the river cuts sharply through the local sandstone. It's all very distinctive too, since the city burned down in the 15th century and was all rebuilt in sandstone at the same time. Every street has these long columned arcades for pedestrians, underneath the actual buildings - it was weird to read a sign about an interesting shop front, while being completely unable to see it!

    I've also just realised I didn't mention it was a World Heritage site, so yeah. We wandered around for quite a while, filming and exploring. One of the cooler things they have is Renaissance era public fountains. These are mostly in the middle of streets, all topped with allegorical figures. Some are biblical, like Moses and Sampson, others are mythological like Lady Justice, the founder of Bern wrestling a bear, and of course the famous one - an ogre eating a baby. It's wearing a typical Jewish hat, though it didn't look stereotypically Jewish so I'm not sure what the point was. Awkward.

    Walked past Einstein's house, where he lived from 1903 to 1905 while working as a patent clerk. It was also the house where he developed his special theory of relativity. The house is now a museum, but at 6 francs each we decided to skip (particularly since he only lived there for a couple of years - we felt another "Mozart's Birthplace" coming on).

    After about an hour of slow walking and exploration we arrived at the two bridges over the river, right at the far end of the city. The water was a luminous green colour, obvious glacial run-off and with a very strong current. Some locals were in the water, floating along either on rafts or just on their own momentum. Looked like a lot of fun, but we decided to pass.

    Here we also encountered the bear pit! There was some hazily-explained legend about the founder of the city wrestling a bear, but it's now the symbol of the city and they have three large bears in an enclosure overlooking the river. They looked pretty hot, poor guys, since it was pushing 30 degrees! One of them was paddling in a pool though.

    We walked up a hill to the Rose Garden where you get a fantastic view back across the river at the old city. Filmed some stuff here, then discovered the restaurant with a nice view as well, so decided to indulge. We both ordered roughly the cheapest mains on the menu - I had a sausage in onion gravy with a potato rosti (think a very large hash brown, but with fingers of potato rather than reconstituted like at McDonalds), while Shandos had a sausage with sauerkraut, and we shared a tasting paddle of beer since the venue also brews in-house. All up, it was about 50 francs, though the food was quite good.

    Walked back across the bridge into the old town where we explored the last couple of areas we hadn't been to already, including the 15th century cathedral. It's very impressive, and the tallest cathedral in Switzerland at 120 metres, but inside was very plain as most of the religious icons and relics had been destroyed during the Reformation. Seems to be the way in protestant countries!

    We grabbed an ice-cream and sat in a nearby park on the cliff-tops for a while, since it was still really hot. Eventually we wandered back past the Swiss parliament house (Bern is the capital city, not Zurich or Geneva!!) then hopped on the free bus to our park and ride, and then the drive home.

    Thankfully the road markings were finished, so we were at least able to park out the front this time! For these blue marked spaces, they have a very trusting system. Every car has a parking disc which you put on the dashboard, indicating to the nearest half-hour when you arrived. Since most blue spaces are one hour, it's quite trusting to assume people will indicate accurately when they arrived! Though I guess you'd have a much larger fine for falsely indicating as opposed to just overstaying your allowance.

    Spaghetti with pesto again, and we spent a bit of time chatting with our hosts as well.
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    Joel Baldwin

    Proud knight of Bern (note the city's crest on his flag)

    Joel Baldwin

    Schnitzel has a Marilyn Moment

    Joel Baldwin

    Old Bridge in Bern

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  • Day1

    Day 1: Bern

    July 9, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 17 °C

    So after a smooth journey to Bern, we drop off in the city centre of Switzerland's capital. I am quite impressed by the bikes and people respecting the pedestrian's traffic lights (Amélia doesn't look that overwhelmed). Another thing that impresses us is that a shower here can be up to 12 €!

    We follow the main street until the bridge, not without admiring the views from the park behind the Swiss Parliament. We see a poor bear locked in an urban zoo (as hipsters we dislike that).

    Afterwards we climb a little hill with incredible views of the whole city, which seems full of vegetation and just beautiful. We go back to the train station, checking out the Münster (cathedral) on our way there.
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You might also know this place by the following names:

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