Switzerland
Bern-Mittelland District

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119 travelers at this place:

  • Day1195

    A day in Bern, the Swiss Capital

    October 4, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ⛅ 12 °C

    Before travelling to Switzerland neither of us would have been able to name its Capital; Bern. Having researched this diminutive city, located in the Mittelland region, we decided it was most definitely worth a visit.

    With the provision of a metered car park (belonging to the Paul Klee museum) just 2km from Bern's central square, we chose a day visit instead of staying overnight at a less central location. Charges came in at 2Sfr (£1.60) an hour, or 7Sfr for the day.

    Bern is a small city, the roads are well designed and despite being a Friday, were quiet, so the drive in was as stress free as any we've experienced.

    Modern, efficient and frequent electric buses had a direct line into the centre, but we thought we'd gain more of a feeling for the area on foot. What immediately struck us was the calm, uncongested and unhurried atmosphere; not what you'd expect in the suburbs of a capital. Well designed and maintained low rise apartments mingled with elegant townhouses and surprisingly, an orchard with a small flock of sheep! Compact gardens and balconies grew colourful flowers, ornamental grasses and shrubs, while ancient Beeches and Horse Chestnuts thrived in larger plots of wild ground. We were definitely liking what we'd seen so far!

    Bern's UNESCO listed Old Town, built between the 12th and 15th centuries, occupies a tongue of land within a sharp meander of the Aare River. Even on this drizzly grey day the view of the terracotta tiled houses rising up from the turquoise blue water made our hearts melt. Protruding above the skyline were the Gothic spire of Bern Münster and the green and gold domes of the parliament buildings, each sporting the square Swiss flag.

    Crossing the arched stone Nydegg Bridge we passed the Bärenpark, home to Finn, Björk and Ursina, three brown bears. Bern has a long history with bears, some even say this is where the city's name originated. These creatures have long been kept in cramped pits, the last one closing in 2009 following the death of its remaining occupant. Whilst this new Bear Park is 6000 square metres with trees and a river fed pool, we weren't convinced with the ethics of keeping bears captive in this city centre confine while tourists leant over the bars of their enclosure trying to attract their attention for photo opportunities.

    Once over the bridge we were caught up in the quaintness of cobbled streets, flanked by porticoed walkways, off which lay a smörgåsboard of boutiques. Many outlets contained skilled crafters making and mending leather goods, watches and shoes. Others sold fabrics, fashion, souvenirs, Swiss Army knives and antique curios. Bern again defied our preconceptions, having the feel more of a high end market town than a major administrative centre.

    So enthralled were we that the need to find food was forgotten, until Vicky turned from Jekyll into Hyde. There were a range of options; fondue, kebab and some really expensive looking restaurants, but mindful of our limited budget we opted to find sustenance at Bread à Porter bakery, who heated up a tasty mozzarella and tomato baguette and a small leek quiche for us.

    Now it was time to see the sights! So compact is the Old Town that we ended up criss crossing the same latticed streets more than once, but first we headed to a viewpoint on Kirchenfeldbrücke, where looking back revealed even better sights of parliament on the left and the cathedral spire on the right. We timed our arrival at the Zytglogge just right. A few tourists were beginning to gather in the fenced off 'tourist photo' areas at the junction under the medieval Clock Tower, while a traffic warden made sure buses didn't have to dodge those focussed on their selfie sticks. At 12:56pm a chime rang out and the miniature carousel of figures embedded into this arched old western gate revolved a quarter turn. For the next four minutes we listened and watched as further notes were struck and the guilded characters came to life; the cockerel flapping its wings and the bell player striking their instrument. The artistry of these and the astronomical clock was impressive, but the hourly event a bit of an anti-climax.

    Next port of call, less than 500m away was the Bundesplatz outside Parliament. The grey skies and dull light didn't show this square, nor the fine sandstone building off to their best, but they were impressive nonetheless and the 26 water jets layed into the paving (one to represent each Swiss canton) added a modern element of fun. Our hope had been to enter and watch the house sitting from a gallery, but arrangements seemed to have changed from when our guidebook was written because we were informed by security that we'd need to book online.

    Nevermind, we'd saved the best for last! The tallest church spire in Switzerland rises 100m and belongs to Bern Münster. For 5Sfr you can scale the tightly spiralled stone staircase at one corner of the bell tower, peaking through tall, narrow, arched openings as you climb to see the terraced rooftops dropping away beneath you. At 46m we emerged onto a walkway leading around the outside of the rectangular structure, before taking another 90 steps to the second, smaller, octagonal gallery platform at 64m. From here we took in Bern's position, cupped amongst lush green hills, with far off views of the snow capped Bernese Alps. We spent a long time enjoying this new found perspective, Vicky was particularly taken with the different hues of hexagonal tiles capping identically shaped dormer windows and surrounding cutesy roof top gardens. Although many were hidden by the arcades lining each cobbled thoroughfare, we still marvelled at how few people we could see. Perhaps Swiss prices make foreign tourists (like us) think twice about visiting, but whatever the reason, Bern's uncrowded, unhurried nature is part of this very likeable city's charm.

    N.B. Special thanks to our friends Cath and Paul. We counted out 10Sfr worth of their centimes to pay for entry to the Münster spire - definitely the highlight of our day!
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  • Day1195

    Gurbrü woodland

    October 4, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ ☁️ 12 °C

    We are relieved to have arrived at this woodland car park near Gurbrü after a long afternoon exploring Switzerland's capital.

    We'd already travelled over 60km and done a service stop before arriving in Bern that morning. (There'll be a seperate post covering our city adventures). After 5 hours exploring we drove a short way to motorhome parking at a leisure centre, only to find it wanted to charge 40Sfr (£33) for a sloped patch of tarmac with no facilities. Moving on swiftly we travelled a further 25km as the light began to fade, arriving at this peaceful wooded setting.

    Turning the engine off, we raised the blinds and drew the curtains, heating up some leftovers for tea and treating ourselves to a drink. We'd had an exciting city tour, but now was time to relax.

    Before departing Vicky put on full waterproofs and stretched her legs in a morning drizzle. A 3.1km 'Vitaparcours' route had recently been created. The course led between the trees and alongside feilds, with over a dozen Green Gym fitness stations, like balance beams, sit-up benches and gymnastic rings, off to the side.
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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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  • Day4

    Day 4: Bern

    January 16 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 😋

  • Day4

    Bern

    December 24, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 9 °C

    Mulled Cider in Bern. She happ

  • Day15

    Reise-Vorbereitungen

    August 12, 2019 in Switzerland ⋅ 🌧 15 °C

    Obwohl ich zu Besuch bei Freunden bin, nutze ich den regnerischen Tag für weitere Reisevorbereitungen:

    - die nächsten Campingplätze auswählen
    - Strecken anschauen
    - MTB-Touren vorbereiten
    - Elektronik aufladen
    - usw.

  • 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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You might also know this place by the following names:

Bern-Mittelland District, Verwaltungskreis Bern-Mittelland

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