September 25, 2009
I was going to head to Interlaken, Switzerland this morning, when I got to the Zurich’s Hauptbahnhof to figure out my scheduling options. Turns out, there was a train leaving in 15 minutes that would get me to Interlaken in the early afternoon, after a quick transfer in Bern, the capital of Switzerland. I decided to hop on the next train out to maximize my time in Interlaken. Somewhere between Zurich and Bern, I thought maybe I should explore the upcoming capital city for a couple hours before making my way toward the center of the country. I was glad I did.
Bern is a gorgeous, scenic city along the River Aare. The Hauptbahnhof sits on the outside of the city’s old town and is a good starting point for walking around. I headed toward the park, Kleine Schanze. This park is set up with relaxing chairs, perfect for lounging and enjoying a peaceful day in the park. A stroll through the park leads to the Bundeshaus (Parliament), which dominates the skyline of the city and provides a good backdrop for many a picture. From there, I enjoyed a couple of the scenic overlooks of the city and the river. I decided to head across the Kirchenfeldbrucke (bridge) to the collection of Museums on the other side. I didn’t have time to explore any of the exhibits, but it’s a cool area to walk around and explore. Plus, there are some cool fountains worth making a wish in. I then headed over to Munster, one of the more interesting churches in Europe. The exterior is under construction, but plenty to see and do inside. I strolled through the old town and checked out sights like the Zytglogge, a clock tower that one can take a tour of to see the inner workings of. It also marks the towns former West Gate and it also used to be a prison for prostitutes. I checked out the Rathaus (Town Hall), Barenplatz (a square that used to be a moat) and Marktgasse. Bern’s old town is dotted with Renaissance statues adorning 11 fountains in the middle of the streets.
I can’t say that I really “saw” Bern, but I like to think I got a good feel for the city. I enjoyed being in a part of Switzerland where I could practice my French, see some scenery, history and politico’s walking around. The sampling I got left me with the feeling that I wouldn’t mind coming back to explore it further when given the chance.
Other sights in Bern:
Einsteinhaus—Einstein lived and worked on his theory of relativity from 1903-1905 here
Franzosische Kirche—oldest church in Bern
Gerechtigkeitsgasse—eastern section of the Old Town, check out the Fountain of Justice
Munstergasse—becomes a street market on Tuesdays and Saturdays
Barengraben—the symbol associated with Bern is a bear. Here you can check the real ones out in person at the bear pits.
Kunstahalle, Schweizerisches Alpines museum, Bernisches Historisches Museum and the Museum fur Kommunikation—all across the Kirchenfeldbrucke, opposite the Casinoplatz