The Switzerland adventures continue today, and we’re heading thirty minutes (by train, of course) north of Thun... to Bern!
The groom – the Swiss native, remember – decided to lead us all on a walking tour of the Swiss capital the day before their wedding, because why not? Fortunately, they blocked off the whole morning and afternoon... unlike the English groom who (erroneously) assumed a bunch of American ducklings could see London in an hour. (That story still makes me giggle.)
So he gathered us early on Friday at the train station, and off we went!
And here’s where we ended up:
Bern is... well, like all of Switzerland, it’s gorgeous. And charming. And quiet! Those street trollies will sneak up on you when you’re not looking. Watch out, dude!
We first headed over to the Bundeshaus, the seat of government in Switzerland. It’s over there!
To get to the Bundeshaus, we had to cut through a street market set up near the Bundesplatz. (Are you saying these German words out loud just for the sheer joy of hearing them? I know I do.)
I also took the time to pose with an outdoor chess set in celebration of the national champion chess team coach (i.e. Mr. P).
And then here we are at the Bundeshaus:
No fences, no guard patrols. Our Swiss guide took great delight in telling us about Switzerland’s seven presidents, who apparently hang out in the bar across the street without bodyguards. You know, if you ever wanted to have a drink with a Swiss president.
But honestly, the best part of the Bundeshaus... is what’s behind it. Let’s go...
Another day – a rainy one, one without photos – I walked with some friends and their expat friends living in Bern along the river down there. We went from their apartment, back near that apartment building in the upper right, to here at the Bundeshaus. It was beautiful, even in the pouring rain!
But from here... that view! Obviously, it was a hotspot for photo sessions within our group.
Then we wandered on to the other sights, like a fancy private home and the famous clock tower...
... and to our next stop, the Münster (Cathedral).
It’s basically impossible to photograph from the plaza in front of it (Münsterplatz! Go ahead, say it out loud!), it’s so dang tall. So... we decided to climb it. All 250 steps!
Wait, sorry, it’s 250 steps to the lower platform. Let’s go up another 100 steps to the upper spire!
Unfortunately it’s super tight on the balcony up there. So you have the choice of photographing the view or people, but not really both at the same time. Oh well!
Once we’d climbed down (successfully avoiding the noon chiming) and walked a ways away, I could finally photograph exactly where I was.
I know exactly what you’re wondering: exactly how much were my thighs burning later? And the answer is so very much. But so worth it!
Next we headed over to see the real-live symbols of Bern:
Although they’re in a bear pit here, they’ve actually got a wide open hillside to frolic around when they’re not in the pit. No worries! Those bears live the good life.
The bears live in front of our lunch stop, which is the old train depot converted into a restaurant... and a brewery. Prost!
After lunch we took a meandering route back toward the train station, taking in the sights along the way.
More than once we saw a neat building and asked our Swiss friend what it was... and he promptly consulted the map/tourist guide he’d picked up at the train station to fill us in. To his credit, it’s been nearly two decades since he lived in Bern, but maybe he shouldn’t quit science to fulfill any tour guide aspirations just yet.
One of the last stops along the way to the station was the home of Albert Einstein, when he worked as a patent clerk and wrote all his famous theories at night.
It’s next to a café for schmucks. Huh.
Our friend kept telling us that the last thing we’d do in Bern was go on top of the train station to see the university. I thought he meant we’d get a nice view of a campus in the distance, like maybe it was too far to walk there, so we’d just see it from the train station. But I misunderstood. The university in Bern is quite literally on top of the train station. Before you assume it’s just a maze of hallways in the upper floor of a building though.... let me show you what the university looks like.
I KNOW. For all beauty of Bern, this is the one thing I can’t stop telling people about. You enter the train station at ground level. You take an elevator four floors up. You step out ONTO GROUND LEVEL. There’s even cars up there. If you don’t believe me, check out a map – you’ll see where the train tracks go into the station, and you’ll see the university right there on top of it.
And then when you’re ready to leave, you get in this glass elevator, go down four floors into the train station. Which is not underground. Have I stressed that enough?
After our Bern adventure, it was wedding rehearsal time – but I’ll have to save that part of the story for another day!