I somehow managed to turn a week in Tuscany with some friends into a month-long trip in Europe. Unlike my other trips I will be traveling with friends and family for the next 4 weeks, and yesterday I began the first leg of this journey with Lynne in Zurich, Switzerland. In Bern really, since upon arrival and meeting each other at the airport we immediately boarded a train headed to the beautiful capital city of Switzerland.
We were sufficiently tired from our long flights but decided that we should walk around town until we couldn’t fight off the jet lag any longer. We surprised ourselves by powering through and seeing most of the sights we wanted to see. We walked all over town, crossed as many bridges as we could, stopped to admire every fountain we encountered, took photos of each and every bear, live or otherwise (bear being the official mascot of Bern), stared and gawked at the nature that surrounds the city, and wondered how so many ancient buildings and structures were in such great shape.
Our first stop was the lovely rose garden from which we enjoyed a panoramic view of the city as well as our picnic lunch.
We took a walk down to the bear pits where we saw one large brown bear furiously digging a hole and three others swimming playfully in the Aare River.
We walked through the Old Town (Altstadt), stopping at all the fountains and bear statues. There was the Justice fountain from 1543 (the pope is at her feet!)
Samson showing his strength (pillar & capital from 1527, and the figure from 1544).
We saw the Moses fountain in front of Cathedral of St. Vincent, and the Bagpiper (Pfeiferbrunnen) erected around 1545. And there was the Ogre, our favorite, who was eating little babies! I filled up my water bottle here & the water was cold and delicious.
After walking past the Zahringer fountain, in honor of the city’s founder (from 1535), we took a much needed coffee break at the coffee shop at the Albert Einstein’s old house. I gave us just enough extra energy to get us going for another few hours.
We stopped to listen and watch the clock tower at work at 5PM. It was so fun that we returned this morning at 10AM and again at 11AM for a repeat performance.
As we crossed the Kornhaus bridge we spotted a woman SWIMMING in the cold Aare River. Is that how the Swiss women keep so fit and lean with all the Swiss chocolate around? We shuttered thinking about dunking our whole body in that frigid water.. it was enough to just dip a few toes in it for us.
We saved the visit to the St. Vincent cathedral for this morning (there was a funeral service going on and we couldn’t go inside yesterday). The construction of this church was started in 1421 and it went on until 1573. We loved the front door, the ornate stained glass windows, and the organ that was being played as we walked through the church. It was as if we had our own Christian soundtrack to our visit.
What a gorgeous city! It was so clean and pretty that we had a difficult time believing that the buildings and statues were as old as they claimed to be… Lynne and I felt madly in love with the skyline of Bern, of its roof tiles and chimneys, the river, and all the fountains. And of the Ogre that frightened the grown-ups like us and all the bears. All oh so charming.