Our first full day in Bern!
We walked from our Airbnb to Bern’s city center, crossing the Aare. May is hit or miss in terms of weather in Switzerland and we arrived on a rainy day – which turned the Aare a chocolate brown – but Switzerland weather tends to be capricious this time of year and the weatherman is wrong far more often than right.
One big plus (aside from the Swiss flag, teehee) is that the sights are completely barren of tourists in the event of rain – leaving you with views unladen with selfie sticks and tour busses. My advice for any photography inclined (or just crowd averse) traveler is to start the day early for the best shots. Rain is also not really a torrential downpour as much as it was a slow-to-dampen mist during this season. We carried an umbrella but barely used it.
The view down the street in Bern is of similarly colored row buildings with many sporting a bright flag out front. Bicycles and other evidence of residents is scattered here and there in the early hours.
Bern has many streets that look very similar but they each have unique medieval water fountains. We saw several of them but my favorite was this guy in medieval armor that looks like an old-timey ocean diver.
The famous Zytglogge is down the main street in Bern. It’s kind of mindblowing to think this clock is 550 years older than the United States.
We crossed the Kornhausbrücke, a bridge leading to another part of Bern, to get some great views of the city on a sleepy morning. Swiss architecture carries the old world feel with a modern charm. I loved looking at every little patio and the flowers and bits and bobs in the windowsills. It was an excellent vantage point to absorb the classic style of all the homes and businesses.
Our next stop was back across the bridge to the Kornhaus Cafe– and it being Sunday we splurged on the Sunday brunch. What a spread! We didn’t see a similar spread anywhere the remainder of the trip and considering the general prices it was very reasonable for the variety. I recommend doing this on a Sunday. We weren’t hungry until well into dinnertime even with all the walking!
Next we crossed the Nydeggbrücke to check out the famous Bear Pit – Bärengraben. These rather comfortable creatures spend the day walking around this giant forested pen picking up food hidden for them to find. Then they have the option to gaze upon the river, return to their den, or play up and down the slopes. They’re well taken care of bears.
After getting acquainted with the bears for a while, we took a walk to the Rosengarten Bern – a park atop a long hill ( everything felt like a long hill to this chair parade lady ). We were a little early in the season for the roses, but there were plenty of other flora to look at in the garden.
The view from the Rosengarten is one of two of the best views of Bern. It’s worth the long uphill for just this vantage.
After Rosengarten, we headed back towards the Bärengraben – where a nice little brewery with a restaurant is situated. Atmosphere is great, and there was a little ice cream shop where we enjoyed some sorbet – located inside the Altes Train depot.
We thought we’d go checked out Einstein’s apartment in Bern and started walking towards the city center. I spied what looked like an antiques and international good seller and popped in. We wound up talking with the shop owner for nearly an hour – met his son and helped him muse at locations in the States he could visit in the future. We spoke a little of politics – in which he assured us that all things come and go in phases and to not lose the pride we have in the country we live in. It was really great. The swiss people were friendly and helpful everywhere.
We eventually made it to Einsteinhaus where I learned how much scandal surrounded the brilliant life of this paragon of scientific contribution. Seriously, all I gotta say about Einstein is: “Playa gotta play”.
We decided to check out the church we’d seen walking back and forth in Bern – The Berner Munster Church Tower. There were 33 flights of stairs total to the top of the church where we managed some great unobstructed views of Bern. I personally enjoyed the top-down view of all the roofs of the surrounding buildings. A neighboring church had gleaming roof tiles – so shiny I thought they might have been made of copper.
After the church we spent some time walking the city, stopping for some lemonade on the Munster Platform and finishing off with dinner at a Thai place nestled down an alley. Bern was a charming city – and we enjoyed feeling comfortable walking anywhere in this safe town that’s friendly to outsiders.
Where We Stayed
If you’re a couple or single, I can’t recommend Rolf’s Airbnb enough. It’s listed as a ‘private room’ but it’s a full suite in an apartment building with your own entry, up a flight of stairs and no shared space – affording you all the privacy of what Airbnb normally lists as ‘entire place’. It’s also walking distance from Bern’s city center along a very scenic little route across the Aare all at a very reasonable rate.