Visiting the capital of Switzerland was a pleasant yet strange one, as you would never think that Bern is the capital of Switzerland, but let us explain.
I must first explain that it is not an insult when I say it doesn’t look like a capital city. When I think of a city, I of course expect to see history, but it is also typical to see lots of skyscrapers and a heavily influenced modern sector that follows any development of a capital. I found that Bern is the exception to this rule. As with any city there is of course going to be development but with Bern I think they have perfectly kept the old town, and the history, within the city limits, which is why it has been named as a world heritage sight.
There is plenty of places to park whilst in Bern and is not the most expensive place you could park in Switzerland.
The cathedral of Bern
We parked up right by the river so this was the first sight we saw when we got to Bern. It has a beautiful landscape and tells you straight away that this city is full of history and is proud of that.
Soon as we set foot out of the car it started to snow. This added to the entire feel of the city and made it that little bit more magical. From where we parked it wasn’t far from the cathedral of Bern. This was a beautiful example of architecture, and again I will say that seeing it in the snow made it even more beautiful.
Right next to the cathedral was the Rosengarten so we took a walk around it. It may not be summer so didn’t see the beautiful flowers that I’m sure bloom here but instead we got to experience the panoramic views it has over the city and river that lies below. The snow at this stage began to get quite heavy so we made a move to walk into the city, after all I wanted to see as much as possible in the snow before it stopped (if you even wonder why us brits do that it’s because normally our snow doesn’t last that long to see anything but mush on the ground).
After seeing Thun yesterday, I didn’t think I would get the feeling I did in a larger (and capital) city – I was wrong. The best way I can describe it is Bern is a larger version of Thun. It has small narrow streets with shopping streets on many different levels. It had such a charming feel to it that I could literally just walk around here all day looking at all the quirks it has and window shopping in all the individual shops it has to offer. This is even before I mention the amount of cafes and restaurants it has, from steakhouses to Chinese’s, there will be something for everyone. You could spend hours looking around this old town with the many different levels including some shops being in the basement of another! Its little things like that I really like to see and that’s really why we loved this place and would visit again.
Fountains in Bern
Within the old town of Bern it had many fountains/water points, this may not seem exciting but really is something you will notice when walking through the city. The pillars of the fountains rise above and have different statues above to admire. The one that really stuck out for me was the monkey hunched on the top of one, apparently these use to be used as meeting points for a chat and a gossip, and who doesn’t love a good gossip.
Not a focal point of the city but we came across it and it is a wonderful building. All we could think is how lovely and authentic would it be to go and watch a show at this particular building, it would transport you back to a time when going to the theatre was the only way you could watch a show, and not just watching the tv on a Saturday night.
In the centre of the old town is probably the most popular sight of the city and you can certainly see why. This clock stands out from the other end of the shopping street with its size and vibrant colours. This isn’t just a clock and has served as numerous other things over the years, including a prison, but along with telling the time it’s also tells you the time of year and the zodiac sign along with other times. On the hour during the day the clock hosts a ‘show’ as such, with jesters and bears come and play a song which is brilliant to see. Really this clock is a must see not just when visiting Bern but Switzerland, it truly is a beautiful and well made clock, but would you expect anything else from the clockmaker’s of the world?
Another sight situated in the old town of Bern, is a town house which Einstein lived in whilst working at the patent office and worked on the early theories of general relativity. This explains it all I think, walking down this street you can just imagine this would have been his views when creating one of the most well-known theories of all time. You can visit the house itself but do check opening hours as these vary depending on when you go, plus when we visited it seemed to have scaffolding on which maybe not what you want to see.
Everyone that knows me will know why this category gets a piece on its own! For those who don’t, well basically if I go for a hot drink it will either be tea or hot chocolate. Europe are mainly coffee drinkers so to get a decent cup of tea is difficult, so every drink has been a hot chocolate. I’ve tasted chain branded hot chocolate, packet hot chocolate, you name it I’ve tried it. So it’s only fair for me to try a hot chocolate in the country of the best chocolate in the world.
We couldn’t just try any as we wanted it to be authentic and amazing, and that’s when we came across a small little chocolate shop that had hot chocolate calling me from the window. And oh my was it worth it! It was pure chocolatley goodness that had none of this cream or sugar rubbish with it, just chocolate melted, heated and served straight to me! As you can tell I am very passionate about all things chocolate so to me this was heaven. I will warn people though that although it was heaven, it was also sickly due to it being so pure. If you can handle it go for it – if not, be cautious, get a small cup and drink it quickly (the longer you leave it the stronger it tastes).
And there you have it, our day in Bern was over and we hadn’t even touched the surface. There was so much more to visit and too little time to do it. If you ever get a chance, visiting the capital is a must. We didn’t even get to see the bear park they have near the river (though probably a good idea, not sure how the boys would take them!).