This was our last trip outside of the Zürich metro area while Kaylee was here this trip. I am not sure which gene Julie and I duplicated in our children that fostered learning. However, we did something right with both kids. They love going to museums when we travel; they both love history; and they both seem to love learning just for the sake of learning something. Therefore, it wasn’t much of a surprise when Kaylee said she wanted to go to Bern for her last trip. She had the choice of going back up into the mountains and visit Engleberg, or visiting Bern. She did a little research and found that Bern has a really good museum, and some other famous sites that she wanted to see. Including another large cathedral that had a tower we could climb! What sealed the deal for Bern, however, was the fact the museum had a really good Albert Einstein exhibit.
Bern is the Capital of Switzerland. The entire metro area has a little over 400,000 residents, making it one of the more populous areas in the country. In the late 80’s or early 90’s the entire “old section” of the city was classified as a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Out of all the cities in Switzerland I have visited, I think Bern has the biggest differences between the “new” city and the “old” city. One striking part of the old city is most of the sidewalks are covered. Kaylee and I were discussing the rationale behind this, and I told her I thought it was due to commerce. Basically this has to be one of the original shopping malls, a place where you can go from shop to shop and stay dry if it is raining.
One of the attractions to see is the Zytglogge. The Zytglogge building was put up in the early 1200’s. The tower has gone through numerous renovations and improvements over 800 years with the most recent taking place in 1979. The clock was added to the tower somewhere around 1400. That is one OLD clock! Underneath the traditional “hour” clock is an astronomical clock. We kept trying to get back to the clock because when the hour rings in, some of the figures move like a cukoo clock. Unfornately, though we kept missing the hour. I guess when Julie and I go back, we will have to get our timing down.
Once again we found a tower to climb. The Berner Münster is another Catholic cathedral that was converted during the reformation. However, the inside of this one was not as plain as some of the reformed churches we have seen. In this case, ceiling was still very decorative, but all of the traditional Catholic touches had been removed. Many of these reformed churches have signs asking not to take pictures on the inside. I try and be a good tourist, so I leave my camera in my pocket. The most impressive part of this church was pipe organ. It was gigantic, and very beautifully decorated. I tried to go online and find an image so you could see, but I couldn’t find one that is not copyrighted; so if you would like to see what it looks like. Go to images.google.com Type in Bern Cathedral pipe organ Sorry about the extra steps, but in my old job, I used to get on teachers all the time about following copyrights so I had better practice what I preach!
We also went to see the Bern Bear Pits. Yes, this is a real thing. The first bears were kept in a pit in the year 1513, and from what I can tell there have been multiple bears kept in the pit ever since. When Kaylee told me about this, I was incredulous. How could a country that has a law stipulating you have to at least two Guinea Pigs allow a city to keep bears in a hole in the ground? Well it turns out there is more to the pit than just the pit. There are actually two bear pits, and there are tunnels to a Park on a hillside for the bears to roam. I think it is the largest enclosure I have ever seen for bears. Hopefully, the bears won’t be hibernating the next time I visit; so I can have some pictures for you!