I have to admit I feel kind of guilty writing this post. The US seems to be coming apart at the seams over the last couple of days. Julie and I have a lot of friends right in the thick of what is going on in Minneapolis. We pray every day, that our home country will come to its sense and get it’s collective head out of it’s you know where. I am thankful I have had the chance to travel, and experience many different things in my life. It has taught me there are all kinds of differing viewpoints, but even though you may not think the same, you can still treat everyone with dignity and kindness. I long for those days where people treat other with kindness to return.
Switzerland is slowly starting to lift the lockdown restrictions. We are in our last week of phase two in opening up. By and large things are open back up. Stores, restaurants, bars, public transportation, etc… are back up and running. There are some restrictions such as social distance requirements, numbers of guests allowed, dividers up between tables, and shorter hours. Next week we move into phase three. The social distance requirements are the same, but larger venues can open back up. I believe that events of 100 can be held, churches, can re open, and some entry points to the country will open up. The borders between Germany, Austria, and Switzerland all open, but there are still restrictions for air travel.
Julie and I were going to visit Salzburg, Austria in June, but her company instituted a two week quarantine if you leave Switzerland, so we are pushing that off until later. We have instead booked a week trip to the Alps; so later this month you will be inundated with pictures of mountains!
We did visit Bern this past weekend. Bern is the capital of Switzerland. It is a beautiful city. Like many places in Europe there is a huge difference between the old and the new sections of the city. The video below shows two of Bern’s biggest tourist attractions.
We really were only there one day, so we didn’t get to see a lot. We got in Friday evening, just in time for dinner, and then we came back home Sunday morning after we had to check out of the hotel.
A big part of experience was food! Friday was my Birthday so we went out to a restaurant down by the river. It was a great walk down, and very beautiful in the river bottoms. Julie as usual thought I was crazy, because I ordered RindsTartar (Raw Beef) for dinner, but it was excellent! I have to admit I was a little disappointed that cake platter didn’t read Glücklich Geburtstag instead of Happy Birthday, but as usual the servers got a kick out of my awful language abilities. Someday I hope to get credit for trying, though! 🙂 ( and yes I took a bite before remembering to take a picture!)
Saturday, we really overdid it in regards to food. We have found many different places over here that you pay for your meal by course. You have your choice of four to six courses, and the prices change by how many courses you choose. The restaurant we went to Saturday night was literally the most impressive food I have ever had. I chose all six courses. The wonderful thing is that each course was only a few bites of food. It was almost like a tasting, but it worked because at the end I was pleasantly full, not over stuffed. The meal started with a white asparagus and hollandaise sauce, continued with Salmon, Duck, Pork, Cheese Plate, and Dessert! The other thing that was wild, was a different wine paired with each course. What knocked us off our chairs at the end of the meal, however, was finding out that each wine cost an additional 12 – 15 francs. So by the end of the meal, we had an additional 250 franc charge for wine!!!! We just laughed about it realizing that we had only eaten out once in the last two and a half months, so we just made up for lost time all at once!
Legend has it that Bern got it’s name from the founder because a bear was the first animal he killed after arrival. The bear has been on the flag from the very beginning of the city. The City of Bern began keeping bears in a pit in the year 1513. Bears have been kept in a pit ever since. From 1857 through 2009 the bears have been kept in the pit pictured in the video. In the early 2000’s though there had been so many complaints about the way the bears were being kept the city had to come up with a different solution. So in 2009 the current bear park was created. The bears now have access to approximately 5 acres of land to roam. Still not like the wild, but much better than most zoos.
Two other things that are distinctive to Bern are the Zytglogge tower and what I call one of the first outdoor shopping malls. The Zytglogge tower was originally part of the city walls. It was built around 1218. The tower has served as a guard tower and a prison before becoming a clock tower in the early 1400’s. The clock has received numerous upgrades over the centuries. However, it looks the same as it looked in the 1700’s. I have to admit, I was a little underwhelmed by the clock. Julie and I were thinking the figures moved on the hour, so we get there first at 10:59. waited for a minute, and all we got was the bell ringing, and the king figure moving his staff in time with the bell. We came back at 11:55 thinking maybe the figures moved at the 12’s. at 11:56. the cock crowed, and the figures started moving so I captured the video, they moved for about 30 seconds, and then stopped. Three minutes later the bell was ringing. It was after that we did a little checking and found the figures only move at 4 minutes to the hour. 🙂 The covered sidewalks were not part of the original city plan. In the old city, though, the streets were much wider than traditional european cities for some reason. After the city was ravaged by fire in 1405 the old city was rebuilt in stone. When this happened, they kept the streets the same size, but people wanted larger houses. Since the housing was all above the businesses, when things were rebuilt the houses were extended about 10 feet creating covered sidewalks, but giving the home owners more room. So though many people think the sidewalks were created to make things nicer for customers, the reality is that people wanted more room in their house!
The rest of our Saturday was spent with me standing on the sidewalks, as Julie went shopping! Thank goodness there really wasn’t anything she needed, or even wanted. The budget took a big hit on food! All in all Bern is a neat city to visit. Julie and I will definitely be going back. There are a bunch of museums we did not get to visit. I hope you enjoy the pictures.