I loved this day. It was the stuff snowy, Swiss dreams are made of.
We decided to take the drive to Bern, about an hour and a half away. Bern is so beautiful. The city center sits inside the u-shape of the Aare river, and there are now 18 bridges that cross the river. Bern is listed in the top 10 cities for the best quality of life, and has a similar population to that of Boise, but only if you included the surrounding municipalities. The city itself has only 138,000 people.
We drove around for a bit, and then found a place to park and ate a lite pre-packed lunch in the car. We didn’t eat much because I was determined to eat fondue that day, and if we found a fondue restaurant in an hour or two, I wanted to have an appetite by golly. Richard joked that Switzerland was leaving a lot of money on the table by making fondue so elusive…
The Zytglogge Clocktower – built in the 13th century.
This picture of The Kramgrasse doesn’t do it justice. Too many people. But the Kramgrasse is the principle street of old town Bern, and it was so charming. Albert Einstein actually lived on this street while he was working at the local patent office. And developing a theory of relativity. No big deal.
The city’s tram runs along these electrical cables, and I found them to be quite annoying when I was trying to get a photo of something.
The shops and buildings in Bern are all various shades of sage, olive green. It is the most lovely color and everything was so tidy and clean.
The Bern Munster. We climbed the circular staircases all the way to the top to see panoramic views of the city. The kids were mostly fine going up the stairs, but coming down the stairs three out of four of them panicked a bit. (The staircase was mostly enclosed but had open-air windows.) I mostly just laughed at them. I’m such a compassionate mother.
Classic example of Mim’s mood swings…
Wooden shutters for days…
Quick stop for hot chocolate.
It was a rough day for the kids, indulging in my desire to just walk through the city, stop and take photographs, and see old buildings that probably all look the same to them. They got cold and bored and restless, which caused some stress for the parents. So it really does say a lot about Bern that I had such an amazing time in spite of a fair amount of whining.
Of course a little bribery can go a long way, and taking a much needed break from the cold was a worthwhile investment.
I asked a passer-by to take our picture, but there was a language barrier and I forgot to show him how to zoom-out, so we got a close-up.
I challenge you to guess, based on guilty facial expression, which child was responsible for Eli’s despair.
The Untertorbrücke. It was built in 1256 and was the only bridge across the Aare until 1834. Which means, that the other 17 bridges have all been built in the last 200 years.
Bern is famous for these Renaissance allegorical statues. This one is the Zähringerbrunnen – dated 1535 as a memorial to the founder of Bern, who allegedly had to kill a bear while searching for a site to build the city. Bears are a big part of Bern history and culture, and although we didn’t get to see them, the city has an open-air bear pit, where four bears live. I suppose they are like the city mascots.
The Kindlifresserbrunnen You can tell from the blue sky in the background that this is not my photo. (Wikipedia.) We deliberately avoided this statue, as one of our children is prone to nightmares.
The Bundeshaus or Federal Palace of Switzerland. (Parliament.)
The teal colored spires and domes you see in the Swiss skylines are actually copper that has undergone a chemical reaction from being exposed to the elements. And it’s beautiful.
A nice shot of the lovely sage brick, the staple of Bern architecture.
So, that is Bern. My favorite European city thus far. We found two fondue restaurants but of course they weren’t actually serving fondue until the evening, so we called it a day in Bern and decided to drive to Baden, which was closer to home and hopefully by then we could find a restaurant that would give us what we were looking for.
With some help from some friendly Swiss citizens, we did at last find a fondue restaurant.
Apparently we were naive Americans when it came to fondue. It was expensive, we discovered that soon enough as we searched for fondue restaurants. So we had high expectations. At home when we make fondue, we have bread and chicken, potatoes, apples, other types of bread, broccoli, other veg, a whole table of foods to dip in the cheese. The fondue we had in Swizterland was just bread and cheese. We were all a little disappointed when we realized this.
Now that I’ve gotten that out of the way; the fondue was amazing. It was so good. It was a perfect texture and consistency and the cheesy flavor was a party for my tongue. We loved it.
And Simon had schnitzel and fries. Poor kid. But he didn’t care.
The restaurant was in a quaint little part of town in Baden and we soaked up some Swiss ambiance as we walked back to the car, satisfied and exhausted.
And because in addition to wooden shutters, snow-capped mountains and delicious cheese and chocolate, Switzerland has more graffiti than any other place we’ve been. What up with that yo?! (Not so much in my lovely Bern. Mostly Zurich and other cities/towns.)
Gute nacht Schweiz.