With a 4-day weekend coming up we decided to take a trip through Switzerland stopping in Bern and Lucerne then heading back home. We were very excited as we had not travelled to Switzerland and knew we were in for some breathtaking scenery.
We were not disappointed, it seems that no matter where you travel in Europe the scenery is breathtaking. Our trips are never without hiccups and Bern was no different! Upon arrival in Bern, we were trying to figure out where to park and what to do- there are several things that are in Bern and we wanted to see the Zytglogge – the Clock Tower, the Parliament Building and BearPark which is what Bern is known for.
History of Bern
Bern is the Capital of Switzerland is a quiet town filled with museums, churches and many historical buildings. Bern was established in the 12th century and was named after the infamous bear that was found in the forest nearby. Bern’s Federal Palace is where Parliament meets and is open to the public when Parliament is out. Old Town Bern is quite quaint and has cobbled streets, arcades and fountains. The River Aare was beautiful and the water was a very unique aqua blue colour. The Bridge has a walking path on either side where you can walk across and watch people tubing down the river.
We arrived and while looking for parking had the misfortune of going down a very narrow steep hill, in all fairness as the navigator I thought we were pulling into the parking for the large Casino—unfortunately by the time we had figured out we were on the wrong path we came to the bottom of the road which was a dead end and had no place to turn around!! Let’s just say my husband was not happy with my navigating skills…I was sitting in the passenger seat starting to panic as there were cars parked along the side of the (extremely narrow) two-lane road and I had no clue how we were going to turn around and get back up the hill.
Giving me the “look”, he put the car in reverse—did I mention this is a 5 speed Ford Focus, newly purchased—putting the car in reverse he starts to slowly and carefully back up this hill that had to be the steepest road in Bern. Sitting quietly in my seat I watched as the smoke from the burning clutch enveloped the little red car- I gave a frantic glance at my husband who directed me to sit quietly—read between the lines here please😊😊 so I did!
Navigating backwards up this hill with clutch screaming and creating lots of white smoke we passed within inches of the cars parked on the side of the road. After a grueling 15 minutes, maybe longer I am surprised I didn’t pass out from holding my breath, we reached the top of the hill. Breathing a sigh of relief (and hoping that permanent damage was not done to the clutch), we backed back into traffic and gratefully found parking by the Historical Museum of Bern which also has the Einstein Museum inside of it.
Historical Museum of Bern & Einstein Museum
The Einstein Museum is named after Albert Einstein the world’s most famous scientist of modern times. He lived in Bern between 1903-1909 where he worked as a patent office clerk and a lecturer at the University of Bern. This was a very cool Museum with objects from the Bronze Age and Tapestries from the 15th century.
The Historical Museum has items that are of the Stone age and has over 500,000 items on display. This takes a few hours to navigate through so eat before you go to the museum…lesson learned!
After we finished in the Museum we put more money in our meter and walked across the bridge and gazed down at the Aare River. There were many people tubing in the river or laying out on the banks. Someone had ingeniously set up a type of slingshot where they shot the tuber up the river and he slowly glided back down I guess this takes the place of walking back up the river!
Zytglogge Clock Tower
Our intent at this point was to find the Zytglogge or the Clock Tower as it is what Bern is famous for. We found the Old Town and took several pictures of the tower.
It didn’t take us long to see the clock tower and from there we wandered down to the Parliament building where there were fountains squirting water from the marble plaza. This was very fun to watch and kids were running around and playing in the water.
We stumbled upon a pretty park as we were walking around and there were many statues telling stories of Bern.
As we were leaving we had another unfortunate incident in Old Town, the cobblestone streets are very hard to identify which are actually driving streets and which are well—walking streets.
We turned down one and quickly realized it was probably a walking street but we were already going down it and could not turn back…the tables from the restaurants along the street were so close to the car that I could have reached out and grabbed a baguette off the table! I am sure we were getting lots of frowns from the patrons eating lunch- the key we have learned is to face forward and not make eye contact!!! And ignore any yelling from the locals that may have followed us down the road!!
Putting Bern behind us we were on our way to Lucerne and Mt. Pilatus!