This is part two of my story. It’s my second day in Switzerland, and the destination this time was the federal capital, Bern (or Berne in French)
After breakfast at the apartment in Zurich, we decided to take another route to the HB. Instead of taking the train, we took the tram from Escher-Wyss-platz, through the Limmatstrasse. From the Zurich HB, it was a roughly one-hour train ride to Bern, and after disembarking, we immediately sought our first stop, the Barengrabben. We initially had trouble looking for the bus/tram route that would take us there, good thing there was a tourist office at the station, so after asking for directions, we were on our way.
The Barengrabben contained the “bear pits”, with actual live bears in it. As to why bears are significant for this city, you can read up on Bern’s history, but in short, the city was named after the animal. We took a quick look at the bears that were lazing around at the pits, and then after that, headed up a small uphill path to the Rosengarten (Rose Garden).
There weren’t any roses that time (maybe it was out of season), but the Rosengarten had an even greater attraction, a beautiful view of the old town. The hike uphill was not easy, and midway through we were already catching our breath. When we reached the top though, it no longer mattered, since the scenery simply took our breath away anyway (cheesy? hehe).
After absorbing the beauty of the scenery, we then went down back to the Barengrabben, then took a stroll along Marktgasse, the main street of the old town, all the way to the city’s most prized landmark, the Zytglogge (Clock Tower). Along the way we also passed by the apartment of perhaps Bern’s most well known resident, Albert Einstein. The genius Einstein lived and worked in Switzerland for a while, before he became famous. His apartment has now been converted to a mini-museum, called the Einsteinhaus.
After the long stroll, we then stopped for a very late lunch at a restaurant in the Kornhausplatz area, just a few steps away from the Zytglogge. I had the rosti, a traditional Swiss dish, together with a bratwurst (a type of sausage). The rosti was similar in appearance to the Filipino “torta”, but it was made purely out of potatoes. I then washed that down with a tall glass of beer. Potatoes, sausage and beer…in Europe itself…wonderful!
After getting our fill, we then headed out again. This time we decided to have a free stroll for the rest of the afternoon, and so we took a tram and hopped-off in front of the city’s only casino. We didn’t go inside the casino though, and instead decided to roam around the surroundings, and that was when we found the Bundeshaus, the seat of the Swiss federal government. The Bundeshaus is roughly their equivalent to our Batasang Pambansa, plus it’s where the president takes office, though he/she does not live there. Since their president does not have an official place of residence, they have no equivalent to our Malacanang (the Swiss are way wealthier than us, yet they never built a palace for their presidents…talk about irony).
It drizzled that afternoon though, which made the cool weather turn a bit too cold for our tropical skins, so we decided to wrap up the visit, and we walked leisurely back to the train station. Along the way we stopped at one of the Migros outlets (Migros is one of their largest grocery chains), to buy…guess what…packs of instant noodles! Perfect relief for the biting cold outside. With the noodles in hand, we then headed back to Zurich, and an hour or so later, we were sipping noodle soup at the apartment.
Having spent my first and second days strolling around old towns (Rapperswil and Bern), I could say I’ve already taken a good peek at what Europe was in the olden days. The next day I will be off to a 4 hour train ride to what is perhaps the most widely known Swiss city, Geneva. That will be part 3 of my story.
* We walked around Bern on May 2008. All photos taken by my wife with her Sony DSC T300 (I was busy working the videocam).