Saturday, January 11, 2014

Evening in Bern

My cousin called this afternoon (Jan. 11, 2014) and suggested that we meet in Bern for an afternoon to see the city.  Within 30 minutes, I was at Gare Cornavin (train station in Geneva), purchased a ticket, and was on the platform waiting for the train to Bern to arrive.  The train to Bern turned out to be one of the nicer SBB trains and it turned out to be not busy at all.  The views along Lake Geneva approaching Lausanne were beautiful again, with the fog drifting across the water and the Alps cutting through the fog to rise above the lake.  As the train passed Lausanne and headed toward Freiberg and the German part of Switzerland, there were more hills, small, green and rolling speckled with quaint little towns.  There seems to be more forest along this route, and every now and then you could see the Alps sticking out in the distance.  There was even a light dusting of snow on the ground.
My cousin met me at the train station and from there, we wandered through the Old Town in Bern.  It is in an old German style of architecture, as opposed to Geneva's French influence, and it was great to see the contrast.  Unique to Bern, there are arched covered sidewalks in the Old Town that have shops lining the way beneath the arches.  There are also doors in the ground on the sidewalk that are opened during the day to lead to the cafes, bars, and shops beneath the sidewalks.
Our first stop was the Swiss Parliament building.  In front of the building in the plaza, there are fountains built into the ground that go off at random intervals.  Children love running through and trying to dodge them in the summertime.
There is also a beautiful clock close to the train station.  Each town has its own Town Clock, but Bern's is exceptionally beautiful.
We continued through the winding streets behind the clock to cross a bridge that looks out over the Bear Park.  Each canton has a symbol, and Bern's is the Bear.  Because of this, there is a bear zoo in the middle of the city by the Rhine River.  Unfortunately, the bears were gone for the winter so we didn't get to see any action in the Bear Park, much to my disappointment.  On the bright side though, there is a cobblestone pathway (a rather steep cobblestone pathway) right behind the Bear Park that goes up a hill to a rose garden.  At the top of the hill, you can visit the garden as well as a small playground for children and a restaurant with indoor and outdoor seating.  
The views from the restaurant are amazing and we had a great time drinking tea and coffee, just talking and enjoying the views.

After the sun had set, we made our way down from the cafe to meet a friend for dinner in the Old Town.  We found a delicious restaurant called Lutschberg for a traditional Swiss meal - rosti.  Rosti is similar to hash browns with delicious roasted vegetables covered in melted Swiss cheese (I think roclette or something similar in this case).  It was so good, but very filling.  
The restaurant was cute and had small enclosed booths outside for 2-4 people to share fondue.
After dinner, we wandered around the Old Town at night and had coffee and tea at a great place called Lorenzini.  From there, we all ran to the train station to make our various trains home. It was such a fun day and I'd like to go back in the Spring (hopefully when the bears are out).
Cathedral in Bern - supposed to be very impressive inside, but we arrived at night.
The outside was still magnificent.


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