Bears in Bern

With the chance of good weather, we went on a self-guided walking tour of downtown Bern, Switzerland. We enjoyed lovely views of the river, the clock tower, churches, and many other statues and landmarks along the way. We’d passed through downtown and crossed the river many times while riding the bus, but it was nice to enjoy it at a walking pace and take pictures.

This is the clock tower (Zytglogge), which was built in 1218 AD. The first picture is of the back of the tower, the second picture is the front. Ever hour, the clock chimes, the man rings the bell, and the cuckoo clock turns. A crowd starts gathering in front of the tower about 10 minutes before it chimes. We stood next to a local woman and her toddler son. She said that because she was downtown around the time the bell was going to chime, she had to come and let her son watch. Otherwise, her son would hear the bell and beg to go see it. It’s a popular sight for locals and tourists alike. It’s a not a very long or complicated cuckoo clock, but it’s still fun to watch.

We pointed out this statue to the girls and told them that this is what happens when you don’t sit in the stroller when mom and dad tell you to. HA! The literal translation of the name of the fountain is, “Fountain of the Eater of Little Children.” There are tons of theories as to what event or story this may be depicting, and it seems like no one really knows. It’s just kind of creepy.

Next we came to this beautiful Gothic style cathedral which was started in 1421, though it took hundreds of years to complete. There is a scene of The Last Judgement over the main portal which is one of the most complete Late Gothic sculpture collections in Europe.

We popped into the Einstein Museum for about an hour just to browse and learn a little more about Einstein. Einstein spent many years in his early career living in Bern. There were several movies that were supposed to help normal humans understand his theories (general relativity, special relativity, etc.). After about ten minutes of watching these oversimplified explanations, Chris and I turned and looked at each other. “You understand this stuff?” “Nope. I’ve been lost for 5 mins. Let’s move along.” We’ll leave this stuff for the rocket scientists and brain surgeons.

I also thought it was interesting to learn that Einstein (when he was older) purposefully back-combed his hair to give it that crazy scientist look.

The girls spotted a fountain outside the Einstein Museum (I swear they can spot a fountain, a playground, and rocks of any size from about a mile away). After an hour in a museum, they were dying for some quality rock-throwing time.

Time to visit the bears! Bern was named after the first animal that they discovered in the area (bears) and the city has kept bears for public viewing since the 15th century. There have been some fairly recent renovations, and the bear “pit” that was their home for hundreds of years is no longer used. The bears now have a grassy hillside to live on with more room to roam. You can see the bears from the top of the hill, looking down onto them, or you can go to the bottom of the hill next to the river and see the bears from that vantage point.

We were lucky enough to see one bear out and about. We caught sight of him from the top and hurried down to get some better pictures.

It was such a beautiful evening! We enjoyed walking along the river and watching the kids play.

Charlotte and Lucy love to play together (usually). They started playing chase up and down the pathway right next to the river and the bears. These girls are best friends.

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