Once again, we’re lucky enough to have our good friends living here in Bern, so as well as priceless tips and information from the locals, we also have a comfy bed and a social gathering each night for dinner, not to mention a couple of ice-skating pals! (Thanks so much Ron, Lornie, Will and Charlie)
The city centre of Bern is just gorgeous.
It’s famous for its covered arcades (6km’s of them!) and cellar shops and bars. It all makes for a rather intimate shopping experience and we spent many an hour wandering around the cobblestoned streets just taking in the relaxed feeling of this pretty city.
… Is Bern’s most famous Old Town site. A beautiful, and very old (1191!!) ornate clock tower that attracts quite a few onlookers on the hour – every hour! We would often walk by when the crowds were dispersing, naturally we were curious so we made it our mission to be among the viewing crowd and to see what all the fuss was about. On the day of our ‘fountain treasure hunt’ (more on that later…) while we were busy ‘hunting’ I realized that it was 7 mins to the hour. We decided to make a dash for it, weaving in and out of the little side streets, and dodging the window shoppers strolling by. We ran and ran and made it with 1 minute to spare, we were ready, puffing and panting, but there we were, then… bong bong boingggg…. It was a bit of a fizz to say the least, but it did give us plenty of reason for a good giggle!
Apart from the rather timid hourly show we did discover though, that the Zytglogge not only had a cool name but being right in the centre of the city it also served as a great landmark for us wanderers!
We huffed and puffed and made our way up the 344 spiral staircase of the Münster where we were rewarded with an amazing 360° view of the city. The 100m spire of the Münster can be seen from far and wide and acts as the beacon of Bern’s 15th century Gothic cathedral. It is beautiful.
Historical Museum of Bern
We had the most fantastic day at the Historical Museum. It was on our daily train line so it was on our hit list from day one. Actually it was the big sign out the front advertising the ‘Einstein Exhibition’ that drew us in. Jed and Deni love Einstein, more because of his crazy appearance than his brilliant mind so I thought it’d be the perfect opportunity for them to discover that he was more than just a mad looking scientist!
We made our way through the exhibition loading ourselves with a ton of facts and details of his life. I was so proud of my 2 little darlings, their attention and excitement never wavering for a minute. While sitting at the museums café having lunch I asked them what was the most interesting thing they got from the exhibition, Deni’s response… ‘I liked the way that he married his cousin’ – hmm, a good time to remind myself that we all take different things from these experiences!
As most museums go, there were rooms and rooms of fantastic exhibitions. Ancient Roman scrolls that fascinated all 3 of us. There was even one that you could look through, white gloves and all! It was the perfect display of how calligraphy was used, and to my absolute delight it gave J&D the inspiration to pick up the calligraphy pens and book that I’ve been carrying around for the last year or so! (Homeschooling 101 again!)
There were rooms full of armoured horsemen and look-alike battlefields with freakishly realistic wax figures to boot. Rooms lined with Roman statues and old broken relics of the past. All very fascinating and our recommendation for a great day out!
Our Bern ‘fountain treasure hunt.’
By far one of our favorite days in Bern was that spent on our ‘fountain treasure hunt!’
As we were travelling out of season most of the tours and guided walks were either not running while we were here or not delivered in English. It was a bit of a bummer but It just meant that I had to be a little creative with my itinerary! So, one night, while enjoying a wine with my house buddies, we stumbled across an app called ‘Bern City Walks’ What a find! This little beauty gave us a GPS map to find our way around the city to each fountain and also a description on each one. It really was the perfect little tool, and exactly what I was looking for to bring a bit of excitement and fun into our little history lesson of Bern’s famous 16th century fountains.
We all took turns using the GPS to get us from one point to another, then we would read out the descriptions and meaning of each folk-looking character perched on each fountain. I think the most fun though was actually spotting the fountains before we arrived at the pin on the map, we would all squeal with delight when we spotted one up ahead. Yes, we did get a few strange looks but by golly we had fun!
We walked and walked that day, the length of the city a few times over, and our two little adventures didn’t notice at all. The excitement of using the GPS on my phone and spotting each strange character created a ‘treasure hunt’ kind of feeling, and that experience was enough for them to solider on – from one funky fountain to the next!