We arrived into Bern by train late on the night of December 22.
The trip from Paris had been fraught, I was expecting the boys to sleep but their overly-exhausted post-Disney minds and bodies didn't agree. And when we woke up the next morning it was obvious that L wasn't well. Amazingly, until then, I was the only one of us who had been officially 'sick' (a truly God-awful 24 hours in Copenhagen) so I hoped he would improve after a day of rest.
Which suited everyone really. Our airbnb apartment was lovely, even nicer than I had expected and we'd all worn ourselves a little thin. But in the end one day turned into two and it was Christmas Eve, and then it was Christmas Day and we had barely left the house!
Poor Lovely wasn't truly better until we left Switzerland - despite some frolicking in the snow! - and it was only on our last day that we got to wander and explore the city centre.
Doesn't Bern just look fairytale picture-perfect with those snow-capped peaks behind it!Bundeshaus. The Federal Palace of Switzerland.
Walking along the Bundesgasse we discovered an oversized chess set.
I'm pretty sure no one else in my family noticed it was -1 Celsius. Outdoor chess really? Apparently the answer was Yes!
They played THREE games. 3. In sub-zero temperatures. I watched and shivered :)
Luckily I had a sweet view of the Gurtenbahn funicular where we had snow-balled the two days previous to keep me company.
Post-chess we were cold enough to skip the free ice-skating in the Bundesplatz (hard to believe in retrospect!) and hunt down some lunch. We decided on the Einstein Kaffee on the devastating realization that the Einsteinhaus really had closed for the holidays the day before we had arrived in Bern. Grrrr... It had been one of our key sights to visit. Luckily this cafe downstairs was beautiful... post to come!
Gratuitous clock photo. Or, more officially, the medieval Zytglogge astronomical clock.
Walking along the Spitalgrasse, and then the Kramgrasse, we played spot-the-water-fountain. This was my favourite one. Also, I love that you can see the beautiful real Christmas trees that lined the main streets of Bern in this photo. Stunning.
Something that Bern is well-known for is bears. The bear has long served as symbol of Bern. Legend has it that, in 1191, Duke Berthold V of Zähringen vowed to choose as namesake the first animal his hunt met in the wood that was to be chopped down for his new city. As Konrad Justingers chronicle puts it "Then they caught a bear first, which is why the city was called Bern; and so the citizens had their coat and shield, which was a black bear in a white shield, going upright".
Once you find yourself at the end of the Kramgasse and cross the Aare River you reach the Bärengraben, or Bear Pits. Understandably, being late-December the bears were hibernating but it was a shame to miss them.
We did however get a little aquaited with the Russian-born Mischance and Mascha via a bear-pit exhibition. They are obviously super-cute and happy that the bear-pit was updated in 2009.
Fake bear-wrestling ;)
And that's Bern! Okay, Bern-in-a-day at the speed that you travel with an almost-well 8 year old.
Have you been to Bern?