A Girl In Europe #Switzerland
Venice to Bern -‘the city of bears’ via Milan in Trenitalia (Eurorail) was a 5 hrs scenic journey through lush green landscapes, snow-capped mountains, postcard like villages, lakes and tunnels.
The weather in Switzerland is warmest in July and this is the season that attracts a lot of tourist. The scenic and spectacular landscapes, colorful wildflowers across the valley and a perfect climate is all a nature lover like me wants.
I preferred staying in Hostels in Switzerland as the hotel rates were too heavy for my pocket because of the high season. This gave me an opportunity to live a hosteller life in a foreign land 😉
Bern the capital city is in the heart of Switzerland at a narrow hill and is surrounded by River Aare from three sides. Steeped in history and natural beauty of this city will hold you spell bound.
Bern Backpackers, my hostel, was a 10 mins walk from the railway station. I followed google maps and reached the hostel but wasn’t allowed to check-in as I was before time. Without wasting a single minute, I dumped my bag in the luggage room and snuck out to explore the city on foot.
Now the big question was Where to start from?
I needed information about the town and the tourist information centre at the main station was the best place to receive some. I was welcomed with a warm smile and the lady at the counter helped me with the complimentary map which had information of the important sights. She also suggested me some day tours but I was more interested to explore the place at my own pace.
To make my journey convenient and pocket friendly, I purchased Half Fare Card online to travel throughout Switzerland at half price and Swiss Travel pass for 4 days for unlimited access to the Swiss travel system. After collecting all the information, I started my walking tour from the Church of the Holy Ghost. It was a simple reformist church with sense of calm and serenity to offer to its visitors.
“To find the street you can fall in love, you may wander in countless streets, but it worths to wander!”
The city had a friendly vibe, picture perfect cobblestone streets surrounded with red and white flags on both sides. The colorful trams were running down the centre of the streets. While wandering here and there many times, I found myself walking on the tramway tracks! Danger☠️
It’s lunch time!
Just 5-min walk away from the Parliament building, there were some good restaurants and street food along the Barenplatz plaza. I was craving for Indian food and was happy to find an Indian restaurant ‘Way to India’ on the street. They were serving lunch buffet, I enjoyed the delicious food with a cup of tea. The owner was kind enough to give me information about the places to visit.
After satiating my hunger, I started exploring the city again and headed towards the beautiful Old Town, a UNESCO world cultural heritage site. At the entrance of the old town is the city’s oldest landmark – Zytglogge, the clock tower with a beautiful astronomical clock that was installed in 1530.
At the strike of every hour, time seems to come alive in the tower.
Old Town of Bern – UNESCO World Heritage Centre
The two main shopping street Kramgasse and Gerechtigkeitsgasse were in the centre of the Old Town. The 6 km covered arcades are a home to designer shops, cafes and restaurants.
This was a place for every shopaholic but my attention was caught by the florist who was busy expressing her creativity with the floral arrangements on the street. I felt in love with the flowers and bought myself some white and red roses!
“Love yourself first, and everything else falls into line.”—Lucille Ball
The beautiful renaissance fountains all across old town brings life and energy to the cobbled streets of UNESCO World Heritage Site. The Simsonbrunnen fountain is on the Kramgasse in the old town.
The alluring carving of the fountains, fascinates every traveller to stop by and click selfies with these magnificent colorful jewels.
Nothing comes free in Switzerland. Even a glass of tap water is chargeable in Swiss restaurants. Beyond beauty, the fountains are also a public source of fresh and cold water that quenches the thirst of all, at no cost!
The Cathedral of Bern
After strolling through the old town for a few hours, it was time for the BarenPark (Bear Park). While heading towards the BarenPark, I visited ‘Bern Minster’, a cultural property of national significance.
The Gothic style Cathedral, in the middle of the city, is the tallest spire in the country. It offers some spectacular view from the top. However, I wasn’t lucky enough to get inside the historical church because it was closed for some renovation.
I was disappointed momentarily but the cathedral holds something for everyone and for me it was a park with scenic river view just beside the church😊
Bear has a historical connection with this town. The founder of the city vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on the hunt and this turned out to be a bear. And so the city was named Bern (meaning bear in German) and got bear as its symbol.
It was hard for me to believe this story but the presence of evidence on the museum wall took away all my doubts.
The BarenPark is home of the Bernese bears. The bears can roam freely on the grasslands, hill slopes and even have the access to some area of Aare river, although I found more life size concrete bears than actual ones. The entry to the park is free and one can enjoy the view along the trails that runs through the park.
There is a museum near the bear pit with rich history of the place. I clicked pictures of the bear sculptures at the pit and outside the park.
There is a tilted glass elevator connecting the top end of the park with the riverbank. It is a must do experience and the light turquoise colour of Aare river makes it picture perfect.
After spending some time at the riverbank, feeling the cool breeze, I headed towards the Rosengarten (Rose Garden) situated high above the Bern Heritage town.
Rosengarten (Rose Garden)
The hike to reach Rosengarten was small but steep. I enjoyed the hike with a can of coke to beat the heat. The top of the hill offers a mesmerizing panoramic view of the historic old town, Aare river loop and the Gurten mountain.
It was a picturesque garden with a small fountain where one can just relax while enjoying the beauty of the place. There, I explored more variety of roses than I could count. After spending an hour sitting on the garden wall, capturing the scenic view in my camera, I started walking towards the plaza in front of the Parliament.
At night the square looks vibrant and stunning with the lights turned on along with the water fountains. I took an outdoor seating and enjoyed the light show with oven roasted veggies and cocktail.
While going back, I strolled around the Einstein House where the ‘Theory of Relativity’ was born and the old town. After filling my eyes with all the views Bern had to offer, I headed towards my hostel. After reaching back, I checked into the dorm and crashed on the bed. It was a good night’s sleep, filled with beautiful dreams of Switzerland!
Next day after breakfast, I commenced my journey to Interlaken, ‘The Town of Lakes’…