Monday, August 11, 2008

Bern and Murten

So, tonight I will spend my third night in Bern. Three nights was probably a little too long, especially since one of the days was a Sunday (when all the shops are closed) and another day was a Monday (when all of the museums are closed), and it has been raining a bit this afternoon. Still, Bern is a very beautiful city. Let me show you it:


View from a bridge.


Swiss National Bank -- gold on the inside, but still plenty of geraniums on the outside.


Parliament building -- under renovation. The wet plaza in front is a nice multi-jet fountain that children were playing in.


One of Bern's many lovely, wide, nearly traffic-free streets, I think Kramgasse.

After I checked into my hotel on Saturday evening, I tooled around the city for a bit. There was a festival going on called Buskers Bern, and there were musicians and performers from all over the world doing their thing out in the streets of the old town (which are these big, wide streets with covered arcades at the sides so you can stay out of the sun or rain while you're walking around). I wandered around and watched some of the acts, including these guys, who were I believe a Swiss Klezmer band.


I mean, they were definitely a klezmer band, and I think they were Swiss.

Plus there were all kinds of food vendors, yum. I got churros and tempura shrimp and a beer. I mostly just got the beer because I love the novelty of being able to drink beer in the street! Another cool peripheral point: they served the food and drinks in plastic cups and plates and things, and you paid a 2 SF deposit for them. Then you could bring your plate or cup back and either get a refill or get your deposit back. Cool system.

Oh, another random thing I like about Switzerland: strawberries are currently in season here. YUM. I spend a lot of money on local strawberries during strawberry season at home, and I am splurging on strawberries almost every time I go to a supermarket here.

I also went to the Zentrum Paul Klee in Bern, which is an art museum and cultural center dedicated to the art and teachings of Paul Klee. I ended up spending the whole morning in the special collections and never making it to the permanent collection at all. Excellent place. I got an audioguide that was just music that someone had picked out to go with different pieces in the exhibit.

They offer lots of classes for kids there, too, in these beautiful studios:


On the way back I swung by the bear pits, where there are two bears who are I guess you would say the mascots of Bern. I neglected to take a picture of them, but it was basically a big pit with a bear in it (well, two bears, but I could only see one) and some greenery and things. Apparently the bears are quite old and when they die the pit is going to be redone and made more like a proper zoo kind of thing.

After lunch I went to the Bern fine arts museum, which was OK. Most of the museum was currently devoted to a huge exhibit of the work of Ferdinand Hodler, which I was mostly not crazy about. Apparently he is the most famous Swiss painter of the 19th century. He was a Symbolist. The rest of the museum was stuff from the regular collection kind of arranged in thematic groups. They had several of William Wegman's video pieces on display, which was kind of fun, although the quality of the videos was approximately the same as on YouTube. Also there were no English labels on anything, or even French on most things, and there were boxes that said they had English-language guides in them but actually they were in German. There were some French-language guides sheets though, and I was mostly able to understand them.

Oh, also, I had a bit of a luggage mix-up. I had intended to check my large bag through from Zermatt to Bern, and only bring a small bag to Lausanne. Unfortunately I did it wrong, and my bag just sat around in the left-luggage office in Zermatt for a few days, until I went to try to pick it up. The people at the Bern train station were very helpful and I got my bag the next day. Whew. I was pretty calm about it, though; I figured, absolute worst-case scenario, I have to go back to Zermatt to pick it up. Which would be an annoyance and a waste of time, but I would survive.

So, this morning, since I was once again in possession of all my clothes, I did laundry. Fun! Then I went to Murten, which is an old little town on a lake. Lake Murten, possibly. It has two churches and a library and lots of tea shops (with alcohol and without alcohol, they are labeled on the outside). I visited the churches, which are pretty stark and post-Reformation-y and walked around the ramparts, which give you a great view of the surrounding countryside and of the town inside the walls. Apparently I didn't take any pictures of the countryside, but here are the roofs in the town:


I thought about taking one of the lake boats across to Neuchatel and then taking the train back to Bern, but it started to rain so I ditched that plan.

Anyway, plan for this evening includes more wandering around Bern. Tomorrow I am heading up into the mountains again, to the Lauterbrunnen Valley. Hiking will ensue! Which means lots more photos because photos give you a good excuse to stop and rest while you're hiking.


Anonymous said...

Beautiful pics! I was never really interested in visiting Switzerland, but now I'm beginning to see the error of my ways.

Jo Adams said...

Great pictures and I'm really enjoying your news on Switzerland. I'm moving there next week and all this is great!