Bern: A Charming Capital

I’m excited to share photos from our wonderful weekend in Bern, but first I should warn you: I’m currently on *hornet watch* so you’ll have to excuse any sloppiness. You see, I came home from French class and climbed up to the loft to open the shade on the skylight and almost brushed my hand against a giant hornet snuggled right into the edge of the wood. I jerked the shade back and screamed (perpetuating the worst female stereotypes, I know), but she didn’t move so I thought she might be dead. Wishful thinking, apparently: An hour later she started buzzing and my husband called the caretaker from his office to come “remove” her and look for a nest. Long story short, because she appeared to be nesting and we haven’t had the windows open, the caretaker said there may be a nest tucked out of sight and to keep an eye out. So as I continue to scan the loft for more yellow and black neighbors, here are the highlights of our trip to Bern!

My husband and I decided to spend the weekend in the Swiss capital at the last minute so we were pleasantly surprised by how much we enjoyed ourselves and adored the city. We woke up early Saturday morning and took the train from Geneva through Lausanne and Fribourg before arriving in German-speaking Bern. The train ride was a delight: The less than two-hour journey was chock-full of breathtaking views of Lake Geneva and the idyllic Swiss countryside, complete with fields of vibrant yellow rapeseed flowers and spotted Swiss cows wearing bells around their necks (yes, really). Here are a few snapshots from my window:

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We arrived in Bern around 10:30am and wandered around a fresh-air market outside parliament and through the streets of the old town before heading over to see Barenpark, an outdoor enclosure home to three bears. Bern supposedly got its name from the city’s founder hunting and killing a bear there, so bears are a big deal (for further proof, see Bern’s coat of arms). I’d definitely recommend a trip to the park if you ever visit the capital, but I’m really a child in an adult’s body so perhaps not everyone would squeal with excitement when a bear stands up on its hind legs and shimmies around.

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After getting our fill of the bears, we had a delicious lunch at a cafe above the enclosure that served the most amazing goat cheese I’ve ever eaten (and I’m a big sampler of chèvre, so that’s saying something). Then we hiked up to the Rosengarten park for a spectacular view of the city before heading back into town to check out the house Einstein lived in when he developed the theory of relativity. The house is really a two-room apartment, with the first room taken up by the ticket sales desk, and, I have to admit, I was a little disappointed. My husband and I both expected the layout to highlight his desk and papers – you know, where the genius happened – but the main room was set up as a dining room/salon and we initially breezed past what I assume was his desk pushed against the wall in the ticket room. Even so, I’d recommend a visit. The top floor of the building has a small theater with a short film about Einstein’s life and a room with museum-style information panels, while the ground floor is home to a cozy cafe.

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The rest of our visit to Bern included some very tasty eggplant pizza, a stroll at dusk through another blooming park (below), a 3D viewing of The Jungle Book movie (so excited to find it in English), an incredible Sunday brunch buffet and a trip to the Kunstmuseum, which had a really interesting exhibit of art that was considered “degenerate” under the Nazis. We capped off the weekend with a stop at the provocative child-eater fountain before picking up some truffles from a local chocolatier and a giant pretzel and spicy mustard for the train ride home. Enjoy the photos!

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