Legend has it that Berchtold V, Duke of Zähringen, the founder of the city of Bern, vowed to name the city after the first animal he killed on the site of the city. This animal turned out to be a bear, and thus, the city had it’s name and heraldic animal. [It’s actually more likely that Bern was named after Verona, in Italy, which at the time was called ‘Bern’ in Middle High German, but it’s a nice story.]
There have always been bears in Bern [nice bit of alliteration there], and there still are today. There are three now, and they were ambling around enjoying the sunshine when we visited them. Historically, the bears were symbolic of the wealth and status of Bern, but were kept in a small, mostly empty pit. However, today they are kept in a beautiful grass and tree filled enclosure with plenty of rotten logs to play with.
The Wehrli’s and I were in Bern on an overnight, sightseeing packed trip. Four of us us took the train early in the morning, and coming into the city I got a beautiful view of the sun shining off the city, and the autumn colored trees. We met up with Gabriela, and then took the cable car down a small hill to the hostel where we were staying to drop off our bags. Then it was back to the city!
First stop was the Bundeshaus, or Government House, which was very grand and magnificent. We actually walked past Doris Leuthard, whom I recognized from my Politics class. As far as I understand, the Swiss Confederation is led by the Federal Council, composed of seven ministers who are all in charge of different federal departments of government. Ms Leuthard is Head of the Department of Environment, Energy, Transport and Communication. So not quite like bumping into Barack Obama outside the White House, but you know, it was pretty cool.
After that we walked around the city for a bit, stopping at a famous clock tower, and then moving onto a very tall cathedral- and yes, we climbed as high as we could! Up what seemed like several million stairs in a very tight spiral staircase, but the view form the top was totally worth it. Bern looks amazing from up high- the medieval buildings all clustered on a half island around which a river curved, and the rest of the city spread out against a backdrop that included snowy white mountains.
We split up to get lunch- Runa and I decided to buy ourselves a picnic lunch from Migros, and then sit in the square next to the Bundeshaus and eat whilst watching a game of giant chess. It was all very idyllic. After lunch we wandered back to meet the others, then did a spot of window shopping, and then back to the hostel for an hours rest. And then it was off to a pizzaria for dinner [ delicious] before Theatresports! For those who don’t know, Theatersports is a kind of improvisational performance, where two teams compete to get the most laughs through a series of drama exercises. I understood most of it, and what I understood was pretty funny.
The next morning we visited the terracotta warriors exhibition that was showing in a museum. I had actually seen the very same exhibition in New Zealand a few years ago, and second time viewing it was still very enjoyable. There was a lot of additional information about Ancient China, and I remembered how much I like museums- being surrounded by so much history and culture just makes me so happy.
After that we went to a market held in the central square. There were a lot of really amazing stalls, and it was lovely just wondering around eating crepes and listening to buskers. Gabriela bought me a beautiful handmade dress as a birthday gift- the stall was run by her brother’s wife, who is from Argentina, and also had a lot of beautiful scarves and shirts for sale. I now know where to go when I need birthday/Christmas gifts for certain people!
Runa and I went back a little earlier than the other three- it was a two and a half hour train ride, and we just missed walking home in the sun, thanks to certain very tall mountains.
The last few days have been pretty chill- i went to a party in Lausanne, which is in the french speaking part of Switzerland. Very fun! I’m spending today sorting out things before school tomorrow.
Next week I’m going to Venice for an school trip with my art class- so, yeah. VENICE!!!!!
Have a nice week everyone xxx