• Spike

Bern - Switzerland

Updated: Aug 18, 2020

Covid 19 has caused unprecedented disruption to the entire planet and travel has been one of the major casualties! So, with borders beginning to open again and the introduction of travel corridors, I decided to take a trip to Switzerland. The main reason for this was that I assumed there would be less tourists flocking here compared to the likes of Spain or other European countries with popular all-inclusive holiday resorts. And I think I chose wisely considering tourists returning from Spain to the UK now have to self-isolate for 2 weeks.

Switzerland was also one of the last countries I had left to explore in Europe and had been on my list for some time.

My first stop was Bern, the capital of Switzerland. With no direct flights from London, I flew to Zurich and then took a train to the capital, which didn’t take too long, however the cost of the train ticket was not cheap. I travelled by train a lot during my time in the country, which I found to be very expensive. It is cheaper to buy tickets in advance, but as I didn’t want to tie myself down to specific times, I decided to buy on the day. I think I would have struggled to fit everything in if I had booked specific trains as some places took longer to explore than I had assumed. There is also a special train ticket available that gives you unlimited travel in Switzerland, which may be worth looking into. However I think I spent just under what this would have cost, so it wouldn’t have benefitted me personally.

Bern was a charming city, and it seemed fairly quiet. Whether or not this was due to Covid 19, or simply that it’s a less busy city than the likes of Zurich, I’m not sure.

It didn’t take me too long to explore the city, and it was easy to get around the most popular sights on foot.



Zytglogge

This was probably the most interesting landmark I came across whilst in Bern. Located in the old town the most charming thing about this tower is the clock and it’s mechanical figures that spring to life on the stroke of the hour.

The clock is one of the oldest in Switzerland, dating back to 1530.

There are tours of the tower at 14:30 every day, where you can see the mechanical figures come alive from the inside.













Bern Münster

Switzerland's tallest cathedral is located in it’s capital. The exterior is quite impressive with it’s Gothic architecture, and as usual when it comes to cathedrals, I didn’t step inside. However if you decide to take a look inside it’s possible to climb 400 steps to the top of the spire and take in some wonderful views of the surrounding Alps. There’s also quite a stunning stain glass window viewable from the inside entitled “Dance of Death”



Bundesplatz

Around this town square you’ll find a couple of impressive buildings, the Swiss National Bank and the Parliament Building. It was fairly quiet when I visited, but there were a few kids running in and out of the fountains that spray up from the ground.

As with most other town squares, there are often grand events held here throughout the year.




The Child Eater and Fountains of Bern

Switzerland in general has many fountains around it’s cities, all of which are safe to drink from. What makes the fountains of Bern unique are the various figures atop of them, which are all said to tell a unique story.

One of the most popular and terrifying for the children of Bern is “Kindlifresserbrunnen” which translates as “The Child Eater of Bern”. The statue is of a grotesque man who can be seen to be piling babies into his mouth.

There are walking tours which take you to the various fountains in the city and give you a deeper insight into their stories.





Käfigturm

Another clock tower which dates back to 1644, although it’s not quite as impressive as Zytglogge. It used to be the 2nd city gate, and you’ll no doubt pass underneath it as the explore the old town.

Be careful as you walk through, and especially if you stop to take a photo. There’s quite a lot of traffic, including trams which pass through here, and you may not notice them until it’s too late.













Bear Pit

When it comes to animals in captivity, I am very opposed to it. Even poplar zoos and safari parks I am against nowadays. So when I heard there was a bear pit in Bern, where many people would gather to see bears, I was slightly horrified. The bear is a symbol of Bern, and so for hundreds of years there have been bears kept in the city.


Thankfully the bear pit is no longer in use, having been closed in 2009. It’s still there to see, and you can take a tour around it. To imagine that bears were kept in such a small enclosure whilst passers-by could throw things into the pit, makes my blood boil. Nowadays there’s a nearby enclosure for the bears with much more space, including a swimming area plenty of secluded forest area. I’m still a little unsure about how I feel about this, but the enclosure certainly seems much larger than most zoos accommodate for such animals.



Meret Oppenheim Fountain

This fountain was once a spiral column made from concrete and aluminum. Nothing particularly special I hear you say. Well, over the years the this once boring column has changed it’s shape and texture. The minerals in the water have slowly formed a type of limestone around the fountain,

whilst also encouraging plants and moss to grow on top. It now looks more natural and wouldn’t be out of place amongst an ancient ruined temple.









Also be sure to check out my other Switzerland travel guides here


And whilst in Switzerland, why not take a day trip to Lichtenstein, you'll find my guide here

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