Another early morning as we had to get to the train station to visit with friends in Berne. No rest for the adventurers.
After arriving in Berne at 10:30 we had some time to wander around before meeting our friends. Berne is the capital of Switzerland and also contains a UNESCO World Heritage Site...right in the Berne train station.
Berne was first settled around 1200 A.D. and expanded a few times during the 13th & 14 centuries. There is an information board with facts and details about the town as well as actual remnants of walls and fortifications in between shops.
We met up with our friends Sandra and her boyfriend Daniel in front of perhaps the two most American of stores, Starbucks and McDonald's (also just down the way from those wall remnants). We settled on a walking tour of Old Town Berne with a visit to the Berne bears (yes, real, live bears).
Our first stop was the Swiss Capitol building which was under going some renovation/construction. It's an impressive building though not quite on the scale of the Capitol building in D.C.
All of the buildings in this part of town are still constructed out of the original limestone (maybe sandstone) which to me always looks great. I wish we could use limestone in buildings back home but in an earthquake it would turn to dust.
The back side of the Capitol has a great view looking out over the city and the river. They picked a great spot to build! After a brief pause here we continued on down the old quarter.
There were lots of statues and fountains all around the streets in this part of town. There is also a very old and large clock tower in this part of the city.
We walked all the way through the old town area and finally arrived at the Berne Bear exhibit. As you can see (up top) there is a bear in the coat of arms for this Swiss canton. It's the official animal of Berne and where the city gets its name. Legend has it that the first animal the city founders killed was supposed give name to the town. However when the first animal killed was a rabbit everyone wanted a do over and a bear was killed next. Probably a good choice.
The (newer) bear habitat sits right alongside the river and is free to the public. It's a nice enclosure if still a bit small (though a massive upgrade from where the bears used to be kept).
You can still get reasonably close to the bears and walk all around the enclosure.
After a brief sizing up of us humans, this guy wanted a small rest.
We had a nice lunch at a brewery right next door with excellent beer and an excellent view back to Berne.
We're now resting up before our last night in Switzerland. We're meeting up again with Marlene from Team Tirinzoni who has promised to find us a great place for our last dinner here in Zurich.
And by resting, of course I mean Marissa is napping while I doodle on the blog.