Compared to Lucerne and Interlaken, I find Bern much less touristy and all the more charming for it. Though it’s the capital of Switzerland, Bern doesn’t feel “authoritative” or have that hustle and bustle one would expect from a typical capital city. We explored this UNESCO World Heritage Site entirely on foot and totally enjoyed ourselves =)
My goals for the day were easily achievable since they are all within walking distance from each other:
Bern’s famous Bärengraben, the Bear Pit.
Zytgloggeturm, the Clock Tower with chimes that start pealing at 4 mins before every hour. European cities seem to love building these clock towers! I can’t even remember this is the number what clock tower I’ve seen in Europe, LOL.
Albert Einstein’s Home where the famous physicist wrote his Special Theory of Relativity here in 1905.
Cathedral of St. Vincent on Münsterplatz, Prison Gate, and Church of the Holy Ghost.
A series of 16th century fountains with detailed statues are landmarks of Bern’s medieval downtown. You’ve not been in Bern if you didn’t see any! We passed by quite a few during our walk: Bagpiper Fountain, Ogre Fountain, Zähringer Fountain, Samson Fountain, Justice Fountain etc.
Bears, bears, and more cute bears at the Bear Pit! Bern is named after the bear (now its official mascot), and bears have resided in these pits since 1480. Amazingly, this tourist attraction is FOC~
The Bear Pit is in an open-air park next to the Aare river so awesome views are a guarantee! Ok, almost a guarantee, if the weather is great as well =)
Wandering around the streets, we stumbled upon a busy outdoor market where locals shop at.
We bought incredibly fresh strawberries and a bottle of cherry wine (funny to be drinking alcohol so early in the morning) cuz the stall owner was so friendly and enthusiastic about his homemade fruit wines that we simply had to show some support! Haha. Then we came upon another market outside the Federal Palace (the seat of Swiss democracy). Ahhh, I love markets in Europe!
Chocolate shops are a dime a dozen (duh, this is Switzerland we are talking about) along Marktgasse (the main street of Old Town) and Kramgasse (a continuation of Marktgasse), and I couldn’t resist buying some to munch on!
Said to be the best in the city, Confiserie Tschirren has been making chocolates by hand since 1919.
I had a bag of assorted truffles, ranging from cognac, Grand Marnier, rum and champagne (ya, the alcoholic trend continues this morning haha), to pavé (like Royce’s Nama) and citrus orange peel. While good, some are a tad too sweet and these are definitely not the best I’ve had. Give me Max anyday~
Then it was a hop over to Confiseur Läderach for some boxes of chocolates to bring home as souvenirs!
Makan time! I really wanted to have a meal at The Kornhaus but it was closed for a private event. So we walked over to Restaurant Harmonie, one of the oldest family-owned (since 1915!) restaurants in the Old Town. The Swiss cheese fondue is apparently legendary here but we didn’t try cuz none of us like it. What we like are the rösti (this is more coarse and don’t hold as well together as Galliker’s), thinly sliced veal (I only heard praises for this), and juicy fried button mushrooms!
And because I have such a dear family, they gamely agreed to have lunch at Kornhauskeller (where we were turned away the previous evening) just hours before our train ride to Milan. Built in the 1700s, it used to be an old granary and the architecture here is fabulous, with tall pillars and high arches. We ordered rösti as usual (this has became my staple for every meal in Switzerland) and had a seafood feast of fresh tuna and a platter of mixed fish and tiger prawns. Yummy!
Can’t wait for the day when I return to Switzerland! Till then, can anyone tell me where to find a decent rösti in Singapore???
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