After meeting Ambassador and Mrs. Beyer, learning about and visiting the Westside development, and then experiencing a wonderful Swiss dinner in the mountains, came time to actually see the city. Today, we embarked on a scooter tour around the beautiful Swiss capital of Bern. Before going to meet the tour guides, people strolled around Old town looking at the shops and stores and visiting the Einstein Museum. We then met our wonderful tour guide, Esther, who was more than excited to help us become acquainted with the city of Bern. And so our adventure on the scooters began! (As you will see from the photos, the scooters were larger version of the razor scooters with handbreaks.)
We began our tour by cruising along the Aare River, where many of the locals love jumping into the river and floating down with the current. Apparently, some will actually commute this way to work just to have a refreshing swim before their busy work day Earlier in the morning, many of us got to see one of the locals flip off one of the bridges and into the water. A bold move that was lost on our group—no one mustered up the courage to take a dip into the 60 degree Fahrenheit, crystal clear water.
Continuing along the river on our scooters, we made our way up into the center of the city. The ride was mostly down hill or fairly flat except for a point where we had to tackle a pretty steep hill near the Bundeshaus (Federation Building) that gave everyone a nice mid day work out. We scooted through the town where we came across a lot of major shopping stores and a quaint little market with lots of baked goods and fresh fruit for sale. Then we stopped at a fountain to have a fresh cup of water to refresh and replenish. Along the ride our tour guide, Esther, would stop at various locations throughout the city and tell us what we were seeing and the interesting historical facts of Bern. We rode passed the famous and beautiful clock tower called Zytglogge built in 1191 and then we headed down the street and toward the Cathedral (Munster) or Chapter House. The cathedral was amazing. As soon as you walked into the chapel you become enveloped by the intricate and beautiful aesthetics of the ceiling, paintings, and stained glassed windows.
Our trip ended with a down hill slope that gradually became steeper and steeper. After all that scooting around town, everyone had worked up quite an appetite— hungry enough to eat a bear. Luckily the famous Bern Bears were contained from us on our way to lunch. The facility where the bears are housed is located right next to the river, which provides a more natural setting for the bears. The mother and two cubs are together in one section and the father in another, in order to protect the cubs from their father’s deathly appetite.
After visiting the famous bears of Bern, we made our way to lunch where everyone enjoyed a yummy platter with variations of meat, cheese, and vegetables. Once done with lunch, we headed back to the hostel to collect our things and made our way to the train station and back to Riva San Vitale.
~Kelsey Vitullo, Undergraduate Architecture, University of Virginia