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Take a seat and enjoy the view of Bern

Finn the brown bear (4765041)
Finn the brown bear (4765041)

We fell in love with teddy bears in the Toy World Museum in Basel, but came face to face with the real thing on our next stop in Switzerland, Bern.

Brown bears have been associated with Switzerland's capital since its founder allegedly, in 1191, decided to name the city after the first animal he killed in his next hunt. This happened to be a bear (bär in German) so the town was duly named Bärn.

Since the early 16th century the city has kept bears but it was only in 2009 that they were given a new home in a large wooded park on the banks of the River Aare. Now Finn, his mate Björk and their daughter, Ursina, are in an environment which is far closer to their natural habitat.

Dougie and I were quite smitten with these beautiful, lumbering creatures. Tempting as it was to just observe bears all day, the rest of this glorious city, which is a UNESCO World Heritage Site, deserved our attention.

Trish enjoys the view from the Rosengarten (4765039)
Trish enjoys the view from the Rosengarten (4765039)

As in Basel, overnight visitors have access to free transport. On the morning of our first full day in Bern, we hopped on the tram outside our hotel and travelled to the city outskirts where we rode on a funicular (free of charge) up to Gurten Park. From this small peak, we had incredible views of the city below us, plus the distant sight of an extraordinary line of snow-tipped Alpine mountains, including the Eiger and Jungfrau.

We travelled back down to the Old Town just in time to see the mechanical figures of the astronomical clock, Zytglogge, perform for visitors at the top of the hour. The streets in Bern, with their covered arcades and cellar shops and bars, are a delight. We spotted several of the decorative 16th-century fountains, including the famous Kindlifresserbrunnen, which features an mighty ogre gobbling up some children.

A short bus ride took us to the Paul Klee centre, a contemporary building shaped like three waves. Designed by renowned architect, Renzo Piano, it probably warranted a proper visit but the weather was too good to be inside for long, so we settled for a walk in the grounds and an apple tart in the cafe.

Dougie has a quick chat with Einstein (4765037)
Dougie has a quick chat with Einstein (4765037)

Energy restored, we made our way to the Rosengarten, another fabulous spot for city views and the chance to hang out with Einstein, a former resident, who welcomes people to join him on benches around the city.

From here, it was a short amble down the hill for a last look at our furry friends, who were enjoying a play fight and a cooling swim. There was time for a leisurely walk along the river and another free funicular ride up to the parliament building where, yet again, there was seating available to drink in the vista of gorgeous rooftops and distant mountains.

Bern is so picturesque: it's no wonder the city encourages visitors to take a seat and enjoy the view.

You can read Trish's blog at www.mumsgoneto.co.uk


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