Bern - Poking Around Europe 6.0 - CycleBlaze

June 12, 2019

Bern

Rest day in Bern

What a fantastic day. Bern is a beautiful city. Two years ago we met four bike tourers in Morestel who were from Bern and they said we must visit and we are delighted to be here. The Chief Photographer took many, many pictures. We were so lucky to have great weather to enjoy it. 

First though, I must mention the bike culture in Bern. It is just such a wonderful thing to see. We found it challenging to stay focused on our walk about because we were distracted by bikes, trams, scooters, people, beauty. But the bikes!  All types from fixies to mountain bikes to baby haulers, all moving about and from what we could see, no one having a problem with it. Bus/bike lanes, bikes allowed going the wrong way on one way streets, bikes allowed in pedestrian areas, bike lanes everywhere. Not quite Amsterdam, but absolutely amazing. When you see the number of bikes parked, and translate each bike to one less car on the road you really see the wisdom of this kind of attitude. We were in our element. 

We began the day by walking to the rose garden. Beautiful setting with a fantastic view of the city. We met Albert Einstein there, which was a hoot for me, because when Keith’s hair gets just a wee bit too long he is an Einstein doppelgänger. I let him know when he is looking a bit too Einstein. 

View of the city from the rose garden. The forecast was mixed but we ended up having sunny skies most of the day and no rain. We brought our Goretex rain jackets with us but didn’t have to get them out.
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Looking at one of the many bridges from the rose garden.
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Albert and I. He is rolling his eyes thinking about all the tourists who have the same idea.
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Then it was down from the lookout to the bridge to the old town. It was a beautiful walk. We were halfway across the bridge before we remembered the bears, Bern’s symbol. 

On our way down.
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The river is flowing fast and we were captured by this boat’s mooring buoy. A strong one.
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Back across the bridge to the three bears. We are always conflicted by animals in captivity but at least these three had a large habitat to enjoy and access to the river. We understand this has not always been the case.
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Happy river rafters waving to the tourists on the bridge.
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The roofs of Bern.
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We took the advice we gleaned online and just wandered the city, making sure to include the cathedral. We climbed the tower there which was an amazing experience. We were almost the only people up there ( was everyone else put off by the number of steps?) and that made it an even better experience. Then we had the enormous good fortune of coming down as the noon bell rang. And rang and rang and rang.  We thought it was above us but it kept getting louder as we walked down the spiral staircase. Then we saw it and nipped into the bell tower which was midway in the steeple. We stood watching it transfixed, fingers firmly in our ears. Wouldn’t you know it, I have been wrong all these years about bells that ring for what seems like forever. In my imagination there is always a delighted seven year old up there swinging from a rope having the time of their life. Sadly, it is all done electronically. It was an amazing experience to be standing right by the bell though. It was massive, and not the biggest one, that rings later...despite the fingers in our ears our hearing may have suffered. We loved it.  

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Buy your whiskey by the decilitre.
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Even Canadian whiskey 👍.
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A city view.
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The cathedral reminded us of the ones in Ulm and Strasbourg.
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The tower wasn’t there until the late 1800’s when it was added to compete with neighbouring cathedrals. We benefited from the view.
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Going up.
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We always love the gargoyles.
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We loved these characters too.
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The views were magnificent. There are two levels to climb and it just kept getting better. 

From the first level. We were in sunshine but look at those dramatic skies.
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Looking down at the plaza in front of the cathedral.
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Up one more level.
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Looking up from the top, to the top.
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Just a beautiful city.
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Once down we explored the interior of the cathedral. The organ was the most impressive feature. Then we continued to wander through the city, stopping first for schnitzel and salad at a lovely restaurant, eating outside in the sunshine and trying to stay upwind of the ubiquitous smokers. Speaking of whom, we walked by a young woman and Keith sarcastically said to me “nice hair”.  I looked and realized she was having her hair streaked and coloured (any woman who has done this knows it isn’t flattering during the process) but couldn’t manage to finish without stepping outside for a cigarette. What a ball and chain smoking is. At any rate, I digress. Lunch was delicious, so much so we forgot to take a picture. 

Ceiling detail in the cathedral.
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Beautiful stained glass.
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The organ is stunning. And the organist came to practise while we were there. We are so lucky.
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Pedestrian and bike friendly.
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Then it was on to the parliament buildings and the park along the river. We stopped for coffee and bike and people watching here. We felt so relaxed and fortunate to have such a great day to see a great city. We visited several bike shops after that. E bikes are certainly in the majority in the bike shops. We met a young man, Marc, in one of the shops who is doing the BC Bike Race in July. It is a seven day mountain bike stage race and we have a friend who has done it. We introduced Marc to the concept of type two fun and wished him well. He will have a blast. 

Keep an eye out for the trams. See the tracks?
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A great spot for a break. Not ours though. We found another great spot and forgot to take a picture.
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Fruit and veggie market.
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Park your bike and play chess.
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Parliament buildings.
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We saw every kind of bike today.
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Even the dockless bike share bikes are electric.
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Typical bike parking. Imagine if each of those was a car.
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Where was this suit when I needed it between Évian-les-Bains and Montreux?? Full coverage rainwear.
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Jacquie GaudetI’ll bet that’s hot going uphill! And “nature breaks” would be awkward, to say the least.
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2 years ago

Then we came across the most unusual bike we have ever seen. It seats two, side by side, two sets of pedals, so we think it works like a tandem but aren’t really sure. It is called a Twike, and is weather proof. Barry and Mary Ellen this is what you needed for this year’s tour!  We are sure you could add a trailer. 

We are sure Seavo would understand!
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Totally intriguing although it does look like it is frowning.
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We finished the day with wine and people watching from a streetside cafe. We hopped the tram back to the hotel...free public transport comes with the room. We are close enough to walk, but the tram was fun. We have had dinner and more wine and are ready to roll tomorrow. 

From our table.
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View from our room tonight.
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We have just heard the news about Chris Froome and are shattered for him. What an absolute shame. Keep the rubber on the road. It can happen so quickly. 

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