Day 7
June 6, 2000


We arose at 6:30 AM on this rainy day. We caught the 8:02 AM train for the 30 minute ride to Bern, the capitol of Switzerland.

Our first stop in Bern was the Münster (Cathedral). Construction was started in 1421 and continued off and on until the tower was completed in 1894. Note that construction began 71 years before America was discovered. It was too early to go inside so we headed across the Aare River to visit Bern's famous bear pit.

At least five brown bears live in the pit lounging around and begging for food such as carrots that can be purchased nearby. When we arrived there was a group of school kids tossing food to a couple of the bears. The pit is probably 15-20 feet deep. Visitors stand around the wall that circles the pit to watch the antics of the bears below.

It drizzled while we were visiting the bears and for most of the day. Most of Bern's streets have arcades over the sidewalk on at least one side of the street so it is a good city to visit in the rain.

From the bears we walked back to the Cathedral. Ten years ago Geri and Jim climbed the 265 steps to the lower level of the steeple. This time they were smarter and stayed on the ground level.

Next we visited the Zeitglocken or clock tower. It was built in the 12th century and restored in the 16th. Known as the world's oldest and largest horalogical puppet show, the mechanical bears, jesters and emperors put on an animated show five minutes before each hour. It is one of the longest running acts in show business, staged since 1530.

After the clock we found a Tea Room where we each ate a dreadfully sinful piece of bakery art. Carolyn had a chocolate truffle. Geri had a pear and almond tort. I had a blackberry tort. Yummy!

From there we went to Kramgasse 49 where we visited the apartment where Einstein lived for about three years beginning in 1903. He lived in Bern from 1902 to 1909. It was here that he developed his General Theory of Relativity. There is nothing in the apartment from the days he lived there with his first wife and first child. In 1909 he moved to Zurich, Switzerland where he was a professor of physics at the University of Zurich.

With umbrellas in hand we crossed over one of the bridges over the Aare River to the Museum of Bern History where we wandered around of an hour or so. It houses such items as liturgical vestments dating back to the 1300s. The exhibits include 47 large statues removed from the entrance of the cathedral are exhibited here. Copies replaced the originals at the cathedral.

A streetcar that we caught in front of the museum took us to the bahnhof (rail station). Before boarding a train back to Spiez after we stopped for some interesting fast food. Geri had a piece of pizza. The sandwiches that Carolyn and I ate are harder to describe.

Back at the apartment we watched CNN, made entries in our journals, wrote postcards and sent e-mails.