“meadowlark, fly your way down”

7/8/10   –   23:04

Despite my lack of adequate sleep last night, I marched on and explored the town of Bern. Bern is Switzerland’s capital, and it’s shaped as follows. Okay. Make a fist with your left hand. Now hold your fist with your right hand. Your right hand is the Aare river and your left hand is the peninsula that contains Bern’s Altstadt or most of its old houses and businesses.

Here’s a whirlwind tour through Bern’s sights. Bern, besides being the home of the Toblerone and the seat of Swiss government, is famous for its Zytglogge, an astronomical clock tower that chimes every hour [and at random times throughout the day that I can’t decipher]. On one of the main streets, Marktgasse, there is the Kindlifresserbrunnen, which is a fountain. On top of the fountain is an ogre. In the ogre’s mouth are babies. Yes. It’s a fountain with an ogre eating babies. Oh Bern, you’re so charming.

I visited the Waisenhausplatz general market and then stopped by a Coop grocery store for food. I spent about 45 minutes in there just looking at the different types of foods [and massive array of cheeses], trying to make sense of the German, getting help from the French which is also on Swiss products. I ended up getting bread, cheese, turkey, coconut-chocolate yogurt,  a bottle of “bio” beer and also one of Rivella, Switzerland’s soft-drink. Groceries in hand, I crossed the bridge at the tip of the peninsula to see Barengraben which is Bern’s park for its bears. The guy who settled Bern hunted and killed a bear as his first prey on the territory and so the town was named after the animal. Bern [or Bärn, in the local dialect], means bear. So here they have a mother bear and her two baby bears frolicking about the hillside while flocks of tourists watch them be bears and awesome.

There are steps along the side of the hill leading down to the banks of the Aare and that’s where I ate brunch. The first impression I had of the Aare was “uhm. Water isn’t supposed to be that color, right?” The water is a shade of ultramarine and it’s probably because it’s so fresh and clear. I mean. It comes from melting Alpine glacial snow. I’ve never seen a river so clean. It was great to dangle my feet in there while munching on the local fare. I have a question, though. Are you supposed to eat the skin of the cheese? I feel like that’s the part that grows mold… And it tasted sort of funky. >_> I ate it anyway. The biobeer was alright. Again, not the best. And Rivella is …. interesting. I’d say it’s halfway between Dr. Pepper and 7-up. I wouldn’t get it again, haha.

I packed up and headed back into town where I walked down pretty much every street, enjoying the window shopping and quaint small-town-ness of Bern. Seeing that bern’s mascot is a bear, there are lots of cute little displays and statues of bears wearing armor, bears in human clothes, and bears being anthropomorphic in general. I made a stop by the Munster Cathedral and it had beautiful stained glass. This marks a point where the Cathedrals stop being Catholic and start being Protestant. I’m entering Luther country. Nonetheless, liturgical art is striking no matter what denomination it comes from.

While walking, I noticed that there was a distinct lack of beggars and a decent amount of [really talented] street performers. There was a flute and cello duet [their tone and musicality were amazing] playing classical stuff and then there was a pair of percussionists playing duets on a marimba set up in the street. I actually gave those guys money because I’ve never seen a marimba/xylo street performer before. And they were pretty amazing.

I made it back to the hostel and took a nap for the afternoon and woke up in time to go back to the grocer’s to get dinner supplies. Dinner tonight was a salad, a pack of four local Swiss cheeses [my favorite being Gruyére], freshly baked bread, lemon mint soda, and coffee ice cream. I went back near Barengraben to Rosengarten [which is what it sounds like], and ate on a bench overlooking Bern at sunset. [I’ve noticed I’ve become quite the connoisseur of setting and rising suns.] Everything was delicious as usual and I walked around Rosengarten for a little bit before deciding to head back down to the Aare. I listened to this really cool jazz band playing in the restaurant above Barengraben while I sat by the Aare again. So peaceful.

I love Bern. It’s difficult to feel unsafe here. It’s a great place to think [no wonder Einstein was able to be so brilliant here]. It has my type of partying schedule [start around 11, end around 4]. And probably most importantly, the Swiss [and the Italians, I forgot to mention] believe in public water fountains. I really appreciate it. Especially when the water comes from Alpine springs. Take that, Zephyrhills.

I leave you with a rendition of Strauss’ Radetzky March that I played in band my freshman year. I think this is one of the only non-American marches we played and what luck, it sounds very Swiss. Just imagine Heidi yodeling in the distance, surrounded by cows, goats, and gigantic mountains.

That’s where I’m headed tomorrow, to the town of Interlaken: the gateway to the Bernese Oberland.

2 Responses to ““meadowlark, fly your way down””
  1. Sandra says:

    Hey, if you get the chance, do you think you can send me that song (and any others from that year/performance)? Only because we played it. :P speng89@gmail.com thanks!

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