David's Diary: Thursday, October 4, 2001
David In the Old Town (photo by Jocelyn Greer)
Today was our day to see Bern, the capital of Switzerland. Sitting along the River Aare as it curves through the city, Bern's Old Town looks much as it did five hundred year's ago. The small population of 130,000 keeps the city intimate, despite its important political status, making it a pleasure to walk.
The streets are lined with pedestrian arcades sheltering numerous stores. We walked past the shopping and enjoyed the Old Town. We started with the famous Bern clock tower. Four minutes before each hour, figures on the Eastern face of the clock are set in motion. While entertaining, our guide book said that a visit to the actual moving parts, which have been working since 1530, is far more interesting. We will have to save that for another visit.
Allen On the River Aare
We walked through the Old Town, including the Eastern section, which I had never seen before, despite numerous previous visits to Bern. We then walked down to the river and casually followed it upstream. We watched the trams going over the bridge and marveled at the fact that in summer people swim in the river and let its swift current take them downstream where they then return by bus or tram to their starting point.
As we came to the end of our walk we looked up to see the imposing structure of the Bundershaus, Switzerland's Federal Assembly building. Built in Renaissance style in 1902 it forms an imposing structure that can be seen from the hills surrounding Bern.
Rather than walk back up the hill we chose to pay for the Funicular railway ride. This was a first for Jocelyn, Kevin, and Allen. In a Funicular railway there are two cars that ride on one track attached together with a single cable. The two cars leave the upper and lower station at the same time with gravity pulling the upper car down and the upper car pulling the lower car up. The track splits at the halfway point so that the two cars can pass each other. It is a quiet, smooth, and comfortable way to get up a hill or mountain.