After a pretty decent sleep we set off for the centre of Bern. Our hosts had kindly left us free transport tickets into the central city. Thea in particular loves taking trams and we were lucky enough to have a stop about 50 metres from the door of our apartment.
Within about 10 minutes we were at the clock tower stop. We couldn’t see a clock tower but we could see a church tower, maybe that was what we were looking for? After we wandered down the road for a while we came across a beautiful baroque cathedral.
It was unfortunately closed due to renovations. But on the other side of it was a park named Munsterplatz where there was a cute kids playground including a sandpit and a cafe overlooking the Aare river. Thea and Evie had great fun playing in the sand while Craig and I enjoyed some coffees.
After re-checking our offline Google Maps we located the clock tower which was fairly ornate and also discovered a statue with the town mascot, the bear, on top. Thea was intrigued and asked how the bear had got to the top of the obelisk.
We were becoming quite hungry at this stage so we decided to try and find some lunch. Burgers sounded good until we saw the price tag of 15 Francs per burger (about $21NZD). Most of the locals seemed to be heading to the restaurant next door run by the supermarket chain Migros. It was a similar set up to the Carrefour restaurant in France but instead there was a buffet for all the food. We ate very well and Thea found a playground in the restaurant that she could play on.
Craig’s friend Ines who lives in Bern was coming for dinner that night so we bought some food and headed home on the tram.
It was nice to see a friendly face and the kids enjoyed playing with Ines. She’s training to become a special education teacher so it was easy for me to chat to her about education (being a teacher myself). Craig was desperate to have a fresh pretzel after weeks of croissants, so Ines told us about a pretzel shop called Brezelkönig at the central station. She also recommended that we check out the zoo in Bern so that was the plan for the following day.
The next morning dawned cold and rainy unfortunately. However we decided to risk it anyway as Google predicted the rain to be finished by 3pm and had only a 50% chance of rain per hour until then. We couldn’t find Evie’s hat so we fashioned some of her merino leggings into a hat.
Another tram ride ensued to the central station in search of the elusive pretzel. Turned out it was actually quite difficult to find the pretzel shop, we spent about 15 minutes wandering the Bahnhof (main train station) before we discovered it. Thea and Craig were very happy with their fresh and warm pretzels.
Now their craving was satisfied we headed for the zoo.
The weather looked rather dicey, especially as we decided to walk there which was a 30 minute walk.
After we arrived and wandered through the petting zoo at the front, a toilet, nap and snack stop was required. While I tried to get Evie to sleep it absolutely started pelting with rain, the wind was also very cold. Once Evie was finally asleep we were debating the sensibility of actually visiting the zoo in such bad weather. But we decided we’d come all this way already and we may as well give it a go.
I’m rapt that we did. The Bern Zoo’s motto is more space for less animals and you can see why. Their enclosures are very large and well maintained. They try to keep them as close to the natural habitat of the animal as possible. We all really enjoyed the cute monkeys, and the Puffins.
It was also intriguing to see a Souslik for the first time. It’s a cross between a mouse and a meerkat and we thought they were super cute.
The bears, beavers and otters were sensibly still hibernating so we missed out on those but after a good hour and a half of wandering around the zoo we were ready for lunch. Our walk back started in the rain but it quickly cleared. At the bottom of the steep hill up to central Bern we were pretty tired. There’s a cable car at the bottom which you can pay to ride. Craig and I both agreed that we’d do it if it was less than $3NZ (about 5francs). Actually it turned out to be included in our transport card, so we were saved!
Another lunch at Migros was in order after we looked at the prices at the burger shop again. Our feet were sore and our bodies tired after carrying both of the girls around most of the day. We caught the tram home and had a relaxed evening doing baths, books and bed and some packing for the following morning.
We were heading to Austria for a night on our way back to Munich.