Friday, April 30, 2010

Trip to Switzerland 2010 - Bern and Thun

Tuesday 27 April

07:44 bus Bonigen to Lutschinenstrasse 07:50
09:01 Interlaken Ost to Bern 10:53
Bus and trolley bus in Bern
14:35 Bern to Thun 14:52
15:10 Lake ship to Interlaken West 17:22
18:05 bus Interlaken Ost to Bonigen 18:10
Click above to see a slideshow of Bern and Thunnersee
I was out early to give me time to walk alongside the railway yard to get some pictures of the narrow gauge wagons used to transport standard gauge cars. I even found a couple at the loading point. There was then still time to walk along to see the bottom station of the Harder funicular railway.

The ride to Bern was very pleasant with many good lake views. Saw a couple of the dogs that looked like dark, heavy-set irish Setters. Our ride to Bern was in a quiet car in which no cell phones are allowed and people talk in whispers.

The firtst thing that struck us was the number of red streetcars and trolley buses. The streetcars are of three, five and seven sections. There are some gas buses as well . There is a marked absence of motor vehicles in the city centre and people were not confined to the sidewalks. We had a city guide at Bern – she was very good. She moved us at a good pace and knew a great deal about the city. Once again we had very good weather which helped to leave a good impression of the capital of Switzerland. We took the bus to the rose gardens and then walked down the hill to see the bears for which Bern is famous. They have now a much more country-type setting which is very bear friendly. The male has been separated from the female since she gave birth to two cubs. The cubs were running around their enclosure having fun. There is plenty of room for them to amble and gambol around. They were climbing trees and chasing each other around.

The main historic area has very few motor vehicles and frequent trams and trolley buses. The buildings are all constructed with a green sandstone which makes for a somewhat boring appearance. They all have ground floor arcades which are good for when it is raily but they do not let the light in very well. There are a lot of cellars, originally for storing wine but which are now used for boutiques, restaurants, etc. We saw the clock chime twelve. It was built in the 15th century and the clockwork is used to operate a number of figures. The clock has to be wound each day. The cathedral was good but somewhat gloomy. The stained glass windows are excellent if somewhat limited. The organist was practicing the Samuel Barber Adagio and needed to brush it up a bit.
We had a short time to ourselves in which to have lunch. We each had a large sausage with a large dollop of mustard and a roll. A lot of people were sitting in the street eating their lunch and we felt very much at home.

The Bern station is very big. There is a parking space for bicycles, down stairs in a secure area. It was very heavily used.

Following a short train ride to Thun we took a lake ship back to Interlaken. We called at several points on the Thunsee including Spiez. It started off very hot but gradually cooled down.
 There were some interesting haze effects in the mountains as the sun sank towards the horizon. We walked with Carl and Marion from Interleaken West to Ost and caught the bus back from there.
Click here to see pictures of Bern and Lake Thun
Click here to see pictures of Bern Trams