The afternoon came quickly on my day in Bern. Part of that is because I didn’t get into town until after noon and part of that is because I spent my first few hours wandering the streets of the old city, taking in the architecture and watching the bears frolic. The long shadows settling in on the town, combined with jetlag starting to catch up with me, had my body convinced that it was time to wind down the afternoon. Fortunately I came across this set of stairs, leading up from the riverfront back towards the heart of the city.
Yeah, a lot of steps (there is a small elevator adjacent available for 1CHF/person) but the gardens on the sides were pretty. And the park at the top was awesome.
It turns out that I had found the Münsterplattform, a recreational area high above the river and adjacent to the Cathedral of Berne. The terrace dates back to the 14th century and served over the years as a churchyard, dumping ground during the reformation and a cemetery. In the 20th century it was converted to a public park; the paths were laid out and the trees planted leaving it in the condition I found it. There was a small kiosk in one corner selling refreshments. I purchased a beer (soda, wine and snacks were also available) and then walked around the small park for a bit, watching all the locals relaxing in their own way on a beautiful Friday afternoon.
The people watching really was wonderful; much better than in the other areas of the town I saw. Another kiosk had games available. These guys were playing bocce and there was a pretty active table tennis game going on as well.
Others chose to take in the views …
…or just take a nap.
Oh, and after finishing my beer I spent a few minutes touring the Cathedral (Münster), a building dating to the 1400s. It is the tallest cathedral in Switzerland though, while I was in town the bell tower was closed for repairs. Still, both the interior and exterior are quite impressive.
Some of the stained glass windows date back to the 1400s and as a whole they are considered the most valuable in Switzerland.
The cathedral itself is worth stopping by for a few minutes. It isn’t the most beautiful church I’ve ever seen but I’m also not particularly a connoisseur. And as a way to wrap up my happy hour it was definitely a worthwhile stop in a quick tour of town, even with the tower climb closed. That actually gave me a good excuse to save the ~350 steps to the top without feeling too guilty.
And then the afternoon was over. Time to retreat to the hotel and get ready for an early evening, catching up on some sleep and getting ready for the rest of the trip.