After hosteling it in Zurich is was amazing to get to Bern and my own lovely little hotel room. I stretched it out on my balcony for a bit before setting out into the city.
All the walking in Zurich yesterday had beaten me up pretty hard, but after some yoga and tea at the hotel, I had to go exploring again.
Even though Bern is also a city cut down the middle by a river and is only an hour train ride from Zurich, it has a very different vibe: while Zurich is ultra posh, Bern has a very laid back, almost bohemian feeling. There are buskers performing in the streets, people lounging in the city's many parks, and it's streets are built around wide plazas with sidewalk cafes absolutely everywhere with people lounging and drinking there, too, even on a Wednesday afternoon.
It's also incredibly hilly - the city is built up and down the hills surrounding the Rhine.
I took it like a local and spent a signifigant amount of time lounging in parks today. One of the most famous is the Rosengarten, or Rose Garden, on the tallest hill in the city. It was a painful hike up a super steep cobblestone road for my already sore legs, so I crashed in the grass beneath the roses for a bit before heading back down to the city.
The city's cathedral is much different than Zurich's - while it was also wiped out of its decoration during the Reformation, it has since been redecorated several times and has a much less austere feeling. I snuck this picture in of the Gothic arches painted with later (I think 18th c.) floral decorations.
Bern is an OLD city, founded in 1191. Few, if any, buildings survive from then, though, as they were mostly wood and were wiped out in a major fire in 1405. However, many of the buildings from that time are still in the Old Town center.
This is the famous Zytglogge, or clocktower. Its bones actually date from the city's foundings, but the elaborate astronomical clock is from the 1400's. What's cool about Bern is that these incredible and ancient buildings are just part of the everyday life of the city. The tower is right next to the main shopping street in the city and tram cables surround it.
After wandering the Old Town, I met up with the folks hosting the conference for dinner. Everyone I've met so far is great, excited for the first conference day today!