October 22, 2007

10/22/07 Bern Switzerland

Wunnewil Switzerland

With the children still young, Ariane only works one day a week as a teacher in a two room schoolhouse higher up into the mountains. She says it is one of five that are all considered one school. But last year there were eight with three closing this year to consolidate costs. So, on Monday, while she was teaching, Daneil and I took the kids to Ariane's mother's house.

For us, the day wasn't looking too good. At first I thought it was me, but even Daniel commented how bitterly cold it was. I layered up with everything I had (good thing I thought to pack gloves and a stocking hat before I left KC) and we walked around Bern.

Even with the cold, there were still quite a few people out on the streets. I think what amazed me was the huge quantities of bicycles used here. I mean it seemed like thousands. I guess the Swiss still are hardy people because the cyclists were all ages, but very few scooters were about despite the fact that Bern is not flat.

Bern Switzerland

The cathedral tower is pretty incredible. the style here in Switzerland is a single pointed tower as high as it will go. Didn't really see much because a large part of it is covered for repairs. In fact, a lot of the buildings and streets are covered up for repairs of some sort or other.

The main government building has a fountain in the courtyard that many people play in during the summer. Underneath it somewhere is a huge deposit of the famous Swiss gold. At least that's Daniel's guess.

The Swiss elect representatives, then those elected officials choose seven presidents, who then choose one of their own to lead for a year. An interesting system.

Bern skyline

After that we took a walk to the Bear Pit. The bear is the symbol of Bern, so they've had a mascot bear for a long time. The pit reminded me of an old fashioned zoo cage. Daniel says it's much improved now compared to a few years ago. But now the city is beginning to build a huge bear complex that will greatly increase the room that the bears can wander, in a more natural setting including access to the river.

One of the bears

Last, one of the highlights of the day was one of the cities many clocks, a complicated mechanical wonder. I stood with the other tourists with our necks craned up and cameras a flashing as it went through it's chimes.

clockworks

Back at the Ritchard's, I was feeling very at home. Daniel and Ariane are great hosts. Alani, their three year old, still is a little shy around me. And she only speaks Swiss-German and she is still learning that. Daniel says that sometimes she just chats away in a language only she knows. I wonder if it is from a past life, but I didn't say anything. I figured my best response to her is "ya", "neh" or just shrugging my shoulders. That seems to satisfy her most of the time but she gives me that "grown ups are so stupid"-look sometimes.