10 May 2007

Bern Revisited

Back in March we paid a visit to Bern.

We came away rather "underwhelmed."

Swiss Miss e-mailed to tell me I just hadn't come at the right time of the year. That I should wait until May when the flower boxes bring color to the city.

This past week she invited me to Bern for the Annual Geranium Market, the official start of Flower Box Season in Bern. Because, of course, these things must be done properly and with a schedule. All those people who sneak those flower boxes out a bit early should be ashamed of themselves for not following proper protocol.

After walking through the Geranium Market, we went down the hill towards the Aare River and Mattequartier, a place so special it requires its own dialect spoken only be those who live there.

We continued along the river and crossed the Nydekbrucke, coming to the famous Bear Pit (Bärengraben).

"Bern" is derived from the German word for bears - Bären. And bears have been kept in this same pit since 1513. Different bears, obviously, then the ones currently there. At first it seemed a rather depressing existence. But Swiss Miss explained that the city is improving the pit. Already it is much improved from the grim concrete pit it originally was. And more changes are planned to make the area more of a natural habitat.

These are pampered bears. You can purchase carrot and apple pieces to feed to the two bears. But the bears receive so many that they will just sit with their mouths open. If you hit their mouth, they eat it. If you miss, they just leave it on the ground.

And these bears are definitely better off than Bruno! The Bavarians and the Italian government are still fighting over his frozen carcass. (Note: I don't make this stuff up, people. I just report it.)

Leaving the bears behind, we walked up and up and up the hill to the Rose Gardens. Although the roses are not yet in bloom, there is a stunning view of Bern and the Bernese Alps.

It is obvious a favorite place for families and many parents and children had gathered at the playground to enjoy the beautiful, sunny day.

Crossing back over the river we came upon a charming May Day tradition. (Much more charming than the Annual May Day Riot in Zürich!)

When a boy likes a girl, he places a decorated tree on a pole outside her window with her name on it. If the girl happens to have more than one potential suitor, the competitor(s) may knock down the tree and place their own tree there instead. Tradition states that the girl must invite the boy over to dinner.

Um, GLH -- where's my tree? I feed you dinner all the time.

On the way back to the train station I saw the infamous Chindlifrässerbrunnen (Child-Eating Fountain). Yes, that is actually a giant ogre consuming small, naked children.

After seeing the city through the loving eyes of a resident, I get it.

Thanks, Swiss Miss!


Anonymous said...

Isn't the milk free?

Global Librarian said...

You already bought the milk. That's what the wedding was. Now where is my frickin' tree!

Ms Mac said...

Lucky Lena! I never got a tree either!

Where're our trees? We want trees!

swissmiss said...

I've never gotten a tree either, and I'm married to a man who once sabataged another boy's tree!

Global Librarian said...

Swiss Miss, that is SO unfair.

Alright, Ms. Mac and Swiss Miss, we must band together next year.

Who is going to remind whose husband that they need to decorate a tree and stick it on a pole outside our windows?

Impossible Jane said...

You mean people just throw veggies at the bears? How horrible. Please let me have read that wrong.

Global Librarian said...

Well, they aren't throwing them hard enough to hurt. They just kind of toss them in the direction of the open mouths.

And I am certain they are provided meals which meet their nutritional requirements!

Expat Traveler said...

LOL - this is so great. I'm so happy you went back to Bern and had better impressions..

And now you wouldn't believe but I think we are going out on the hunt for geraniums!