Bern, September 23, 1909

We arose at 8 o’clock this morning and took the boat at 9:30. The weather was not favorable. The sky was over-clouded and the mountains were lost to view, the Lake of Thun, however was of a beautiful greenish blue color, and we could see from one shore to the other.

The first landing, near the Beatushohle, is charmingly situated in an inlet of the lake with a pretty Château. Merlingen is another pretty place, and from here we crossed the lake, getting a good view of Spiez with a picturesque old château and church.

From here to Gunten. which is a favorite summer resort on account of the grand scene and the shady walks. At St. Aberhofen, we saw another pretty château and, passing the pretty village of Hilterfingen, our boat made a graceful turn and steamed stern foremost to Scherzlingen near which stands Schloss Schadan, a turreted building surrounded by a large Park.

Here we walked to the R. R. station and took a train for Bern, where we arrived at 1 o’clock. We went to the hotel opposite the railroad station and, after a late lunch, we went on a rubber necking excursion of one hour’s duration, after which we visited the Museum. Bern is a very interesting old town, so entirely different from any town which we have seen, that we did not get tired of going around.

Bern. Gerechtigkeitsgasse.
[One of the principal streets in the Old City of Bern.]

It is the seat of the Swiss government since 1848 and of the Central Office of the International Postal Union. The city, in a striking situation, is built on a peninsula formed by the river Aare, which flows 100 feet below. The streets in the old part of the town are flanked with arcades called “Lauben,” which form a covered way for foot passengers.

I do not think that you have so many fountains as I have seen in this town in any other of its size. They are not large, but they are old and very quaint.

I hope that we will have a clear sky tomorrow for this city is celebrated for its splendid view of the Alps and the “Alpine glow” (the rich glow seen on the snowy peaks and rocky summits of the Alps a few minutes after the setting sun has disappeared from view, while the valleys are already in twilight) is seen here to great advantage.

[view of the Alps]

We visited the Bundeshaus, or Capitol, first. It is a very handsome edifice. The center building is a fine domed structure and contains the chambers of the two legislative assemblies, the Nationalrat and the “Standerat.”

We entered from the south. On the façade is a mosaic frieze decorated with the coats of arms of the 22 Swiss cantons. On the corners are six handsome statues. A grand staircase leads up to the chambers, and there are four beautiful half circle art glass windows above the staircase. The chamber of the Nationalrat is embellished with a large fresco of the Lake Lucerne, “The cradle of the federation.”

Another pretty building is the Rathaus, erected in 1406. It is approached by a fine flight of steps and adorned with the arms of the Bernses district.

Bern. City Hall and old Catholic Church.

We crossed the river by Nydeck bridge (the central arch of which has a span of 165 feet and which is 100 feet high) to the Baerengarten (bears den). The bear is the heralded emblem of Bern, and you can find him all over the city in stone and in wood, and here he is, in the flesh, maintained according to immemorial usage by the municipality, thanks to an endowment made by some knight in 1480.

They possess a considerable fortune, but, in spite of this, they are not a bit ashamed to beg of the visitors the favor of carrots, bread or cakes which can be bought at nearby stands. They are princely beggers.

From here to the Minster, a fine late Gothic church began in 1421 and completed 170 years later. Round the roof runs a beautiful open Balustrade. The sculptures of the Portal are one of the chief ornaments of the Cathedral. They represent the Last Judgment, the Wise and Foolish Virgins and the Prophets in the interior.

I admired the fine old stained glass windows in the Choir (1496) and the curved choir stalls with characters from the Old Testament on one side and from the New Testament on the other, also very pretty small figures on the arms of the seats.

On our round-trip, we saw many of the fountains among them the Kindlifresser (Ogre), the Bagpiper, the Archer, Moses, Justice, etc.

Bern. The Children’s Fund. Fountain of the Ogre.

We managed to get to the Zeitglockenturm in time to hear and see it strike four. The curious clock on this tower proclaims the approach of each hour by the crowing of a cock while, just before the hour, the troop of bears marches in procession around a sitting figure.

Kram Alley with Zeitglocken [clock] and Zähringerbrunnen [fountain].

Crossing the Kirchenfeld Bridge, which crosses the Asre Valley in two spans of 285 feet each, we came to the Bernses Historical Museum, where we stopped for over an hour looking at some splendid tapestry once in the possession of Charles the Bold of Burgundy, chinaware, etc.

What interested us most was a suit of old rooms cleverly arranged to display early Swiss art and handicraft, a completely furnished interior of a Swiss farmhouse and the door of another one, made entirely of wood hinges, lock and all.

In the room where the gold and silver curios are displayed, I was interested to see the original manuscript of Die Wacht am Rhein by Schneckenburger, also a fine old Home Altar made at Venice in 1290 for King Andrew of Hungary.

By this time we were pretty hungry and tired so we went to the Kornhaus Keller, very pretty early decorated in the early Bernese style, and here we enjoyed Rippli and Sauerkraut and eine grosse Braune.

After that we walked the streets until bedtime.

Good night, Dad.

Bern. The Bears.

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