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Saturday, January 10, 2009

Bern, Switzerland

The capital of Switzerland, Bern is built around an extravagant bend in the River Aare. With 6km of covered arcades and fountains, it is an ideal city for relaxed exploration over a long weekend. Everything can be reached on foot. Start off at the stunning 15th century Gothic cathedral with the highest spire in Switzerland, which gives excellent views of the Bernese Alps. Walk along Marktgrasse and Kramgrasse and marvel at the beautiful colourful arcades and fountains on the way to the Zeitglockenturm, the famous 16th century clock. Cross the Aare and head to the Bärengraben, the bear pits where the city’s animal mascots have been kept since the 19th century.
B ern’s Museum of Fine Arts contains a massive collection of Switzerland’s finest painter, Paul Klee. The collection features early Renaissance masterpieces as well as works of modern genius by Cézanne, Matisse and Picasso. The Bern Historical Museum offers a uniquely insightful history of the city while the Alpine Museum does an equally good job of describing and explaining the Swiss people’s relationship to their spectacularly mountainous environment. Such a stimulating natural backdrop might explain what inspired Albert Einstein to come up with the theory of relativity when he worked in the Patent Office in Bern between 1902 and 1907. His former house is open to the public.