Posted on: April 23, 2016 | Written By: Doug Oster |
A haunting classical melody echoes through the streets of Bern, Switzerland as I walk back to my hotel. An accordionist is using the Gothic sandstone vaulted ceiling of a courtyard to amplify his music. He’s alone and almost unnoticed as he begins to play a more familiar upbeat tune. It seems odd when an early 1960’s black ford cruises by, no one even blinks when a man passed with his entire face, head and body tattooed, that’s just Bern. It only takes one day in this charming, eclectic city to embrace the beauty of this place and it’s complimented by the laid back attitude of the locals which is infectious. It would certainly be fun to use this place as a base of operations when exploring the country.
This is one of the most quaint and interesting European cities I’ve ever visited. It is a shoppers paradise and the only place I know of where you can walk down the street and buy antiques, fine chocolates, an assault rifle, visit a dominatrix and finish your walk with a tasty gelato. I chose the sweet, creamy gelato.
On a walking tour of the city our guide pointed out Einstein’s residence, he lived during the time he discovered the theory of relativity. A little park offers a spectacular view of the Aare River, fed with pristine water from the Alps. Two young lovers sit on the wall, obviously enjoying each other’s company as the guide talked about the park. I was drawn to the private, terraced gardens we could overlook from a stone wall.
Like most European gardeners, the Swiss make the most out of their space.
One little courtyard is planted with a young spring flowering tree which will eventually shade the small sitting area which now is surrounded with a rainbow of spring bulbs.
The consecutive garden beds below are for a combination of flowers, vegetables, espalier fruit trees and more. From our vantage point we can see a black and white cat hunting in one of the gardens. At the bottom are three colorfully painted bee hives and the inhabitants look happy as they search for pollen and nectar from all the nearby blooms.
As a soft rain begins, it’s not a problem as the sidewalks here are covered and each step brings with it another horticultural wonder. These are gardeners who like to have fun, use interesting plants and love containers, especially window boxes. A cast iron bathtub has been transformed into a comfy, outdoor couch in front of a railing filled with shiny silver tea pots planted with a plethora of tiny plants including snowflakes and English daisies.
In front of one bar are half oak barrels hanging vertically filled with herbs and other plants.Next to that a huge rosemary plant is in flower. Two soft plastic containers sit on the ground, planted with violas and a pretty chartreuse heuchera blooming with bright red flowers.
Bern is a great walking city as it’s compact, I could have spent many days exploring the ancient streets which I’m sure would reveal a host of other secrets.