Berne Bear With Humour

April 13, 2007

I caught the train down to Switzerland today from Bonn. The weather along the Rhine was a little clearer than it was when I came up from Frankfurt but it was still overcast and thoroughly miserable. The Bridge at Remagen drifted past on our left, a very understated monument to a significant and strategic point in 1945. (Even more important to my officer training when a screening of the movie of the same name allowed me to catch some sleep in the back of the theatre). While the remains of the bridge were interesting I was more intrigued by the very small plots of garden that people toil over, each having various vegetable or flower crops, but each also having a small hut on it in which people clearly live. I guess it is a temporary arrangement – the living in the hut that is. The plots are half the size of a normal house block at home, sometimes smaller. All tucked between the railway track and the river. If you live in one of these German city apartments a small garden down by the river may well be a godsend.

We pulled into Berne late in the afternoon. The sun was out. The breeze was fresh. And the hotel mercifully only a short walk from the station. But up three flights of narrow stairs and overlooking a lane into which all the neighbouring kitchens must throw their slops. Not very Swiss at all. I have a meeting late tomorrow so that gave me a chance to look around this evening. It seemed like a small place so I got out and about straight away. Designed for cold and snowy weather, with all the pavements in the old city well and truly under the roofline. Did not think to take many photos though I was taken by a statue of a soldier. The statue included a bear that was peering into the soldier’s helmet, as if wondering where its owner had gone. These sorts of statues around all our cities are usually pretty straight laced so it was nice to find an artist with a sense of humour. I wonder if the artist had leave to do this or if the burghers commissioned it. I would put money on the former.