Keith and I are picking up to move to Pécs, Hungary for one year. He has never been to Europe and the furthest east I've been is Switzerland.... Our Hungarian language skills are...well, we know some phrases. Come follow us on our adventure!!

Sunday, November 7, 2010

Bears of Bern

Photo of some random open window in Bern.
Day 3 of Adventures

House of Parliament
The Federal Assembly consists of two chambers: the National Council and the Council of States. Switzerland's political system is interesting--it is defined as a form of federalism. The country has 26 cantons (states) and the governments/parliaments/courts are organized on three levels: federal, cantonal, and communal. Switzerland uses a "direct democracy" which is considered the key to its political stability.

Popular Initiative: 100,000 citizens (roughly 2.5% of the electorate) may demand for a change of the constitution by signing a form. The federal parliament is obliged to discuss the initiative, it may decide to recommend or to reject the initiative or it may propose an alternative. Whatever they choose to do, all citizens will finally decide in a referendum whether to accept the initiative, the alternate proposal or stay without change.

To read more about Switzerland's interesting political system, go here (<-that is a link)

One of the highlights of Bern...touring Albert Einstein's flat.

"The Special Theory of Relativity was developed at 49 Kramgasse in Bern; work on the General Theory of Relativity also began in Bern," Albert Einstein

"I shall mention only one of the scientific experiences which those happy years in Bern brought: the Theory of Relativity," Albert Einstein

Einstein's living room

Einstein and his newly wed, Mileva, lived in this flat with their newborn baby, Hans Albert. Mileva and Einstein met while studying at Zurich Polytechnic. The museum had their grades posted...early on, Mileva was clearly a better student, especially in the subject of physics--although she failed the exit exam, thus only receiving a certificate, not a diploma. In 1901, her academic career was interrupted with a pregnancy by Albert. She gave birth to a daughter in Hungary, but the child either died shortly there after or was given up for adoption. Albert and Mileva married in 1903 in Bern, Switzerland, where they lived until 1910, when they moved to Zurich. The couple divorced in 1919.

There is much debate surrounding if any/how much Mileva contributed to Albert's early work on the Annus Mirabillis Papers. More information can be found here (<-also, a link)

Wicked cool 2nd hand shop under the sidewalk....
...and inside....

Bern's famous medieval clock, the Zytglogge

Keith checking out old maps
(we did buy one--a map of Switzerland from 1910)

Bern really utilizes its space...having stores on and below street level. This is the entrance to a candy shop below the sidewalk.
...inside the magical subterranean candy shop.

According to one legend, Berthold V of Zähringen named the Bern after the first animal killed during a hunt when the city was founded in 1191. (If the story is true, the Duke must have decided to honor the victim's entire species, since "Bären" is the German plural form of "bear.")

Due to this legend, Bern has what it deems "the bear pits." Thankfully, the bears no longer live in "pits" but instead a lovely grass slope next to the river.


  1. So jealous that you got to visit Einstein's flat! It was closed when we traveled through there!