Beemer (dr_tectonic) wrote,

Saturday in Bern

We decided to spend Saturday exploring Bern a bit more.

We started the day with the hotel's breakfast buffet, which has proved to be an excellent add-on to our stay. In the U.S., a "continental breakfast" is, like, muffins and fruit, and it's horrible. Here on the actual continent, it's also baked goods and fruit -- plus yogurt and cheese and sliced meat and granola and soft-boiled eggs, and the baked goods are crazy-awesome breads and croissants and everything is high-quality, and it actually will keep you from being hungry until mid-day!

Anyway, having seen all kinds of awesome architecture on Friday, today we decided to see some of the many museums. We started with the art museum because it's close, just a couple blocks on the other side of the bahnhof (transit center). They've got a bunch of stuff under construction, so we actually only saw about half a museum, but that was fine. They have a fair number of pieces by super-famous names like van Gogh and Picasso and Monet. Lots of stuff by less-famous artists, too. I saw a few things I liked a lot, lots of things that didn't do much for me. We were about to leave when Monkey suggested we have a look at the special exhibit in the basement, and I'm really glad he did, because I enjoyed it immensely. It was drawings and paintings of butterflies, dogs, and other critters by Ernst Kreidolf, a Swiss artist who did lots of children's books. Lovely, lovely stuff!

On the way back, we discovered a big old street fair on one of the major streets we'd been walking on the day before. I'm glad we saw it then, when it was still empty! We poked around and shared an ice cream bar from a convenience store before heading back towards the station / our hotel. After that we tried to take a tram over to Helvetiaplatz, where there are a half-dozen different museums, but we picked the wrong line (I was going by something I'd read online, which was basically a lie), so we ended up just riding it out and back.

After some careful study of the system maps, I was able to figure out which line was the correct one to get to Helvetiaplatz and the museums... and then after a few minutes that it wasn't running because it was blocked by the street fair. So we just hopped on the bus going to the Paul Klee Center instead, because we knew for sure that was where it was going because that's the name of the line, the end of the line, and prominently featured on the bus itself. (Paul Klee was, of course, from Bern, which is why he has a center here.)

The Paul Klee Center (Zentrum Paul Klee) is this awesome modern triple-curvy building set into the side of a hill. There were also some great views of the Alps nearby -- we walked a block back from the bus stop to get some pictures before we we went in. The collection itself was only medium-interesting, in my view. I saw a Klee I really liked at the Kunstmuseum Bern, but the ones at the ZPK didn't do much for me. I think a lot of it comes down to color; that's one of the number-one features in fine art for me, and if I don't like the palette being used, I probably won't like the painting. Also, there were a whole bunch of super-creepy hand puppets he made for his son. Downstairs, however, there was a really excellent piece of part titled "The Grid" by Olaf Brüning. It's interactive, and visitors get to throw balls at cups of paint to try to knock them onto the canvas. It sounds gimmicky, but it was actually really interesting and the result is quite charming. You can have a look at it here:

When we got back from that little excursion, we grabbed some actually quite good Chinese food at a little place in the mall-like-setup under the bahnhof for a very late lunch, then shopped for dinner at the supermarket there. I got a sammich and a HUGE thing of diet orangina for a semi-reasonable amount of money. Victory! (Tip I found on a budget travel blog: make lunch your big fancy meal of the day, and get dinner at Migros (a grocery store), because often restaurants will have the same menu at lunch but much cheaper.)

And that was pretty much it for the day. We did a little trip that evening because Jerry wanted to check out the local bear-type bar, but we were there too early for anything much to be going on, so it was mostly a bust.

It was a good day out, but the dim lighting in art museums makes my eyes tired, so I'm done with them for a while, I think.

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