Feeding the Bears Insults My Intelligence

If you visit Bern, Switzerland, you’re likely to find a pit at the end of town that contains a few friendly-looking bears:

Switzerland is a zoo.

If I were one of these bears, I’d miss the little things like grass and trees.

However, Switzerland is a zoo… especially during tourist season.  And do you know what happens in a zoo?

Inappropriate feeding:

Here's a closer look at the same image.

Here’s a closer look at the same image.  Notice the parent and child in the upper right.

As the sign often says, “Do not feed the bears.”  But if you must feed them, please remember that your kid is not appropriate for a bear’s dinner.  The bear may enjoy him, but you’re inviting a lot of trouble on yourself.

The quiet ain’t worth it.

Misusing Liquids Insults My Intelligence

When I saw that the topic for the current Weekly Photo Challenge is “Carefree,” I considered presenting some photos of alcohol.  Unfortunately, that doesn’t represent carefree too well.  Latrines across Europe can tell of tourists whose drinking did not leave them in a carefree state.  I, for one, remember a fellow traveler who was too hung over to tour the city she had most looked forward to seeing.

And so I moved on to other liquids.  Water can provide a less problematic feeling of carefree:

faroutThis comes from the main square in Bern, Switzerland, home of the Zytglogge and other wonders.  Here’s a closer look from a different angle:

closeinIn the summer months, you can relieve your sunburn in this public fountain.  You can also relax as you watch people running across attempting not to get wet… or you can run yourself.  (The water sprays from the numbered holes at irregular intervals.)  And then there’s the occasional boy who visibly enjoys letting the water spray into his swimsuit towards certain bodily regions.

And then there are the creepy teenagers who take too much pleasure in watching the child…

And then there’s the not-so-carefree mother who rightly decides it’s time to escort her son away.  I guess that means the fountains are a mostly carefree place.

So much for “less problematic.”  I’ll do better next time, I promise.

Bad City Planning Insults My Intelligence

You may already be familiar with Big Ben, but that’s not the most amazing clock around.  Among those I’ve seen, the best would have to be the 13th century Zytglogge in Bern, Switzerland:


That was the astronomical clock; a larger clock face towers above; however, tourist souvenirs only reproduce this colorful part, so it’s really the only one that counts to most people.  Since I’m (fortunately) not most people, you get to see the entire Glogge:

Although Prague also has a great astronomical clock on display, the Zytglogge stands as a unique artistic masterpiece.  Moreover, it is centrally located in Bern’s old town, the whole of which appears on UNESCO’s list of world heritage sites.  So I know exactly what you’re thinking…

“That’s the perfect place to put a youth hostel.”

That’s right, you’ll find a hostel right next to the Zytglogge.  What a masterpiece of bad city planning!  They took an important site and put a bunch of 20-somethings (who often don’t know how to cook well) and a kitchen in it.  20-somethings can also be somewhat less than observant of smoking prohibitions when the urge strikes.

I stayed in the hostel and found it convenient and comfortable as hostels go.  But I was afraid to cook anything because giant ants swarmed all over the duvet covers and made me lose my appetite.

Um… no.  The duvet ants were rather cute as ants go.  Instead, the problem rested in the hostel’s fully justified caution at the first sign of fire.  If the smoke alarm goes off, they immediately send a truck and you have to pay for it.  The cost ain’t cheap, so I ate a lot of boiled sausage while I was there.