When we wandered into Bern, Switzerland, we had one goal: Go see a movie at the cinema.
Imagine our surprise when we learned that adult tickets for the movies were nearly $20 USD each, and kid’s tickets were nearly as much! Add into that some popcorn…and we were looking a $60+ for our small family to visit the movie theater. Um, no thank you.
Instead…we took a short sightseeing tour through town and managed to get caught breaking the law by a traffic camera (Yes, really. Imagine our surprise when months and months later we received a bill from the Swiss Police at our US address! They must have obtained it from our German Car Rental agency?!).
The Old Town of Bern was declared a UNESCO World Heritage Site in 1983. The Zytglogge, clock tower, is one of the most notable landmarks in Switzerland. Apparently, the original clock movement from the 13th century is still what ticks inside this clock today!
The city of Bern dates back to the 12th century, when a duke supposedly vowed to name the city after the first animal he met on a hunt–which turned out to be a bear. Bern=Bears. This name is reflected in the artwork on some of the old building facades in town, as well as flags, clocks, etc. Bern also boasts a unique feature not to be found commonly throughout the world–a Bear Pit (Bear Park), where bears roam live in large enclosures, and spectators can admire them (we missed this).
As we drove through Bern (getting ticketed, no doubt), we kept seeing posted signs that said “Suisse Toy“. Not knowing what that was, and not having any internet, I decided to briefly call my Dad in the good ol’ USA and ask him if he could Google it for me. “It’s a Toy Expo,” he said! Hmm…a Toy Expo? Why not!
We arrived at the front entrance and learned that the show would be closing with an hour. So, instead of them charging us the steep entrance fee (because, let’s face it, everything in Switzerland is expensive), they instead allowed us in for free! Yippee!
Our children were like kids in a candy shop!
We loved how all of the toys were very high quality, and constructed from wood and more durable materials than we often see in the US.
We quickly “tested” some favorite products, including Cuboro .
These were blocks that could be constructed to make marble runs! The prices are not for the faint-hearted!
Of course, anything having to do with balls or trains is a winner with 2 1/2 year old boys!
Can you imagine being the person displaying in this booth, and needing to build these amazing towers for your presentation? (and hoping some klutz doesn’t knock it down before the show ends?!)
We finally found one toy we couldn’t go home without – Magnaformers. We paid nearly 4 times what these cost in the US to get a small set for traveling, but they were worth every penny. They make amazing traveling toys–because they pack into small stacks of geometric magnets! Ethan may have scattered our collection throughout many countries after this (Spain, Germany, Thailand, Bali, etc), but it’s been such a wonderful toy that we have continued to restock it whenever we’ve lost pieces. Towers, cars, houses–these are diverse toys for little (or big) builders!
We also enjoyed the more active “toys” or activities available. Seilpark Balmberg is an adventure park that offered kids the free opportunity to scale their rock climbing wall! Their park is near-ish to Bern, and offers yearly memberships!
The whole downstairs was filled with active sports. We tried our hands at balance boards!
We also enjoyed the slacklines by slacker.ch. Some helper poles helped the kids cheat a bit, so they could have a go!
Okay, and I cheated, too!
It may have been a quick, unplanned stop–but we thoroughly enjoyed the Suisse Toy Expo! Score! It also helped alleviate some of the disappointment that ensued after we decided to skip the atrociously expensive movie theater!
And Bern? It’s worth a look-see and a longer visit. However, next time we go, we will be more careful with those traffic lights!