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Travel in the Time of Corona, Week 4

Four weeks after Governor Newsom announced the stay-at-home order for California, the corona virus is still taking a toll on Californians and the rest of the world. Physical distancing may have played a big role in capping the number of cases but we are not out of the woods yet. It looks like we’re home bound for a few more weeks. I don’t mind this at all because I know that it will help flatten the curve and set us free to live a “normal” life again.
If there’s one thing I’ve learned during this period of self isolation, it is that I should never take anything for granted, especially traveling. 
Champs Elysées, Paris, France

Singapore

Lauterbrunnen Valley, Switzerland

Tlaquepaque, Guadalajara, Mexico

Malmö, Sweden

Lake Tahoe, Nevada

The Sphinx, Giza, Egypt

*****

Images by TravelswithCharie 

Gstaad in the Off Season

On the bus ride to Gstaad from Les Diablerets, I met an Indian couple who were traveling in Switzerland. They told me about the popularity of Gstaad in India thanks to blockbuster Bollywood movies which feature this renowned ski resort. I was just passing through Gstaad and had no idea about its attractions other than its ski slopes but it wasn’t winter yet so the town was quiet, so quiet even the Louis Vuitton shop was closed.

Grey skies and light rain threatened to drive me indoors and miss out on this winter playground of the rich and famous. But I had an umbrella so I walked up and down the Promenade to see a little bit of the town that will come alive when the skiing season begins. Swiss chalets with window boxes brimming with colorful flowers line the street all the way to the river where frigid waters burble across town to steal its tranquility and wake up sleeping beauty. As I continued strolling, I found sculptures blending with its backdrop like the two musicians in the photo…

Charlie Chaplin in Vevey

La Fourchette Lovers of chocolate know that Vevey is the birthplace of milk chocolate. The Nestlé world headquarters thrives in this beautiful town surrounded by mountains and the calm lake waters of Lake Leman (Lake Geneva). These seats by the shore are definitely prime seating for capturing the beauty and serenity of the alpine scenery.
Alimentarium Why is there a fork in the lake? La Fourchette was originally planted there for the celebration of the 10th anniversary of Alimentarium, a food museum founded by Nestlé. Though the Fork had become part of the seascape, Alimentarium didn’t have the legal permission to keep the 8-meter high utensil in the lake. It wasn't until 2008 when the canton of Vaud approved its permanent installation in Lake Leman. Jean Pierre Zaugg designed the Fork and George Favre made the stainless steel, 450 kg (992 lbs) work of art.
La Grenette La Grenette (Granary) presides over the Grande Place of Vevey where the outdoor market is held on Tuesday and Saturday…

Excerpts from The Prisoner of Chillon

Chateau de Chillon There are seven pillars of Gothic mould, 
In Chillon's dungeons deep and old,  There are seven columns, massy and grey,  Dim with a dull imprison'd ray,  A sunbeam which hath lost its way,  And through the crevice and the cleft  Of the thick wall is fallen and left;  Creeping o'er the floor so damp,  Like a marsh's meteor lamp:  And in each pillar there is a ring,  And in each ring there is a chain;  That iron is a cankering thing,  For in these limbs its teeth remain,  With marks that will not wear away, 
Lake Leman Lake Leman lies by Chillon's walls:  A thousand feet in depth below  Its massy waters meet and flow;  Thus much the fathom-line was sent  From Chillon's snow-white battlement,  Which round about the wave inthralls:  A double dungeon wall and wave  Have made—and like a living grave  Below the surface of the lake  The dark vault lies wherein we lay:  We heard it ripple night and day;  Sounding o'er our heads it knock'd;  And I have felt the winter'…

Ulrich Zwingli at Eye Level

“I ask Christ for this one thing only, that he will enable me to endure all things courageously, and that he break me as a potter’s vessel or make me strong, as it pleases him.” Ulrich Zwingli
For the 500th anniversary of Swiss reformation leader, Huldrych (Ulrich) Zwingli, fifteen plastic statues of him were cast from the model of the bronze original found on the Wasserkirche (Water Church). One of these statues was included at a festival parade in Zürich and twelve of them were installed in each of the twelve districts of the city. Both the main train station and the airport each had a statue on display as well. Ten of these Zwingli figures were later moved to the Limmatquai to stand under the shadow of the Grossmünster Church overlooking the river. According to Christoph Sigrist, pastor of Grossmünster, the goal of the celebration is to bring Zwingli to the people, at eye level, thereby inviting dialogue and spreading the reach of the Church beyond its walls.
The eco-Zwingli in mirro…

6 Hours in Lucerne

Sometimes when you revisit a place after many years of absence, you are disappointed because it is no longer what you remember it to be. I find this to be true of many cities in Europe where overtourism has transformed these once peaceful towns.  It doesn’t mean these places have lost their charm. It’s still there but it is a bit challenging to appreciate what you see when there are so many people around you (even in November) and the cacophony of herded tourist groups makes you want to run in the opposite direction.

But that’s just my view. It’s been nearly two decades since I was in Lucerne where I had walked around the quiet city streets and ended up at the beautiful Jesuit Church. This same Church was my first stop on a recent day trip from Zürich. And it is everything I’ve imagined since that last visit. The white walls with its Baroque ornamentation are not exuberant as other Baroque churches in Europe tend to be. Rather, the decor livens up the stark white walls. I love to sit…

University of Zurich Faculty Law Library

In what used to be the courtyard of the University of Zurich Faculty Law Library, Spanish architect, Santiago Calatrava, created the additional space the library needed in unconventional fashion. He built a modern wing in stark contrast to the staid building designed in 1908 by Hermann Fietz. Calatrava's design consists of 6 oval rings around an elongated glazed skylight which illuminates the galleries and courtyard. The rings are lined with maple wood that add a rich tone finish to the design and define its space between the glass dome and the white stone floor of the ground floor.

The glass domed copper roof floods the library with natural light.
Study spaces are formed around the balustrades on each gallery, taking advantage of natural light. 
A closer look at the graceful curve of the dome.
The galleries float above the courtyard.
Horizontal windows cut across the outer shell of the galleries.
Rather than cover up the original courtyard, Santiago Calatrava decided to keep it and tur…

Geneva, Capital of Peace

In the city that boasts 1000 delights, there remains hundreds of discoveries to make. So each time I pass through Geneva, there's always something new to discover. Recently, I visited the European headquarters of the Palais des Nations where important discussions are held throughout the year to keep the fragile peace that binds our nations. 
In front of the United Nations building is the wooden sculpture, Broken Chair by Daniel Berset, a Swiss sculptor. It is a reminder of the victims of landmines, cluster bombs and the ¨desperate cry of war torn populations¨. Rising to a height of 39 feet tall, it dwarfs visitors who pose by those long legs. Broken Chair was crafted by Louie Gèneve. 
Melancholy is the most poignant sculpture I've ever seen. Nothing speaks of emptiness more than the gaping hole through which one can see the peaceful lake in the background. Melancholy was created by Romanian artist, Albert György, who experienced this void when his wife passed away. 

The Jet d'…