Posts

Showing posts with the label Switzerland

The mountains are calling

Image
The Swiss Federal Railways makes it easy for visitors to travel anywhere in Switzerland with its vast and efficient coverage of the country. Even the remotest villages in the mountains can be accessed through a network of trains and cableways. So it was an easy decision to combine my trip to Lauterbrunnen with Wengen and it turned out to be a good decision.

It was warm and sunny in November when I captured this view of the Jungfrau (above).


Wengen sits at the foot of the Jungfrau mountain range, 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.) above sea level. It is a quiet, car-free village with less than a couple thousand residents. This count balloons to 10,000 or so during the ski season when the alpine village hosts the annual International Luberhorn Downhill Ski Race. Wengen is the gateway to the Jungfraujoch, Top of Europe at 11,333 ft.


A cable car dangles above the valley on its way to Männlichen where spectacular views of the Eiger and Mönch await. The Eiger is famous for its treacherous North Face whi…

The Names of Zurich

Image
How much of Zurich can you see in an afternoon in late fall? The surprising answer is, a lot! I was in Zurich to catch a flight back to the U.S. and had a few hours to sightsee. After checking in at the hotel and reviewing the city map the receptionist gave me, I hurried down to Bahnhofstrasse and followed the busy shopping street towards Lake Zurich. My first stop was at Augustinergasse, a cobblestone street with overhanging balconies. It is in the Alstadt or Old Town which is the historical center of the city. Some of the most important landmarks like the Fraumünster, the Grossmünster, Peterkirche and the guild houses are found in the Alstadt. 

The stained glass windows by Marc Chagall in the Fraumünster was at the top of my "must see" list. As luck would have it, a rehearsal for a music concert was in progress during my visit so I lingered and enjoyed the performances of two gifted singers while studying the works of Chagall and Giacometti. An added bonus was the crypt whe…

The Rocky Wall of Lauterbrunnen

Image
Staubbach Falls Surrounded by towering rock faces and snow capped mountain peaks, Lauterbrunnen has one of the most dramatic settings in the Bernese Oberland. Free falling Staubbach Waterfall rushes down nearly 300 meters off the face of the cliff to the valley below. It seems to disappear behind a group of chalets on main street leaving a trail of wet spray. Staubbach is only one of 72 other waterfalls in Lauterbrunnen.  

Johann Wolfgang von Goethe traveled to Lauterbrunnen in 1779 and was impressed by what he saw, enough to write a poem ¨Spirit Song over the Waters¨. Here´s an excerpt from the poem:
“Down from the lofty
Rocky wall
Streams the bright flood,
Then spreadeth gently
In cloudy billows
O'er the smooth rock...”  

Lauterbrunnen Valley To get a good view of the valley, take the train to Wengen, an alpine village above Lauterbrunnen with an elevation of 1,274 meters (4,180 ft.).
Some visitors to Lauterbrunnen have expressed their disappointment with the low volume of water flowing do…

Iseltwald -Brigadoon by the Sea

Image
The village of Iseltwald is a quick 15-minute bus ride from bustling Interlaken. But those few minutes through a winding, one lane highway that manages to squeeze two vehicles going in opposite directions, make all the difference in the world. I felt like I arrived in Brigadoon as fog hovered over green hills that roll down to the lake. Yes, the setting of the musical, Brigadoon, is the Scottish Highlands. And I´m in equally magical Switzerland.

Lake Brienz is like a mirror reflecting the surrounding mountains and valleys that is home to a few hundred residents.

The streets were so quiet as I walked around the village in early afternoon. Were the locals taking a siesta? But this is not Spain! The only noise I heard was from my camera as I clicked away, trying to capture this sleeping beauty that will awake in winter when skiers descend upon the village. How lucky I was to observe the smoke curling out of the chimney of this wooden church without the selfie crowd!

Chalets line the water´s…

Zero Visibility and Disappointment

Image
Lake Thun Interlaken as the name suggests, means between lakes. So I was watching the passing view carefully as the train raced closer to the valley between the lakes. And suddenly the shimmering, crystal clear waters of Lake Thun came into view. Heaven!
Jungfrau It was fascinating to watch paragliders drop anchor on the Höhematte under the shadow of the Jungfrau. They make it look so easy to land on the green lawn of the park.
Two Lakes Bridge, Harder Kulm The opportunity to see all three peaks, the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, from the summit of Harder Kulm was something I felt I couldn't miss. I had been observing the funicular climb up the steep side of the mountain from my hotel doorstep. It takes approximately ten minutes for the ascent to the summit (1,322 meters above sea level) by funicular. But in those 10 minutes, the clouds rolled in and swiftly wiped out the view. 
Coffee anyone? After waiting for thirty minutes in the cold mountain air for the fog to disperse, I decided to wa…

A Rainy Afternoon in Geneva

Image
Chapel of the Maccabees How much independent sightseeing could one pack into an afternoon in Geneva? Factor in the rain and the early sunset and the answer is, not much. But it has been decades since I first visited Geneva and got lost in the city on the way to meet a friend who had our rental car. That was a nightmare! Yes, we did find each other eventually and drove on to complete our grand tour of Europe.

I really wanted to see Geneva again and I had two things to check off on my itinerary. The first one was to go up to the old town and the other, to walk along Lake Leman. Trying to do more would have been a challenge with my bad knee. I didn't realize though that the Cathedral of Saint Pierre was up on a hill so I had to work my legs a little harder but thankfully, it wasn't as steep as the other hills I climbed in Annecy.

The highlight of the Cathedral is the colorful Chapel of the Maccabees which was the tomb of a cardinal when Saint Pierre was a Catholic Church. It is in…

Lake Lugano

Image
View of Lugano, Cassarate, Castagnola and Monte Bré
Lugano is definitely one of my favorite places in the world. On my first visit to this lakeside beauty many moons ago, I walked everyday along the lake from Paradiso where I was staying to Piazza della Riforma to have lunch at one of the cafés or restaurants in the city center. On the way back to my hotel, I'd stop by the Church of Santa Maria degli Angioli on Piazza Luini to marvel at the 16th century fresco of the Crucifixion by Bernardino Luini, a follower of Leonardo da Vinci. 
The Passion and Crucifixion of Jesus Christ
In the same nondescript Church of Santa Maria is a painting of the Last Supper which is also attributed to Luini. Whether you're facing the altar or the main door of the Church, you are blessed with a visual treat, one man made, the other, by a divine hand. The Church door opens to Lake Lugano.

If I were staying in Lugano for a few days, I would have stocked my hotel refrigerator with food from this d…