First, Grindelwald

Sometimes you need to close the laptop, grab a camera, hop a train, and head for the mountains. 

Today we took the train (actually three trains, a bus, and a tram) from Zürich to Grindelwald, in central Switzerland… and then the gondola up to ‘First’, where there is a panoramic view of the Jungfrau region.  On this blue-sky day, with no clouds and no wind, it was truly spectacular.

Wetterhorn (left) and Schreckhorn (center), from First... above Grindelwald.

Check out the photo gallery… what a day!!

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Bachtel

A pleasant hike to panoramic views on Bachtel, outside Zurich.

It’s still November and we’re still doing fall hiking, close to Zürich.  Today Andy and I walked from the little village Gibswil, over fresh dusting of snow and through pastures and forests, to the summit of Bachtel.  Although not a high mountain by Swiss standards – only 1,115 meters – it is popular for its panoramic view of the Zürichsee valley and the Alps beyond.  There is a road to the summit, which has a restaurant, a playground, and an observation tower.  Ok, the purist in me would normally avoid such a summit, but there is really something to be said for sitting in a warm restaurant over a plate of raclette and a glass of beer, enjoying the panoramic view.2019-11-30-76225.jpg

Last night there were low clouds hovering over all these hills, leaving behind a dusting of snow at the higher elevations.  We began our hike as those clouds slowly began to dissipate and the sunshine sparkled in the snow.  Sadly, some clouds persisted between Bachtel and the Alps throughout our lunch, and just began to clear as we snapped a few photos and descended toward Wald.  Fortunately the trails and pastures of the descent allowed many fine views toward the Glarusalps over the pretty valley town of Wald.2019-11-30-76314.jpg

I certainly plan to return on some future clear-sky day! Check out the photo gallery. If you want to keep up with our adventures, click “Follow” at right.

Hiking notes:

  • We followed this description, and its gpx file.  We made one slight detour (mistake). Our route ended up being 9.9km, 2.5 hours walking time.  Tram/train/bus from home to Gibswil was about 50 minutes; from Wald to home was about 40 minutes.
  • The summit Bachtel Kulm Restaurant actually has pretty good food and drink, and an extensive ice cream menu 😉

Schnebelhorn

Alpine and pastoral views from Schnebelhorn on a grey and windy November day.

Although it is late fall, and I’m seeing the occasional Züricher happy lugging skis toward the train station enroute to a day of skiing at one of the high-altitude resorts, the lowlands are still snow-free and quite lovely.  Indeed, yesterday the forecast was for warm (12-14ºC) though blustery conditions.  I decided to tackle Schnebelhorn, the highest point in the Canton of Zürich. Read on, and check out the photo gallery.View of the Glarusalps from the descent of Schnebelhorn.

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Christmas lights

I went to watch the city of Zurich celebrate the onset of the Christmas season.

At this particular time on this particular day, the city of Zürich turns on all its Christmas lights and the Christmas markets officially open.  Throngs of people turned out for this much-anticipated event, packed shoulder-to-shoulder on Bahnhofstrasse, the central avenue. The photo below shows the moment after the lights came on, with the crowd cheering and the people in the verandas at upper left setting off confetti crackers.  The smell of heiss marroni (roasted chestnuts) and glüwein (mulled wine) wafted by, and the shops were handing out free glasses of champagne or live music indoors. A very festive evening… see the short gallery – with video!

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Uetliberg

A lovely late-fall stroll along the ridgeline with views down into Zurich.

As we the final leaves fall from the trees in Zürich – and the higher-elevation ski resorts start to open around Switzerland – the options for hiking become narrower.  I’ve had my eyes on one hike ever since my first day in town: Uteliberg.  This hill dominates the opposite side of the lake, above Zürich, and we watch the sun set over Uetliberg from our flat every evening. With a summit-top observation tower, a telecom tower, a hotel, and a restaurant, it glows prominently in our nighttime view behind the city.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

map

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Budapest

A lovely trip to Budapest and the computer-science study-abroad program at AIT.

Just back from a quick but lovely trip to Budapest, Hungary.   I found it be a delightful and interesting city and hope I have a chance to return someday to explore it in more depth.  The bridges and buildings along the banks of the Danube are a UNSECO world-heritage site, and are particularly striking at night.  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.Parliament building, seen across the Danube - Budapest. Continue reading “Budapest”

Paxmontana

A lovely 48 hours at Hotel Paxmontana in a tiny village outside Luzern.

I spent about 48 hours at the lovely Hotel Paxmontana in the tiny village of Flüeli-Ranft, outside Luzern Switzerland, for a research-group retreat.  One of those grand countryside hotels, recently renovated, Paxmontana is nestled above a valley with a 180-degree views including two lakes and several snow-capped mountain ranges.  Behind the hotel is a narrow stream valley echoing with the bells of cows grazing its with hillside pastures – and the bells of several small churches that enjoy reminding everyone of the time every 30 minutes, around the clock.Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.

Despite our short visit, the weather and light shifted frequently – from overcast to sunny, from light drizzle to heavy snowfall – leading to opportunities to photograph the same scenery in dramatically different conditions. I attach just a couple shots here; check out the photo gallery for more.

The valley is best known as the home of Bruder Klaus, also known as Nicholas of Flüe. Born in 1417, he is the patron saint of Switzerland.  “Despite being illiterate and having limited experience with the world, he is honored among both Protestants and Catholics with the permanent national unity of Switzerland.”   He left his family to live as a hermit in this tiny valley, and (according to Wikipedia) had a “reputation for wisdom and piety” that caused many to travel from afar to seek his advice and counsel.  Soldier, farmer, hermit, ascetic, saint – interesting fellow!Pasture near the Paxmontana Hotel, Flueli-Ranft, Switzerland.