For our final day of free Swiss rail travel, we decided to stay close to home. We headed northeast, to a curious finger of Switzerland on the north side of the Rhine River – which otherwise forms the border with Germany. The train stops directly at the Rheinfall, the most powerful waterfall in Europe, where there are some impressive viewing platforms and an historic castle now converted into a restaurant. The waterfall was beautiful, though the flow was at an annual low – it being winter, and there being no rain for the past week. The low-angle sun (1:30pm, a few weeks after winter solstice) painted a pretty rainbow on the mist of the falls (a “mistbow”?). Read on, and check out the Rheinfall gallery and Schaffhausen gallery.
The castle restaurant was closed Mondays and Tuesdays – we seem to pick our dates poorly! – so we hopped back on the train to the next stop, the thousand-year-old city of Schaffhausen. This village has a beautiful old town, with delightful oreil windows overlooking cobblestone streets, hinting at a prosperous period of merchants and guilds. The streets are dotted with welcoming shops, interesting fountains, and historic houses. (My favorite stop was the specialty chocolate shop :-).
We peeked in at the Münster – an exceptionally large, and rather plain, cathedral.
Interesting factoid: Schaffhausen was the only part of Switzerland bombed during WWII, albeit accidentally, by U.S. pilots who mistook it for part of Germany. “A total of 40 civilians were killed in the raid. President Franklin Delano Roosevelt sent a personal letter of apology to the mayor of Schaffhausen…” [Wikipedia].
We ate at Noordlicht, a delightful cafe with a cozy atmosphere. warm soup, fresh salad, and a faint Scandinavian theme. Worth a return visit!