Alpine sunrise

A spectacular sunrise over Zürich.

Every morning I climb Zürich’s steep strasse and steig until I reach the clear ridgeline of the Zürichberg hilltop, with its broad view across the city and Zürichsee lake to the Alps.  Some days I am enveloped in the valley fog common this time of year.  Other days the clouds grudgingly give me glimpses of the Alps beyond the valley.  Today, finally, I was treated to a spectacular sunrise, with a crystal-clear view of the Alps and a sky painted with deep red sunlight.  I picked just five photos for the (must-see!) gallery, and share only one below.

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Uetliberg sunset

A beautiful day to view the sunset over the Alps.

Today was a spectacular day to be high – on a summit, that is.  Mid-afternoon I caught a tram to the west side of town and hoofed it up the steep slopes of Uetliberg, the hill that dominates the western edge of Zürich.  I wish I’d arrived earlier, while the sunlight was still touching the Alpine peaks… but I arrived in time to climb the summit tower and watch the the clouds’ evolving palette of colors for the next half hour.  It was hard to capture the magic of this moment… but I’ve posted a gallery of five favorites.

Sunset view from Uetliberg, Zurich.

St. Gallen

A brief visit to the beautiful town of St. Gallen.

We made a short overnight visit to St. Gallen, a pretty little town in the eastern edge of Switzerland.  We were there for an evening banquet, hosted by my professor host at the University of St. Gallen, and stayed overnight so we could explore the town the next day.  We spent a few hours to stroll the history ‘old town’, the famous Abbey of St. Gall, and its Christmas markets.  Unfortunately the library at the Abbey was closed for cleaning, but we enjoyed their small museum about the this thousand-plus year-old archive of documents.  (“Since 1983 the whole remaining abbey precinct has been a UNESCO World Heritage Site.”)  The old town has many beautiful half-timber buildings and oriels, elaborate multistory bay windows.  Many of the squares and streets had stalls selling crafts and Christmas wares, and in one square we encountered three old men playing music on their alphorns.  Fascinating!

Streets of St. Gallen's old town, Switzerland.See the photo gallery for more.  If you want to keep up with our adventures, “Follow” this blog via email or RSS at right.

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.

Continue reading “Schnebelhorn”

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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