Piz Palü

I grew up hiking in the Adirondack mountains of New York, and later the White Mountains of New Hampshire – places that are still near and dear to my heart – but ever since I was a young boy, leafing through pictorial mountaineering books from legendary climbers like Chris Bonington and Reinhold Messner, I’ve dreamed of ‘Real Mountains’ capped with snow and glacier. Yesterday, I finally had my chance and summited Piz Palü (3900m, 12,811′). Although relatively simple on the grand scale of mountaineering, it was nonetheless the most challenging mountain I’ve experienced in my 50 years of hiking. Read on and definitely do not miss the gallery – we were blessed with outstanding weather and snow conditions.

David, Patrick, and Felix on the summit of Piz Palü.
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Final Fountains

My final post about fountains.

Two months ago when I set out to share with you the amazing variety of fountains in Zürich, I never imagined it would keep me so busy. It was a fine project during those weeks when I was unable to travel far.

Today I’ve posted a final batch of 16 photos (starting here), emphasizing decorative fountains. Most, if not all, of these fountains are for enjoyment rather than nourishment.

Early morning in a square along Rämistrasse.

In my first post I wrote “it might be fun to find them all.  Since most (if not all) appear on a street corner, i.e., at intersections, the challenge appeared to be similar to the famous Hamiltonian Path problem in computer science: given a graph of vertices (intersections) connected by edges (street segments), devise a path that visits each vertex exactly once.  No such option existed for me, as I spread my travels out over several weeks and must begin/end each walk at the same point.  But I’ve tracked my walks as a means of finding new routes to cover each day.” As of today, I’ve photographed about 161 fountains (though I hear there are about 1200 fountains in Zurich); the map around my home (orange arrow) looks like this:

I managed to make a thorough coverage of the intersections in the hillside between Altstadt (by the lake) and Zurichberg (at top right).

Here’s another pair of maps, showing the location of all the fountains (all my photos are geo-tagged). The numbers represent photos, not fountains, so they over-count fountains; also, photos that are close together are aggregated into a single bubble on the map. The first map covers all of Zürich; the second map zooms in to my home turf.

Map of fountains whose photos I published; counts indicate photos not fountains; some counts are aggregated.
Map of fountains whose photos I published; counts indicate photos not fountains; some counts are aggregated.

You can find all the posts here and all the photos here. To wrap up, below is one of the first fountains I saw in Zürich – in the mall under the train station.

A decorative fountain in the underground mall at HB in Zürich.

Lenin in Zürich

Lenin spent a year in Zürich while writing his book.

If you wander down a tiny street in the Altstadt (old town), you may come across a nondescript historical marker indicating that “Lenin lived here.”

A residence of Lenin when he was living in Zurich.

Indeed, it turns out that Lenin and his wife lived here for a year, 1916-17, while he worked on his book, Imperialism, the Highest Stage of Capitalism. A nearby marker gives more details:

A residence of Lenin when he was living in Zurich.

For more, see here and Wikipedia.

Bach to Bachtel

A beautiful morning for a quick hike.

In November, Andy and I made a frosty climb to the summit of Bachtel, not far from Zürich, and enjoyed a brisk view and a hearty warm lunch below a gray sky. Today, I wanted a quick morning hike so I hopped a train out to Wald and walked back up to the summit under blue skies and amidst summer sights and sounds and smells. My climb reversed the path of our November descent, up through the outer neighborhoods of Wald and through the pastures of the hillside farms. From the summit I had a grand 360-degree view of Zürichsee and the Alps to the south and the rolling hills to the north and east. I settled into the outdoor veranda of the summit restaurant for a cup of tea while the sun slid across the southern horizon. I then picked a new trail down, ending up in the pretty village of Wernetshausen, where I could hop a bus and train and tram back home. Check out the gallery.

A fine view from the restaurant on Bachtel.

Hike stats: 8.8km with 510m gain and 389m descent; 2h14 moving time, 1:00 stopped time.

Return to Sulzau

Coincidence? I don’t think so.

“I don’t believe in coincidences,” said Laurence, as we drove from the train station in Horb toward Sulzau, Germany, the tiny village where my great-great-great grandfather Franz Kotz first learned his trade as a schreiner (cabinetmaker) and which he left in 1848 to find a new life in America.  I never imagined that I might be back in Sulzau so soon, in search of the Sulzau-Kotz connection – and I certainly never imagined I would meet a distant cousin, today.  Read on!

Franz Kotz, 1822-1887
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Bremen and Worpswede

A weekend to visit family in Bremen.

After visiting Munich we continued north across the pastoral plains of Germany to reach Bremen, where Pam has relatives.   We changed trains in Hannover (with the requisite joke about our “return to Hanover”), where met Andy after his arrival from Zürich.  Although the skies were grey, the onward train to Bremen passed through pretty countryside. Check out the gallery and read on.

The Schnoor is one of the oldest neighborhoods in Bremen, with tiny houses packed side-by-side.
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Geiser fountain

A monument to the city architect.

One of the most domineering fountains I’ve encountered in Zürich is in Bürkliplatz, a beautiful park between the edge of Altstadt (old town) and the lakefront. It is clearly dedicated to an Arnold Geiser.

One of many public fountains in Zürich.

It turns out that Mr. Geiser was the city architect during a formative period in the latter half of the 19th century. According to this page, “At his death the city architect Arnold Geiser (1844-1909) left behind a legacy ‘for a monument to beautify the city.’ The city organised a competition under the Zürich artists. The winner, Jacob Brüllmann was surprisingly not from Zürich, but citizen of Weinfelden and living in Stuttgart. The foundations for the massive sculpture was designed by the architect Jean Freytag. On 20 October 1911, the entire monument was passed as ‘Stierbändiger-Brunnen’ (Bull Tamer Fountain) to the public.”

Two more photos in my gallery starting here.

More detail about Geiser here and here.


A quick visit to Munich on our way north.

On my first trip out of the country since January, we’re headed to northern Germany to visit relatives. (The Schengen area largely reopened to cross-border travel on 15 June.) We decided to make a stopover in Munich, to break up the long train trip and to enjoy visiting the sights of this historic city. Although our one-day visit just scratched the surface, I hope you’ll read on and enjoy the gallery.

Munich Rathaus (town hall).
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Fountains of Altstadt

Seven fountains from Zürich’s old town.

The old-town area of Zürich includes many of the most dramatic and interesting fountains, some of which I’ve already shared here. Today I’m posting 22 photos from seven fountains, all within a few blocks of each other. They start here in the gallery.

The Stüssihofstatt fountain, below, was described by another blogger as “a memorial built in honor of the former Bürgermeister [Mayor] Rudolf Stüssi, killed in battle not far from here.” It is one of the few painted fountains in Zürich – which we saw to be far more common in Bern.

An impressive statue fountain in the heart of old Zürich.

Unfortunately, I don’t know the story behind any of the other fountains. The I particularly like this one, a very dynamic sculpture of a man battling a lion.

An impressive statue fountain along the Limmat in old Zürich.

And this one follows a common theme – a young maiden bathing.

A pretty fountain next to Landesmuseum and beside the Limmat river.

Finally, a more contemporary design (1932), a multi-level fountain with a statue of a rearing horse.

A grand fountain on the southern edge of Alt Zurich.

For more photos of these and three other fountains, start here in the gallery.