Lugano

A beautiful day to visit Lugano, in the Italian part of Switzerland.

The weather is often very different on the opposite side of Switzerland, because the country’s Alpine backbone breaks up the clouds and airflow patterns.  On this cloudy day in Zürich we hopped a Eurocity train to Lugano, through the Gottard Base Tunnel (the longest railway tunnel in the world), and popped out into the sunshine on the Italian side of Switzerland.  Once in the pretty lakeside city of Lugano, we walked the streets of old town, dined on pasta and pizza, and strolled along the lakeshore.  I climbed up to Parco Panoramico, to catch some panoramic views across the lake and the city to the Alps beyond.  Read on, and check out the gallery of photos.

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Favorites of 2019

My favorite photos of 2019.

I had the good fortune to explore many parts of the world in 2019.  Along the way, and around my home, I took over 10,000 photographs.  You’ve seen many of them in my blog posts, or associated galleries, but I decided to create a gallery of my favorite 75 photos of 2019.  I selected them because they are personally important, or photographically pleasing (or both!).  You’ll see photos from England, France, Germany, Greece, Hong Kong, Hungary, Italy, South Korea, Malta, Mexico, Switzerland, and the US (New Hampshire, Vermont). Enjoy the slideshow!

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Sulzau – ancestral Kotz home

A trip to Germany, and back in time, to discover our family heritage.

Franz_KotzOn a late-winter day more than 180 years ago my great-great-great grandfather walked out of the Main Office of the Kingdom of Württemberg carrying his Heimath-Schein (Certificate of Residence) inside his Wander-Buch (“wandering book”). On that day, March 8, 1830, he was just fifteen years old. This ‘passport’ allowed Franz Kotz to travel beyond his home village of Sulzau – now part of southern Germany.  Sulzau, still a tiny village tucked alongside the Neckar river, is just a two-hour drive from Zürich, so we decided to make a quick visit.  Read on as we wander the quiet streets of Sulzau, dine in a castle, and dig into our family history.

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Zermatt and the Matterhorn

Three days, three visits to Zermatt – with very different views of the Matterhorn.

There are few scenes more glorious than the Matterhorn seen from the ski slopes of Zermatt, under sunny skies the day after a snowstorm.  I snapped more than five hundred photos in under three days, and was spoiled by some of the best skiing I’ve ever encountered.  Read on and check out the photo gallery for more.

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Christmas in Zurich

December is a lovely month to be in Zurich.

Zürich really knows how to do Christmas.  All the main streets are hung with Christmas lights, ceremoniously illuminated in mid-November, every commercial building (and many residential buildings) are decorated for Christmas.  In the early weeks of December there are Christmas markets in all the major plazas – each with dozens of stalls selling seasonal foods, decorations, and beautiful handicrafts.  One platz has a “singing Christmas tree” – a tiered riser, decorated with evergreen boughs to look like a Christmas tree, on which choral groups stand to sing Christmas carols.  Along the lakeshore, an artist installed a Friedenslicht (peace light) that flickers in the lake breeze.  And every café places sheepskin and fleece blankets on their outdoor chairs, so visitors can snuggle while enjoying glüewein or hot chocolate.  We took many strolls about town, exploring these sights and smells.  On Christmas morning, I walked up to my usual viewpoint, then down through town, along the central avenue to the lakeshore, then back through the narrow alleys of old town.  The churches – so numerous – all with their belltowers ringing, called parishioners to morning services.  Lovely!  We finished the day with a fine dinner at the Dolder Grand Hotel – wow.  See the full gallery.

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Luzern

A daytrip to explore Luzern and its historic district.

We took a family trip to Luzern – just a brief train ride from Zurich – to explore the famous “Kapellbrücke” (Chapel Bridge, a wooden bridge first erected in the 14th century) and the historic district.  It was a cloudy and sometimes drizzly day, but a fascinating place to visit.  We enjoyed a fine lunch at Des Alps, along the riverfront, a walk along the historic walls of the old city, and a brief exploration of the stone potholes left by retreating glaciers in the previous ice age.  I’ve assembled a gallery of some of my favorite scenes.

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Another Uetliberg sunset

Another grand sunset above Zurich.

It appeared that another grand sunset was due to grace Zürich, so my father and I took the train to the top of Uetliberg to capture the view of the Alps.  Here is one sample – but check out the gallery for my other favorite photos.  If you’re interested in current conditions, check out the webcam view.

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