After 10 days in Switzerland it is sad to leave, hard to part with the opportunity to explore both new and unexplored areas of the city and the country. It was a pleasure to be back, to revisit old colleagues, to return to my favorite shops and viewpoints and morning walks. I certainly hope I can return again soon! Today’s gallery includes snapshots from various days and scenes in Zürich, including several from the Christmas markets and from the illuminated evenings.
On our final full day in Zürich, I took my usual morning walk to Zurichberg. The sky was cloudy and the valley foggy, once again, but at least this time the fog was a bit above me and I could see across the lake. Not much to photograph today, but as I lingered at the viewpoint and was passed by every morning jogger and dog-walker, I noted a familiar sight approaching. An old gray lady, and her even older gray dog, approached slowly along a parallel path. I recognized them immediately, having encountered them almost daily on my walks two years earlier… but not yet on this return visit. The woman now needs a walker, and moves slowly while the old gray dog follows even more slowly behind. I admired their persistence in their daily outing, and am glad I had a chance to see them again.
On my way downhill, picking my route randomly through the residential streets while aiming my internal compass toward Honold for my daily dose of heisse schokolade and butter gipfeli, I noted this little gnome standing by a tiny little tree, on a curb near trash and recycling bins.
It is not uncommon for people to put items out for free use by passers-by; indeed, we gave away many things when we were preparing to leave in July 2020. This little fellow seemed lonely, so I decided to bring him home.
Later in the day, Andy and I made a pilgrimage to Sprüngli chocolatier, on Bahnhofstrasse, for a stay at their sidewalk tables and for a taste of their grand cru hot chocolate, which comes with a mousse light enough to spoon on top but rich enough to sink you for the afternoon.
Despite the chilly weather, the outdoor tables filled quickly; it is a wonderful spot to sit and enjoy a warm drink as the holiday shoppers bustle by.
About a month ago, as it became clear we would be staying home for Christmas rather than spending Christmas with family in SC, Andy looked on the bright side: the potential for his first “white Christmas”, with a snowy landscape all around. This, his 20th Christmas, is the first time we’ve spent it in New Hampshire; last year we were in Switzerland, twice before in India, and otherwise always in South Carolina. No snow in any of those places!
So when winter arrived last week, with a glorious foot and a half of fresh powder, it seemed he would get his wish!
Last night, however, a terrible warm front blasted through, bringing temperatures near 60º and a torrential downpour. Most of the snow (other than snowbanks) melted rapidly… from shin-deep to bare ground overnight.
Still, it appears that Santa made it through the storm! … lured as always by Granny Kate’s famous Christmas Cookies.
At dawn, Sebastian identifies the presents he is most interested in opening, but the children are still nestled all snug in their beds.
Fresh snow makes Christmas trees all the more beautiful.
This year, just as we do every year, we make the short pilgrimage to Nichols’ Christmas Tree Farm, just on the other side of the hill, to choose and cut our own tree. I returned today, with the snow still fresh and fluffy from the snowstorm two days ago, to explore this landscape under a blue sky and a white blanket. Magical!
Every year we visit a nearby Christmas-tree lot run by a Lyme family to choose and cut a tree for our home. So, on Sunday, we found ourselves out in a field dusted with fresh snow, searching for the perfect tree. We quickly found one we liked, and the boys cut it down even faster by using two saws at once.
When we set it up at home, we discovered a small birds-nest tucked into the higher branches.
I happened to be walking along the Green in Hanover at the moment when Dartmouth was raising its annual Christmas tree. This year’s tree was selected from a tree farm in Wallingford, VT. Soon it will be decorated with lights and adding cheer to this quiet campus!
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.
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!
A night in Mysore before a quiet family Christmas at home.
We spent a night in Mysore [location], before heading back to Bangalore on Christmas Eve. We had been to Mysore back in October, but wanted to visit again so my parents could see the palace and other sights. The palace is truly amazing, indeed, if they would only let me take photos inside I could share with you the carved ceilings, elaborate woodwork, and huge marble palace rooms.
We also visited the Mysore silk factory, which was fascinating, and deafening! Vast rooms full of electric looms, clattering away, spinning and and then weaving gorgeous bolts of pure silk, or silk woven together with gold. It hurt the ears, and yet most of the workers had little ear protection. Again, no photographs allowed, so here is Pam shopping for silk at a nearby shop.
We visited a gift shop, because this region is well-known for its inlaid wood furniture. We spent many hours there, watching the woodworkers, choosing some pieces to send home, and examining the beautiful silk. As a gimmick, on our arrival the shopkeeper had one of the woodworkers instantly and freehand sawed a delicate carved initial for each of our kids. We bought a beautiful table made of inlaid wood:
Christmas Day was quiet, spent in our apartment at home. The kids were thrilled to receive an iPod nano each. Amazing how Santa read their minds! Now, if we could just get them to put the dang things down and look outside the window….
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