Locarno

A daytrip to Locarno, in the Italian section of Switzerland.

For our second day in the effort to ‘use up’ our Swiss rail pass, we chose Locarno. Not to be confused with Lugano, which we’d visited two weeks earlier, it is nonetheless in Ticino, the Italian section of Switzerland. It was Sunday, so things were pretty quiet, but there were many other families out for a stroll along the lakefront or for a coffee in the cafe. We had lunch in a lakefront restaurant, with a mix of tourists and locals. They have fresh truffle/pasta dishes to die for.  The sun was strong, and the lake blue, and the surrounding mountains white capped. What’s not to like?  Read on, and check out the photo gallery.

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Bern

A daytrip to Bern to stroll the old town, climb the cathedral tower, and visit the Einstein museum.

Pam, Andy, and I bought ‘GA’ cards for the past holiday month, giving us free rides anytime, anywhere the Swiss rail system (and local bus/tram systems) go. What a treat! With only four days left on our cards, Pam and I decided to make the most of them. Each day we asked, “where would you like to have lunch today? Anywhere in Switzerland. Anywhere.”  Today we picked Bern, the capital city, only an hour from Zürich by express train.  Read on, and check out the gallery.2020-01-11-79641.jpg

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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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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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