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.

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.

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.

Return to Flumserberg

Another fine day on Flumserberg.

Tuesday’s weather was promising to be gorgeous, and I could not let such a day pass me by – despite an afternoon full of meetings. Waking early, and browsing the weather maps, train schedules, and hiking routes, I decided to return to Flumserberg – because it is close and offers many options. The catch?: the best train would leave in 13 minutes. Good thing I keep my backpack ready to go! Jump on the train with me, read on, and check out the gallery.

A marmot grazing high on the slopes of Flumserberg.
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Aletsch Glacier

A beautiful hike past a massive UNESCO heritage site.

The Aletsch glacier is one of those must-see destinations in Switzerland.  A UNESCO heritage site, it is the largest glacier in the Alps and is actually the combination of several glaciers draining the backside of major peaks I’d seen just two days earlier: Mönch, Jungfrau, Eiger, and their neighbors. I really wanted to hike this glacier valley before I leave Switzerland – yet I have very few hiking days left. So, I spontaneously decided to head for the Aletsch Arena instead of returning to Zürich as planned.

This is one of those hikes that is worthy of an extensive gallery – because the scenery is so dramatic I simply could not resist that shutter button.  Check out that gallery and read on.

Aletsch glacier and, I believe, the Wannenhorns (big and small).
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Vevey

A brief visit to the French side of Switzerland.

After visiting Grindelwald, Wengen, and Lauterbrunnen, we headed over to the French side of Switzerland for a night in Vevey. A pretty little town on the shore of Lake Geneva (Lac Leman), we had just enough time to stroll about the old town and to enjoy a sunny loop cruise on the lake aboard Vevey, one of a few antique paddlewheel boats that ply the waters on behalf of tourists and commuters. It was a beautiful morning and the views of the surrounding vineyards, chateaux, and mountains were impressive.

View of Vevey, Switzerland, from the ship of the same name.

Vevey is home to many interesting things – including Nestlé, the food company, which sponsored a food museum called Alimentarium. Out front, in the water just offshore, is a giant fork. Curious!

An unusual sculpture on the lakehore in Vevey, Switzerland.

Check out the gallery for more photos.

Lauterbrunnen

A morning’s visit to Lauterbrunnen valley, including a walk to Staubbach Falls and Trümmelbach falls.

After a beautiful view of the Lauterbrunnen valley at sunrise on Friday morning, and a hearty breakfast at the Hotel Edelweiss in Wengen, we boarded the cog train down from Wengen to Lauterbrunnen. It was a short walk to the edge of town and the famous Staubbach Falls. Impressive from above, these falls are truly inspirational in person. Read on, check out the gallery, and you won’t miss Trümmelbach Falls.

Lauterbrunnen from the trail to Staubbach falls.
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Wengen sunrise

A beautiful morning view from Wengen.

On Friday morning I woke early at our hotel in Wengen, a small village overlooking the Lauterbrunnen valley, and walked to the Mönchblick viewpoint as the sun was illuminating the high peaks. I waited almost an hour for it to reach down into Lauterbrunnen before heading back to breakfast. I was treated to a spectacular view of major peaks like Mönch and Jungfrau, and their neighbors Silberhorn and Breithorn, as well as the pretty town of Lauterbrunnen down in the valley, with its famous Staubbach Falls glistening in the morning sunlight. Be sure to check out the gallery, because the small photo here will not do that morning any justice.

Morning view of Mönch, Jungfrau, Breithorn peaks. and Wengen and Lauterbrunnen villages, from Mönchblick viewpoint, Wengwald.
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Grindelwald to Kleine-Scheidegg

A surprisingly challenging climb.

Seeking to maximize our final weeks in Switzerland, Pam and Andy and I headed off for another overnight trip.  On Thursday we took a sequence of trains to reach Grindelwald, a delightful tourist town in the heart of the Jungfrau region, surrounded by stunning alpine peaks.  Pam and I were last here in December – a quick trip on a stunningly beautiful winter day – and I hiked into Grindelwald after the incredible Faulhorn trek last fall. Check out the gallery and read on.

A field of wildflowers below the north face of the Eiger.
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Basel-isk fountain

Another fountain imported from a distant city.

I came across this fountain in the newer section of Zürich’s downtown area, early one Sunday morning. It’s an unusual and intriguing figure – a sort of dragon-like rooster with a snake’s tail. It looked familiar; I later remembered that it is a fountain common in Basel, which I’d seen during my February visit (like this photo).

This style of fountain is common in Basel, but unique in Zurich.

For three close-up photos, start here.

Update June 29: a friend informs me this creature is more likely a cockatrice, not a basilisk, but then the pun doesn’t work quite as well ;-).