My plan for the weekend had been to get out skiing, one more time… but work kept me indoors despite beautiful weather. Sadly, Switzerland just ordered all ski areas to close today, so I guess that’s the end of the season for me. I needed to get out, so I took a tram across town and hiked up Uetliberg, the big hill dominating Zurich’s west side. It was sunny and warm, and a few green leaves and flowers poked up among the leaf litter. The birds sang, and the views of the Alps were spectacular. I decided to take a less-direct route down, starting on the Schlittelweg – a trail designed specifically for people who want to sled from the top of the mountain to the bottom. Very cool – except that it never snowed more than a dusting this winter, so the trail likely never saw use this year.
As I followed this trail, I came to a lovely picnic area. I love how the Swiss maintain truly functional firepits, and tables, and even a custom water fountain. (All the public fountains run constantly, with city water, and are thus cold and tasty and clean year-round.)
As I left this little park, a man was practicing his Alphorn – the long tubular horn that rests on the ground and into which a standing musician blows. His tunes resonated across the valley as I descended, spanning a repertoire from Christmas music to the Star Spangled Banner.
I soon came to a sign advertising the ruins of a castle, and decided to investigate. Burg Friesenberg turned out to be the jumbled walls of a tiny structure, smaller than most modern homes. It was surrounded by construction fencing, with signs indicating its condition had deteriorated (no doubt, because previously people had climbed all over it and held campfire outings inside).
On the way down, I passed another lovely picnic area with another nifty fountain.
On the way home I stopped into the store for some essentials. The COVID-19 situation has been getting more serious, every day, and everyone expects Switzerland may soon lock down the country. So we stocked up on the four Swiss food groups: cheese, wurst, chocolate, and beer.
Sure enough, this evening the federal government announced that they were closing the borders to most non-residents, closing all “shops, markets, restaurants, bars, entertainment and leisure establishments such as museums, libraries, cinemas, concert halls, theatres, sports centres, swimming pools and ski areas….”
Difficult times ahead. I’m glad I got out to enjoy a bit of nature today.