THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (40) SWITZERLAND

Well, my case is packed and after breakfast with Erika we will be on our way to the Airport.         Departure time is 11:45.

It is never easy to say “FAREWELL” especially when we have shared so much in the last couple of months. Today my farewell is not just to Erika, but to you, the reader, as well. I trust that this Holiday has given you something else (rather than Coronavirus) to mull over each day. It has certainly helped to fill my days as I have researched and composed my imaginary travels.

I am not sure what form my next Post on ShareShirley’sTravels will take but, depending on circumstances, I hope there is some more ‘travel’ somewhere in the future.

Special thanks to Erika for being a patient friend.

 

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (39) GERMANY

I love Erika’s plan for today. She is going to drive to Germany where we will spend the day on MAINAU, A FLOWERING ISLAND IN LAKE CONSTANCE, GERMANY.

Erika and I have each been, on separate occasions, to this Island. We both love being among the flowers so she thought that this would be a great place to spend our last day before I return home to Australia.

Lake Constance or Lake of Constance (German: Bodensee) is a large lake on the river Rhine. It is on the border between Germany, and Switzerland and Austria. It is the third largest lake in Central Europe after Lake Balaton and Lake Geneva.

The Island belongs to The Lennart Bernadotte Foundation, an entity created by Prince Lennart Bernadotte, Count of Wisborg, originally a Prince of Sweden and Duke of Smaland. It is one of the main tourist attractions of Lake Constance. Beside flowers there is a park landscape with views of the lake. There is a greenhouse with a consistent tropical climate and thousands of butterflies.

The island is 610 m long from North to South and 1050 m wide from West to East. The Island’s circumference is about 3 kms. Due to the advantageous climate at the lake, palm trees and other Mediterranean plants can grow on the drop-shaped island. Few people inhabit Mainau Island. Due to its small number of inhabitants, it is considered a Hamlet.

Bright Colours and Sweet Scents –

On arrival we parked in the designated parking area and then followed the crowd as we walked across a breakwater to the Island. There was an amazing view across the lake to the distant mountains.

The most colourful of all seasons on Mainau is in Summer when the huge variety of bulbs flower prolifically. We are a little late to see the bulbs at their best but there are always carpets of colour from a variety of annuals. From the end of May (we are a bit early) 12,000 rose bushes currently in bud, adorn the Island followed by dahlias in Autumn.

For me, there is a very special feeling when in a garden, especially one so perfectly maintained – a place of beauty.

Thankyou Erika for a day to remember. It is now time to drive back to Regensdorf to pack my case ready to depart tomorrow.

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (38) SWITZERLAND

POST (37) ONLY COVERED OUR MORNING AT AUGUSTA RAURICA, HENCE OUR AFTERNOON IN BASEL FOLLOWS NOW –

We were ready for our lunch and were on the look-out for a Restaurant serving traditional Swiss food when we came upon GIFTHUTTLI which apparently is very well known with its cosy interior and wood-panelling giving a welcoming ambience. Some of their international clientele even book months ahead to ensure that there is a table for them when they are next in Basel. Our lunch was exceptional.

We decided that we didn’t want to be under the pressure of time, so went on our own self-guided tour. The information I give here is in no particular order but it worked for us.

BASEL MUNSTER  – Built 1019-1500 Originally Catholic but then turned Protestant. A combination of Romanesque and Gothic styles. The initial Romanesque cathedral was destroyed by earthquake in 1356 and had to be rebuilt.

ELISABETHENKIRCHE is a Protestant church that was built between 1857 and 1865 in the centre of Basel.It is an example of Swiss Gothic Revival style churches with a 72m tall bell tower and spire. The tower has internal stairs.

HAMMERING MAN -The enormous moving sculpture sports a height of 13.5 m and weighs 8 tons. The hammer moves up and down systematically regardless of the time of day or season. It has become a highly regarded landmark.

BASEL RATHAUS – also known as the Town Hall.  The structure hosts Basel’s seat of Government. It was built in the 14th century but has since had a few different additions as well as reconstructions.

ZOOLOGICAL GARDEN – ZOO BASEL is Switzerland’s oldest (1874) and largest zoo (by number of animals) With over 1.7 million visitors per year it is the most visited tourist attraction with an entrance fee in Switzerland.

BOTANICAL GARDEN – The Botanical Garden is part of the University. Since its development in 1589 the garden has developed into an enormous attraction with its millions of species of trees, herbs and shrubs.

MUSEUM/GALLERY – Opened in 1894, the Basel Historical Museum is one of the largest and most important museums of its kind in Switzerland. It is a Heritage site of national significance.

BASEL HISTORICAL MUSEUM – THE HOUSE IN THE CHERRY GARDEN -Opened in 1894. The exhibition presents objects documenting handicraft traditions and everyday culture from ages past. Leading highlights include the Basel Cathedral treasure and the Basel and Strasbourg tapestries. The Museum is on 3 sites within walking distance of each other.

DOLLHOUSE MUSEUM This is the largest museum of its kind in Europe. It displays over 6,000 exhibits. The teddy bear collection is unique the world over in terms of variety and quality.

SPALENTOR also known as the “Gate of Spalen” is the central element of the once grand city wall. Constructed in 1356 to protect Basel from natural calamities, the present gate was one of six around a wall that was demolished in the 19th century.

Today we have spent much time absorbed in HISTORY so from here we are driving back to Zurich for some frivolity (I THINK)!              Erika will take over the reporting now as we enjoy the ZURICH STREET FOOD FESTIVAL.

THIS FESTIVAL HAS EXISTED SINCE 2014 AND IS VERY POPULAR. WE CAN TASTE ALL KINDS OF FOOD FROM ALL OVER THE WORLD – EVERYTHING THE HEART COULD WISH FOR. ON TOP, THERE IS AN ENTERTAINMENT PROGRAMME WITH DIFFERENT KINDS OF MUSIC. I KNOW THAT SHIRLEY LOVES TO TRY ALL KINDS OF FOOD SO I WAS GLAD THAT SHE IS IN ZURICH AT THE RIGHT TIME. WE MET SOME FRIENDS OF MINE WHO LOVE FOOD AS WELL SO WE WALKED AROUND, CHOSE DIFFERENT FOOD AND SHARED IT. I THINK I DON’T HAVE TO MENTION THAT WE HAD A BALL – NICE COMPANY, NICE FOOD AND DRINKS AND NICE MUSIC”

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (37) SWITZERLAND

TODAY WE WILL  DRIVE FROM ZURICH TO BASEL but first we will go to Augusta Raurica – we are having a HISTORY DAY…….

AUGUSTA RAURICA is a Roman archaeological site and an open-air Museum located on the south bank of the Rhine river about 20 km east of Basel near the villages of August and Kaiseraugst. It is the site of the oldest known Roman colony on the Rhine. It was founded by Lucius Munatius Plancus around 44 BC in the vicinity of a local Gallic tribe, the Rauraci, relatives of the Helvetii.

Successful colonisation of the site had to wait for Augustus’ conquest of the central Alps around 15 BC. The oldest find to date at Augusta Raurica has been dated to 6 BC. By the 2nd century AD, Augusta Raurica was a prosperous commercial trading centre.

The city possessed the typical amenities of a Roman city, an emphitheatre, a main forum, several smaller forums, an aqueduct, a variety of temples, several public baths and the largest Roman Theatre north of the Alps, with 8,000 to 10,000 seats.

In 250 AD, a powerful earthquake damaged a large part of the city. Shortly after, around 260 AD, the city was destroyed. After division, the western portion was given to Basel which became a canton of Switzerland in 1501.

Many of the Roman buildings have been discovered and conserved through excavations – most are open to the public.

There is so much to look at and read about in this place. I have just chosen a few aspects to share –

THE MONUMENTAL BRONZE TOWN MODEL –

This is the first highlight of Augusta Raurica. It is openly accessible in front of the Museum:  the largest bronze model of a Roman town ever made! Spread over 13 m2 and weighing 1.2 metric tons it gives visitors (including me) an unexpected impression of the size and grandeur of the former metropolis. It was there for me to see, and touch, temples, theatres, tradesmen’s quarters etc. – all associated with the Romans and what they were famous for.

THE ANIMAL PARK – LIVING HISTORY

At the animal park we saw species that were popular in Roman times.Systematic measurements carried out on excavated animal bones show that the size of farm animals increased during the Roman period in what is now Switzerland. This was due to changes in the selection of breeding animals, possibly supported by optimised feeding and animal husbandry. The animals in the park are all similar to how the Roman animals on the surrounding farms would have looked.

AN EARLY CHURCH AND A BISHOP’S RESIDENCE – THE EARLIEST CHRISTIANS

Near the parish church in Kaiseraugst which today is one of the town’s landmarks, you can trace 1600 years of Christian history in a very small space. Excavations carried out at the present-day parish church of St.Gallus showed that a church was built in this location between AD 360 and 400. Parts of it rested on the foundations of earlier Roman buildings. With a nave of 18 by 10 m the church was quite large for its time.

THE TEMPLE RETAINING WALL AND A MODERN BAKERY

The temple on Schonbuhl hill stood out above the town and was visible from afar. In order to build the impressive complex the hill had been expanded by adding retaining walls and embankments to form a large rectangular terrace.

The Bakery interior has four buttresses which were linked by arched masonry, thus forming three chambers. The rooms were probably used as shops with storage space on the upper floor. The enormous weight of the temple hill had to be supported by adding another massive buttress. It is located to the right beside the bakery.

AMPHITHEATRE AND REMAINS OF AMPHITHEATRE.

In Roman times the amphitheatre was a place of horror. Up to 13,000 spectators gathered here to watch gory entertainment which included animal hunts, gladiatorial combat and executions. Built around AD 170, it was constructed in a way that the spectators could get in and out quickly. The eastern entrance, the “gate of death”, was used to carry dead gladiators out of the arena . Today, this is where there are tables ready for you to have a picnic, but we thought it would be more appealing to choose a nice Restaurant when we arrived in Basel.

It has been quite a challenge to give readers a little information about Augusta Raurica as there is so much to see and do. My reporting is just a very small sample of the many things to be learned about the historical significance of this place. A MOST ENJOYABLE EXPERIENCE FOR ALL AGES.  We are now driving to Basel and I will report on the rest of our day in POST (38)

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (36) SWITZERLAND

My days in Switzerland are flying by so we have to make the most of the time left. Today’s adventure is taking us first to Engelberg (Angel Mountain). This is an alpine town in central Switzerland. Since its founding in 1120 AD the Benedictine Monastery of Engelberg has greatly influenced the history of this little town. Today’s existing structure was rebuilt between 1735 and 1740.The core of the convent’s activities are both intellectual and artistic. Students from all over the world attend the boarding school.

Engelberg is surrounded by major mountain summits such as Titlis in the south. We drove to Engelberg and parked the car in the park at the Titlis Valley Station. The 8 seater Titlis express cable car transported us up from Engelberg Stand Station to the Trübsee middle station and there we had a walk before enjoying a very welcome coffee in these amazing surroundings.

Erika had checked the weather forecast before setting out as there is no point going on such an outing if the mountains are covered in clouds but all looks good (actually, very good!) We have dressed appropriately, with many layers, plus Scarves, Hats, gloves and sunglasses and, of course, solid shoes.  A very warm jacket was the most important layer.

The TITLIS ROTAIR cable car then took us on the final leg of the ascent to the Summit Station at 3020 m above sea level. The complete journey took about 30 minutes. The last section of the Titlis ROTAIR cable car journey features the world’s first revolving cable car which allowed us to enjoy the views all around – fantastic!

Once we had reached the top we were in a high alpine world of rocks and snow. Titlis is said to be the jewel in central Switzerland’s crown and the only publicly accessible glacier in the area. The ski area is home to more than 80 kms of pistes (ski runs) with slopes to suit every ability. In the summer the mountain is a Mecca for hikers and outdoor enthusiasts.  We were now at a height of 3238 m above Sea level so some can suffer from (light) altitude sickness.  It is a great place for families because there are activities for everybody. We chose many places to enjoy the views as far as the eye could see. There were several Restaurants so, after checking out the menus, made our choice and had our leisurely lunch before returning to Engelberg where we wandered through the beautiful garden of the Monastery.

We were  in time for the next guided Tour of the cheese making factory and it was a real treat as very interesting information was freely given about the artisan cheeses made within the Monastery. We watched as the hand-produced cheese was crafted into specialties such as the famous ‘Engelberger Klosterglocke’. The extensive product range includes goat and sheep milk cheese, homemade yoghurts and fresh whey. After tasting time, we purchased a selection of cheeses to take with us.

We have certainly been packing much into each and every day and have had a wonderful time.

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (35) SWITZERLAND

Each day Erika has a plan. Today we travel by car from Regensdorf to Hofstetten near Brienz in the Bernese Oberland for a walk through the centuries. 

“In 1978 the Swiss open-air Museum, Ballenberg, opened its gates. After 16 museum objects were presented at the opening, there were 25 buildings two years later and 61 in 1985. Today there are over 100 residential and outbuildings on the Ballenberg. The research activities of the ‘Farmhouse Research in Switzerland’ campaign serve as the basis for the scientific concept of the Ballenberg Open-Air Museum. They enable a targeted, broad based selection of the most important characteristic house, farm and settlement forms in Switzerland.”

On arrival it was a most amazing site – over 100 buildings set in this picturesque landscape and all so beautifully presented. There were mountains in the background and well tended gardens blending to the structure they were surrounding. I had no prior knowledge of what we were going to see and was quite ‘blown away’. Multiply the above photos by 10, each with their own suitable surrounding area and you will start to imagine why I was ‘blown away’. From magnificent farmhouses, humble workers’ quarters, alpine huts, barns, store houses, wash houses, drying ovens all displayed along with indigenous farm animals and demonstrations of traditional handicrafts.

The Museum is important culturally and scientifically. It attracts around 250,000 visitors from all over the world every year and employs almost 200 during the season from mid-April to the end of October so is one of the most important employers in the region.

Food catering was there for everybody’s taste and budget, from Restaurants to a Food Truck. We chose a 19th century Restaurant “Degen” where the rooms are small but have a gracious, cosy atmosphere and the food was exceptional.

Back to the car and off to Brienz where a ferry boat and a historical funicular will be our next mode of transport to Giessbach See to look at the waterfalls. The Giessbach brook tumbles in 14 stages over a length of 500 metres and out of the high valleys of the Faulhom area down to Lake Brienz.

Historic Grand Hotel Giessbach is located at the foot of this natural spectacle. The hotel is accessible by means of Europe’s oldest funicular.

The historic Grandhotel Giessbach was built 1873 – 1874 for the Hauser family in Zurich, one of the great dynasties of the hotel trade. The spacious elegance of this bold new hotel site, as well as its unique surroundings, soon lead to worldwide renown. Two world wars with disastrous consequences for the Swiss hotel trade, as well as a new approach to tourism, faded the fame and glory of Giessbach….. The site reopened with a new restaurant in 1984. Renovations took place over seven stages, each winter, until the hotel’s structure had been totally renovated and it once again became the most beautiful and renowned building in Swiss hospitality.

With its famously grand view of Lake Brienz and the awe-inspiring Falls, the Terrace Les Cascades is situated in front of the Grand Hotel and today we are stopping for a rest and enjoying scrumptious sweet and savoury delicacies while we delight in the distant vistas of the Alps and have the rushing sound of the falls in the background.

The Ferry took us back to Brienz where we enjoyed a sunset that brought back memories of a previous sunset shared and neither will be forgotten.

Thank you Erika………

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (34) SWITZERLAND

Today we are driving on A TRIP TO THE EAST – CANTON THURGAU.

Erika knows the way, of course, but I have checked my Map this morning. I have had my Map of Switzerland with me previously and, marked in pink, are the places I have visited so I will be able to add to it at the end of this day.

UNTERWASSER is a village in the Toggenburg region of the canton of St. Gallen situated at the confluence of the two streams forming the upper Thur (known as Stantisthur and Wildhausthur). 

Information from Erika (Tour Guide) “I asked the tourism office why Underwasser – which means ‘under water’ is called that. The answer is that in the past that village had a lot of flooding since there is a river called “Thur” next to it. In times of heavy rain, which is not really unusual in Switzerland, the river water splashed over the border and set the village under water”. The drive took us a little under one and a half hours.

Eastern Switzerland’s largest winter sports area is just one hour from the airport and Zurich.

We purchased a return ticket from UNTERWASSER to Chäserrugg which includes the funicular train from UNTERWASSER to Iltios and the cable car from Iltios to Chäserrugg. Having bought our tickets, we were waiting for the funicular. It is interesting to watch the workings of all of these procedures. It is all very new and exciting for an Aussie who comes from the hottest city in the hottest State to be now viewing these snow covered mountains.

The funicular and cable car whisked us to the mountain  top (2262 m) and a truly amazing view in every direction – a panoramic view of six countries. 500 peaks can be seen from here.

There are Maps with details of masses of summer hiking trails. We first went on the short and easy Panorama loop around the high, wide plateau at the top, the Rosenboden. There are cliffs on all sides and no barriers so I needed to keep a close eye on Erika (actually she is staying well away from the edge as that fear of heights takes hold). It is very good that she will give things a try, otherwise she would miss out on so much. Sometimes whole packs of Capricorns (a species of wild goat, namely Ibex) can be seen here

The other Trail we chose is the Flower Path, where there were tons of wildflowers and sign boards with interesting facts about the habitat. This is a great walk for everybody but particularly for overseas visitors (like me)

We had a choice of Restaurant with a view and thoroughly enjoyed relaxing with such a vista to admire, along with the food. Erika had plans for the rest of the day but she has made a wonderful choice for this morning. On our return journey we drove to Wildhaus and visited the house where Huldrych Zwingli was born.

 Huldrych (OR Ulrich) ZWINGLI (1484-1531) was a leader of the Reformation in Switzerland. In 1519 he became the pastor of the GROSSMUNSTER in Zurich where he began to preach ideas on reform of the Catholic Church. The house (above) bears witness to a long bygone age. It was built in the mid 15th century and its basic structure has been preserved to this day. It is open to visitors from around the world.     Information from Erika – When I was young (which is ages ago) – I was often in Wildhaus since the boss of my father has an apartment there which we could use in summer and winter. I learnt skiing here.  I can’t remember the last time I was here but must be at least about 30 years ago.

Maestrani’s CHOCOLATE was our next stop. Aquiline Maestrani was one of the founding fathers of a chocolate culture that survives to the present day. In 1852, the ambitious entrepreneur and inventor founded the company,  The production by the Swiss chocolate producers conquered the world chocolate market between 1900 and 1918, Today approximate production is 3,500 tonnes per year (about 15 tonnes per day depending on orders) with 160 employees. We, of course, needed to visit the shop for just a few Swiss temptations.

Where has the time gone? We need to be on our way to Kreuzlingen to meet with one of Erika’s friends, Anna.

Great meeting Anna again tonight – much sharing, laughter and fun, fun, fun!

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (33) SWITZERLAND

ERIKA TAKES OVER THE WRITING FOR TODAY ……..

Since we had a long day yesterday we stayed in Zurich today.

ZOO – In the morning we travelled to the Zoo in Zurich. The Zoo opened on September 7th 1929, 91 years ago.

As a child I was often at the zoo. At that time the animals didn’t have a lot of space. The carnivores had only small cages and walked up and down, up and down. I’m very glad that this has changed. The zoo in Zurich was one of the first where animals live in exhibits designed to mimic nature. Sometimes it’s a bit difficult to see the animals since they are hiding so Shirley and I had to check every corner to find them – or not.

We started with the West side where we arrived quite soon in the Australia area. That part opened in 2018 and, of course, soon after the opening I had a look at it. For Shirley, not that exciting to see koalas, emus, rainbow lorikeets, wallabies and kookaburras but at least I could introduce her to the kookaburra I have adopted.

The zoo organises every year a special event for people who have adopted one of the animals They give some insights and you can have a look behind the scenes. Zookeepers not only inform in general about some of the animals but about the character and behaviour of each of them and how they get along with each other. On top, the doctor gives some insights, e.g. the international breeding programs in which they are participating. They once showed us how much food they have to prepare every day for all the animals, amazing! They hide the food at different places in the enclosure so that the animals have to search for it. The zoo has around 400 different species and we have today seen almost all of them ……

Of course, we had to stop at the flamingos for Shirley.

Since we were a bit tired after all of the up and down in the zoo we took the train to the Eastern part.

Kaeng Krachan Elephant Park  This park is my favourite place in the zoo apart from the Australian area. One of the most striking architectural features of the park is the curved roof of the indoor enclosure, measuring 6,800 square metres.It was designed as a flat, free-form wooden shell and is equipped with 271 skylights made from UV-permeable ETFE film. It has a web-like, transparent, organic structure to blend into its surrounding forest environment. The indoor enclosure has a diameter of 80 metres. Its wooden roof does not feature any columns or other supporting elements on the inside. The structure is heated via a district heating system using Zoo Zurich’s central woodchip heater. Rainwater is collected on the roof and used for ground-level irrigation, moistening the sand dusting the plants and for the basin system. It is home to Asiatic Elephants and nine other species. The underwater view is a particular highlight.

While we watched the elephants we enjoyed our Mangolassi….

Lewa  Savanne This area opened this Spring and is home for giraffes, white rhinoceroses, zebras, antelopes, ostriches, hyenas and meerkats. This was my first visit to that area and I’m glad that the giraffes are back in the zoo.

Masoala rainforest was opened in 2003. In the ‘mini rainforest ecosystem’ visitors experience animals in their natural habitat. Since 2013, the Masoala treetop walkway also allows visitors a view from the treetops. Over 500 plant species grow there and roughly 80 per cent of them can be found in Madagascar. Nearly 40 species are listed on the IUCN Red List of Threatened Species. More than 50 species of vertebrates (approximately 300 animals in total) live in the Rainforest. One of the special attractions is its treetop walkway with two towers at 10 and 18 metres respectively. The two steel towers are covered in lianas and epiphytes, and a kapok tree grows in the middle of the large tower.

It is very humid inside, not really what Shirley and I appreciate, but the beautiful plants and animals compensate for the humidity. It’s not easy to see the animals between all of the plants. We had to look very carefully in all directions. Even though I have a fear of heights, I joined Shirley on the treetop walkway.

So, now it’s high time for lunch. We went to the Restaurant “Altes Klosterli” which is next to the monkeys (not too close…..). They serve Swiss specialties and from the terrace we had a beautiful view to Zurich and the surrounding area.

THE CITY CENTRE – Shirley has already visited the city centre but this time we had much better weather. No storm and rain and, therefore, no umbrellas needed this time. We strolled around the centre, did some window shopping at the “Bahnhofstrasse” (one of the world’s most expensive and exclusive shopping venues), walked through the “Niederdorf” (old part of the town) and along the lake where we indulged ourselves with “Gelati”(ice cream) like the ones we had in Sicily.

 AN ENJOYABLE ZOO AND ZURICH DAY SHARED WITH SHIRLEY

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (32) SWITZERLAND

ANOTHER SWISS OUTING with my friend and Tour Guide. This morning we start from Zurich Central Station (Hauptbahnhof) destination LOCARNO. This is an Italian-speaking resort city in southern Switzerland on Lake Maggiore at the base of the Alps. This is the Mediterranean area of Switzerland and is said to be the sunniest part of the country. On arrival we walked through the Piazza Grande and soaked up the city that was founded in the 12th century. We walked its cobblestoned streets. Time for coffee and this was the place to stop. People-watching goes well with coffee (and so does a macaron) on this beautiful morning. What a sight this would be in March when Locarno holds its famous Camellia Festival with over 900 varieties on display. I have seen camellias and many other amazing trees and shrubs growing along the lakeside walk to Muralto. This is a gardener’s paradise.

The Lake Maggiore brings people from near and far. Swiss people love to holiday here to enjoy the climate but there are many overseas tourists as well (even an Australian).

We took the funicular to the Sanctuary of Madonna del Sasso. The sacred mountain in Orselina is one of the most important religious and historical sites in the Canton of Ticino. It is a wealth of art, history and spirituality. It is listed as a Swiss Heritage Site of national significance. Leaning on a spectacular outcrop of rock, the Sanctuary above Locarno has in front, a large square from which we could see down into the deep valley. Next to the church we were able to walk on to a porch which gave us a fantastic view over Locarno and the surrounding mountains.

We were now close to the Cable Car which goes from Orselina-Cardada-Cimetta. Orselina is at 395 m above sea level and we are going, in just a 5 minute ride, to Cardada at 1340 m above sea level and then via chair lift to Cimetta at 1670 m above sea level.

Cardada-Cimetta is easy to reach and it is quite amazing that in a few minutes from the sun of Locarno we can today visit such heights. This is the starting point for numerous walks ideal for all ages. There are five restaurants and mountain huts serving local dishes so we now have an important choice to make.

What an amazing place to enjoy our late lunch! It was breathtaking!

 

It is quite challenging when it comes to finding a different adjective to describe the natural beauty of Switzerland.

Another very interesting day and much to talk about on our train ride home from Locarno to Zurich. 

 

 

THE HOLIDAY THAT CEASED TO BE (31) -SWITZERLAND

The Title reflects the fact that in reality my holiday came to an end weeks ago due to the arrival of COVID-19. In my imagination Erika and I have had a wonderful time on Sicily. We have now returned to Switzerland and are relaxing at Erika’s home in Regensdorf. During the past two days we have caught up with washing and have replenished foodstuffs, especially fresh fruit and vegetables.

Now, Erika would say “today we will explore “MY SWITZERLAND”.  We are going to STANSERHORN, a mountain located in the Canton of Nidwalden, with the peak 1898 m above sea level. It is reached from the town of Stans by a funicular railway and cable car. The Cable Car, called Cabrio, has two decks. The upper deck is open and offers a great opportunity for photography – wonderful! We have our tickets and are on board. I am excited but am not so sure about the girl who hasn’t a head for heights – we will see.

What incredible scenery! A wide view unfolds as we reach the top. I can see Pilatus and Lake Lucerne and the Bernese Alps. The STANSERHORN is the starting point for long hikes but we will just do the Panoramic 30 minute path on the summit. We can see Mountain  Marmottes in a little zoo area.  There are hang gliding tandem flights which take anything up to an hour to arrive in the valley near Stans. I thought the Lazy Zone looked good – I could take in the panorama from a comfortable lounge chair. This is 360 degrees of stunning views. On this beautiful day we could see the whole of central Switzerland including Lucerne, Zug and URI. We were told to watch the sky as it is the home of the Alpine Eagle.

Time now for the panoramic restaurant which has a section with a revolving floor allowing us to view the 360 degree panorama in 45 minutes without leaving our seats. I am so pleased that Erika chose STANSERHORN for our first stop today. She has been here a few years ago and knew that I would enjoy it. Amazing beauty.

Point of interest – Long before the Jungfrau Railway went into service, cogwheel trains were chugging up central Switzerland’s Pilatus mountain. The railway now faces competition from a shiny new rival on the opposite mountain, THE STANSERHORN.

We are still in the Canton Nidwalden (26 Cantons in Switzerland) and Lake Lucerne is still close by as Erika is taking me to GLASI HERGISWIL, a Swiss glass manufacturer. It was founded in 1817 but because of old machines and technology the Glasi (Swiss often shorten names) was headed towards closure. However it remains open today due to the efforts of the community. It offers visitors the opportunity to observe workers as they produce the glass. It has a wonderful reputation and three out of four people recognise the name and praise the quality of Switzerland’s only glassworks. Over 200,000 people visit each year. The Museum and Exhibition areas are a real plus. It has a very special location on the shores of Lake Lucerne and has its own park with panoramic views of the local mountains.

We were taken on to a balcony above the area where the glass blowers are at work in front of the oven. Seeing the workers in action and feeling the heat brings the Glasi to life and the fascination with the creation encourages visitors to spend money which keeps the business alive.

The oven is on 24 hours a day 365 days a year. The temperature inside is 1,500 degrees C. A total of 4,000 kg of glass is taken out daily in two eight-hour shifts.  One employee works overnight putting in new sand. Apart from the sand, which comes from either Belgium or Germany, a mixture of about 15 other minerals is put inside. Once the glass comes out of the oven and is shaped it goes into another oven so that the cooling process is slow. If it were simply left at room temperature the glass would break.

This is a wonderful place for families. There is much to learn but also interesting fun activities, especially the labyrinth – a teaser both for kids and adults alike!! It was good to hear Mums and Dads saying ‘we must come here again’. I am told that prior to Christmas when you can make your own decorations is a good time to have the whole family involved.

THANKYOU Erika for a great day!