Indian Summer

2017-10-16T10:29:14+00:00

For the past two week we have just enjoyed the most gorgeous autumn weather: blue sky, sun and a swirl of increasingly beautiful colours. The leaf trees in the forests are gradually changing and turning from green into many different shades of yellow and red. Such a long period of stable beautiful weather after the high summer months is called Indian Summer!

So many people are out whenever they can and just soak in the warmth and the light. The days have grown shorter and in the night it is already quite cool (8°C) but then during the day temperatures rise up to 20°C.

The picture here depicts the oldest part of the city of Berne with the famous bear park on the slope above the Aare river on the right hand. Since the foundation of the city the bear has been the symbol of the city. Bears have been kept in this corner of the city for many centuries.

Indian Summer 2017-10-16T10:29:14+00:00

Yverdon-les-Bains

2017-07-09T11:58:39+00:00

The view here is from the area of St. Croix on the Jura, high above the lake of Neuchâtel. Down below is the city of Yverdon and the fertile midlands. In the background are the alps rising up to 4000m. Yverdon is part of the canton of Vaud.

The canton of Vaud is french speaking. It is the fourth largest canton of Switzerland and joined the Swiss Federation only in 1803. Its main city is Lausanne, sitting on lake Geneva. The famous Lavaux area is also part of this canton. On the other end of the lake Geneva is the city Geneva itself, which forms another, smaller canton.

Yverdon  owns a castle. The counts of Savoy were running the castle from the 13th onwards. In the 15th century the Bernese took over the canton. They also introduced the reformation and protestantism. From 1805 to 1825 the Swiss German Pestalozzi, a famous educator, used the castle of Yeverdon for his purposes of raising delinquent children.

Yverdon has remains dating back to the period of the Romans. Already then the hot sulfur springs were known and used. Yverdon-les-Bain (the “les-Bains” meaning the baths) still points to the long period of the city with the hots springs, even in use still today with beautiful modern facilities.

Yverdon-les-Bains 2017-07-09T11:58:39+00:00

The Island of St. Peter

2017-05-27T13:43:07+00:00

Three beautiful lakes are at the foot of the Jura mountain chains: the lake of Neuchâtel, the lake of Biel and the Lake of Murten. All of these lakes are called according to it’s the biggest city. They are all interconnected through a system of water channels. The wider area of these lakes is culturally interesting since it often switches from Swiss German to French and vice versa. The climate is moderate and on the slopes of the Jura nice vine is produced.

The lake of Biel is split by a peninsula called the Island of St. Peter. Originally there used to be two smaller island. But because of frequent flooding the water level of the lake was lowered artificially by 1891 and so the peninsula came into existence. From the lovely small town of Erlach (in the picture) a leisurely walk of about 5km leads to the St. Peter’s island.

By 1127 the powerful order of Cluny set up a monastery. At the time of the reformation, in 1530 the island was passed on to the patricians of Berne who own it up to the present time. Today the monastery is a nice restaurant serving excellent fish.

Jean Jacques Rousseau, a famous french philosopher and writer from the 18th century lived on the island for a few weeks. He propagated the idea of „back to nature“ and „freedom of man“. His writings had a great influence on the French Revolution and all successive revolutions seeking to bring freedom to man.

The second picture shows the view from the island across the lake of the village of Ligerz.

The Island of St. Peter 2017-05-27T13:43:07+00:00

Oberhofen and it’s Castle

2017-05-11T18:30:37+00:00

The village of Oberhofen dates back to at least 1133 when it was first mentioned in a historical document.

The village is situated on lake Thun and only about 5km away from the city of Thun or 20km away from Interlaken. Oberhofen has a small harbour where the regular boat coming from Thun oder Interlaken stops to take on passengers.

The castle of Oberhofen dates back to the 12th century. It changed hands quite a few times and on that occasion was often enlarged too.

The museum inside the castle shows the history of it’s previous inhabitants over the centuries. On the top is the ‚oriental smoking room‘ offering a spectacular view over the lake and the mountains. The beautiful English park surrounding the castle is accessed free of charge and is a great place to stop and take in the view. In summer this is our preferred site to venture out into the lake of Thun for a swim. Swimming right away from the shore and looking back to the castle and over to the mountains all around you is simply breathtaking!

Oberhofen and it’s Castle 2017-05-11T18:30:37+00:00

First Snow Bells

2017-02-22T19:52:39+00:00

This year mid February temperatures are rising again. The last patches of snow are melting away. And today I discovered the first snow bells in our garden. Nature is again preparing for the amazing bursting forth of spring in all it’s colours and variety.

Higher up people are still enjoying winter sports. Skying and snow boarding are still very popular. But down in the lower areas people are happy for the sun to break through and to drive the fog away.

First Snow Bells 2017-02-22T19:52:39+00:00

Frost

2017-01-03T18:06:35+00:00

When temperatures drop below 0 and stay often frost forms and turns nature into a beautiful canvas. This is not snow yet! It is just frozen humidity that causes this wonderful effect.

However the effect is often due to fog!

During the winter months along rivers and lakes fog settles sometimes for days or even weeks. Lucky are those who live higher up or away from waters. They see much more of the sun and often look down across a foggy sea.

This time winter is late. Temperatures have been untypically warm. Ski resorts haven’t been able to even produce artificial snow because of the warmth. So folks wanting to go skiing had to go higher up.

But now we are getting geared up for winter. The weather forecast finally predicts snow even for the lower areas!

Frost 2017-01-03T18:06:35+00:00

Rivers

2016-11-19T20:24:51+00:00

Switzerland has an abundance of springs, rivers and lakes. There are four main rivers that are all fed by countless smaller rivers mostly originating in the alps and hills of the country. In the end they all join the sea either in Germany, France or Italy, depending on which side of the alps they start.

Here in the picture is a small river, called the Sense (Canton of Fribourg). It is only about 35km long and at that point joins the Saane river. The Saane flows into the beautiful lake of Greyerz and past the pretty city of Fribourg until east of Berne it joins the Aare river.

The Aare is one of the main rivers of the country. It also leads more water than any other Swiss river and is fed by many other rivers and creeks such as those mentioned above. The Aare river reaches 288km until it joins the Rhein river (376km).

The Rhein is again fed from waters of the whole canton of Graubünden (southwestern part). Famous destinations are the cities of Basel, Schaffhausen (with the Rheinfall), lake of Constance and then finally the North Sea (in the very north of Germany).

The other big river system is the Rhone river, flowing through the Canton of Wallis, into lake Geneva, Lyon in France, Avignon, and finally into the Mediterranean sea near Arles (France).

The Ticino river is the name giver of the Canton of Ticino (Italian speaking). It flows through Italy and also ends in the Mediterranean sea in Italy.

Countless beautiful cities and villages with diverse language and cultures lie along those rivers spread across Switzerland, France, Germany and Italy.

Especially in Switzerland these rivers are still very natural and early on in their start rather wild yet very clean. People love to swim in them, boat down the rivers, bbq along them and just enjoy their special beauty.

Rivers 2016-11-19T20:24:51+00:00

Winter Time

2016-11-07T19:44:04+00:00

On the last Sunday of October at 3 am the clock is set back by one hour. That means people have one more hour to sleep!

This means also that it suddenly gets darker one hour later. Beginning of November the sun rises shortly after 7 am and sets already at 5 pm!

Beginning of November is also the time when the beautiful and colourful autumn is slowly changing into winter. Temperatures often drop and the first snow appears in the higher areas. People should again get their cars equipped with snow tires.

This time switch also is called Daylight Savings Time (DST). The switch should help to make better use of natural daylight.

Lass than 40% of the countries worldwide use this method. Some studies suggest that the switch could lead to fewer road accidents and injuries as people enjoy more daylight while on the roads. Others claim that some people find it hard to adjust and a few suffer even some sleep deprivation.

The DST was introduced by the European Union in 1996. Switzerland being in the heart of Europe also decided to follow suit.

The time gets switched back into ‚summer mode‘ on the last Sunday of March. That is when spring really starts spreading.

I took this picture on lake Thun.

Winter Time 2016-11-07T19:44:04+00:00

The Justis Valley

2016-10-22T18:53:37+00:00

The Justis valley is rather untouched yet not far from the city of Thun!

It is situated high above lake Thun and about 7.5km long. The Grön creek flows through the valley and deep down at the village of Merligen it enters lake Thun. At the end of the valley a pass leads over to another beautiful the valley: the Eriz.

The Justis valley is great for a nice and easy hike. For those who are more ambitious there are also a couple of more challenging tracks!

In September on a particular Friday a big farmers’ festival takes place up there. It is all about the cheese produced up. During the summer months quite a number of cows peacefully graze up there. Their milk is turned into cheese. At the end of that festival day the beautifully decorated cows are lead down from the valley in an “Alpabzug” to the different farmers homes much further down for the winter season.

Sometime in October is the mating season of the deer. Then the valley is filled with the very impressive sound of roaring deer. Taking some binoculars along you can look out for these beasts that are marking their territory.

Going to the top of the Niederhorn one can easily look down into the Justis valley (as in picture).

The Justis Valley 2016-10-22T18:53:37+00:00

Lavaux – World Class Vines

2016-09-28T13:31:25+00:00

The area of Lavaux is located between Vevey and Lausanne above the lake of Geneva in the Canton de Vaud (french speaking). A variety of Chasselas grapes are the base for the Grand Cru of Lavaux vines produced in the villages of Lutry, Villette, Epesses, St. Saphorin, Chardonne, Dézaley, Calamin and Vevey. 80% of Lavaux’s vine production is white wine.

The vine production profits from a triple effect of the sun: direct sunlight, the sun reflected from the lake, and the warmth stored in the thousands of walls forming the terraces of Lavaux.

About 250 families are involved in the vine production where the vineyards have been handed down over generations. The oldest records go back to a vineyard in Lutry mentioned in 997.

Since 2007 the area of Lavaux has become a UNESCO World Heritage.

Explore the area between June and October with a guided tour on Sunday afternoon. Start your tour at 3pm in Cully. The tour takes 2 1/2 hours and finishes with tasting the wine! Round your tour off by taking the old „Swiss“ steam vessel that was lovingly renovated and cruise the lake. Going back to Bern just takes a good hour only.

Lavaux – World Class Vines 2016-09-28T13:31:25+00:00