Saturday, October 3, 2009

Switzerland

Laura and Thomas met us at the Zurich airport and gave us a tour of Zurich under sunny skies. The weather was perfect for strolling along the canal, stopping for coffee and croissants, watching the swans and other water birds, and then walking to the park on the lake in the middle of the city. We are kind of on sensory overload, as everything looks different. The amazing architecture impresses us with how much longer history is measured here in Europe. It is nothing to see plaques from the 1500 and 1600's on the sides of buildings. Stone streets become works of art.



The trip through the countryside to their hometown of Bellach featured large tracts of farmland and picturesque villages with always the backdrop of mountains.



In the afternoon, we took an antiquated but seemingly safe trolley ride up the mountain to a restaurant on top of the world. We sat on the balcony overlooking the entire valley and ate a late lunch in the sunshine. Although the chairlift ride up the mountain had its scary moments, it didn't seem nearly as scary as driving the car would be. We watched two cars on the winding switchback road meet, and didn't envy the drivers trying to pass on what appeared to be a one lane road with a steep dropoff on one side and a cliff on the other (no guard rails).



Laura and Thomas have their own nature preserve, complete with a lake. Laura maintains a beautiful flower garden that she allows the local people who walk around the lake to visit. It is full of blooms even in October, and swarming with butterflies. From their living room window, or outdoor balcony, they have a view of the Alps.



Today we walked around their lake with the dogs, and then headed into the ancient city of Soloturn for market day inside the walled city. My camera had run out of steam already, so we hunted down an adapter to recharge it and used Laura's camera for our Soloturn tour today.

While in Soloturn, we took the stairs all the way to the bell tower at the top of the Cathedral. The first 100 steps are a stone circular staircase that nearly made me dizzy it was so steep. That was followed by another 150 narrow steps ~ an exhausting climb, made worthy by the views from the balcony at the top.



I have tried to post some pictures to assist my inadequate words, but haven't quite figured out how to do this on an unfamiliar computer but you can be sure pictures will follow.



Tomorrow morning we are leaving with Laura and Thomas and Anouk, their granddaughter, for a short trip through the Alps and into Italy. Ron and I will continue in our rented car into Italy, when Laura, Thomas, and Anouk return to Switzerland.



It has been an amazing trip so far....with weather cooperating fully.