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Archive for the ‘Switzerland’ Category

7 Jul 2006: Zurich, Switzerland

From Budapest, I flew to Zurich and landed at its Kloten Airport at 4.30 pm. My connecting flight back to Singapore was not due until 1 pm tomorrow. After checking into an airport hotel, Best Western Zurich, I took a S7 train to the Hauptbahnhof station (Zurich City).

In less than 15 minutes, Iarrived at Zurich Main Station, the heart of the Zurich City.

 Zurich Main Station 05

Zurich Main Station 04

Bahnhof Strasse

Repeatedly regarded as the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe, I just had to step through the famous Bahnhof Strasse. Bahnhof Strasse is the most expensive real estate in the world and you will immediate know why by walking through this street.

Bahnhof Strasse (most expensive real estate)

Bahnhof Strasse 05

Here, it housed the two biggest Swiss banks…UBS and Credit Suisse.

 Bahnhof Strasse - UBS

Bahnhof Strasse - Credit Suisse 01

 And the famous labels displayed from Bucherer or Jelmoli…simply awed by the luxury and indulgence in life.

Bahnhof Strasse - Bucherer

Bahnhof Strasse - Bucherer 02

 Bahnhof Strasse - LV

Bahnhof Strasse - Jelmoli

I hurried to the famous chocolate shop & cafe, Confiserie Sprungli, located at Bahnhofstrasse 21. Unfortunately, the 170-years old shop was already closed. Sprungli makes 90% of the products by hand and one of their specialities is the Luxemburgerli, which are mini-macaroons filled with delectable butter cream with appetizing flavors of hazelnut, mocha, caramel, raspberry and lemon. The Luxemburgerli are highly perishable products and will only last for three days in the refrigerator.

(Ps: There is a Confiserie Sprungli at the departure hall and I did bring some macaroons home!)

Zurich - sprungli 01

Zurich - sprungli 02

Fairly disappointed, I walked further down the street and chanced upon a Teuscher Chocolate shop. Teuscher’s signature chocolate is the champagne truffle, made with Dom Perignon champagne and often touted as “the best champagne truffles on the planet”. Here, I grabbed some dark chocolates and followed the food trail.

CS - Teuscher Chocolate

Zurich 01

Zurich 03

Lake Zurich

After filling my stomach, I headed towards theLake Zurich and spent a few moments of timelessness and serenity, watching the swans and geeses.

Zurich Lake 03

 Zurich Lake 06

Zurich Lake 08

 Tailing off Lake Zurich, I passed by the “Baur Au Lac”. Being one of Zurich’s oldest and most luxurious hotel, it offers a spectacular view on the lake and the Alps from its room or suites.

Zurich - Hotel Baur Au Lac

Zurich 19

River Limmat

Walking along the River Limmat, I entered into the landscape of the Zurich old town. At every turn and corner of street, a surprise seemed to be awaiting for me.

 River Limmat 02

River Limmat 07

 Zurich 10Zurich 12

Zurich 07Zurich 08

Fraumünster

Here, you will see the Fraumünster, a Benedictine abbey founded in 853 by by Emperor Ludwig (aka Louis the German) for his daughter, Hildegard.

Fraumunster 01

Fraumunster 03

The main attraction of Fraumünster are the  five stained-glass windows designed by Russian artist, Marc Chagall in 1970. Each of the window has its own unique color theme, depicting a Christian story.From left to right, the 5 works are:

  • Prophets, depicting Elijah’s ascent to heaven
  • Jacob, displaying his combat, and dreams of heaven
  • Christ, illustrating various scenes of Christ’s life
  • Zion, showing an angel trumpeting the end of the world
  • Law, with Moses looking down upon the suffering of his people

Fraumunster - Marc Chagall Stained Glass

Grossmünster

From Fraumünster, you can cross the Münsterbrücke bridge that leads to Grossmünster. This bridge, built in 1838, has a statue of Burgomaster Waldmann, who was beheaded in 1489 when his political enemies seized power. 

 

Grossmunster (Gothic Cathedral)

River Limmat 08

The Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style church, founded by Charlemagne. The cathedral has two three-story towers and is situated on a terrace above Limmatquai, on the right bank of the river. According to the legend, Charlemagne’s horse bowed down on the spot marking the graves of three early Christian martyrs: Felix, Regula, and Exuperantius. In the 3rd century, the three martyrs attempted to convert the citizens of Turicum (the original name for Zurich) to Christianity. The governor, according to legend, had them plunged into boiling oil and forced them to drink molten lead. The trio refused to renounce their faith and were beheaded. Miraculously, they still had enough energy to pick up their heads and climb to the top of a hill (the present site of the cathedral), where they dug their own graves and then interred themselves. The seal of Zurich honors these saints, depicting them carrying their heads under their arms. The remains of the saints are said to rest in one of the chapels of the cathedral.

Grossmunster 05

Grossmunster 04

 St Peter’s Church

My final stop is the St Peter’s Church. Located next to the Lindenhof hill, the church steeple’s clock face has a diameter of 8.7 m, making it the largest church clock face in Europe. 

St Peter 02St Peter (Europe's largest clockface)

Everything left a beautiful memory as I left the place…including the lightly scented lavender on the road.

Zurich 22

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DAY 8: 16 Jun 2005 – Lucerne, Switzerland

Life is unpredictable; and sometimes things can turn out unexpectedly pleasant. My assignments scheduled on today and tomorrow were cancelled at the last minute; which meant our weekend vacation was suddenly stretched by another two days! Since there was nothing much to do in Frankfurt, we decided to set off early to Lucerne, Central Switzerland. Several things followed next and swiftly – changing our train ticket, re-arranging hotel accommodation and packing our bags.

By mid-afternoon, we boarded the German high-speed ICE (InterCity Express) rail at Hauptbahnof Railway Station. Traveling by train in Europe is definitely a lot more pleasant and comfortable (compared to China, Indonesia, etc) and within 4 hours, we were at the door step of Lucerne at 8 pm.

Hotels are generally very expensive in Switzerland, especially in summer. We were fortunately to book a room at Hotel Schiller at US$200 per night. The hotel lies in the heart of the city and is only 200m away from railway station. A very convenient location and just a short walk from the lakeside promenade and the city’s trademark Chapel Bridge. Tonight, we pampered our stomach with spicy royal Thai cuisine at Hotel Astoria’s Thai Garden. It was a beautiful restaurant with great ambience and fairly authentic food. Halfway through dinner, we overheard some familiar conversations from the next table – SINGAPOREANS with their unmistakable Singlish! The dinner was expensive (about SWF100) but it was definitely a good treat after a long day and journey we had.

After dinner, we strolled at the Chapel Bridge. This is the oldest wooden bridge in Europe and is 204 m long, across the Reuss River. It was constructed in 1333 to protect the city of Lucerne from attacks. Inside the bridge, you can see a series of 120 captioned triangular paintings from the early 1500s that chronicle the city’s history.

 Chapel Bridge

When we finally reached our hotel, our physical bodies were very willing for us to tuck into bed and sleep. For tomorrow, it would be another long day.

DAY 9: 17 Jun 2005 – Mt Titlis, Engelberg, Switzerland

Today was an exciting day, we were on an excursion to Mount Titlis, a mountain in the Urner Alps and located at the monastery village Engelberg. We bought a ticket from the Central Train Station and within an hour, we reached Engelberg. It was a bright and sunny and we were soaked in a breath-taking scenery of icy mountains and blue sky, peppered with cotton-like clouds. 

Engelberg - station

Mount Titlis

Mount Titlis is 3,020m or 10,000 ft high. It is famous for having the world’s first revolving cable car. The journey of the cable car connecting Engelberg to the summit of Mount Titilis comes in three stages and takes about 45 min to complete. First, you take a gondola from Engelberg to Trubsee (at 1,796m), followed by a cable car ride to the Station Stand (at 2,428m) and finally hop unto the last leg to Mount Titlis in the revolving gondola, Rotair, which gives you a fantastic panorama view! 

Mount Titlis 02

Engelberg - view 08

Mount Titlis - Gondolas 01

Mount Titlis 09Mount Titlis 11

  Mount Titlis 17

It was spectacular experience to have a close-up view of the glacier, just like walking into the beautful pictures from National Geographic.

Mount Titlis - Glacier

Mount Titlis - Lone Bird

At about noon, we FINALLY reached the top of the world at 10,000 feet. Here’s the proof …

JL at Mount Titlis 04

The cold weather consumed much of our energy and we headed straight to the cafe for a refill. Guess what? Standing inside the cafe was our friends – Willie & Shirleen from Singapore, who were in Switzerland for honeymoon! The greatest irony was we had not met for more than 2 years in Singapore and here we were altogether at Mount Titlis, must be a chance in a million.  We had a brisk lunch together, as they had to rejoin their guided tour.

CSJL with Willie & Shirleen

After lunch, we start to explore Mount Titlis. And a great way to explore is taking a ride on the Ice Flyer chairlift.

Ice Flyer Chairlift 01Ice Flyer Chairlift 02

CSJL at Mount Titlis 02

It was here where the fun began – SNOW-TUBING! We were hooked after the first try and went for a few more rounds…

JL in snow tubes 03

JL in snow tubes 04

The fun is zapping down the snow at high speed…the flip-side was the toiling up-hill with the snow tubes….

JL with snow tubes 02

Show Cheese Factory @ Engelberg Monastery

 After leaving Mount Titlis, we visited the Show Cheese Factory at Engelberg Monastery. Here, you can see the entire cheese making process:

First, milk is carefully stirred and warmed up to 35 °C. Once the milk has reached this temperature, the cheese maker adds the starter cultures, calcium and rennet, which starts the fermentation process. After 40 minutes, the coagulation (thickening) process brings the milk to the proper consistency, comparable to that of a yogurt. The cheese maker next slices the soft cheese curd into grains with a tool called “the cheese harp”. The smaller the curd grains, the harder the cheese. After the curd grains achieve the desired consistency and firmness, the cheese maker bales the soft curd grains with a tool called “the cheese ladle”. Early next morning, the cheese is dipped into a salt bath for a few hours. The cheese absorbs the salt and releases its water. A thin crust forms on the outside. The larger and harder the cheese, the longer it must remain in the salt bath. The young cheese is then left in the cellar to ripe.  The cellar is kept at a constant temperature of 16 °C and 95 % air humidity to guarantee the growth of the white mold. After 8 days, the cheese is snow-white and ready for consumption. Some types of cheese are ready to be eaten immediately, while others must ripen for up to two years, or more.

Engelberg - Cheese Factory 01

The cheese shop has an impressive spread of regionally produced cheeses and you can sample the wide array of cheeses. One of the most popular cheese is the Engelberg Monastery Bell. This soft and creamy white mold (brie) cheese comes in a bell shape. Another signature is the Engelberg Monastery Cheese, which is a mild cheese, easily recognized with its black coating.

 Engelberg - Cheese Factory 02

JL at Cheese Factory

After the sampling, we were so intoxicated that we settled for simple, light snack. It had a lightly baked crust with no filling and we named it the Swedish “hum cim peng”.

JL trying out swedish hum cim peng

Engelberg is a nice and quiet town with a population of less than four thousand people. In the Middle Ages, it was well known for the educational accomplishments of its Benedictine monastery. Today, it has become the leading mountain resort (of Urner Alps) in central Switzerland. We strolled around the town and snapped some pictures before traveling back to Lucerne. 

JL at Engelberg 01

Mount Titlis - Pine 02

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Day 10: 18 Jun 2005 – Lucerne, Switzerland

Our plan was to tour Lucerne itself today and the natural way to start the day is a relaxing cruise ride over the Lake of Lucerne. We bought the tickets for the steamer ship at the Luzern Bahhofquai, the pier next to the Central Railroad Station. 

Steamer Ship 02

JL on steamer ship

When the steamer ship left the boat landing, you could see the city’s iconic buildings disappearing from your sight. One of them is the Hof Church, Lucerne’s main church built on a small hill east of the medieval downtown. It dominated the scene of the city with its gothic twin towers. Along the lake, you can see white, beautiful swans swimming graciously, oblivious of the hustle and bustle of activities around it.  

City View 01

City View 03

As the steamer ship  headed north along the lakes, a spectacular view with mountains and forests on all sides filled the curtain of my eyes. Calm blue waters, bright green hills dotted with uniform white and brown huts against a backdrop of snowy mountains.  As the ship closed up the shore, one of these brown huts, standing on knee-deep waters caught my attention! I wonder if anyone lives there?

Lucerne Lake 03

Lucerne Lake_House

Weggis

We disembarked at Weggis, a municipality in the northern shore of Lake Lucerne. This is the town where the famous American novelist, Mark Twain (1835–1910), stayed two months in  the summer of 1897. And he wrote about Weggis: “This is the charmingest place we have ever lived in for repose and restfulness, superb scenery whose beauty undergoes a perpetual change from one miracle to another, yet never runs short of fresh surprises and new inventions. We shall always come here for the summers if we can.”

The name Weggis originated from the word “Wattawis” which literally means “Place of Ferry People” and most of the people here speak German.

 JL in Weggis 01

Weggis 01

Lion Monument

 After the cruise, we went to see the famous Lion Monument. This monument has a wounded-lion sculpture to commemorate the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. The lion seems to be tired and resting silently; but yet it creates a mournful atmosphere.

CSJL at Lion Monument 01

Musegg city walls

Leaving the Lion Monument, we approached the Altstadt or the old city on the right side of the Reuss River. In the 13th century, watch towers were erected at these vantage points to provide a city view as well as far into the surrounding country-side. Some towers were built along the Musegg city walls and today, nine of these towers are still standing next to each other and three towers are open to visitors. The oldest city clock, built by Hans Luter in 1535, is found in the Zyt tower. This clock is allowed to chime every hour one minute before all the other city clocks.

Musegg Wall & Tower 01

In the evening, we bagged a box of swiss pastries for dinner and ate them at the pier. It was very soothing to just sit back and watch the swans and duckies playing in the lakes. And enjoyed the cool breeze…

JL - Dinner in Lucerne

JL with Swan Family

Swan Family 02Duckie 02

 Day 11: 19 Jun 2005 – Lucerne, Switzerland

Today was the last day in Lucerne. JL decided to sleep longer into late morning. As it was a sunny and beautiful Sunday, I slipped into my track shoes and went for a jog along the Lucerne Lake.

The Lucerne’s Jesuit Church is another iconic building and was one of the first large baroque church built in Switzerland.  Today, this church is a major tourist attraction and serves as a concert hall. Here, you can see a flock of swans on the lake, as if they are the guardian angels.

Jesuit Church 02

Swan Lake City 01

In the late morning, JL and I hit out into the street. It was a busy Sunday and the streets are filled with tourists and locals. It was here in Lucerne that Carl-Friedrich Bucherer opened his first watch and jewelry store in 1888. Today, more than one hundred years later, Bucherer is leader in the Swiss watch and jewelry retail sector. They carry a wide array of world brand names. You name it, they have it: Rolex, Carl F. Bucherer, Chopard, Piaget, TAG Heuer, Tudor, Longines, Rado, Tissot, Gucci…
 Bucherer 01

Shopping Area

CS with big smile

There were just too many people and we decided to tour off into the quiet lanes.

 JL in City 01

City View 08

Then we stopped by to snap a picture of the Fritschi Fountain on Kapellplatz, built in 1918.  Legendary Brother Fritschi played an important role in Lucerne’s Carnival tradition and his grave is said to be under this fountain.

CS at Fountain01

 Before taking the train back to Frankfurt, we spotted this small cat sold at the souvenir shop. We bought it for a friend who had a special liking for cat. It costed SWF 3.90 and coincidentally, it was all we had left in our pockets!

Swiss Cat 02

We reached Frankfurt at 5 pm. Tonight marked the end of the 11 days-trip and JL is flying back to S’pore.  I am staying in Germany for another week to complete my assignment.

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