5 Sep 2023

Well happy late Labor Day to everyone back in the USA. I hope you enjoyed your long weekend, and are ready to start autumn with a bang!

I was glad to be able to watch football again. Those that know me, also know that I am a fan of the losingest team in all of college football. I have been a fan of the Indiana Hoosiers for as long as I can remember. Some of my most vivid memories growing up were being out in the woods cutting firewood with my father. We would drive the tractor out into the woods pulling a trailer that at one time was the bed of an old pick up truck. That old trailer got beaten up something awful, but never broke down, and even though the tires were probably the original tires from the truck I don’t even remember it ever getting a flat. Oh well, going down memory lane has taken me off target.

So we would be out in the woods with a transistor radio listing to WBIW 1340 on the AM dial. (Isn’t it weird how some little things just always stick in your mind?) The process always went like this. We would use the chain saw and get everything cut. Then when it was quiet, we would turn on the radio, and listen to the game, as we split the logs and loaded them into the trailer. It would usually take one half to get the trailer loaded. Then during half time we would cut up some more logs and stack them for later. Then we would go back to the house, and unload the trailer listening to the rest of the game.

I wish I knew why those memories are still so vivid in my mind. In my heart, this happened anywhere from 5 to 6 times a year from the time I was 7 or 8 until I got old enough that Dad would let me use the chainsaw by myself. In reality it probably happened only a few times, but it is one of those memories that I really cherish. I also remember the first BIG tractor my Dad bought that had a radio in the cab. That was great, because I could work all day any time of the year, and always have music or IU football and basketball games to listen to.

Writing this makes me think of the old John Denver Song “Grandma’s Feather Bed.” It starts with “Well, life on the farm was kinda laid back. Ain’t much an old country boy like me can’t hack.” The second sentence is pretty true. I can usually buckle down and get through pretty much anything, but the first sentence is kind of a lie. Farm life is far from laid back. It isn’t rush, rush, rush, like living in a city, but there is always more to do than there are hours in the day. You are always doing something on the farm, but usually you don’t feel a lot of pressure to get it done, because there will always be tomorrow to finish.

Why did I bring this up? Well, I got to watch the Hoosiers play football last Saturday. They had an early afternoon game, which meant I only had to stay up until 1 AM to watch the whole game. Now unfortunately, they were playing Ohio State. For you non American football fans that would be like a Premier League team playing a local club! Maybe not quite that bad, but since 1965 Indiana has won twice and tied once.

I had told myself that I would watch the first half, and if Indiana was down by three scores or more, I would go to bed. As it turned out, the score was 7 – 10 OSU at the end of the half. So I had to stay up and watch until the collapse. It was, by Indiana, standards a really good game; so I stayed up to watch the whole thing. Normally when these two teams play it ruins the whole season for me, because Indiana just is not competitive. This year, I actually go into the rest of the season with a little hope. If Indiana can find a quarterback, and coaches will call some plays other than options and runs up the middle. IU might actually win 5 or 6 games this year!

another life story

When I moved to Switzerland I brought the winter coat I used in Wisconsin. I only wore the coat one time when we were up in the mountains during New Years, and the coat was STILL too warm for the environment. So the coat is sitting boxed up in the basement. I figure I will need it when we move back to the US, because it actually gets cold there. 🙂 I do have a winter coat, but I have been looking for something a little more casual ever since we moved. I thought I had finally found one.

Now I know I could stand to lose some weight. In the US I buy L or XL clothing. I am kind of right in the middle, where I think the L is a little small, and the XL is a little big, but I usually go with the XL because a little loose is better than a little snug. So it is a little depressing to me that over here XXL is my size.

I was very happy when I found a winter jacket in the size I wear; so I ordered it. I was very sad when I tried it on and realized that even if I had bought an XXXXL size it still would not have fit. I could barely get my arms in the sleeve, and then it felt like blood pressure cuff had been strapped around my biceps. I could zip it up. However, it made me look like a stuffed sausage when it was zipped! By Swiss standards I need to lose weight, but there are an awful lot of people walking around even bigger than me. Where in the heck do those people find their clothes?

Air Show

Julie and I had decided to take it easy this weekend, because we start a stretch of visitors over the next six weeks. This weekend the Zurich Airport was celebrating Flughafenfest. It was the 75th Anniversary of the airport. They had a carnival area for the kids. A plane exhibition, and then an air show at 2:00 pm on Sunday. We decided we would head down about noon, grab a bite to eat and watch the air show. What we were not expecting was that this would be the second highest attended event in zurich this year. Street Parade gets over a million people every summer. This one didn’t get a million, but it made the crowd at Sechselauten (Go back and look at my burning of the BĂ–Ă–G video.) look like Sunday morning church service.

We stood in the line to get to the air show grounds for over 15 minutes and didn’t even move. We realized at this point we were going to miss the show entirely, unless we went somewhere with a view of the sky. We did manage to find a place to sit, but of course we had very restricted viewing. Overpasses and buildings on each side of us meant that we were able to see maybe 5% of the viewing area.

We did get see the Swiss Air Force exhibition group fly around for a little while, but that was about all we could see.

We never did make it out to the exhibition area. The crowd was just so big that we knew it would not be enjoyable if we did. If there is ever a next time, we will just have to remember to get there as soon as it is open instead of waiting a while!

Sorry there are not many pictures this time. Hopefully I will have some more the next post.

23 Juni 2023

Before I get into the travel/adventure section. I have to rant a little about life here in Switzerland. We got the “final” decision back from the insurance company telling us that Julie’s “accident” was not an accident. They instead are saying it was caused simply by her getting older. What I find most irritating about this is the insurance company quoted Swiss law as saying that an accident can only be caused by a strike. Meaning that you hit something, or that something hit you. I showed the insurance company that law where it says that a torn meniscus by itself is an accident, that a meniscus cannot simply tear without some sort of force, but that did not do any good. Even worse was that Julie’s surgeon who initially told us that he would work with us to fight the insurance company, decided to back down. He now says he will not assist us with another appeal. Of course at this point the only way we can appeal is to hire an attorney, and attorneys (just like everything else in this country) are a lot more expensive than back in the US.

I have decided that even with all the flaws of the US health care system, I prefer it to the Swiss system. One way that Switzerland olds down medical costs for the citizens is that companies are expected to pay for “accident” insurance. Everyone else is required to take out regular health care insurance. Well other than the very young, and the very old. Most medical expenses are caused by accidents. In fact, when Julie hurt her knee she was encouraged to report it as an accident. This would hold down our costs, because accident insurance does not require any co-pays or shared expenses. It also covers those costs in a more luxurious experience. Go back in February to when I wrote about her surgery and you will see what I mean.

So my beef isn’t just with the cost. If we had simply used our regular insurance from the beginning, we would have had to meet the deductible, and then pay 20% of the cost. Which is exactly what will happen now. What has me angry is that because the two systems work against each other, we now are going to have to pay for this all at once, instead of over the 9 months, that we thought the accident insurance would pay for things. What will really make me angry is if the hospital does bill us for the full private room experience. The insurance we pay for only covers a semi private room for the hospital stay. Even though she was only in hospital one night, that private room could wind up costing us 10000 francs more. We will wind up eating 100% of that, and that means some of the travel we wanted to do might be off the table.

On the bright side. Julie’s surgery really did help her. We went on a long hike over Father’s Day Weekend, and a year ago that would have not been possible. We did a lot of hiking the first few years we lived here, and I really hope that we will be able to pick that up again. Also on the bright side, we have the money to pay for it, it isn’t like we had no insurance at all. I simply think this is a very inefficient way of handling health care.

The Black Forest

The Black Forest, known as Schwarzwald in German, is located in southwestern Germany. Spanning over 6,000 square miles, it is renowned for its dense evergreen forests, charming villages, and stunning natural landscapes. The history of the Black Forest is intertwined with the cultural, economic, and environmental developments of the region, shaping its identity over the centuries.

The earliest evidence of human habitation in the Black Forest dates back to the thousands of years, with artifacts and cave paintings indicating the presence of prehistoric communities. During the Roman Empire, the region was part of the province of Germania, and the Romans established a network of roads and settlements, contributing to its integration into the wider Roman infrastructure.

In the early medieval period, the Black Forest was covered with dense woodlands, which played a crucial role in shaping the region’s history. The forests provided resources for timber, hunting, and gathering, and became the backdrop for various legends and folklore. The Celts and Germanic tribes inhabited the area, and the Roman influence gradually waned with the decline of the Roman Empire.

During the Middle Ages, the Black Forest experienced significant population growth and the emergence of several towns and villages. The region was ruled by various feudal lords and monastic orders, who sought to exploit its natural resources. Timber became a valuable commodity, and the Black Forest gained a reputation for its skilled woodworkers and carpenters. The production of wooden clocks, furniture, and musical instruments became important industries, leading to the establishment of numerous craft guilds.

In the 17th and 18th centuries, the Black Forest faced challenges brought by war and political changes. The Thirty Years’ War (1618-1648) devastated the region, leading to a decline in population and economic activity. However, the subsequent peace brought opportunities for recovery, and the Black Forest experienced a period of resurgence. The region benefited from the growth of trade and the flourishing textile industry, with many farmers engaging in cottage industry to supplement their income.

During the 19th century, the Black Forest witnessed significant changes due to industrialization and urbanization. The advent of steam power and the expansion of rail networks transformed the region’s economy and transportation system. Traditional handicrafts faced competition from mass-produced goods, leading to a decline in some sectors. However, the tourism industry began to flourish, as visitors from near and far were drawn to the Black Forest’s scenic beauty and fresh air.

The Black Forest also played a significant role in the development of the cuckoo clock industry. Originating in the 18th century, the clockmakers of the region crafted intricately designed timepieces that featured the iconic cuckoo bird. These clocks became highly sought after, and the Black Forest became synonymous with this unique form of horology.

In the 20th century, the Black Forest faced the challenges of two world wars. The region saw periods of economic hardship and political changes as Germany grappled with the aftermath of both conflicts. However, the post-war years brought stability and renewed focus on tourism, as the Black Forest continued to attract visitors seeking relaxation and natural beauty.

The Black Forest is a part of the world that we all have known about since we little kids. There are some very famous tales told about the Black Forest, but many in the US do not realize this, because we haven “Americanized” the stories. The four best known fairy tales (at least in the US) are: Snow White, Hansel and Gretel, Little Red Riding Hood , and Rumplestiltskin. One I had never heard until I bought a children’s book to help me learn German is The Water of Life.

We experienced one big difference between Switzerland and Germany. Normally when I am going on a hike, even a day hike I make sure I have a map of the area. Well in Switzerland I have not needed that. We have had cell phone coverage everywhere. Even on the most remote mountain hikes we have taken. So I became complacent. We started off with coverage but after about a mile and a half we lost the signal. Even worse, the trails are not marked nearly as well as in Switzerland. We never got lost, but I like being able to look at a map and know exactly where I am! I should probably start downloading the maps onto my cell phone. It really would make a lot of sense.

The picture above is the trail we took from my Garmin Watch. You can ignore the big blue BLOB by the SeebuckhĂĽtte. I forgot to turn it off, and as we were going by Julie realized the shops were open. Stores being open on a Sunday are just too big of a temptation!

I hope you enjoy the pictures.

2 June. 2022


Elevation image of hike

This is only the 3rd time our son has been able to be here in the warmer months. The first time really doesn’t count, because he was only here for a few days, and his main task was to move his Mother out of the hotel and into our apartment. This time he has decided he wants to try some hiking. Last weekend he and Julie went on a lovely hike from our home to Uetliberg. It is a fun hike of about 9 kilometers. You hike over one ridge to a nearby town, take a gondola up the next ridge, and then it is a fairly level walk the rest of the way. He and Julie took the hike, while I went for a long bike ride. His second hike he wanted to do in the mountains. He decided to visit Seealpsee and Ebenalp.

I read up on the hike, and found that this is one of the most popular hikes in the country. At least the hike to Seealpsee is. Now most people doing this hike, take the graveled trail from the train station up to the lake. If people are doing the entire hike, most people take the gondola up to Ebenalp and then hike down. Not my son. He wanted to be Swiss. We drove to the train station, and then started going up, and up, and up. We got to the top of the first ridge, and I was “OK, that wasn’t that bad. It was hard, but I didn’t die. We will have a nice level walk to recover. Have some lunch, and since we are halfway up I should be OK.” Then I looked across the valley. As you can see from the elevation map when we leveled off, we were not 1/2 way up, we were only about 1/3 of the way up the mountain. We have some good pictures, but I also hope you enjoy the video I made by splicing together a bunch of TikToks. Ignore the heavy breathing toward the end of the video. I was EXHAUSTED!!

The hike was even harder because the day before I went on a pretty hard bike ride, that had over 1500 meters of climbs. My legs started tired, and they were pretty shaky at the end! If you look at the elevation picture, where the climb was the most steep I was only able to walk about 25-30 meters at a time. The trail at that point was nothing but steps and switchbacks. I basically went from switchback to switchback and took a two – three minute rest at each turn. The strangest part of the hike was near the end. You can see the restaurant we stopped for a breather. The restaurant is built into the side of the mountain.

I was a little concerned about how we were going to get from the restaurant up the top of the mountain. The trail started as a bridge built off the side of the cliff. I was a little worried that was going to be how the hike ended. I stumbled and fell hundreds of feet down! However, after a few hundred yards the trail came to a cave. You actually hike through the cave to get up to the field at the top of the mountain for the gondola ride back down. The change in temperature was very striking. We were very comfortable up to the point we left the cave. I think the temperature was a good 15 – 20 degrees colder up at the top of the mountain versus the bottom. Thank goodness there was a building to wait for the gondola, or we would have gotten hypothermia.

Growing up on a cattle farm, I am still impressed with how the Swiss cows live on the mountains. When you look through the photo gallery. Look for a picture of 3 or 4 cows on the side of the mountain. The next picture is zoomed out to normal, and you can see the whole hillside. The cows actually make little terraces as they walk across the hill finding what little grass is available. It seems so strange to me, that the cows are able to find enough nourishment on the mountains, but I guess they have been doing this for hundreds and hundreds of years, so what do I know?

This weekend we are heading to Luxembourg. So I should have some more travel photos for next week’s post. Talk to you soon.

18 September 2021

Well this past week marked my official 2 year anniversary for arriving in Switzerland. I spent it like I spend every other day. Walked Julie to the train, exercised, cleaned the house, did laundry, cooked dinner. When we are not going somewhere, I lead a very boring existence! I have been really bad the last six weeks keeping up with my German. It was very hard to do with all the visitors, but now that they are gone I really need to start in on my lessons again.

I did get a practical lesson yesterday. You have heard me go on about the hills around here. Yesterday, as I was cleaning the kitchen I noticed an elderly woman starting to walk up the hill towards the grocery store. She had a cane, and looked like she could barely move. So I quickly grabbed the recyclables, and started off. I caught up to her about 10 meters up the hill, and in my halting german, I asked her if I could help pull the shopping trolley up the hill. She gave me a big smile, and consented. She did not speak a word of English, but we were able to talk some as we walked. I got her up the hill to the level ground, and she asked for the trolley back. I told her if she would like, I would shop with her, and help her go back down. I think she said there was no need; she does it frequently, and she finds going down easier than going up. She might have actually been saying, what a stupid foreigner. I make this walk multiple times every week, I can do it myself. But she gave me a big smile and said “Vielen Dank” so I am choosing to believe it was my first thought.

Julie is getting ready to leave me for three days next week. It will be her first work trip since February of 2020. If you remember, she went back to the US, and we were afraid she was going to be stuck there, as that is when all the travel restrictions started because of Covid. I had big plans for three days of solo exploring, but now it turns out, I might get one. She leaves on Tuesday, but Wednesday I have a dentist appointment at 8:00 AM and then she comes back home on Thursday. Not really sure why I agreed to the dentist appointment. I had a temporary brain fart. I think it is simply because I hate going to the dentist so I wanted the first appointment I could get; so I did not have to dread it any longer.

I found a new goal for next year, though. I had lunch with a fellow American on Thursday. He told me about a bike ride that happens every September called the Alpenbrevet. The ride starts in the town of Andermatt. You have four rides to choose from. The rides go from 64 kilometers up to 288 kilometers. The rides are over some of the most famous mountain passes in Switzerland. So the short ride is two mountain passes with over 2000 meters of climb. The longest ride is five passes with over 7000 meters of climb. The longest ride starts at 6 in the morning. There are two control points you have meet along the route, and then it finishes at 9 PM that night. That is one long day on a bike. No way can I make that one. I think I am going to sign up for the 2nd easiest ride. It is a little over 100 KM. It covers three mountain passes. The Furka ( go back to my post from last week where I did this one in my car.), the Nufenen, and the Gotthard. If I spend a lot more time on the bike than jogging next year, I think I can get in good enough shape to tackle this one. Anyone want to come and join me?

We also got another lesson in one of the differences between the US and Switzerland. This one concerns renting. Now please note I cannot say with any certainty that this is the way all renting is done here. This has been my one and only experience.

When I arrived, almost three months after Julie, two years ago. Our landlord had us re-sign the lease. I do not know if it is a law that both spouses have to sign, or if this is simply another sign that Switzerland is way behind the times in regards to women’s equality. Anyway, our landlord was very insistent that I had to sign the lease as well as Julie. We signed a two year lease, that was originally up in June of this year, but one thing we noticed when we signed the new lease that September became the end month. We since learned that there are two months that people traditionally move in the canton of ZĂĽrich. Those two months are March and September. Anyway, we knew the lease was coming to an end, but we had not heard anything at all from the landlord. We knew we were covered, because we did not give any notice that we planned on leaving. Anyway, I called him and he came down to talk to us about the new lease. It turns out, that once the original lease expired, the lease converted to a semi permanent agreement. Either party has to give 6 months notice for non-renewal. And of course there are only two months the notice can be given. You got it: March and September…. We found this to be strange. One reason I do not know if this is common, or not. Is I made the comment to our landlord about how different that is vs leases in the US. He made the comment, that yes, he wants to make money off the lease, but that is not his primary concern. He lives in the top floor of the building; and it is more important to him that he have long term renters, and people that are good neighbors. I guess the good news is that even though he is really the only other person in our building we have met, he thinks we are good neighbors! The bad news with the lease, is that the house next door has finally started to be torn down. This is going to be bad. The house is right next to the bedroom, and our office. If the construction noise is 1/2 as loud as all the other houses being built around here, that means we will never be able to sleep past 7 AM except for Sundays, and the office will be practically unusable while they are building the place. We thought we would be getting a larger deduction on our rent for the time period they are building, but we signed a contract that said $300; so that will be the discount. Oh well, you can’t win them all.

I did not think I had any worthwhile pictures to show, but I did find one. This morning after grocery shopping, we got back to the apartment and it looked like everyone that has a sailboat decided to get it out today. This will probably be one of the last warm sunny days; so people are out taking advantage of the weather.

Segelboote auf dem ZĂĽrichsee

Not much else to talk about this week. I will update you next week on my solo adventures. Not sure what they will be, but I am sure I will have fun doing something. My last thought of this post: Go IU! Beat Cincinnati!

8 Juli 2021

This post is really nothing but videos. I made three videos from our three favorite hikes from our week in Zermatt. Be advised, I do NOT spend a lot of time editing them for perfection. There will be a couple of hands across the lens moments!

Two of the videos I enhanced the speed. One is a video of us crossing the suspension bridge, and the other is the gondola ride up to the secondary peak of the Kleinmatterhorn (Small Matterhorn).

5 Lakes hike

This was the first hike we took. We took a funicular train and then a ski lift up to the Blauherd stop. This is about 3/4 of the way up the mountain, and then we hiked down to the Sunnegga stop. By the name you go around 5 different lakes on the mountain. Most of this hike was downhill. The uphill part is basically the last mile. However, we did the hike in reverse. If we did it the “right” way it is a mile downhill, and then about 5 miles uphill. I think we did it the smart way. The best part about doing the hike backwards is that with about 3/4 mile left to go, there is a restaurant. So we were able to stop and have a beer before finishing.

5 Lakes Hike

Kuonen Hängebrücke Hike

This was by far the most challenging of the hikes we made. It was another roughly 10 kilometer hike. What set this one apart from the others was the amount of elevation. The hike is published at 966 meters of elevation. However, this starts at the published trailhead. The trailhead is probably 100 meters (or more) above the town. So I have no qualms about calling this a 1000 meters of elevation. The trail was pretty good up, even nicer was the fact that there were benches periodically so we could sit, have some water, and rest. It was a relatively cool day, but you will see from the sweat on my shirt that you put forth an awful lot of effort going up the hill. Going down was not a whole lot better. The trail going down was not as wide and there were many places you were simply crossing rock slide areas. It was by far the most difficult of our hikes, but crossing the bridge was amazing. Until this year, the bridge was the longest pedestrian suspension bridge in the world. Julie has some issues with heights; so I was a little scared for her, but she was a trooper, and made it across with out many issues.

Long video Suspension Bridge Hike
Suspension Bridge Hike 10 X normal speed

Glacier Paradise Hike

The last hike we did was hiking down the mountain next to the Matterhorn. This was the same mountain I was skiing on when we were here in February of 2020. I have to say the hills are even more intimidating in the summer. The snow seemed to level things out a little. During the summer you see how steep and rocky the slopes really are. The video is not so much our hike as it is the ride up to the top of the Kleinmatterhorn (Small Matterhorn). You are in a small gondola for 3/4 of the way up the mountain, but then for the last part you get into a gondola that holds about 30 – 40 people (probably 50 during the ski season when they really smash you in there). It is a beautiful ride, and it takes about 35 minutes from the bottom to get to the top. That is not including the wait at the station where you have to change. The first video is right at 35 minutes long, but if you want to skip to the most scenic part skip to the last 10 minutes. The second video has been sped up to about 1 minute 45 seconds.

Long Gondola video
Gondola Video sped up 20X normal speed.

I hope you enjoyed the videos. If you would like to see more of our adventures, please add your email address to the text block below and click submit.

Thank you for reading my ramblings. I hope you have a great day.

5 Juli 2021

Julie and I have been back for a couple of days now. We have learned, for us, it is better to come back from a vacation on a Saturday. That way we are able to get to the grocery store, and make sure we can eat on Monday morning. If we wait until Sunday to return, we have to make extra trips to downtown Zurich to get to a grocery store, and since the only place open is the train station or airport the stores are swamped.

Leaving Zermatt was a bit of a headache. The Zermatt/Gornergrat Marathon was running in the morning; so we had to wait about 15 minutes to cross the street to the train station. Thank goodness we left the hotel early. For my runner friends, this one might interest you. It is basically 26 miles uphill. Zermatt is the 1/2 way point of the marathon so once you run through a town, you literally run the side of a mountain to the finish line. The race starts at 8:00 AM, and the course does not close until almost 4:00; so you have almost 8 hours to complete the race. They have cut off stations at three different points. If you do not make the cut off times, you are asked to stop running. We hiked a good portion of the course, and we were going downhill. I can not even fathom trying to run UP the course.

On Friday evening, we actually met someone new for the first time since we moved here. (Outside of work, that is.). I had put up a Tik Tok earlier in the week, and someone posted they were going to be in Zermatt for the weekend. On a whim I asked if she wanted to meet for drinks. I realized immediately how “stalkerish” that sounded, so I sent another message saying Julie would be there as well. Then I realized “Oh Great, she now thinks we are swingers.” I guess I did not come across as badly as I thought, because she sent me a message saying,”My husband and I would love to get together.” So I made a reservation at a Tapas restaurant where we could also watch the “Nati” (Swiss National Soccer Team) play. It turned out to be a great dinner. The four of us had a lot in common. They live just across the lake; so we already have another dinner planned in July! George and Kaylee think we are pretty strange for meeting someone off the internet. I was counseled by my children to be careful. I admit, it did go against everything I have ever talked to students about when we were discussing internet safety, but we had a wonderful evening.

We had some great hiking before we came home. On Thursday, we walked across the second longest pedestrian suspension bridge. It is the Charles Kuonen Hängebrücke (Suspension Bridge). The bridge was the longest in the world until this spring. The Kuonen bridge is 494 meters long. In Portugal, just about two months ago, a bridge opened that is over 500 meters. I have to tell you, though, when you are standing at one end looking across to the other it seems like it is much farther.

This was by far the most challenging hike we made. We started with a 20 minute train ride to the town of Randa. Then we hiked 1000 meters up, crossed the bridge, and hiked 1000 meters back down to the town. The downhill was not any easier than the uphill portion. The uphill portion had a pretty good trail, but it was UP!! The down hill side was over rockslides, and parts of the trail were literally going straight down the mountain. There were a couple of spots, we just sat down, and slid.

I think my favorite hike was Wednesday. We took the train to the top of Gornegratberg, where we found another bucket list item. There is a hotel right at the top, that we need to stay in for a weekend. Then we hiked down the mountain.

We found a great spot to have a fondue lunch. It was right above the lake, and we had a wonderful view of the Matterhorn.


We wound up staying here a lot later than we should have. We kept waiting for the clouds to completely clear the mountain, and for the wind to stop blowing. In the picture of the mountain, you can just see the edge of the lake what the reflection would look like if the wind were not blowing. Unfortunately, the wind never stopped; so we did not get the picture we really wanted. Oh well, I guess that means we have to go back.

Julie learned that mountain bikers are a little bit different on this hike. After we passed the stop at Riffelberg, the trail becomes about 18 inches wide. One side is the mountain wall, the other is basically wide open spaces. I mean you wouldn’t “Fall” but you would certainly tumble about 400 feet before you stopped. We had a few mountain bikes go by us, and Julie was sure we would find them crumpled and broken at the bottom of the climb.

Our last hike started with a gondola ride up to the Matterhorn Glacier Paradise. We went up there in February, but we both wanted to visit again. There is year around skiiing here. Between Switzerland and Italy there are over 20 KM of ski trails that are open almost 365 days per year. It was pretty wild, watching all the skiers. We then took the gondola down to Scharzsee and hiked the rest of the way down the mountain.

Scharzsee Hotel

If you look really close in the picture you will see the moon shining behind the Matterhorn. The moon is light, but you can find it on the lower right side of the mountain. This hike was notable because of the big herd of sheep grazing on the mountain side.

black faced sheep

The best part of hiking in Switzerland is that every hike somehow had a bar very near the end. We were able to relax with a cold beer after every single hike! I cannot recommend that ending enough.

I am pretty sure I have said this before, but the mass produced beer is SO SO SO MUCH better than back in the US. Even better when you are hot sweaty and tired after hiking 5 or 6 miles. There are the specialty beers here as well, but honestly I do not taste much difference between the two countries. But the differences between Feldschlössen, Cardinal, Appenzeller to Budweiser, Miller and Coors are vast. I truly understand now why european beer drinkers think american beer tastes like water. Don’t even get me going on lite beers. They might exist here, but I am not really sure. I do not ever remember seeing any. :).

Well that is about all for this post. I will have one more this week. I took a lot of video, and I have some video of us crossing the bridge, and also of the gondola ride up to the Glacier Paradise. I also took the liberty of speeding them up. For example the gondola ride is 35 minutes long in real time. I sped it up to a minute and a half. It is quite the trip!

I hope you have a great week, and I will see you soon. If you like my blog please put your email address in the block below, and click subscribe. You will get email reminders when I post.

I hope you enjoy the rest of the pictures. There are a lot of them:

29 Juni 2021

Julie and I came to Zermatt right before the world shut down. It was our first winter in Switzerland, and we decided we wanted to go skiing in the Alps. There was talk about the virus in China, and they had just announced some cases in Italy. Wow Julie and I thought it would be fitting to come back as the world opens back up. We are spending a week here hiking and relaxing. When we go back home; Julie has to start going back into the office, and she has about six weeks of incredibly long days ahead. The annual filing has to be completed by mid August; so she gets a breather before the marathon starts.

I think Julie would agree with this. Out of all the places we have visited, in Switzerland, we like Zermatt the best. The town is very different from when, we visited last, however. I thought it might be virus related, but our waiter last night was saying that summer is a lot slower than the winter, Many of the hotels are actually closed right now. We do not feel like we are being overwhelmed by golf carts this visit. However, the scenery is fantastic. The food is unbelievable! The hiking trails have a wonderful mixture between easy and strenuous. It is also very easy to get here. It is about the same driving or the train. We opted for the train this time, as Julie does not like the mountain passes. Maybe our next visit I can convince her to let us drive.

We have lucked out with the weather. Last week, the prediction was storms all day every day this week. So far, today has been the only bad day. Every other day, the rain held off until late. We have been able to hike every day; so we feel very Swisslike!

We started off with a pretty hard hike. It was over 6 miles long. Thank goodness most of it was downhill. We talked to the desk person at the hotel, so we could buy gondola tickets, and she told us to take the hike backwards. Thank goodness we did. The hike was 5 miles downhill, and then 1 mile uphill. If we had done it the “right” way, it would have been 1 mile downhill, and then 5 miles uphill.

I have to talk to my friends Mike and Steve, for when they come visit next year. I found a fly fishing excursion that takes us to one of the lakes we hiked near. It is a private lake, but I could see the trout swimming! The excursion includes all the gear we need and licenses. We can let the ladies relax in town, while go fish for two days! Let me know what you think. Price wise it is a steal for Switzerland! Plus from the picture below, you can’t beat the views.

Fishing lake!

The other benefit of taking the hike backwards is that after 1/4 mile hike up the mountain you come to a bar; so you can rest and have a drink before continuing.

After the hike I had bit of a panic. I thought I had lost my sunglasses on the train coming down the mountain. I looked all over the hotel room and could find nothing. I kept thinking of the thousands of dollars I was going to have to spend on new glasses. The next morning, though I found them. The glasses case had fallen down in between the mattresses of the bed. That is one thing I will never get used to over here. You almost never find a queen or king sized bed. It is always two twin beds pushed together. Sometimes they will be in the same bed frame, but not always.

Our hike the next day was much easier. We hiked about 5 miles from Zermatt to Täsch. We cheated though, and took the train back instead of hiking! We also learned how the “rich”people vacation here. They rent a chalet way up on the mountain, and hire a helicopter to take them and all their gear up the mountain. The group we saw took 4 trips. 1 trip for the people, and then 3 more trips for the gear and food. From just the cases of wine I saw on the sling loads, these people are going to be living REALLY good this week.

I have decided that whoever has put the time estimates together for the hikes is on crack or meth. Maybe the estimates are ok, if you are walking as fast as you can, and you do not care about looking at the beauty that surrounds you. For example, the hike from Zermatt to Täsch is supposed to only take an hour and a half. That would mean you are walking at about a 20 minute per mile pace. Maybe a little slow on flat paved ground, but probably about right if you are going as fast as you can walk on trails. It took Julie and I almost 2 1/2 hours, of course we stopped and took pictures, or just gazed at the waterfalls.

This morning (Tuesday) we had a small unplanned adventure. Today the forecast is for rain all day. There was a little break in the clouds after breakfast; so we thought we would just take a quick walk around town, before the rains started. We walked down by the river, and saw a sign for the Gornerschlucht (Corner Gorge) and thought we would check it out. We hiked back and up to the gorge, and THEN we saw the sign advertising the price to go through. Well, we were already back there, the rain was holding off, and the price was only $5 (cheapest thing I have found living here). We were both really glad we went back there. It was beautiful. Our short walk turned into almost a 4 mile hike, as the gorge was one way, and then we had to hike around until there was another bridge across the river. :). We had a great time, even though the heavens opened up a couple of different times. Our city shoes got a little muddy, but other than that no problems!

We made it back to the hotel, before the heavens really opened up; so we are going to spend the rest of the day just relaxing. I am furiously typing away at this post; so we can go sit at the pool the rest of the afternoon!

Zermatt is again showing itself to be wonderful place to vacation. Unfortunately, it doesn’t appear the weather will cooperate so we can go way up into the mountains like we did when we were skiing. It just doesn’t make sense to pay for the gondola ride, when you are not going to get the views. Hopefully the weather predictions will be false, because I really would like to go back up again.

Subscribe below with your email:

This will send you an email whenever I make an update.

That is about all for now. I hope this finds you well. Enjoy the pictures. I will have some video to add next week. That will give me something to do once Julie goes back to work!