21 September 2023

It is always fun when people come to Switzerland for the first time. The looks on their faces when they see the landscape is priceless. It also means that Julie and I get to experience some new things as well. We able to experience two new things this past weekend. We got see an Alpabfahrt or Alpabzug parade. We also rode the worlds steepest funicular train. Hopefully we will continue to have some new visitors, because it is always fun to find something to with a visitor that I have not had the chance to do.


Depending on what part of Switzerland you live this annual celebration is called alpabfahrt or alpabzug. They mean the same thing. A literal translation is simply alpine descent or alpine deduction. So coming OUT of the alps. The celebrations occur usually between the 2nd weekend of September and the 2nd weekend of October. I have to admit it seemed awfully warm last weekend to be thinking about winter. The temperature was pushing 30 degrees and we were baking while we were waiting for the cows to march by. I really felt sorry for some of the children leading the cows, goats, and sheep. Many were walking barefoot, and the heat from the road had to be torture on their feet. I don’t know for how long the animals and the people were walking, but it was a long way. As we left the town of Urnäsch we passed one of the groups and they were walking to the village of Waldstatt 4 miles away!

In the Appenzeller region, each group consists of a small group of goats, followed by 3 or 4 herdsmen dressed in native outfits. Immediately behind the herdsmen are the three “bell cows. These are three boss cows of the herd. The bells the cows wear are harmonized to each other. The four herdsmen will either sing, or yodel to the tones of the bell whenever they come near people. After the cows pass, the owners of the herd walk. They are identified by always wearing brown. The last part of the parade is a wagon that contains all of the apparatus needed for making cheese and butter on the mountains.

In other regions of the country the parade is similar but the tradition of the bell cows is different. The cows will still wear a bell (just like almost every cow in Switzerland), but the cow will wear a headdress of flowers. Some of these get very ornate. The bells also are not nearly as large as the ones found in Appenzell.

In the spring this tradition is reversed. There is a big party because winter is over as the cows go back up to the mountains. The first half of the video below is of one of the parades we saw. The second part of the video was for the second new thing we did last weekend.


Stoos pronounced more like close in “Please close the door.” is a town located in the canton of Schwyz. The town is located 1/2 way up a mountain. There are two peaks on the mountain. Fronalpstock is the peak we visited. At the top of the mountain you look over LuzernSee (Lake Luzern, Mt RIgi, Mt Pilatus, and the city of Luzern. The other peak is named Klingenstock. One of the most famous hikes in Switzerland is between these two peaks. It is called the ridge hike, it of course goes along the ridge of the mountain where one side overlooks the ski area and the other side is pretty much a cliff about 1800 meters down. I have already told my children that if they come visit this spring we are taking that hike. They may have to leave me on the side of the mountain, but that hike looks absolutely amazing!!!!!

I do not know what the population is of Stoos. I am guessing a couple of hundred permanent residents. However, I think it would a great place for a ski vacation. It is one of the only places I have seen, here, that you can actually ski from your house to a chair lift!

Besides the views at the top, the main attraction is the ride up the mountain. You start at the bottom and board the strangest looking train you will ever see. It looks like four giant barrels pushing a half barrel. The train was built in 2017. It is a funicular training meaning it works similar to a giant gondola. There are two trains, and they are always at opposite ends from each other. The trains run on one track separated into two right in the middle, so they can pass. There is a giant cable that actually pulls the train up and lowers the train down the hill.

This is the steepest funicular in the world. At the steepest the gradient is 47 degrees, but you never realize how steep it is because the train levels the cars automatically. The train can take 1500 passengers per hour. It takes about 5 minutes to make the trip. The train climbs about 750 meters. The ride is almost 2 kilometers long. Two more tidbits of useless information. The gift shop and lodge are heated with the waste heat from the engine room of train. The hot water in the lodge is heated by capturing the braking energy of the train! Julie and I have been able to ride quite a few funiculars while here, but this was by far the most unique.

We got some good pictures of our travels last week. Another side trip we took was the the Abby Library at St Gallen. I have talked about this place many times as it is one my favorite places to visit in Switzerland. They have really opened up the rules on taking pictures. So we have quite a few pictures from the library this week. The pictures below are a panoramic picture of the ceiling, and a panoramic view of one side of the library. It amazes me each and every time I see it!

Next week there will not be a post as we are heading to Munich for Oktoberfest. I figure I will be in no condition to post while we are there, but hopefully on Monday or Tuesday my head will have cleared enough to write coherently!

Talk to you soon, enjoy the pictures.

14 September

Well I am the tail end of 48 hours with out guests for a couple of weeks. This morning, I am cleaning the house, washing clothes, and writing this before I have class this afternoon. Having guests is good. We did get another example of exactly how bad air travel is again.

My Sister and Brother in Law were originally going to be staying for three days. The airlines cost them a day, though. They got to their first airport and their flight was cancelled. (You will find out, that this makes no sense in a few sentences.) Of COURSE the cancellation was due to weather, so there was no compensation for the delay. They were forced to get a hotel in the evening, because they were rebooked for something like 5 or 6 AM the next day. They asked for their luggage back, but they were told since it had been checked it could not be retrieved. So far this makes sense. They got on the early flight the next morning, and had an 11 or 12 hour layover at the next airport before making the flight across the Atlantic.

They made it into Zurich, but this is where it gets confusing. Scot, my Brother in Law, couldn’t find his luggage on the carousel. So he gets in line to file the missing luggage report, but as the queue was moving he noticed his suitcase in an area for luggage that came in the day before. So my question for the airline is…… If there were no other flights between Indianapolis and Philadelphia (which is what they were told), how did the one suitcase make it Zurich the day before the passenger? Oh well, we still were able to have a quick visit, before they boarded a train to Italy, but I am kind of angry that we lost a day of visiting.

We didn’t have much planned for Monday. After a shower, and a couple cups of coffee we boarded a train for downtown. They got to see a little of Zurich, before they crashed Monday night. Tuesday morning, we got up early and drove to a nearby mountain town called Engelberg. It was kind of funny as we were driving there Scot told me had been there before about 35 years ago. He said the mountains looked the same, but the town seemed a lot different.

I was very happy, because this was the first time I had the perfect combination to walk over the suspension bridge at the top of the mountain. I have only take the bridge one other time. Most people see the bridge and say NOPE! My daughter walked the bridge with me, but it was cloudy so we couldn’t see anything. This week the weather was perfect.

I was shocked by the amount of construction going on. I did learn that building on a mountain is kind of hard. In fact you even have to bring your cement plant up on the mountain with you.

The nice thing is that you do not have to go very far to find the stone that you need for the concrete.

I was a little shocked at some of the building practices, however. There is a glacier up on the top of the mountain, and just like glaciers everywhere it is melting incredibly fast. The top of the glacier on Mt Titles is even covered with a blanket to try and minimize the melting. The construction, though, is making the glacier degrade much faster than it would otherwise. In one way it probably makes sense. It just doesn’t matter. There is nothing that can be done to stop the glacier from melting. The steps the government is taking simply delays the inevitable. If something really needs to be built, protecting the glacier that will disappear anyway probably does not make a lot of sense.

After we visited the mountain we made a stop by Luzern. I figured my sister needed to get a taste of Switzerland even though she had only 48 hours. So we hit the mountains, and got some pictures by arguably the second most famous place in Switzerland die Kapellbrücke (The Chapel Bridge) in Luzern. I realized that I am a really bad tourist. I was looking for a picture of the bridge, and I only have one that was not even of the whole bridge just of the tower in the middle. Oh well, I am sure I will be in Luzern at least one more time before we move back to the US! :). I would post a picture that someone else has taken, but I got burned once by posting a picture that I thought had a free copyright. I don’t want to make that mistake again. So here is a link to a Google image search Link

Our next visitor arrives in about 18 hours. It is my wife’s oldest friend. On Saturday we are going to do something we have wanted to do since moving here. We are going to one of the mountain villages for the Alpabfahrt or if we were in the french speaking part of Switzerland; Désalpe. This is the celebration that takes place at the end of every summer when the cows come down off of the mountain pastures. So I should have some more pictures and video for my next post.

I have some pictures, but I am waiting for permission from my sister to put up some of the pictures with her in them. :). So enjoy the ones for now, I will update the gallery once I get her permission.

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 BÖÖG 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 August 2023

Well the first week of school is coming to a close. I honestly do not know how my son got through Law School. Sure some of the cases are interesting reading, but lawyers talk like they have a huge stick up their bum. I mean they can’t say anything plainly. `There is no doubt that the gravamen of the deception claims is that DLS misled consumers about the data safety and security features of its products.” They could simply say “The main part of the case is that DLS lied about the safety and security features of its products.” I mean isn’t the second quote a lot more clear? 🙂

One of my professors said he recommends reading the passages two times. The first time just read it through, and then the second time read it for the meaning. I find myself going back three and four times. The second time I read something it is with an online dictionary opened up on another screen. The third time is taking notes, and then I find myself reading it a fourth time, and maybe actually understanding about 2/3’s of what I read. When I was taking the computer science classes, I found I only needed to read that stuff twice before I understood it. Why do Lawyers make this so difficult?

One of my classes has two oral exams. I am not sure how I feel about this one. The only oral exam I ever remember taking was the language one I had to take here to show the Swiss Government that I could converse like a toddler in German! IU did announce a new course that I am thinking about taking this semester. It is called Space Cybersecurity.

The description of the course sounds fascinating. This is an excerpt from the marketing page to sign up for the course;”

There is a particular need for more professionals with training in space-cybersecurity, given the reliance on space-based infrastructure for everything from weather forecasting and satellite telecommunications to broadband Internet. The reliance and growing ubiquity of space to cybersecurity, the Internet, and data governance is raising a host of questions surrounding how best to protect vulnerable space-based critical infrastructure from cyberattacks.Since Russia’s cyberattacks on space-based services provided by commercial US space companies as part of the war in Ukraine, cybersecurity of space systems is high on the agenda, spurring discussions at the White House and in Congress, and a US $700 million budget request by the Space Force for this purpose alone. At the same time, a fast-growing market has emerged, with demand for professionals and firms.”

For all my nerd friends that might read my blog here is a link to sign up for the class: Space Cybersecurity. The class meets for 11 weeks at 5 pm Eastern Time. I think I can actually do this one. It means I will get to bed about 12:30 one night a week, but I think I can handle that. I mean if I have trouble, I will just get Julie off the train, and then come back and go to bed!


The term Badenfahrt was actually coined in the middle ages. The term translates as “ride to Baden.” Baden was famous for the healing waters. For my Southern Indiana readers, Baden is the French Lick/Springs Valley of Switzerland. People used to come from all over for the thermal baths. During and immediately after the reformation Badenfahrt was a way to let your hair down, and go somewhere that you could actually have fun because Baden stayed Catholic, so things were not as repressed as the areas that went protestant. 🙂 This year marks the 100th anniversary of the modern Badenfahrt. The celebration takes place every 10 years, but every fifth year is the Klein Badenfahrt. I guess they figure 10 years is a long wait so every five years you get a smaller party,

For the two weeks of Badenfahrt the town basically becomes a HUGE bar and outdoor music festival. The bars all have different themes. Pictured below is the Wäschmachine Bar.

Inside the bars are some smaller music venues, each bar specializes in the type of music they offer. There was even a country/western and blues bar; so we North Americans could feel like home!

I am trying to convince Julie we need to go one evening this week. The weekend was great, but with the temperatures approaching 95 degrees it was REALLY HOT to be standing around listening to music and fighting the crowds. We loved the parade, though, and most of my pictures are from the parade.

Having festivals separated by years seems to be a Swiss thing. We have missed Züri Fäscht, twice. Which is another big festival that happens periodically. Züri Fäscht is every three years. We missed the first year, because I wasn’t here, yet. We were out of town for this years party. Mom and Dad is it OK if I stay in Switzerland another four years so I can go to Züri Fäscht next time? Just thought I would ask!

Every Badenfahrt is themed. This years theme was NEO- Bridging the gap between history and the future. It does seem an apt theme for a 100 year celebration! The festival is planned by a local committee, but all of the bars, and everything to run the festival is done by local clubs and civic organizations. These groups, of course, use this as a major fundraiser. Considering that over a million people will visit this town of 20,000 over two weekends it probably raises quite a lot of money.

As usual, Enjoy the pictures!!
Until next week.

19 August 2023

Well, school started this week. So it is back to studying for me. The thing that intrigued me the most about the Masters Program I am in, was the fact that I was able to take classes through three different schools at Indiana University (IU). The program is basically 1/3 from the Business School, 1/3 from the School of Informatics, Computing, and Engineering, and 1/3 from the Law School. I found it interesting the three schools could work together, and so far the most surprising thing to me is…. The school that is highest ranked at IU (The Business School) is the worst in regards to hosting online classes. The Professors have been really good, but they make it harder than the other schools to attend online. When the Business School offers an online class, a lot of the time it means you still have to attend the class at the time it is being taught. Now if I lived in Indiana, probably not a big deal, but living over here that means I have to be up at 2 or 3 in the morning for class. If I were 22 again, that might not be a big deal, but at age 58 that takes a toll on me. I was really looking forward to a class through the Business School this semester. You work on a team and with an actual client and present a Cyber Security Plan for them. I am having to drop the class though.

The first reason is because of the mandatory lectures. 1/3 of the grade is “class participation” which means I have no choice but to be up at 2 AM for class. The biggest reason, though, is that all of the deliverables are due on Thanksgiving Day. If I were just staying in Switzerland, not a big deal. Heck, there isn’t even a Thanksgiving Day here. My problem is that I will be traveling to the US the week before Thanksgiving, and will be traveling between Wisconsin and Indiana the days surrounding Thanksgiving. It wouldn’t be fair to the team I would be working with if I were unavailable when the last push to get everything done is on. So I am down to two classes.

That doesn’t worry me. I am still able to finish on time. My son, though will probably be getting a lot of emails. The two classes I am taking are through the Law School. One is a class on Privacy Laws, and the other is a class on general CyberSecurity Law. I figure my lawyer son, can be my editor for all the writing I have to do!

We are also gearing up for another stretch with a lot of visitors. I have a sister coming over early in September for a few days, then one of my wife’s best friends is swinging by after a business trip to Germany. Then we have parents coming. Julie’s Dad comes the last part of September, and my parents come early October. This is kind of what we thought it would be like with visitors. Covid, of course put a stop to that, but hopefully next year will be just as busy.

We have a trip to Munich scheduled the last weekend in September. We have wanted to visit for Oktoberfest and this year we are going for a long weekend with another couple. We are excited we got our dirndl and lederhosen all ready. I’ve been looking for a Bavarian Style hat to complete my ensemble, but so far have not found any I really like!

Castles vs Palaces

Growing up in Southern Indiana, I always thought of castles and palaces as the same. Even after my first trip to Europe I really did not understand the difference. We saw some palaces while we were visiting, but I still thought of them as the same. It wasn’t until I moved to Switzerland that I truly understood the difference. In a nutshell, palaces were the houses of the rulers, castles were what the rulers used for defence. The ruler might live in the castle, but more likely, they had a palace somewhere else, and only stayed in the castle if they were under attack.

The best example I think of in the US: Biltmore Estate is a palace. The Alamo in Texas is a castle. Of course the Alamo was originally a mission, but it was built for defence, and there was some kind of governmental functions that ran from there. I think that is a problem with “American” English. We use those terms interchangeably, whereas the rest of the world does not. In fact if you were to do a google search for castles in the the US. You will get a list of huge homes, none of which were ever fortified other than for appearance. The Alamo was truly the closest I could come up with. Though in the US maybe a castle would be called a fort? Or maybe the US CANNOT HAVE a castle because there was never a nobility class there? I truly don’t know, and will confuse myself the more I talk about it so…..

Just like the US really doesn’t have any castles, Switzerland doesn’t have any palaces. Back in the days the palaces were being built the separate areas of Switzerland were never big or prosperous enough for the ruler to build a palace. There are a couple of buildings that are called palaces here, but they were never the seat of the ruler. There are however, many castles. Julie and I visited Schloss (Castle) Kyburg last weekend.

The “cow castle” was first seen in history in 1079. The House of Kyburg was second in importance only to the Hapsburgs in this part of Switzerland. In fact, when the last Count of Kyburg died in 1264 the Hapsburgs took control of the castle. About 200 years later the CityState of Zurich bought the castle. For roughly the next 370 years the Bailiff of Zurich lived in the estate.

The bailiffs were administrators over particular territories. Zurich, back then was the largest CityState in Switzerland. Zurich had multiple Bailiffs that controlled the countryside. Kyburg was arguably the most important of these. The Bailiff was an appointed position. The appointment lasted for six years. The bailiffs were of course the “elite” of society. The bailiff had to have enough financial backing to run the household in the castle, but also had to keep the business, and household running in the city. Of course it was very lucrative to be a bailiff.

The castle set empty for about 60 years when it was purchased by a wealthy merchant. He refurbished what he could and turned it into a tourist attraction and art museum. Schloss Kyburg became the first castle museum in Switzerland. The castle has remained a museum ever since.

This weekend we are also taking it easy. I think Julie wants to go shopping downtown and spend some gift certificates, and then Sunday we are heading to the city of Baden for Badenfahrt. Badenfahrt dates back to the middle ages. It was originally a religious festival, but over time it became a secular activity. The festival is only held every 10 years; so the city really makes it special. The city of Baden has about 20,000 residents, but will have over a million visitors during the two weeks of the festival. Hopefully it will be a good time!

Enjoy the pictures from the castle!

10 August 2023

Julie had to go to London for a couple of days this week. So I decided to play instead of just staying around the house. The day that I got her off to the airport I came home got a shower, and then hopped in the car. I drove to a little mountain village named Churwalden where I spent a few hours riding an amazing mountain coaster. Yesterday, I decided I was going to go on a hike. Not any hike, I wanted to hike up Mt Pilatus. Our son did the hike last year when he was visiting. He said it wasn’t that bad of a hike; so the idiot I am decided I could do it as well. The difference being we went up different sides of the mountain. You would think that wouldn’t matter, well it does!!! The side he went up was a Class 2 hike. I tried making a class 3 hike. HUGE DIFFERENCES!

Mountain coaster

According to Google Maps there are 23 bobsled or mountain coaster rides in Switzerland. I have only been on two; so it looks like our remaining time here we will be doing some traveling around finding the different rides! Basically there are two types of rides. The Bobsled rides are an aluminum half pipe that go down the mountain. You sit on a little plastic sled with wheels and a brake lever.

The pictures above are from our weekend at Mt Pilatus a couple of months ago. The one on the left shows Julie being pulled back up the mountain. You can see she is sitting on the little bobsled. The picture on the right shows part of the track. It does kind of resemble a bob sled run. The second type of track resembles a roller coaster more than anything. The cars are similar to the bobsled run, however, it CANNOT leave the coaster track. The picture below is one I took from the chairlift going up to the start of the coaster ride.

You can see the coaster track is elevated off the ground, and you can see it is basically aluminum pipes that the car runs down, not the half pipe of the bobsled run.

The coaster offers a couple of advantages if you like excitement. Because the car cannot jump the track (and you are belted in) the course can be faster, and it has much tighter turns than the bobsled. Both rides are fun, but the adrenaline junky part of me likes the coaster better!

The one disadvantage of both rides happens when you get behind someone that doesn’t like the excitement. At Pilatus I got stuck twice on the run, because I was behind someone that wouldn’t go fast. I had to slow down so much that on a level section I stopped and had to push myself. If you go to the 3:14 point in the video below you will see what I mean!

The mountain coaster has the same problem you can see if you watch the video below. The slowdown occurs at the 7:45 mark.

While at the Pradaschier Coaster I got the pleasure of watching a Swiss Mom jump all over some middle eastern man who decided he would let his family of three kids and two other adults cut in front of about 25 of us that were standing line already. It was masterful. German is an excellent language for cussing someone out, because it just sounds so harsh anyway! The icing on the cake was watching the entire family have to get out of line and go back up to the chair lift because they walked right by the signs telling people in german and english (with pictures) that you could not take backpacks on the ride. The entire line just started laughing!

After the drive back home I got ready the next day’s adventure.

hiking up mt pilatus

Julie and have been to the mountain numerous times. We have gone up and down both sides. I knew the side I wanted to hike was more steep. What I thought, however, was that it was only going to be really steep the last few hundred meters. BOY WAS I WRONG! The trail up the mountain is broken up into three different hiking sections. Each section is between 2.5 and 3.5 kilometers long. I knew there was no way I could start at the very bottom and climb up. On that side, you have to go up two different “hills’ before you get to the actual mountain. I was going to be smart.

I have talked before about the trail rating system in Switzerland. It has nothing to do with elevation or exertion the rating scheme is all about the trail. Class 1 means a paved or gravel path, may be steep. Class 2 means dirt path with a lot of stairs, rocks or roots, and may be steep. Class 3’s definition is: mostly marked trails, may be steep in sections, risk of falling, may need hands for balance. The only equipment talked about for these three classes of trails is having good clothing and sturdy hiking boots. Now there are three more classes of trails in Switzerland, and I KNOW I will never EVER go on any thing marked 4 or higher! The first part of the hike was marked class 1. I knew it was not to bad, because Julie and I have hiked down the trail before. The second part of the hike was marked class 3.

I took the gondola up the first leg. I saved myself 3.5 kilometers of climbing, and about 90 minutes of walking. All told I was going to hike only about 7 kilometers. Since I started at 8:50 (the time I got off the gondola) that meant I would have 8 hours to hike the 7 kilometers. Easy, right? I mean heck two or three days a week I cover 8 kilometers in about an hour on my daily jogs. Of course it isn’t uphill the whole way, but still…..

The first part of the hike went exactly like I thought it would. It took me about 80 minutes to hike up the trail. I was just feeling warmed up. It was. a nice walk, and even with the couple of steep sections I was well on my way to finishing up the second half of the hike. I sat down for about 25 minutes, ate a snack and had a bottle of water.

I started on the next section, and after about three hundred meters I was thinking, “I see what they talk about with needing hands for balance.” I was going through a field along the side of the mountain. It was pretty steep and as I was scrambling over and around the rocks I would occasionally need to use my hands. Another three hundred meters I was really starting to question my sanity. The trail was going straight up the mountain, and there were chains, rope and cable that you needed to use climb up the rocks. It wasn’t quite a cliff, but if you fell, the only way you were stopping soon was to come against a tree! I started to get a little worried when I looked at my watch and realized that it had taken me over an hour and I had barely gone 1/2 a kilometer. The entire section was supposed to be only 3 kilometers, and the trail signs said that it should only take 2.5 hours to complete the hike! I finally got up the “hard” part of the trail, and I was about 1/2 way through the hike. When I looked at my watch, I realized that it took me two hours to get this far. I stopped and rested a bit, but started to worry about the time. I plotted the remaining hike on the map and told myself I am going to give myself two time points. If I do not hit those points by 1 pm and 2 pm. I am going back down. Of course once I had hit the 2 pm point, there was no turning back, because at that point I would have been 3/4 of the way through, and it would probably have taken me longer to go back down. I gave myself the two time points because the steepest section of the hike was going to be the last 400 meters. Technically I would have been only 150 meters from the finish, but it was literally straight up the mountain, so the switch backs meant a lot more walking. 400 meters doesn’t sound like much; four football fields or one lap around a track. Practically anyone can go 400 meters right? Well I never got that far to find out.

I was tired. After another short break I started walking up again. This time the path was a class 1. Nice crushed gravel path. I had my hiking sticks out and I was just going to put my head down and start walking. After 30 minutes I stopped to take a quick break and that was when I knew it was over. In those 30 minutes I had only covered a couple of hundred meters. I was looking up at the place I needed to reach in 90 minutes and knew it was not going to happen.

The chapel above was my 2 pm way point. On a straight line basis, I was probably 500 meters away, but I knew there was no way I was making it up that 500 meters in time.

I will be trying this again. However, I will be taking off the first 1/2 of the hike. I am going to also start walking up more hills. I try and avoid it as a general rule, but I think I need to get better on the hills! I feel a little bad, that I couldn’t complete the hike. But not nearly as bad as I would have felt if I had called Julie and said, “You are going to have to get home from the airport on your own. I have to spend the night on the mountain, because I did not make it up before the last gondola left.” When I try this again, I will be bringing along a blanket. Something that I can wrap around me if I can’t make it up the mountain in time. I am going to finish this climb BEFORE we move back to the US.

I have talked before about the physical effects after catching Covid last year. I have really had to change my exercise goals. I used to do a lot of climbing on the bike, but now I can’t even make a 300 meter climb without having to stop. Hopefully I can work myself up to more strenuous hiking. I guess I have the remainder of our time here in Switzerland to find out! The Doctors I have spoken with don’t give me a whole lot of hope. My heart and lungs have some long term damage from Covid, and they will either get better or they won’t. Basically I am fine as long as I keep my heart rate low. When I approach my max heart rate for even a couple of minutes my body just gives out.

I don’t have a lot of pictures this week. Only a few from my hike. I hope you enjoy them, however.

Talk to you next week!

1 August 2023

Happy Swiss Day to everyone!

1 August in Switzerland is like 4 July in the USA. This is not an independence day it is a confederation day. Not being Swiss, the strange thing to me, is that it isn’t even a celebration of the country forming. Instead 1 August, 1291 is the day the three original signers to the confederation signed a paper pledging to protect each other if one of them was ever attacked. About 60 years later the confederation had increased to eight cantons. The “country” remained that size for approximately 90 years when Zurich was kicked out of the confederation over a territory dispute. Zurich was out for only about 10 years and then it rejoined. This was the start of a very successful time in Swiss history. The confederated states gained a lot of respect in Europe by providing mercenaries on the continent, and it was in 1506 that the Pope hired mercenaries that have continuously served as the Pope’s security force commonly called the “Swiss Guard.”

For about the next 200 years there was a lot of stability in Switzerland. There was also more peace than war because the rest of Europe relied on swiss mercenaries. In the late 1700 to early 1800’s the country was ruled by the French. Napoleon restored much of the self rule and the final three cantons joined the confederation in 1814. By the end of 1815 Switzerland’s borders were set, and the rest of the world recognized Switzerland as a neutral country. Switzerland adopted it’s first Federal Constitution in 1848.

So happy Confederation Day! I now have the pleasure of not getting any sleep because the fireworks in our neighborhood started at 7:15 this morning, and will probably go all night long. Thank goodness it is raining all day, that will keep some of the noise down,

There is a short history lesson of Switzerland, now I will go back to talking about the last part of our holiday!


Julie and I have been to Munich before, but we really like the town. So when our friends were looking for someplace in Germany to visit it was at the top of our list. It also didn’t hurt that Munich is very close to Salzburg. We lost most of a day taking the train from the Alps to Salzburg, so we didn’t want to lose another by traveling to Northern Germany.

Our first morning in Munich we signed up for a walking tour of the old town. I don’t often do recommendations, BUT if you are ever in Munich you need to look into Dark History Tours. We signed up for a 3.5 hour tour, but I think everyone in our group agreed we wish we had more time. Our tour guide was fabulous. He took us through the history of Munich, but his specialty is the rise of the Third Reich. Munich was the home of the Nazi party and Taff gave us a history lesson that we will all remember.

After the tour we got on a train and rode to Dachau. So we learned about the rise of the Nazi party in the morning, and then the afternoon we got a lesson in how awful the Nazi Party was.

Dachau was the first concentration camp. It was opened in 1933, and was the blueprint for all of the other camps. There were even about 100 satellite camps in the surrounding area. The prison camp itself was only about 5 acres, but the entire facility was over 20. The other land was used for training of prison guards and other SS soldiers. For the first five years, the camp was used for german citizens. If someone spoke out against the party or programs they were sent there. In 1938 over 10,000 Jewish men were sent to Dachau. All told over 200,000 prisoners were held at Dachau. I remember reading one of the signs that at the peak of the imprisonments there over 67,000 people being held in the camp. The following is a quote from one of the speeches the day the camp was opened;

“Comrades of the SS!
You all know what the Fuehrer has called us to do. We have not come here for human encounters with those pigs in there. We do not consider them human beings, as we are, but as second-class people. For years they have been able to continue their criminal existence. But now we are in power. If those pigs had come to power, they would have cut off all our heads. Therefore we have no room for sentimentalism. If anyone here cannot bear to see the blood of comrades, he does not belong and had better leave. The more of these pig dogs we strike down, the fewer we need to feed.”

I truly do not have the words to describe the feelings I had walking through the camp and learning about the hatred and inhuman crimes that were perpetrated on the people in those camps. I am not sure I ever will.

I think what depressed me the most is thinking back to some of the parallels I hear from US politicians and citizens when they talk about the other side being evil. That was the way it started in Germany as well. When you truly think of your political opponent as evil. It can become very easy to set up a place to “re-educate” them.

Enough depression!

We ended our first full day in Munich on a high note. Had a great dinner. and then sat on the Marienplatz for drinks to end the day. It almost felt like we were on one of our camping holidays sitting around a campfire at the end of the night!

On Sunday, Julie and I had to head back to Zurich; so she could go to work; so in the morning we toured one of the most impressive palaces we have visited in Europe. The Residenz is one of the great palaces in Europe. It was home of the Bavarian Kings and Prince-Electors. There are over 130 rooms in the tour, and many of them are simply amazing! This was my second time touring the palace, and I enjoyed it as much the second time. Unfortunately, I did not take any pictures of the palace this time; so you will have to visit my last Munich post to see what the palace looked like.

The worst part was having to say goodbye to our friends. I will see two of them in November when I head back to the US for deer hunting, but we are planning on meeting in Southern Indiana next April to witness the eclipse that will be crossing North America!

Not nearly as many pictures this time, but enjoy the ones I have.

30 Juni 2023

It has been a pretty low key week. I spent a lot of time cleaning the apartment since we are having visitors. The visitors won’t be around for long though. We will spend one day around Zürich then we head to the mountains for a few days. We finish up the visit in Salzburg and Munich.

My friend’s trip has not started off the best, however. They were flying from the US to Dublin, Ireland and then on to Zürich. They were supposed to be here about 7 hours ago, but the flight was delayed leaving the US; so they missed the connecting flight. It is pretty easy to tell that the summer holiday season is starting. The four of them then had to split up to actually get to Zürich. So I leave for the airport in a few hours to pick up two, and then about 2 hours later head back to the airport again for the next two.

It is just another example of why flying really is the worst. I realize that air travel has made it much easier to explore different countries, but the air travel experience just keeps getting worse and worse.

Last weekend was a good one though. I got the chance to see one of my cousins and her husband. I had not seen them for a couple of years even before we moved to Switzerland. Out of the blue she sent me a Facebook Message about what currencies she might need on her tour this summer. I found out she was going to be in a town about 80 kilometers away; so we made plans to meet for dinner. We had a really nice evening, and it was great catching up! I really hope she enjoys the rest of her tour.

Julie and I then decided since we were already going to be in the mountains we would go for a hike Sunday before we came home. We have finally figured out the Swiss method of rating their hiking trails. Easy means paved, gravel, or at least fairly level walking surfaces. Moderate means you really have to watch where you are walking there are very few level spaces on the trail, and if you are not watching closely it will be very easy to turn an ankle. Hard means NO stable walking areas. You are scrambling over and around obstacles, and for every meter you go forward, you might go .5 a meter in the wrong direction.

So when we looked for a hiking route, we looked for something about 3 – 5 miles, that was ranked easy. What I also should have looked at was the elevation change! It was easy walking, but it was a HARD hike. 🙂

We did have a good time and got some exercise in; so those were both good things.

Two last rambling thoughts

I am sitting here writing this staring at the Cuckoo clock we bought in Lausanne. I insisted that if we were going to buy one we had to buy a mechanical clock vs a quartz “fake” cukoo clock. I really like the clock, but getting it adjusted is going to drive me insane.

You see a real cuckoo clock is moderated by the pendulum. What I mean is that you adjust the pendulum to speed up or slow down the clock. There SHOULD be some kind of marking on the pendulum to show how many seconds are impacted every millimeter you change the weight. Unfortunately, there is nothing like that on the clock we bought. I figure I will NEVER get it exact, but I should be able to get it close enough that I do not have to adjust the minute hand every day, because the clock is losing or gaining 30 – 45 seconds every hour. I am getting close. I have it now where I only need to adjust the minute hand once per day, but even that is excessive.

The first week we had it I so so frustrated I contacted the company to see if they could tell me how much the speed changed every move the weight. They were very nice, but not any real help. They wanted to sell me a new pendulum that has a screw to hold the weight in place. You can be much more precise when you are turning a screw vs moving the the weight up and down which is how I have to do it. If I don’t get it figured out soon, I will probably bite the bullet and buy one.

My second thought is: Why are the bugs less of a problem here vs in the US? In the US we had screens on every window and door, and we had air conditioning so we did not leave doors and windows open all the time. Here no air conditioning, and the temperature the last week or so has been hovering near 80. Si we have windows and doors open everywhere. I do have some screens up but all of our doors have “walk through” screens and they do not close well, especially if the wind is blowing.

With that being said today I finally had to swat the first house fly. What is the difference? No way could I have left our doors open like this in Wisconsin, and we only have one fly. It boggles my mind.

Well that is about it for today. I won’t be writing anything next week, as we will be spending time with our friends; so I will see you in about two weeks.

Enjoy the pictures.

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 Seebuckhütte. 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.

18 Juni 2023

Happy Father’s Day!

My Father and I during his visit this past spring. He is still going strong!

So our Holiday last week ended with a few days in Budapest. What an amazing place! This was on both of our bucket lists of cities and it was amazing to get it crossed off. We got really lucky on a hotel. Not knowing the city at all, you can sometimes really bomb on the hotel. It might be too far from public transportation, or simply be in an area that takes forever to get to other areas of the city. What caught my eye on this hotel was reading something that it was an area in the city that cars were not allowed. The wording made it sound like it was going to be in this really special part of the city. Well that was kind of true. That part of the city was controlled, but anyone could drive in you just had to pay for taking your car. It did cause me a lot of confusion, though. As I was pulling up the hill, I got to the arm blocking traffic, the sign was not in English; so I had no clue what I needed to do. There was a keypad and I didn’t have the code. So I had to back down the hill (thank goodness no one was behind me) until I found a place I could pull the car over and call the hotel. I felt like an idiot when the concierge simply said to PUSH the button. It turned out to be the same machine at every single parking lot I have ever entered! I just got confused by the Hungarian and the number pad.

The area was amazing though. We were up on top of the hill in the area of the castle. The view from our hotel was one of the best we have had!

Budapest, the capital city of Hungary, is a place rich in history, witnessing numerous empires, conflicts, and cultural transformations. The Ottoman rule and the tumultuous era of World War II chapters of the city’s past, separated by centuries, present contrasting narratives that shaped Budapest into the vibrant and resilient metropolis it is today.

The Ottoman Empire, at its zenith, reached its westernmost extent, encompassing vast territories including present-day Hungary. In 1541, Budapest fell to the Ottomans after a protracted siege, marking the onset of a unique and transformative era.

Under Ottoman rule, Budapest—known as Buda, Pest, and Óbuda at the time—experienced cultural fusion, architectural innovations, and religious shifts. The Turks introduced the Turkish bath culture, leaving an enduring legacy of thermal baths in the city. Prominent examples include the Rudas and Király Baths, which have retained their Turkish architectural features.

Architectural marvels also emerged during this period. The Buda Castle, a symbol of Ottoman grandeur, underwent significant transformations, incorporating elements of Islamic and Hungarian architecture. Mosques such as the Pasha Qasim Mosque and the Koca Sinan Mosque adorned the cityscape, leaving an indelible imprint on Budapest’s urban fabric.

Religiously, Islam gained prominence alongside Christianity, as mosques and minarets dotted the city. The conversion of churches into mosques, such as the Matthias Church turned Mosque of Gazi Kasim Pasha, reflected the Ottoman influence on Budapest’s spiritual landscape.

However, the Ottoman rule in Budapest was not devoid of conflict. The city witnessed numerous sieges and battles as the Habsburgs sought to regain control over Hungary. The most notable of these was the Siege of Buda in 1686 when the Holy League forces led by the Habsburgs reclaimed the city, marking the end of Ottoman dominance.

The dark clouds of World War II descended upon Budapest, entangling the city in a web of political turmoil, Nazi occupation, and Soviet liberation. Hungary, initially allied with Nazi Germany, underwent a significant transformation during this time.

In 1944, as the German forces occupied Hungary, Budapest became a battleground between the Nazis and the Soviet Red Army. The city suffered extensive damage due to heavy bombing, leaving scars on its architectural heritage. The iconic Chain Bridge, Parliament building, and other landmarks were severely affected.

Budapest also became a stage for one of the most heroic resistance movements during the war—the Budapest Ghetto Uprising. In 1944, the Jews confined to the Budapest Ghetto fought against deportation and persecution, showcasing immense bravery and resilience.

The Siege of Budapest, lasting from December 1944 to February 1945, witnessed ferocious urban warfare as the Soviet Red Army aimed to liberate the city. The siege resulted in the devastation of Budapest, with over 38,000 civilians losing their lives and many buildings reduced to rubble.

The post-war period witnessed Soviet influence as Hungary fell under communist rule. The Stalinist era brought about significant political, economic, and social changes in Budapest. Monuments glorifying Soviet leaders, such as the Statue of Stalin, adorned the cityscape. However, following the 1956 Hungarian Revolution, the statue was toppled, symbolizing a push for political freedom and democracy.

The Budapest Uprising of 1956 holds a significant place in Hungary’s history. It was a spontaneous rebellion against Soviet-backed communist rule. The uprising, primarily led by students and workers, saw widespread protests and demands for political freedom and democratic reforms. Although the rebellion was ultimately crushed by Soviet forces, it left an indelible mark on the Hungarian psyche, symbolizing the longing for freedom and resistance against oppression. One of the stories we heard on the tour that we loved was that during the uprising the rebels cut out the emblem in the center of the flag leaving a big hole, and this became a symbol against the communist government for a long time.

The Hungarian flag with the Communist logo in the center.

Julie and I both thought that should be Hungary’s flag now. It would look pretty wild seeing a hole in the center of the flag, but I think it would be very fitting.

The uprising in 1956 was the start of HungaryBudapest’s history it is a captivating tapestry, interwoven with diverse influences and period of turmoil. The Ottoman rule and the ravages of World War II left lasting imprints on the city’s cultural heritage. Today, Budapest stands as a testament to resilience, blending its storied past with a vibrant present.

Our hotel was next door to the St Martin’s Church. This was one of the most amazing churches we have seen during our tours of different cities.

Originally built in the 13th century, St. Martin’s Church served as a place of worship for the local population. Over the centuries, it experienced various architectural styles, including Gothic, Baroque, and Neo-Gothic elements, reflecting the changing tastes and influences of the times.

During the Ottoman occupation in the 16th century, the church suffered significant damage. It was later reconstructed in a Baroque style, characterized by ornate details and elaborate decorations. However, in World War II, the church suffered severe damage due to bombings, leaving it in ruins once again.

Following the war, efforts were made to restore St. Martin’s Church to its former glory. The reconstruction, which began in the 1980s, aimed to restore the church to its original Gothic appearance. Skilled artisans and craftsmen meticulously worked to recreate the intricate details and architectural features, ensuring historical accuracy.

Today, St. Martin’s Church stands as a beautiful example of Neo-Gothic architecture. Its slender spire reaches towards the sky, while the elegant façade and intricate stone carvings showcase the craftsmanship of the past. The interior of the church is equally impressive, featuring high vaulted ceilings, stained glass windows, and decorative elements that transport visitors back in time.

Beyond its architectural significance, St. Martin’s Church also plays a role in the spiritual life of Budapest. It continues to serve as an active place of worship, hosting religious services, concerts, and cultural events. The church’s serene atmosphere and stunning surroundings make it a popular destination for locals and tourists alike, offering a tranquil retreat from the bustling city.

St. Martin’s Church stands as a testament to the resilience of Budapest’s historical landmarks and the dedication to preserving the city’s cultural heritage. Its timeless beauty and historical importance make it an essential part of Budapest’s architectural and religious landscape, captivating visitors with its grandeur and historical significance.

I am glad we got to see Budapest now vs in a few years. The Government is rebuilding the Ministry of Finance on the Castle Hill. In fact they are rebuilding quite a few government buildings, but the Finance Ministry will be completed first. Our tour guide told us there will be 8000 people working out of the building. Here is the problem. I already explained that cars are limited on top of the hill, but so is public transportation. Because of the caves under the hilltop, the busses running up and down the hill are limited to a capacity of about 20 people. There are no (currently) train or tram stops at the top of the hill. I cannot imagine how awful it will be to move around up there when 8000 people are trying to get to work and leave work when one bus holds only 20 people.

New Finance Ministry Building.

Budapest was one of our favorite cities. The contrast between old and new is never more evident than here.

Our busy summer continues. Today we took a hike into the Black Forest; so I have at least one thing to write about in the coming days. Next weekend, we are meeting my cousin Julie and her husband Andy in Engleberg. They are on a European Holiday, and thank goodness she messaged me to let us know they were going to be nearby. The next weekend 4 of the absolute best friends in the world are coming. Julie and I are excited to show them the beauty of Switzerland. Then we are traveling to Salzburg, Austria and Munich, Germany.

I hope you enjoy the pictures.