Tuesday, September 29, 2009

Avenches - Romans

Avenches was the old Roman city, Aventicum. Come here for your sports, gladiators, wild animals, and then relax in the baths with heating by pipes under the floor. See ://history-switzerland.geschichte-schweiz.ch/old-swiss-capital-aventicum.html/ There is a fine Hostel here, but it takes a GPS to find it. That is the difficulty with Hostels and other specific locations. How to get there without wasting time. We did stay at the Hostel here because our GPS worked that one day, but otherwise took whatever little spot we could find near the center of the Old City wherever.

A working town.  And no chalets of note - yet.

Roman amphitheater, Avenches, Switzerland

Staging and tower area, Roman Amphitheater, Avenches, Switzerland

Fribourg - Ramparts and Doner Kebabs.

First, the ramparts.  

As in "O'er the ramparts we watched ...."

Fribourg was established in the early 1100's.  Its Old Town is full of fountains, churches, other 12th-17th Century structures - and at the ramparts, the University of Fribourg.  The city is the capital of the canton also named Fribourg. Its medieval fortifications are among the largest in Switzerland, some 2 km of ramparts, 14 towers, and a bulwark.  See ://www.economicexpert.com/a/Fribourg:Switzerland.htm/.  Fine overview at ://www.jakobsweg.ch/en/way-james/amsoldingen-romont/city-of-fribourg.html/

The medieval town here runs from cobbled streets and squares, then up to the fortress area, where the fine university is now located.  See ://switzerland.isyours.com/e/guide/mittelland/fribourg.html/  It is an easy ride from arrival in Geneva, and after seeing Lausanne and Lucens. 

Steps to Wall and Ramparts, Fribourg, Switzerland

Now, the food. The doner kebabs.

Doner kebabs:   These are Turkish, a compressed revolving angled cylinder of meat, always at the heat source, with the shopkeeper shaving off what is needed for a crusty sandwich platter with tomato, onion, lettuce and fries and sauce.

This ultimate fast food is now worldwide, and is called donair in Canada. See ://www.middleeastexplorer.com/Turkey/Doner-kebab-in-the-world/ Excellent for late afternoon (order one for two), taking the edge off so when time for dinner comes, a more economical dish will satisfy. In Greek, with the pita, a gyro. All with variations.

Hear and see some made in ethnically correct settings at ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=YZ0dw-fKFUo/ or ://www.youtube.com/watch?v=SD8d087ZTZo&NR=1/

Find more (any country probably has them) in Italy competing with the pasta, at Italy Road Ways, Turin Doner Kebab, Global Fast Food.

Our lady did not sing.

Saturday, September 26, 2009

Lucens, Castle, Sherlock Holmes Museum

Lucens, Switzerland

Many towns are crowned by a chateau or castle. Lucens, between Lausanne and Fribourg, also boasts a Sherlock Holmes connection.  There is a museum here (closed, sadly, on our day) that recreates the spirit of the sleuth, see ://www.swissinfo.ch/eng/specials/Two_Sherlock_Holmes_museums_in_Switzerland_Elementary.html?siteSect=22121&sid=781152&cKey=1251704158000&ty=st&rs=yes/.
Arthur Conan Doyle's son set it up in the 1960's, the castle then became private, and only recently has a museum reopened in a little house down the road from it.  The memorabilia is again public. Highlights: Doyle the writer,  and a recreation of his drawing room at 221B Baker Street, London.  It claims to be more authentic than other museums, with items actually belonging to Doyle, and the castle there was a favorite of Doyle's as a child.   See also ://www.lake-geneva-region.ch/en/page.cfm/excursionsnature/withfamily/Childrenmuseums/SherlockHolmesMuseum/

Sherlock Holmes Museum, :The Red House", Lucens, Switzerland

Monday, September 21, 2009

Lausanne - Major Davel, Chateau St. Marie

The Thirty Years' War. Switzerland was able, by uniting within its borders rather than strictly along confessional lines, to forge a unity despite religious difference, ultimately. But before that happened, there were incursions of one group against the other as elsewhere in Europe. See ://www.swissworld.org/en/history/the_17th_century/the_30_years_war/Fortunes of Catholics vs. Protestants - back and forth. In this episode, Protestant Bern had annexed the canton of Vaud, where Lausanne is located.

One Major Davel, full name Major Jean Daniel Abraham Davel, was a Catholic who tried to lead a revolt against the Bernese Protestants, and lost - his head, literally, in being executed in 1723.  Here it looks as though the flying lady nearby is either reaching out for it, or to catch it.  It is in three dimensions. She does not have wings. Perhaps she is blessing the effort.

The chateau was built in the 1500's, and became the residence of the Bernese bailiff. See

Lausanne - Cathedrale Notre-Dame (Protestant since Reformation)

Designs of great pipe organs in great cathedrals - too often lost in the focus forward.  Here is the organ at Lausanne's Cathedrale Notre-Dame, the Notre Dame of Lausanne.  The green color appears also at www. posted.post-gazette.com/.  Others show more whiteness. Exposures vary.

The pipe organ is American-made, by Boston's Fisk Company, and is new - installed in 2003.  Cost? Four point two million dollars, says the Post-Gazette site.

The Cathedral itself was built (of course) as a Roman Catholic building, was consecrated by Pope Gregory X in 1275; then converted when the Protestant Bernese took over this French area during the Reformation.  See this view of a mooning - it would date from the original construction. 

Whether the mooning here  it is reverent or not (was the mason a believer?), depends on the beholder.

Copy and past at your long address bar to get to the site and see the picture. We do not know how to reduce it to a thumbnail so we could use it.

Ask Mr. Routard, at ://www.routard.com/photos/suisse/71251-insolite_ou_diabolique.htm/. God did show his hind parts to Moses, so there is scriptural support - see Martin Luther's Stove, Foggy Texts.  We did not happen to see that item on our visit.

Pope Gregory X, who consecrated the Cathedral, admirably debunked the accusation du jour that Jews ate Christian babies, and declared that Christians not be believed against Jews in this matter unless the Jew was caught in the act, see Letter on Jews at ://www.fordham.edu/halsall/source/g10-jews.html

Here is the side portal of Lausanne's Cathedral, known as the Painted Portal (look closely).  It is being repaired, and is described in a google book, Gothic Architecture, at ://books.google.com/books?id=_6p4tE3aDVMC&pg=PA59&lpg=PA59&dq=Cathedral+Lausanne+side+portal&source=bl&ots=P8XhM3pxXT&sig=qrp67teuATFkiRI17mBzsZOJWmw&hl=en&ei=Uau3SoO_NsrQ8QbixbGTDw&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=3#v=onepage&q=Cathedral%20Lausanne%20side%20portal&f=false/.

Doors. Keep you out, let you in. Look at both sides. Here, a Cathedral door from the outside, weatherworn, with its panels and decoration:

From the inside, just as interesting with locks and security: Blogger, what happened to the photo upload symbol?

Friday, September 18, 2009

Passes: Brunigen, Susten, Sarnen, Klausen, Saanen

Getting There
There are always the autobahns between major hub cities, much like a tinkertoy setup. The passes here are not autobahn routes - these are cross-country, switchbacks, sometimes one lane, or 1 1/2 lanes, with a lay-by for passing.

I.  Brunigen, Susten and Sarnen Passes

These will take you roughly from Bern to Altdorf, where resides the legend of William Tell.

Even on a level place, do not expect to make time. In fog, listen for the cowbells.

There is often a tiny community of little houses built into the mountainside at the tops of most serious passes.

These are passes that can accommodate two-lane traffic most of the time, if everyone goes slow, and creeps around the corners.  The sharpest corners may have an extended part of paving at that corner.

Where the pass is one-lane, there will be a reasonable lay-by in view, most of the time, where one of you will tuck in while the other slides by.  Be prepared for mirrors to click.

Find these if you go the route from Lucerne to Altdorf that travels down from the west side of Lake Lucerne.  The safer route is down the east side, but you will not know that until you are committed - the main road just stops on the west side, leaving you to maneuver about.  Not to worry.  We learned to believe the map - if the line stops, it stops. Susten Pass: The Stein Glacier is up there, and a lake called the Steinsee.

2.  Klausen Pass:

The Klausen Pass will take you from Altdorf (William Tell) to Maienfeld (Heidi)

Do a Bing topographical search for Klausen Pass and see what this is like.

A mere road map will not do. Start at Altdorf there, and then scroll over the vast expanse to Maienfeld, north of Chur. Better yet, search for Maienfeld, and then expand outward until Altdorf shows. All switchbacks, mountaintops, then a flat valley and D.C. al fine. :||.

Community, monitor or herders' huts, perhaps refuge, Klausen Pass, Switzerland

At roadside, steep, cows by car window, Klausen Pass, Switzerland

Stop the car and hear the cowbells. Longer. 

View down, Klausen Pass, Switzerland

Huts at top, Klausen Pass, Switzerland

3.  Saanen Pass.

A somewhat lower pass or series of passes takes you from Montreux to Interlaken, with a lovely valley at Gstaad - famous ski resort. Looking for the name of the pass.  The town of Saanen is there.

For an idea of the terrain, read this 1867 account of Saanen (the pass could be the Saanen Col or Saanen Pass, partially) to Sion, an end-point more to the south. 
  • Go to A Handbook for Travellers In Switzerland at page 138, Route 41, by John Murray, who went by horse.  See this Google book at http://books.google.com/books?id=NwANAAAAYAAJ&pg=RA1-PA138&lpg=RA1-PA138&dq=Saanen+pass&source=bl&ots=aFyKRhoDFf&sig=dgxVO6wNi7VyVnhdlcJJOmfqL_g&hl=en&ei=F0HdSozCC4ri8Aapy7xi&sa=X&oi=book_result&ct=result&resnum=2&ved=0CBAQ6AEwAQ#v=onepage&q=Saanen%20pass&f=false.
  • Scroll to the next page for Route 42 and see what looks like ours exactly:  his Thun to Vevay, our Montreux (next to Vevey) to Thun, north of Interlaken. This book, at least in excerpts, is a must-read, a time capsule of travel 150 years ago:  horseback, by foot, on or with mules, chairs with bearers (keep reading for a few pages further), carriage with 6-9 seats takes 9 hours Vevey to Thun. Inns, mineral waters, cheeses.
 Byron called this route "as beautiful as a dream."  See the Murray book at 141.

Is it true that the uphill legs of Alpine cows are shorter than the downhill?

This possibly is part of the Klausen, not the Saanen. This looks milder, so we think Saanen.

John Murray calls the mountainnat the Montreux or Vevey end of the route, by the French, the Dent de Jaman. Would that be Tooth of Jaman? The profile of the mountain looks like the view from Montreux or Vevey looking east.  See ://www.randonnee-pedestre.ch/index.php?marche=dent-de-jaman&site=montagne/

Ask, and the Airline May Give: The Missing Luggage

Missing something? It may not be too late after all. Airways can be nice, and - if not holding a flight, not rushing the door shut either.

Here, we were suddenly missing the bigger carryon - that we put the two little carry-ons in, for the plane. Quick! Call the tour limousine driver on his way home. There it is, on the floor in the back, and with maps in it.

Fast - plane leaving, there the nice lady in the uniform runs, bag in hand, in quick, toss it back, out, shut the door and we're off. Air Canada, Hartford to Montreal, and then to Geneva. The lady said if we had huffed and insisted, they would not have gone out of their way. Manners, manners. Civility and calm. Works for effective legislators and hapless travelers. Thanks, Air Canada.

If you Russian doll-up the carry-ons, you end up with more useful sacks when we get there. Handy for junk in the trunk, and tucking away the foul weather gear and extras.