I love Switzerland! I moved here years ago, and I’ve never looked back. The people – the culture – the various dialects of a language known as Alemannic (a more evolved version of High German) – there are a lot of things to love!
I’ve also tried my best in this blog to showcase Swiss artists, such as this blog of Seven Magic Mountains shows:
Well, some things I’m not going to defend – or even try. Visitors from long haul flights arrival in Qatar tired and cramped and jet-lagged, and as they de-plane the last vestiges of their good spirits and energy are violently exterminated by a hideously ugly monstrosity that awaits them – a work of art so grotesque that it is worse (if you can believe it!) than the many cases of French bubble architecture:
This hideous monstrosity is called the Lamp Bear, and its the creation of a Swiss artist, whose name I will not mention to protect his reputation. After all – perhaps this was the result if his patrons refused to properly remunerate him.
The amazing thing is that this artist’s website is full of truly incredible visual art. Which perhaps goes to show you: unless you are Michaelangelo (and you probably aren’t because he is dead) then if you are a visual artist please don’t dabble in sculpture, much less Statue-of-Liberty scale sculpture.
The Swiss city of Basel is something of an international enigma, since it sits within walking distance to no less than two countries (France and Germany) and a confederation (Switzerland). Here you will find not one train station, but two: the Swiss main train station operated by my former employer, the Swiss Federal Railways; and the Basel Badischer Bahnhof, opened in 1855 and operated by the German Federal Railways.
I took this snap in color, but due to the overcast weather it came out rather stunning, I think, in a faux black and white:
The coast of the Swiss town of Montreux is known for many interesting sculptures, and in the wintry Swiss winter this one really comes into its own:
To me, Lake Geneva is the most spectacular and breathtaking of all the Swiss lakes. It’s truly massive in size, and at least looking south into France from Switzerland it’s backstopped by some of the most awe inspiring Alps you can imagine.
Here is a panoramic shot of Lake Geneva, just north of Montreux and looking south:
I’ve heard about them for years and years and years, but I only saw one for the first time at a train station in Sargans,
I tried to buy a syringe – as far as I know, anyone can buy one, and I really need something like that for cleaning out a fancy fountain pen that I have – but sadly the machine was empty when I tried.
Many people don’t know this, but each full moon in a year has a unique name. The full moons in January, February, and March are known as the Wolf Full Moon, Snow Full Moon, and Worm Full Moon, respectively.
Well, for the last time in zillions of years the first three full moon’s of 2019 are also so-called super full moons, when the moon approaches so close to the earth that even the International Space Station is in danger of a collision!
I was privileged to have the accident of catching all three Super Full Moons on film for 2019. This is the January Super Wolf Full Moon,
This is the February Super Snow Full Moon, snapped from my apartment:
And this is the March Super Worm Full Moon, snapped from downtown Winterthur:
A ferry is plying its trade on Lake Constance between Friedrichshafen in South German and Romanshorn in North Switzerland:
One of the truly wonderful things about Switzerland is that their wonderful lakes are plied by even more wonderful ferries, as this snap on Zürisee shows,
The big cities in Switzerland like Zürich and Bern keep a small number of their old, antiquated street cars in good functioning order, then from time to time put them into limited use.
This is a snap of the “Old Timer” tram in Basel – and it raises a very good question:
Is there no phrase in German – or in the more advanced, evolved language of Basel (know as Alemannic) – besides “Old Timer?”
Continuing the series, I was lucky enough to accidentally capture not only the first full moon of 2019 over Saigon (called the Wolf Moon) – but in fact, it was a super moon.
Well, one month later there was another super moon, as you’ll see in the snap below. But . . . let me put this into perspective for you. I took this snap in the early afternoon, and in normal circumstances it would be so faint as to be invisible in the sky. Being a super moon, this was was nearly blinding!
This is the highly restricted “operations” building at Zürich airport (ZRH), where pilots brief their crews and certain nameless government protection organizations carry out certain unmentionable tasks
As part of my job at Swissport I was involved in a complicated IT transformation project that impacted the IT infrastructure at the airport – so I would come here regularly for meetings.
I thought this was a fairly artful way to capture the brilliance of the train station in Spiez,
We’re under attack! It seems these machines are now literally all over Southern Germany and Northern Switzerland! By which I mean, to date, I’ve seen two of them: one in Friedrichshafen (Germany) and one in Winterthur (Switzerland) – the latter at my local grocery store, no less.
They work like this. You deposit either a 2 EUR coin (if you are in Germany) or a two 2 CHF coins (if you are in Switzerland),
and in just 2 minutes you’ll have a little paper container of freshly popped popcorn (sweet or salty, your choice).
How does it taste? I found the kernels to be better that what you’d get at home with microwave popcorn, but not quite as good as the popcorn they serve at movies. And there was a faint taste of oil – but a type of oil I’m not used to tasting. It wasn’t bad, just different.
A swan stretching its wings on a very chilly morning on Lake Thun, deep in the Berner Oberland
Even in the very rural Swiss country of Appenzell, try as you might, you just can’t take a bad photograph of a good cow:
For a brief while I lived just a few hundred meters from here,
Nobody really knows how Switzerland’s capital city Bern got its name, but the favorite story that the locals tell goes like this: a long time ago the King was looking for a good name for the city, so he sent a team of hunters into the surrounding woods, promising to name the city after the first animal that a hunter could kill and bring back. That animal happened to be a bear, so ever since then the city has been named Bern – or, as it is known in the local Alemannic language (a more evolved form of German), Bäärn.
Beautiful snap of the mighty Aare River, transporting huge volumes of melting snow from the Swiss Alps towards the North Sea, as it enters the medieval city of Bern,
This is a scene of the mighty Niesen supervolcano, lying dormant in Winter.
There are many scientists who believe that the next eruption of this supervolcano will extinguish all life in Europe.
Continuing the series, here are some flowers at the Saturday morning street market in Thun,
For a country where murders almost never happen, it was a bit strange that Moriarty tried to kill Sherlock Holmes here, of all places. The nearest village to the famous Reichenbach Falls (site of the deed) sits the city of Meiringen, that has fully capitalized on Sherlock fame:
With a little help from Microsoft lens, here is the light display at the main train station in Winterthur:
OK, I don’t know if it is or if it isn’t, but here’s a snap I took with my mobile phone in Bern, pointed east towards Geneva and France:
What you can see in the center are tiny bits of contrails – in fact, there were many more of them but they started to disappear by the time I could get out my mobile phone and take the snap.
These “doughnuts on a rope” are the tell-tale signature of something called a scramjet engine. And the only suspected vehicle thought to sport a scramjet engine is the top secret Aurora hypersonic spy plane. Did I find one in the skies over Switzerland?
Interestingly, although the existance of the Aurora hypersonic spy plane has never been confirmed by the U.S. government, in fact scramjet engines are very well known. The University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign has a top program for aviation engineering, and a good friend of mine told me a story about them testing a scramjet engine in a large hangar – in which a dog was accidentally locked into the hangar. After the test they discovered the dog, dead – but the amazing part is that all his bones were liquified by the intense sonic pressure waves of the scramjet engine.
Here is it, a tunnel steeped in great mystery and known to extremely few people, located at the train station in Winterthur, Switzerland:
Even many residents who’ve grown up in Winterthur and have spent their whole lives here do not know that this incredible place exists!
You may ask, what is it?
The platforms at the main train station in Winterthur all have exactly two access and egress points – except for Platform 6/7. Platform 6/7 also has the usual two exits – but in addition, at the very far end of Platform 6/7 there is an exit that is only known to people willing to walk the hundreds of meters to this end of the platform. It is not visible from the platform – and it is not documented anywhere. In fact, its existence is very conspicuously hidden!
When was it built? I don’t know – but I expect very few people know.
Why was it built? I don’t know – but I expect even fewer people know.
How many people use it? I don’t know – but I expect very few people use it. It is otherwise invisible and totally hidden to the public.
But . . . inside the tunnel there are AMAZING WONDERS that I have photographed and will be sharing in upcoming blogs!