This is the view of Castle Kyburg (Schloss Kyburg) that I see every morning on my long 15 km Nordic trekking through the forests in Winterthur:
It’s over 1000 years old. You can’t really see WHY anyone would want a castle here, from this perspective, but in fact the castle sits above a river, and therefore it has a very strategic location – at least from a middle ages point-of-view.
This is not the building where I live:
But it is in the same complex, and when the complex was renovated last year I got to meet and exchange some experiences with the project manager for the double-digits renovation. We seemed about the same age and the same level of experience. But although I manage projects in IT, I thought we really had a few good things in common. For example, quality.
According to him the source of some of his biggest headaches was “I told you to drill a hole in this wall, at this height; you drilled it in the wrong wall, at the wrong height.” Now, maybe I‘ve just been lucky to work with great people, but my quality issues have always been along the lines of developers who want to goldplate their solutions – not developers who don‘t deliver the expected quality.
But about a year later, I took on the role of building facilities manager at Swissport, where I managed the consolidation and move of the entire IT department into a brand new building. And in fact, sooner not later, I ran into exactly the same challenge: our network architect spent an entire day and he very, very carefully measured our WLAN signal strength and determined exactly the right spot to mount each and every wireless access point for optimal strength and coverage. But the contractors I hired did exactly the wrong thing, despite both drawings and verbal instructions, mounting them on exactly the wrong walls in exactly the wrong locations!
It was an amazing privilege for me to get a little insight into projects that are a bit different than IT. And it was a treat to experience the same project struggles that a real building renovation project manager told me about!
A familiar sight to anyone who visits the cheese factory in Gruyères – but probably not well known outside of that. Cheese is produced in an ongoing process, in which the day’s shipment of milk is processed into “wheels.” The wheels are are stored very neatly in a climate controlled warehouse the size of a football field.
And a robot, shown here in the center, attends to their daily needs, flipping each wheel over on its face, dusting off the surface, and – unless I miss my guess – spraying it with a light saline solution.
This is a snap from arguably the most important of all passes through the Swiss Alps, the Gotthard Pass:
Again, since I never re-touch or edit my snaps in any way- what you see is what I got! – this has to be one of my favorites, with the intense green contrasting a very thin white band of atmosphere just above the horizon.
Although you can see it here, several hundred feet below the ground is an Autobahn tunnel, that I mentioned in a recent blog post.
If you are interested and get the chance, there is a fabulous historical movie that depicts the tunnel building efforts. It’s fascinating because it addresses things you might think about (the horse caravan industry that transported goods across the Gotthard Pass in the summer was threatened existentially) and things you might not (huge problems with disease, simply because the long tunnel and sanitary conditions at the time did not permit the transport of human waste out of the tunnel).
By no means an uncommon sight in Switzerland, and known as a purple heron, or Ardea purpurea. I spotted this one resting on a boat in Lake Zurich:
This is Ansel Adams, who everyone knows is the most famous photographic artist since the camera was first invented:
Interestingly, at least according to what I read, he never identified himself as a photographer, but rather as “an artist that used the medium of photography.”
And this is one of his masterpieces, the church at Bodega Bay:
Well, now it’s my turn!
Recently, at about the midpoint of my daily morning 15km Nordic walk, I captured what I thought was a magnificent snap of a church in Winterthur, basking in the early morning sunlight:
This snap has not been retouched or enhanced in any way. It’s snaps like this – fresh out of my little point-and-shoot camera – that really keep me going!
This is a snap of some houses outside of the medieval village of Gruyères:
The “s” at the end always confused me, so I finally looked it up. The village is named Gruyères, with an “s.” But it is located in a district called La Gruyère, no “s” in the Swiss canton of Freibourg.
The snow covered peak in the background is La Moléson, sort of a mini version of the more famous Matterhorn, reaching just over 2000 meters in height.
It looks like I’ve climbed down between the railway tracks to take this stunning shot of the railway station at Olten, in Switzerland, meaning there would be mere seconds before a ultra high speed train crashed into me:
Allemanic is the more evolved form of High German spoken in Southern Germany and Switzerland, and many people consider Olten to lie on a language boundary that separates the Zürich form of Allemanic from the Bern form.
Funny story – but true: there is a train conductor for the Swiss Federal Railways that has the route from Zurich to Geneva. Between Zurich and Olten he greets the passengers with the Züridüütsch greeting “Grüezi wohl.” Between Olten and Freibug he switches dialects and greets the passengers with the Bäärndüütsch greeting “Grüessech wohl.” And between Freiburg und Geneva he switches languages completely and speaks French, “Bonjour Madams, Monsieurs.”
A mathematician would say it like this: If C is the set of all good cows, and B is the set of all bad photographs, then the intersection of C and B is the empty set. But it is easier to just look and see, as I tried to catch the combined emotions of satisfaction and self-indulgence in this cow, just freshening up after a busy day of chomping on fresh, Gruyères grass shows:
Switzerland is the land of cheese – well, it is the land of plenty more things than just cheese, too, but you have to give the Swiss a lot of credit for their cheese. And to take a lot of credit for their cheese, they need a lot of cows. And to keep a lot of cows well fed in the winter, they need a lot of grass.
So sights like this are a common one all over Switzerland in the warm summer months, as the farmers ensure their clipped grass dries thoroughly in the sun:
Tractors themselves are amazing, amazing things, and there are literally hundreds of different attachments that farmers can buy. Because I lived for nearly a decade in America’s farm land, I knew many farmers and I got to know a thing or two about tractors: this tractor above is pulling a so-called rotary rake. I’m afraid I don’t know what it’s called in German.
It is a physical impossibility to capture a bad photograph of a genuinely good cow, as this snap of many cows relaxing in the Swiss Gruyères countryside shows. They are very content in the knowledge that although their babies may now be Züri Geschnetzeltes, soon their milk will Switzerland’s most famous brand of cheese:
Continuing the series, this is a very interesting snap for two reasons and three directions! The first reason, direction to the left, denotes where the German speaking half of Switzerland begins. The first reason, but direction to the right, denotes where the French speaking half of Switzerland begins. And the second reason, direction down under, is a hidden canal you cannot see!
But to prove there is really a canal here, as is my usual custom, I simply turn 180 degrees and take the following snap:
The boundary between the German speaking and French speaking sections of Switzerland is often known as the Röstigraben. Rösti (the Swiss version of American hash browns) is a famous dish in the German section of Switzerland, and Graben is a very old German word meaning moat.
Continuing the series, this is a crane that I spotted in the Swiss village of Oberwinterthur,
This is an enormous, 20-foot-tall shiny metal statue of a girl, located in front of a hotel in Zürich:
I thought this snap of the Swiss village of Elgg was rather artistic, shown here through the blurry trees:
Every year there is a street festival in Winterthur called the Albanifest. Here’s a snap, but it really doesn’t do the festival justice:
In fact, the Albanifest is the largest yearly street festival in all of Europe! There are well over 100 stands from local restaurants, dozens and dozens of temporary halls for music and dancing, and it’s visited by well over 100,000 people!
Interestingly, I originally thought this festival was to honor the population of Albanians who live in Switzerland. In fact, it’s name honors this fellow:
That’s St. Alban, one of the patron saints of the city of Winterthur!
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: