Monday, May 23, 2016

Day 6

Berne

Berne is the capital of Switzerland. Berne is a major industrial center with a focus on the pharmaceutical industry, the chocolate-making industry, and the graphic trades. Berne has been a member of the Swiss Confederation since 1353; much of the city is preserved and is a heritage center.

The travelers took a tour of the city, including the Old Town and the Rose Garden. Then the group enjoyed lunch at a working farm, so everyone could see how people in Switzerland live in the mountains. In the afternoon, some of the group toured the Trummelbach Falls, Europe's largest subterranean water falls, located in the Lauterbrunnen Valley (often called the valley of 72 waterfalls).

"Berne" means "bear." Travelers saw real bears on display at the Rose Garden in the following photos. 



The following photos are of Berne, taken from the Rose Garden. 




Sunday, May 22, 2016

Day 5

Zermatt

Travelers spend Day 5 in Zermatt, enjoying the vineyards and the apricot groves of the lower Rhone Valley. The Swiss vineyards produce much of the country's needs. Grapes are grown in Ticino, the valleys of the Rhone, and the south (facing slopes above Lake Geneva, Lake Neuchatel, Lake Biel, and Lake Zurich.

Swiss wines are rarely exported because they are in such demand in Switzerland. The demand is greater than the supply. Until the 1950s, Swiss wine was of poor quality.  But a statue was passed, which imposed strict quality controls over wine growers, and from that point forward, the wines have improved greatly.

It's snowing! The clouds are so dense that you can't see the Matterhorn. Snow prediction is about 3 inches. School age children, bundled up in snow apparel, can be seen walking through the village on their way to school.


Leaving heavy snow (8 inches by 1pm), the Travelers arrived at Montreux on the shores of Lake Geneva by late afternoon. Lake Geneva is the largest lake in Europe, and it separates France and Switzerland. Standing from the hotel balcony, one can see the shores of France. 

Shown below are the town of Montreux and the beautiful architecture of its buildings, and some of the travelers at dinner in the Safron Restaurant. 





Saturday, May 21, 2016

Day 4

Stresa, Swiss Valais, and Zermatt

Leaving Lake Lugano, we travel to the Italian shore of Lake Maggiore for a stop in Stresa, Italy.  From Stresa, we travel to Swiss Valais, an area known for its excellent wines and great mountain resorts. A stop in Simplon Pass brings the mountains even closer with the elevation at 7000 feet.  Snow topped mountains surround the sparse cottages and businesses.  In Tasch, we board a mountain train to the most famous resort in Zermatt.  Zermatt's elevation is at 5000 feet; as a result, the only route to the resort village is by train. Zermatt is car-free.  People walk from their chalets to their places of business or to shop. The rustic chalets are beneath the Matterhorn (a mountain in the Pennine Alps on the Italian-Swiss border.)

Snow topped mountains surround Simplon Pass

Snow topped mountains surround Simplon Pass

Windmill generating power on the mountain

Windmill generating power on the mountain

Chalets in Zermatt
Travelers are ready to relax in the hotel in Zermatt following a long day on mountain roads

Friday, May 20, 2016

Day 3

St. Moritz to Shores, Lake Como, and Lugano

Leaving St. Moritz, a most ritzy area, we travel to the shores of Lake Como, Italy, and then to the tip of Switzerland, stopping in Lugano, a subtropical resort town.

Switzerland is one of the smallest countries in Europe, both in terms of area and population. Covering 15,943 square miles, it has about 7 million people, including about one million immigrants. Switzerland is land locked--bordered on the west by France, on the north by Germany, on the east by Austria, and on the south by Italy.

Town of Dongo, attractive community on the drive to Lugano
Children eating a snack on the Dongo marker in the center of the community

Thursday, May 19, 2016

Day 2

Lake Zurich, Lake Walen, Alps, and Liechtenstein

The travelers enjoyed an orientation walk in Zurich and tasted chocolate pralines at the famous Sprungli Confectionary. (Swiss chocolates are world renowned.)  Next, we took a scenic drive along Lake Zurich and Lake Walen through the Alps and to the Principality of Liechtenstein.  We continued our journey through the Rhine Valley into the mountainous Grisons (a canton or division of country). 

The Grisons is Switzerland's largest canton, occupying about 1/6 of the country, about 2800 square miles.  The area is largely rural; many of the people are employed by the exclusive winter resorts in the area.  There are about 100 resorts in the region. 

​People in the Grisons speak the Swiss German, Italian, and Romansh languages. ​

Shown below are images from a walk in Old Town in Zurich and the Sprungli Confectionary.














Wednesday, May 18, 2016

Day 1

Zurich, Switzerland

We are safe in Switzerland! Upon our arrival we were transported to our lovely hotel, Movenpick Zurich Airport. Then it was a quick nap and off to see what Zurich had to offer.  Doreen and I were able to reach the Central District of Zurich by train. Despite the rain, we were able to get in some sightseeing of the historic Central District. Before, returning to the hotel we stopped for Waldfascht, Swiss pork sausage and onion rings, at a local café.