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Posts Tagged ‘Thunersee’

Our cruise along the length of the Thunersee proved again the usefulness of our First Class Swiss Travel Pass. It allowed us to go upstairs on the schiff and so to have a better view of the scenery passing us by. Also, the boat was very crowded on a busy summer’s day and those of us upstairs didn’t have the crush of people getting on and off the boat at each village dock. The Swiss annual holidays had begun, the sun was shining as it hadn’t done for a month and the Swiss were out in force to enjoy it while it lasted. We had our own table upstairs and were able to wander out onto the deck or back inside at will instead of trying to find a good viewing space on the crowded lower deck.

We had a table on this schiff because this was a luncheon cruise… and we learned a valuable lesson about ordering food in Switzerland… one that I had forgotten. What we ordered was a fresh garden salad to come at the same time as our cooked fish meal of fresh local perch, ‘eglifilet’.  We got the salad OK but the fish did not come and we gradually realised from watching others that the fish would not arrive UNTIL we had eaten our salad. Just like in the US, salad comes first.  So – not until our empty salad plate had been returned to the kitchen was our fish cooked!

I noted that many passengers had the same idea of ordering ‘egli’  for lunch. This delicious white fish dish is served simply with boiled, herbed potatoes and is a well known Swiss specialty.  It’s always been a favourite of mine. But I did wonder just how many fish were needed to supply so many well filled dishes of fish fillets.  I was assured that the fillets come from a fairly large fish that flourishes in the calm and vegetation rich waters in Switzerland’s clean lakes, brooks, rivers, and mountain streams. It  begins life as a ‘vegetarian’ but as an adult, it’s a ferocious carnivore.

“Schloss Schadau” on the banks of the lake at Thun.

While waiting for our meal, we watched the scenery slip by – and saw others enjoying meals in restaurants along the foreshore. One such place was “Schloss Schadau”. This castle, built between 1847 and 1854, now belongs to the city of Thun. It has a fine restaurant where people can enjoy wonderful scenery as well as fine food. It also houses the Swiss Gastronomy Museum said, in the brochure, to contain a ‘trove’ of cultural relics, interesting cooking devices (some now used again in modern cooking) and unusual recipes. Could be interesting!

One of those moments you just have to photograph!

Cruising further down the lake across this stunning blue water, we noticed these young sailors under tow. They not only made a great photo but they also reminded me of  many years of small boat sailing in Australia with Em when we enjoyed teaching young people the art and joy of ‘messing about in boats.”  On this day the lake was very calm – not enough breeze to fill these small sails. But it’s not always so. When the wind funnels through between these hills, small boat sailing can be quite exciting to say the least. And that water is cold, very cold; so it’s best not to capsize!

This is a very deep lake with steep slopes down to the water.I can only imagine how difficult it is to manage vineyards here.

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Getting home up steep slopes like these keeps one very fit! I know. To get home to our house in the village of Walchwil required just such a steep uphill walk especially as our car was garaged down by the lake. Unlike Walchwil, this village has not been spoiled by modern architecture – there’s not a flat roof in sight. And that’s probably because this is an area where snow lies thick in winter. It’s a dormitory area for the many ski slopes around here.

The mountains of the Bernese Oberland loom over the hills beside the lake.

The area between Thunersee and the mighty mountains of the Monch, the Eiger and the Jungfrau was a favourite ski area of ours; Lauterbrunnen, Murren, Wengen, Grindlewald… all of them just over that hill. And it’s a fantastic place to hike in the spring and summer when the wild flowers are out. And in the autumn, this area is sublime in its beauty. Wonderful memories.

Another example of Swiss engineering.

Em and I often travelled these roads, carved through rock faces which drop straight down into the lake. Cruising on the lake is so much more relaxing!

The schiff calls in at the tiniest of villages like this one. They are often the starting points for walking tracks in the hills.  Hikers get off the schiff to walk to the next village – village people get on to cross the lake – it’s all part of the great Swiss transport service.

A tiny ‘beach’ and well patronised restaurant at the end of the lake.

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Paragliders take to the air from the hills behind the lake.

Watching these paragliders float through the air while we waited for our next train at Interlaken station made me think that perhaps we all need to dare to dream,  dare to do, dare to take opportunities that come our way, in order to help make our lives rich and rewarding. These are  tandem flights – a professional taking a ‘dreamer’  with them, someone who has dared to dream of floating way, way above the stunning scenery below.

While a desire to paraglide has never been a dream of mine, this trip back to Switzerland reminded me of two young people who dared to dream and have goals for their careers – and we went about achieving those goals, worked hard, had fulfilling lives and were not left wondering ‘what if!’ I guess it’s one reason why, now that I’m retired, I’m still so passionate about encouraging young people to dare to dream, to take opportunities and work to achieve their goals.

The next train cut short my thoughts. We climbed on board and proceeded onwards with our day, visiting yet more places that brought back a flood of memories of so many days spent in this wonderful Swiss countryside… for Switzerland became like a second home to Em and to me… a place we returned year after year for both work and for holidays… and it was so good to come back yet again.

Photography © JT of jtdytravels

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Mediaeval Thun and its beautiful lake in the Interlaken region of Switzerland was the first goal of our third day in Switzerland and this day proved just why a First Class Swiss Transport Pass is the way to go.  To begin the day we took an intercity express train from Zurich via Berne to Thun.  It’s a longish journey made more comfortable by first class seats upstairs with plenty of leg room and great views of the countryside.  First class on trains is good!

Added to that we had the company of a delightful Swiss lady fellow traveller, Monica, and her 88 year old Mother.  They were on a trip down memory lane, too. Monica was able to fill us in on a lot of what is going on in Switzerland today – especially on the numbers of wealthy German and Austrian people moving to Switzerland because of the world economic downturn and the EU crisis.  This is forcing up housing and land prices in Switzerland and is beginning to have a real impact on ordinary Swiss folks, especially the young people.

We arrived in Thun with an hour to spare before our schiff departed to cruise down the lake. We had to choose – a walk in the old town – turn left; or a walk beside the river -turn right. We chose the quiet walk by the river. Water from the Lake of Thun – the Thunersee – rushes through a weir into the Aar River at Thun.

There are many photos of Thun on the Images section of Google, so I have just added photos of our experience.

I was particularly intrigued by the life saving belt attached to the fourth floor balcony of one of the houses on the banks of the fast flowing river below the weir. Any one falling into the river at this point would be swept away long before that belt hit the water! As usual in Switzerland, balconies are festooned with flowers.

The sluice gates of the old wooden weir were open allowing a great rush of water through. The weir also acts as a covered bridge across the river. In summer it’s festooned in red geraniums – always a favourite of the Swiss.

Cog wheels and machinery for the sluice gates on the bridge are just another example of engineering in Switzerland that has stood the test of time.

The river above the weir looked peaceful enough but was it? These old wooden piles on the weir/bridge have stood for many years against the forces of water.

These Moorhens had to dive constantly to find food for their chicks.

The river here looked placid enough but it was far from placid for these little chicks. It was hard work.

Residential area along the banks of the river. Unlike other places we had seen, here the old and the new architecture seem to work well together.

There are several large villas along the river, some with their own ‘summer houses’ and jetties.This one looked inviting.

For those without their own boats, there are flat bottomed boats for hire to explore the lake.

A walk along this side canal shows off the delightful setting that Thun enjoys at the foot of the great mountains.

An old paddlewheel steamer “PS Blumlisalp”, built in 1906, waits for passengers in the side canal which acts as the ‘port’ for the start of lake cruises on the Thunersee.

The information below is from the web site http://www.paddlesteamers.info   which claims to be ‘the Internet’s leading database of Paddle Steamers past and present’.

Lake Thun’s Paddle Steamer, PS Blumlisalp dates from 1906 but,after withdrawal in 1971, it seemed that the era of the paddler had come to an end on Lake Thun. An unprecedented preservation and, ultimately, restoration project by enthusiasts with significant public support, saw Blumlisalp reenter service in 1992. She is owned by preservationists but operated by her original owners the BSL who maintain ownership of the motor vessel fleet. (The BLS is the Bern-Lotschberg-Simplon Railway, which also operates the local railway services). The recent major renovation was paid for by the preservationist group with financial support from the BSL.  (Long may she sail! JT)

Having always been interested in water birds, I was delighted to see some tufted ducks enjoying this peaceful canal.

Our Motor Schiff, the Berner Oberlander, also moored in the canal, was almost ready to sail, so we joined the queue to embark for our cruise down the length of the lovely lake, the Thunersee.

More of that cruise anon.   J and A

Photography © JT of jtdytravels

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