Agelenopsis Potteri (grass spider)

Ande found this furry critter scurrying around on the floor of our tv room. I snatched her from the claws of certain death-by-goldendoodle, stuck her in a jar and photographed her. I used my two iPhone 4Seseses to dump as much light on her as I could, since I don’t have an off-camera flash. Once I got the shot, I released her outside. No arachnids were harmed in the making of this photo.


Cicada

A cicada showed up in our driveway. My last encounter with a cicada was cool, but I was disappointed that I didn’t have a macro lens. I have a macro lens now so I didn’t want to miss this. I even used the gorilla pod and the remote trigger. I know, so serious, right?

Cicada face

I stuck a penny under his head, to give some perspective.
Cicada with penny


Walking the dog

A mother and child take the toy dog for a stroll in Zermatt, Switzerland.

This might be my most favorite photograph, that has come out of my camera, to date.


Rapperswil Castle

Rapperswil Castle (Schloss Rapperswil) at sunset

a.k.a. Schloss Rapperswil, in the Swiss German, is a castle in the town of Rapperswil, where we spent the bulk of our time last month. It was built in the mid-13th century but since 1870, has been home to the Polish National Museum created by Polish emigrants, more specifically, the castle’s lessee and restorer, Count Wladyslaw Broel-Plater.

To a casual observer, such as myself, the collections inside the museum are not extensive and the layout seemed somewhat random, but I might be judging harshly because I didn’t understand much of what was written about the displays; even the stuff that was written in English. Still, just walking around in a nearly 800 year old building is pretty darn cool.

stained glass in Rapperswil castle

stained glass in Rapperswil castle

inside Rapperswil castle

Rapperswil Castle at twilight

The view from the tower
from the tower in Rapperswil castle

from the tower in Rapperswil castle


Rigi

Now that we’ve been home for a week, and kind of a crazy week at that, I can finally post some more photos.

Our second weekend in Switzerland, we took a short trip from Zurich to Arth-Goldau, where we took a cogtrain to Rigi Klösterli and began our ascent to Rigi Kulm. The elevation at Klösterli is a little more than 1300 meters and the peek at Kulm is at about 1800 meters.

Here’s the view looking north from close to where we got off the train at Klösterli. In the lower right corner, you can see a portion of the tracks from the cogtrain. I believe that’s Lake Lauerz and the Kleiner Mythen (the darker peaks in the upper right) in the distance.

Here’s a look at our destination, several miles away, Rigi Kulm (the red and white radio tower).
looking up at Rigi Kulm

And a closer view from the same point on the path.
close up of Rigi Kulm

The view to the south. The Bernese alps.
Bernese alps from Rigi

Along the way, we met some new friends.
a wooden Swiss-flag-wielding statuette greets hikers along the way to Rigi Kulm

I expected to see some sort of sign, telling me who this guy was. Alas, I guess I’ll just have to make up my own story.
creepy one-eyed book holding guy

Looking to the northwest, over the town of Küssnacht, from roughly 1600 meters up.
Küssnacht from Rigi

Rigi Kulm, from Staffel. We’re getting closer!
Rigi Kulm from Staffel

Finally made it!
Rigi Kulm

It was an exhausting trek; mostly because of the snow. But it was a blast and I can’t wait to do it again.


Walking in Rapperswil

A selection of photos shot while strolling through another splendid old town in Switzerland, near Zurich.

walking in Rapperswil

walking in Rapperswil

walking in Rapperswil

walking in Rapperswil

walking in Rapperswil

rainbow over Rapperswil


Thun

After spending the night in Mürren, our plan was to visit the Jungfraujoch, but the mountains were shrouded in fog. No point in going to the top of a mountain when you can’t see your nose in front of your face. So, we began our journey to Rapperswil, where we’re spending the majority of our time in Switzerland.

On our way to Rapperswil, we made an unscheduled stop in the village of Thun. We noticed a castle there, on our way to Mürren, and figured it might be fun to see what that was about. This turned out to be one of the highlights of the trip so far. This town is so beautiful and picturesque; manicured nearly to perfection. I’m so jaded. It feels like every place of historical significance in the states has been taken over by Disney and there is so little of anything that’s authentic anymore. But Thun felt every bit as authentic as it was manicured.

So we walked from the train station up towards the castle, stopping along the way to snap photos here and there. That top photo is looking across the river, up towards the castle (on the left) and the adjacent church/clock tower (on the right).

We walked around in the castle a bit, which is full of cool old stuff, and goes into a lot of detail about the history of the town. You can also walk up into one of the towers and get a fantastic view of the valley and mountains across the lake.
Thun, Switzerland

Thun, Switzerland

Thun, Switzerland


Mürren

The day after Sechseläuten, we retreated to the Bernese Alps and spent a night in the tiny mountain village of Mürren (elev. 1,638 m / 5,374 ft above sea level). Although the population of Mürren registers at only around 450 people, tourism is popular enough to support several hotels and resorts. Fortunately for us, we arrived between seasons, so it felt like we had the whole town to ourselves.

There are no roads leading to Mürren from the valley below. You get there by cable car and train. Below is an image of Lauterbrunnen, as viewed from the cable car that takes you to Grutschalp. And then from Grutschalp you take a two-car electric train to Mürren.

Unfortunately, we arrived too late in the day to attempt any serious hiking. And I don’t even know if any of the trails were open, due to record snowfalls this past winter. But we were able to go for a half mile or so walk to experience the spectacular views of the Jungfrau, Eiger and Mönch mountainsides.

Here’s an image overlooking Mürren.
overlooking Mürren

As you can see in that photo, it wasn’t a particularly bright sunshiny day, but the setting sun did make an appearance. Both of these images were shot from the balcony of our room at the Hotel Alpenruh. Quite a treat!
Setting sun over Mürren

Eiger? Mönch? Jungfrau?


More Walking in Zurich

Some more photos from walking in the “old” part of Zurich.


walking in old town Zurich
walking in old town Zurich


Burning of the Böögg

burning of the Böögg 2012

Sechseläuten is an annual spring festival in Zurich. The festivities start around mid-day, with vendors setting up booths with traditional sausages, cheeses, candies, and various other goodies.

Starting around 3:00, there’s a parade where people dress up in traditional garb from various times in Swiss history, or as their favorite historical figures. One man I saw was dressed as Albert Einstein, complete with the recognizable crazy hair he wore in the later part of his life. Another man dressed as the reformer John Calvin, who (I didn’t know this previously) preached over 2,000 sermons in Geneva.

Around 6:00 PM is when they light the Böögg. Legend dictates that a quick burning indicates the coming of a warm mild summer. A long burning means a cold and rainy one. This year’s burning was officially recorded at 12 minutes and 07 seconds, promising a medium warm summer.

Final preparations before burning
burning of the Böögg 2012

The conflagration begins
burning of the Böögg 2012

Fire creeping up the tower
burning of the Böögg 2012

Fully engulfed in flame
burning of the Böögg 2012

Not even recognizable as a Böögg anymore
burning of the Böögg 2012

Merely a shadow of what he once was
burning of the Böögg 2012


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