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.
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.
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!
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
The conflagration begins
Fire creeping up the tower
Fully engulfed in flame
Not even recognizable as a Böögg anymore
Merely a shadow of what he once was
I started playing with this app I heard about called Camera Awesome, from SmugMug. The output you see here is the result of about five minutes of clicking on filters and borders and textures, and then sliding contrast and saturation levels from one extreme to the next, until I felt the images were sufficiently butchered. It’s a fun little app, but they might have hyped up the “awesomizer” feature just a tad. These images are all from Herrick Lake Forest Preserve in Wheaton.
The top image has a “Denim” texture applied. For the image below, I kicked up the awesome level all the way to the top. It’s how I roll.
For this one, I applied the “Prehistoric” texture.