switzerland — behind the scenes…

ever wondered what happens behind the scenes of touristic switzerland? ever wanted to know how the swiss manage to present one of the most beautiful places on earth in such impeccable order? ever interested in the music that drives the swiss?1

wonder no more: here’s a rare behind the scenes look at switzerland:

now you know the true story… 😉

  1. well, some of them… 

felsenputzing, take 2

if you thought my post about [_felsenputzing_](/blog/2009/04/08/felsenputzing) was a joke, think again. courtesy of avid [_tagesanzeiger_](http://www.tagesanzeiger.ch/) reader, [mrs d](http://50mm-traveller.net/mrs-d/), the link for all of you who want to become expert felsenputzer: [register here](http://www.brunni.ch/felsenputzerkurse.html).

groundforce afternoon

originally our plans for the pentecost weekend had been to do a two day walk in the [napf area](http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Napfbergland), a rather nice walking area between lucerne and berne. originally…

well, two weeks ago we set out to find the [“across einsiedeln” geocache](http://www.geocaching.com/seek/cache_details.aspx?guid=3138e381-2371-4c1c-9d7c-a8e175a604d4) — which was supposed to be a rather simple one in easy terrain. as the weather was quite warm i didn’t put on my mountain boots but instead went in sandals — had i but known… we did find the GPS location of the “across einsiedeln” geocache, but didn’t find the cache itself. looking around i spotted a rather nice hiding place up a slope, climbed it, checked the spot, found nothing, then went back down to mrs d waiting on the path — and, hitting a muddy patch, slipped and twisted my ankle terribly! it hurt quite bad, and we returned home immediately, me grinding my teeth, mrs d trying to support me as well as possible. needless to say we cooled the ankle all afternoon and evening and on monday morning it did look better already.

having worked from home on monday, i decided to give it a try and went to the lab on tuesday — tuesday evening matters were worse: the left foot swollen and hurting like hell. so, wednesday morning i hobbled my way to the A&E at einsiedeln hospital: luckily nothing was broken, but the diagnosis was: torn ligament 🙁 no walks for the next three weeks, and a brace to wear 24×7 for the next two weeks 🙁

so, that kind of spoiled our plans for the pentecost weekend. the foot is improving, luckily, and as of tuesday i’m allowed to drive again. as the weather was fantastic today (grumble, had i but worn those boots), i decided to finally tackle the gardening experiment i had meant to do all along: grow some vegetables and herbs on our balcony. the wooden container i had already assembled during last weekend’s enforced stay-at-home sunday and it was now time to fill it with a mixture of clay spheres (to retain the water) and soil — and, of course, some vegetables and herbs!

a trip to the local garden center (the [“landi”!](http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Landi_(Unternehmen))) later i had soil, clay spheres, and a green tomato plant, a san moreno tomato plant, a basil plant, italian parsley, english mint, an oregano plant, chives, french carrots, and an assortment of colourful radish seeds.

here the container once it was filled with soil:


a pixture of my _buxus buxus_ along with the lavendel — which we planted four weeks ago:


at the _landi_ i also bought a sheep, can’t have agriculture without sheep, really:


and here is the final result of my groundforce afternoon:


now i’m really interested in what this will turn out to be: vegetables in 3 months time or compost in 3 months time? hoping for the vegetable option…

stumbling over words…

_[some german skills required]_

i used to sing in the church choir of the [united methodist church adliswil][emk] back then when we still lived in adliswil. around december of last year michael hug, a very good friend of mine, asked me whether i wanted to take part in the farewell summer concert for viktor hug, long time conductor of the choir[^1] — naturally, having always enjoyed the way viktor leads the choir, i agreed. and so i’m taking the train from rüschlikon almost every thursday night to thalwil, pick up the [mobility car][] there and drive back to adliswil in time for choir practice. then at around 21:30 i “race” back to thalwil, drop off the car at the station, and catch the train back to wädenswil to make the connection to the train to einsieden.

[emk]: http://adliswil.umc-europe.org/
[mobility car]: http://www.mobility.ch/pages/index.cfm?dom=6

[^1]: and, yes, they are related 🙂

tonight we were practicing chorus #24, _der herde gleich_, out of [händel’s _messiah_][messiah] — and although we had had a stab at that one before, tonight i picked up an old german word: _wallen_. it seems to mean _to walk_ and is used like “er wallte seinen weg dahin” (he went his way). i liked it so much, that at arund 21:30 i didn’t just go, no, _ich wallte von dannen_ 🙂

[messiah]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Messiah_(Handel)


_[caution: advanced level german skills required]_

ever marveled at the pristine, clean appearance of the [swiss alps][]? ever wondered why the alps are just that tad more appealing here in switzerland?

[swiss alps]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Swiss_alps

well, wonder no longer:

interestingly enough, there _is_ a tradition of cleaning the mountains, albeit not from bird droppings but from loose rocks, and it is an _austrian_ institution, the [bergputzer][].

[bergputzer]: http://de.wikipedia.org/wiki/Bergputzer

first class to london, a bohemian b&b, a distributed fridge, visiting victoria and albert

it’s 9:45, our taxi which was supposed to have picked us up at 9:30 is
still not there, and our train is due to leave bangor station at
10:18, slowly but surely our adrenalin level is reaching new
heights. our landlord phones the taxi company once more and returns
with the good news that “she’s just seconds away” — which turns out
to be literally true. we hurriedly say our goodbyes to our landlord
and landlady of [marteg bed & breakfast][bb-llanberis] and get into
the taxi as quick as possible. the drive to bangor station is a bit a
race against time, particularly so when we hit a traffic jam just
0.5km from the station — luckily our taxi driver knows her way
around and does a u-turn and weaves her way through a couple of side
streets and we make it with a couple of minutes to spare! phew…

[bb-llanberis]: http://www.marteg-llanberis.co.uk/

the train from bangor is a direct, fast train to london euston and we
are travelling first class again today (which, thanks to our britrail
flexipasses, comes out cheaper than buying 2nd class tickets in
bangor) — complete with free drinks and coffee 🙂

the weather has turned wet — as forecast, but we are not really
concerned 😉 and as we move further south again the rain slowly
ceases and it’s sunny and rather warm when we arrive in london
euston on the dot at 13:40. we take the underground to [earl’s court
station][tube-ec] and then head south to [6 oakfield
street][bb-london] our b&b for the next two nights.

[tube-ec]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Earl%27s_Court_tube_station
[bb-london]: http://athomeinnchelsea.com/

_6 oakfield street_ is a narrow, three floors victorian terrace house
in a side street of “little chelsea”. our [double
bedroom][bb-london-double] is to the front and on the top floor of the
house — nicely done, has a bit of a [changing rooms][cr] flair to
it, “oliver heath’s grey area”, as mrs d so aptly summarizes it 🙂 we
even spot the famous [MDF][]! a bit of a curiosity is the fridge,
which i at first mistook to be the b&b variant of a mini-bar but which
on closer inspection turned out to be the “overflow” fridge of the
family fridge containing vegetables, a cake, and other stuff.[^1] but,
in total, a very nice room 🙂

[bb-london-double]: http://athomeinnchelsea.com/images/large/beddouble.jpg
[cr]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_Rooms
[MDF]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Changing_Rooms#MDF

[^1]: …explaining why all the rooms had no keys: otherwise it might
be a bit of a problem gaining access to the fridge when the double is

we unpack and then make our way to the _[victoria & albert museum][]_,
the v&a, which is “close by”. mrs d is interested in the fashion
exhibits, i’m looking forward to the [photography collection][v&a
photo]. we also intend to get a little walk through south kensington
in sideways to offset the hours of just sitting on the train…

[victoria & albert museum]: http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Victoria_and_Albert_Museum
[v&a photo]: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photography/index.html

it’s a bit past 16:00 when we arrive at the v&a, leaving us with just
about one and a half hour to spend at the museum. mrs d decides to
look at the fashion through the centuries exhibit, i make for the
[photo gallery][v&a photo gallery]…

[v&a photo gallery]: http://www.vam.ac.uk/collections/photography/galleries/38a/index.html

…which turns out to be rather small but also rather interesting,
motivating, and inspiring! if you are in the vicinity and have the
time, go pay a visit — it’s completely free but worth the effort.

we meet again at 17:00, stroll through the v&a shops (finally pick up
that birthday present for my sister-in-law, mrs a) and then go on that
mini-walk of south kensington.

before returning to earl’s court we stop for a look around at a nice
little independent bookshop. mrs d very kindly points out the
latest [elizabeth george, _careless in red_][eg-careless] — a grave
mistake as it turns out: once i get started on it i just have to keep
reading, reading, reading…

[eg-careless]: http://www.elizabethgeorgeonline.com/books/careless_in_red.htm

dinner is at a local restaurant, _[balans][]_, at the corner of [_old
brompton road_ and _redcliffe gardens_][balans-map]. nice food,
charming waiters (according to mrs d ;-).

[balans]: http://www.balans.co.uk/chelsea.html
[balans-map]: http://maps.google.co.uk/maps?f=q&hl=en&geocode=&q=239+old+brompton+road,+london,+sw5+9hp&sll=53.800651,-4.064941&sspn=12.605358,29.355469&ie=UTF8&ll=51.489467,-0.190673&spn=0.00648,0.014334&t=h&z=16&iwloc=addr

tomorrow it’s [_kew gardens_][kew] and, perhaps, if i dare, the [new tree top walk…][kew-treetopwalk]

[kew]: http://www.kew.org/
[kew-treetopwalk]: http://apps.kew.org/trees/

all in all: nice train trip. interesting exhibits at v&a. exciting new
book. nice dinner 🙂

two weeks of vacation :-D

having left einsiedeln at exactly high noon, i’ve just arrived in cologne and am waiting for mrs d’s train to arrive in about 30min (originally scheduled for 19:05 but — “due to technical problems” — the high speed train from frankfurt was not really high speed). the [hotel][buchholz] is quite nice and we have a nice “suite” (well, almost) to the back on the top floor — i’m currently free-riding WLAN-wise on an open access point (thank you, whoever set this up)[^1]

tonight we are going to go out for dinner, then it’s a medium short night: we need to have breakfast at 7:00 and then catch the ICE to brussels for the eurostar to london st pancras. let’s see how that works out.

[buchholz]: http://www.hotel-buchholz.de/

[^1]: …or forgot to secure his or her WLAN…

last snowshoe tour of the season to take place!

the weather forecast for tomorrow is looking good! we are going to do the [last snowshoe tour of the season tomorrow!][gg] quite excited by it!

in case you are interested in joining: [contact fredi kälin of blue-dimension until 21:00 tonight!][fredi]

[gg]: http://d2h.net/blog/2008/05/27/planned-the-absolute-last-snowshoe-tour-this-side-of-winter
[fredi]: http://www.blue-dimension.ch/kontakt.shtml

trying our own snow shoe trail

**happy new year everyone!**

we are just back from a fantastic snow shoe trail (making use of the fresh snow while it lasts) — this time one that we created ourselves 🙂 (and were joined by a colleague from the SAC Zindelspitz, ms N).

*[SAC Zindelspitz]: Swiss Alpine Club, section Zindelspitz

we took the postbus to trachslau church, walked up through the village to the shooting range, mounted our snow shoes and then followed the hiking trial just past the shooting range and then left the road to climb up a path to the left that joined the main summer hiking trail up to nüsellstock after about 150m. from then on we pretty much follow the summer hiking trail up nüsellstock — which becomes rather steep on the second half, but, rewards us with wonderful views across deep into the swiss alps!

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leaving nüsellstock the trail takes us along the ridge south towards haggenegg in an easy up and down. just before we reach haggenegg we make a detour to the southwest and climb up to mount hochstuckli — even more splendid views far across the alps!

from hochstuckli we descend east via haggenegg down to brunni where we catch the postbus back to einsiedeln. a fantastic tour!


* [all the pictures of this tour](http://d2h.net/blog/v/dr_who/2008/2008-01-01-trachslau-hochstuckli-brunni/slideshowapplet.html)
* [the google earth trail with picture links](http://d2h.net/blog/stuff/2008-01-01-trachslau-hochstuckli-brunni.kmz)

skating, skating, skating

when i read in late november that the district council had granted a license to a business owner from [euthal][] (which is at the southern end of lake sihlsee) to operate a small café on lake sihlsee in case the lake got frozen solid, i laughed and thought, “yeah, right, that’s going to happen…” — well, the saturday before christmas the district of einsiedeln declared the ice south of the euthal viaduct safe for skating!

[euthal]: http://www.euthal.ch/

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after christmas i managed to get decent skates in my size and went for a morning of skating! lots of fun! the ice is a bit rough in places, but you’ve got a couple of kilometers of skating fun — just going around the outer loop takes you about 15–20min. plus, the ice field café is doing bratwurst 🙂

*[bratwurst]: and i just love bratwurst 🙂

* [link to photo blog](http://d2h.net/blog/wpg2?g2_itemId=20572)