Today we had lunch with a clear view of the Matterhorn. Yesterday we took a train up to near the top of the Jungfrau. Switzerland may be the most beautiful country in the world, and it also be may be the most expensive.
On our way to Basel last Thursday, we stopped at the Castle du Haut-Koenigsbourg in the Alsace region of France, along with a few thousand other tourists. It’s an interesting place, because, although it is in France, the castle is entirely German. As you probably know, Alsace has been a Germanic province for most of its history. The castle was first built in the 12th century by the Hohenstaufen Duke Frederick II, than in the 13th century ownership was passed to the Hohenstein family until it was taken by Frederick I then was burned down in 1462, rebuilt by the Thiersteins, burned down again in the Thirty Years War. It remained in ruins as until Kaiser Wilhelm II restored it and then some. The views up the hill to the castle were incredible.
We arrived in Basel around 4:30 pm, rush hour, yet it only took us 15 minutes to reach our hotel. We had a nice dinner that evening at an Italian restaurant. The next day we visited the Kunsthaus (art museum) which has an impressive art collection from medieval to the present day. My favorite was Manet’s “Bar at the Folies-Bergere”. We also visited Basel’s Minster (cathedral) which seems very plain compared to French cathedrals of the same vintage, a result of the iconoclasm of the Protestant Reformation.
On Sunday we traveled from Basel to Zurich, which only takes an hour. We had thought to do some touring on the way, but, fortunately, discovered that the Kunsthaus in Zurich was not going to be open on Monday, so we got to Zurich early enough to see the museum on Sunday. It also had a very impressive, eclectic art collection, with an emphasis on Swiss artists, and a very fine Edvard Munch collection. I was most fascinated by a Van Gogh self-portrait, with his ear bandaged.
On Monday we drove along the northeast side of Zurichsee (lake), further north and east through a beautiful valley surrounded by rugged mountains, along the south side of the Wallensee, then south and then north up to Vaduz in Lichtenstein. There we had an amazing lunch at the Lowen Restaurant. I had wonderful fried (in butter I think) perch on a beautiful green salad, with a wonderful vinaigrette dressing. Roger had the same salad with veal scaloppini on top. We shared a chocolate mousse for dessert. Swiss chocolate is hard to beat. We drove back to Zurich, going around the Zurichsee on the southwest shore. The northeast shore seemed to be much posher than the southwest shore. We had time to walk around the old town, and walk along the Limmat river.
On Tuesday we drove to Bonigan where we stayed at a hotel on the shores of the Brienzsee, one of the lakes that Interlaken is between. We had a great view of the lake from our room’s balcony.
On Wednesday we took the train up to near the top of the Jungfrau. Well, actually it was two trains. The first train made several stops so hikers could get off. Switzerland is a paradise for hikers.
At the very top of the rail line, there was a building with very touristy stores, including a large watch shop. We went out on the glacier and looked at the view, did not stay long because the temperature was two degrees centigrade. It was an amazing view, not sure it was worth the $380 that the train tickets cost.
Today we went to the Reichenbach falls, and took the funicular up to the place where Sherlock Holmes was temporarily killed along with Moriarty.
Then we drove to Taush to catch the train to Zermatt. That drive was the most spectacularly scenic drive I’ve ever taken—breathtaking peaks above beautiful green valleys dotted with storybook houses.
Zermatt is a car-free city, so the only way here is by train—from Taush, a 12 minute ride. Our hotel sent an electric, 12-seat van, to collect us.
Tomorrow, on to Bellagio on Lake Cuomo.