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Sandra's Swiss Photo Collection 2008 / 2009

If you missed the diaries of my previous trips to Switzerland,
click here for the first trip (spring 2007)
here for the second trip (winter 2007 - 2008)

 Panorama of the Heidiland core area
The core area of Heidiland. Maienfeld, the little town known from Johanna Spyri's famous book, is on the
left, and the mountains where Heidi spent parts of her childhood at her Grandfather's, are in the middle.


Crossing the Atlantic and becoming acclimatized

In Mid December 2008, Laddie and I again crossed the Big Pond.

Airline Captain shaking Laddies paw
Before departure at Traverse City Airport: An
airline Captain asked me if he was allowed to
shake Laddie's paw.

Somewhere above the clouds
The flight was quiet and eventless. I still
fear flying, but not as badly as before my
first two trips to Switzerland.

Walenstadt Main Street in dreary weather
The mid December weather in Walenstadt wasn't exactly inviting.

Lunch with Maria & Claudia
Lunch with Maria and Claudia. Claudia left Joerg's practice
team in November 2007 when little Yannis (right) was born.

Engadine I

A good week after my arrival, we drove up to the Engadine to spend Christmas in Tarasp in the Rothenbergers' almost 400 y.o. vacation home 4500 ft. above sea level.

Waiting for the RR train
Because of the holiday weekend, obviously half of Germany wanted to cross the Alps. We had to wait one and a half hours at the Vereina RR tunnel before we could board the piggyback train.  

Alpenglow over the Austrian border
The weather on the southern side was much better, and the last
sun rays on the peaks (here looking towards the Austrian border) sometimes were breathtaking.

Horses in Chaposch
On the way to Fontana, nicknamed "Downtown Tarasp" by Joerg, there always are horses in front of a barn in Chaposch.  

Tarasp Castle seen from Chaposch
Tarasp Castle seen from the road between Chaposch and Fontana.

Woodpile in Lower Fontana
A woodpile, Swiss style -- a accurate as a Swiss timepiece.
The length of all logs is equal by a quarter inch.

Castle and church across the Zuort Valley
Those settlements in mountainous areas often were built in the most awkward places in order not to waste precious agricultural land.

Interesting front door in Fontana
Trompe-l'oeuil at its best: It's all mural painting. Even the front door actually is as flat as a barn door.  

The Pazeller House in Fontana
 Another interesting building in Fontana. The funny looking structure on the left with the little roof is an oven!

Laddie in front of a poop box
In Switzerland, there are dog poop boxes everwhere.
This is the rustic mountain chalet style version. You
tear off one of those yellow bags, scoop the poop,
tie a knot and drop the bag in the box.

Entrance to Valatscha
Valatscha is situated right on the edge of the
steep Valatscha ravine with the narrow road
I hate so much. Around X-mas, there is no
sunlight all day.

Funny signpost
I like this signpost for hikers, especially because
of the "Crap Puter." Years ago I had what Joerg
called a crap 'puter.

Ice sculpture in fountain
The ice sculture in the fountain across the street
from the house looks different every winter.

Marietta and me
For months I had been looking forward to again see Marietta, our dear neighbor.

Making X-mas cookies
 Making X-mas cookies. Guess he'd like to have some.

Home-made X-mas cookies
X-mas cookies American style, made in the Alps.

Grooming Laddie
Grooming Laddie in front of the fireplace. He enjoys it.

Hairpin bends below Vulpera
I do hate those roads, even those that have guard rails!

Guarda seen from below
Guarda (which means "look out").

Blacksmith at work
In Guarda there still is a blacksmith of the old school.

Souvenir store
Guarda is a tourist trap with quite a few little souvenir stores.

Laddie's harness
Getting ready for the drive back to the Lowlands, putting on the Amish-made heavy leather harness I bought for Laddie
briefly before the trip. Joerg sometimes calls it "The Bra."

Houdini with his Bra
The dog wears it with pride, but he also prides himself upon wiggling out of it, no matter how tight the fit. That ability earned him the nickname "Houdini."

January in the Lowlands

There were a few snowy spells, but usually there was no snow except much higher up on the mountain peaks.

 Joerg's practice from NE
Joerg's practice and apartment is in the vermilion
building on the left.

 The Churfisten range
Same place, looking a bit more north to the sunny side. No snow.

Park near the harbor
The shady side of the valley shows some snow. Laddie and I walked down to the lake almost daily.

 Very quiet harbor
The little harbor in hibernation.

Palm tree in front of the Seehof Hotel
Palm trees north of the Alps on the same latitude
as the middle of Lake Superior!

 Owl sculpture
There are many such wooden sculptures all
over the place.

 Deer racks on a wall
Some have them in their living room, others put them outside. The little sign says the house was built 1763.

Joerg & Laddie with RR Club Prez & wife
On one of our walks we met Hansruedi, a.k.a. "Mr. President" of the Railroad Amateurs' Club, and Maggie, his "First Lady."

Early morning on the lake
The lake briefly before sunrise.

 First sunlight on the peaks
Just a few minutes later.  

We spent one weekend at the 200+ y.o. farmhouse of Joerg's brother Richard and his family in Roggwil near St. Gallen City.

Dining room in Roggwil
The large dining room with nice view over the back yard and neighboring orchards.

Tiled stove in the dining room
The tiled stove in the dining room, heated from the kitchen.

Brigitte and I at the dining table
Ready for Sunday brunch.

Richard & Family
Richard, Toby, Benny, Brigitte and Joerg.

February, first in the Lowlands

One time the father of Maria, Joerg's assistant, came for a check-up. He and I talked and talked and had a real blast, and none of us realized that he could not speak English and I could speak neither German nor Greek, so actually we were unable to understand each other, but the conversation worked great all the same. Maria cracked up when she noticed how we got along with each other.

Then there was a very nice dinner at Heinz' home in Sargans. Heinz had lived in the USA before he returned to Switzerland. The interior of his big house is mostly US style, even the X-mas decoration he had left on for me to see.

 A silly looking photo of Heinz
Ok, it's a silly looking photo of Heinz, but it's
the only one I shot of him. Sorry Heinz.

 Three Old Ensglish Sheepdogs and me
Docking dogs is forbidden in Switzerland, so
they cannot be called Bobtails. Even a puppy
of this breed is already an "Old English Sheepdog."

US style X-mas decoration
Santa Clauses and all sorts of paraphernalia all over the house.
Normally there are no Santas in Switzerland. After all, Saint
Nicolaus was a bishop in Asia Minor, not a fat guy from the North Pole.

Heinz's X-mas tree
Heinz said there were several thousand items on his tree.

Of course we had to visit Doro, Joerg's oldest cousin, too. As you may remember, she lives in Zurich, Switzerland's biggest city, where we spent two days with her.

 Cousin Doro in her kitchen
Doro, although physically handicapped, is a very active woman and an avid cook.

 Doro's soufflé
A delicious soufflé Doro made for us.

 Me at the RR Main Station
Of course we raided a few stores in downtown Zurich,
even those at the RR Main Station.
This is the main concourse of the terminal.

Eckhart, an old friend of Doro, slicing a Chinese hundred-year-old egg. He is a biologist, so I guess he must know what he is doing.

Eckhart brought a whole box of those eggs as an hors-d'oeuvre for dinner. Depending on the source, they are also called century eggs, thousand-year eggs etc.; same also in German, by the way. Doro asked where he had gotten them from. Joerg said, "He inherited them from his great-grandfather." Eckhart gave one to Doro and one to me for later use.We had a laughing fit when Doro asked him, "Do you think I can keep mine in the fridge for another week?"

Needless to say those eggs are not 100 years old, let alone 1000. Their age is a few months.  

February, second half in the mountains 

Remember Aunt Dorothy, Joerg's 92-year-old aunt, mother of Doro and three other daughters, two of whom I had met at Joerg's 60th birthday in January 2008?

It was my idea to ask Aunt Dorothy to spend an extended weekend with us in the Engadine, and I was very happy when she agreed.

Lanquart highway bridge
We picked Aunt Dorothy up at her home in the Rhine Valley.  Here we are leaving the Heidiland core area next to the confluence of the Landquart River and the Rhine.

The Klus Gorge
Just two miles eastwards, we are driving into the Klus Gorge, which separates the Rhine Valley from the Landquart Valley, a.k.a. Prättigau. The RR tunnel is at the upper end of the Prättigau.

 Steinsberg Castle in Ardez, Engadine
The keep of Steinsberg Castle in Ardez on the way down the Engadine Valley to Tarasp.

 First glance of Tarasp
A first glance of Tarasp from the road that leads down from Ardez into the Inn Ravine.

Road that leads into Tarasp
There are quite a few hairpin bends on the road from the Inn Ravine up to Tarasp.

 The weather was gorgeous most of the time, and it was a joy to have Aunt Dorothy with us.

View from the master bedroom
View from the master bedroom.

Joerg's car in front of the house
The house of Richard and Joerg.

Street in front of the house
The little street right in front of the house.

Aunt Dorothy in front of the house
Would you believe this woman is 92 years old?

 Walking with Aunt Dorothy
Aunt Dorothy and I on the road to Aschera, the easternmost settlement of Tarasp.

Looking across the Inn ravine into Val Tasna
View from the road across the Inn ravine into the Tasna valley and the Piz Cotschen range.

Aunt Dorothy on the road to Aschera
Did I ever mention Aunt Dorothy quit cross-country skiing just a few years ago? No kidding!  

Tree harvester
Aunt Dorothy and Joerg inspecting a tree harvester on the road.

Laddie & me next to the harvester
Laddie doesn't look very impressed by the forestry equipment.

 Looking back the road
On the way back to Valatscha.

Log truck in Valatscha
One of the log trucks in the very narrow street in Valatscha.

As I said, we had a riot with Aunt Dorothy. She did crossword puzzles with the ball pen, and she cooked for us several times, very traditional meals Joerg remembered from his grandma, i.e. her mother.  

Aunt Dorothy playing solitaire
Every slack minute, Aunt Dorothy played solitaire, read or did crossword puzzles.

Marietta welcoming Aunt Dorothy
Aunt Dorothy and Marietta, our dear neighbor, quickly became friends.

Lunch at Marietta's
Marietta invited us over for lunch.

Aunt Dorothy on the phone
Aunt Dorothy stayed in touch with her four daughters over the phone.

Solitaire à deux
She tried to teach me how to play some of her variants. We had a blast.

Aunt Dorothy cooking
She even brought her own ingredients for her cooking!

Grandma Rothenberger's cookbook
One of Grandma Anna Rothenberger's cookbooks (around 1916).

Joerg cooking
Joerg did a lot of cooking too.

Cheese fondue with Marietta
Of course we invited Marietta for a cheese fondue.

Cheese fondue in the caquelon
Cheese fondue is a typical winter supper.

Aunt Dorothy, me & Marietta
The Valatscha Hen Circle.

For months, a young stag had been watched day by day around noon walking through Fontana, the biggest of Tarasp's settlement, where the church and the store are.

Marietta told us that a hind with two almost grown-up fawns were visiting her kitchen garden on a daily basis too. One day she came to call us when the hind and one of her calves were there. We could watch them from Marietta's living room. The animals didn't even go away when we opened the window to shoot better photos. We could watch them for about 20 minutes before they leisurely walked down to the Netzers' farm.  

Hind & fawn next to Marietta's house
They watched us but obviously didn't fear much. The farm house is just behind the bushes.  

Icicles under Marietta's eaves
Heavy icicles hanging from Marietta's roof.

Behind the Rothenberger's barn
This is the back yard of the Rothenbergers' barn.

The fawn in front of Netzer's barn
An hour later: The fawn wading through the deep snow in front of the barn after feasting on some hay Arthur Netzer had put there for them.

The weather turned cloudier during our last days in Tarasp, but we walked a lot all the same.  

Fontana on a cloudy day
Fontana is what Joerg sometimes nicknames "downtown Tarasp."

Walking at the foot of the castle hill
Laddie, me and Aunt Dorothy on the little road below the castle.

Tarasp Castle
Tarasp Castle on its steep hill.

A closer look at the castle
A closer look at the eastern side of the castle.

The little streetdown to Marietta's house was pretty icy when we were ready for driving back to the Lowlands. I refused to walk down to Marietta's. So Aunt Dorothy walked down to take Marietta up to the car to say goodbye. Those two old ladies walked the icy street like nothing. Boy, did that make me feel silly!   

Aunt Dorothy & me with Laddie at the front door
Posing before departure.

Marietta & Aunt Dorothy on the icy street
Marietta and Aunt Dorothy walking up the icy street.

Saying goodbye to Marietta
The old ladies easily did what I was afraid to do....

Waiting area at the tunnel
The waiting area at the Vereina tunnel is protected against avalanches by this concrete construction.

Boarding the train
Boarding the piggyback train.

Leaving the train
Leaving the train at the northern end of the tunnel.

Aunt Dorothy waving goodbye
The hankie waving ceremony has become sort of a tradition.

Last weeks in the Lowlands

The first weekend after our return to Walenstadt, Joerg took me to the artificial lakes in the Prealps south of Lake Zurich, big water reservoirs for hydroelectric power plants. He also wanted to show me the famous monastery of Einsiedeln, but we didn't even make it to the parking lot because we reached the monastery district right at the end of a High Mass in the baroque church, so we got stuck in what Joerg called a Catholic traffic jam.

We eventually made it to Rapperswil, a medieval town on Lake Zurich. The weather was crummy, so the photos aren't exactly breathtaking.

Huge signpost for hikers
Now is this a signpost or what?  

Reconstruction of the medieval bridge across Lake Zurich
Already 1500 B.C. there was a wooden bridge that crossed the narrows of Lake Zurich at Rapperswil, and there was one in the times of the Roman Empire. This is a modern reconstruction of the medieval bridge, seen from the 20th century highway and RR bridge.

Commuter train in Raperswil RR station
We parked the car near the RR station. Because of the Park & Ride policy of the Swiss Government, usually there's sufficient parking space around RR stations, not exactly free but reliably available.

Rapperswil Castle
The medieval Castle dominates the waterfront.

Old hotel at the waterfront
Old hotel right on the waterfront. Guess what "Schwanen" means.

Swans in the harbor
Here they are, the swans, right in front of the hotel.

Old convent
A little medieval monastery next to the harbor.

Street below the castle
Most parts of the town center look like
they had not been changed since the
Middle Ages.

Another street in downtown Rapperswil  
The Rapperswil area was settled already 5000 B.C..
The town proper was founded around 1229 AD,
"relatively new," as Joerg said.

A decorated door
A beautifully decorated door, constructed 1613.

Wrought-iron restaurant sign
Wrought-iron restaurant and business signs also here.

Square in downtown Rapperswil
Main Square in the middle of the medieval town center.

The next weekend, we invited Brigitte and Richard over for dinner.

Richard with Laddie
Laddie, wearing his Amish bra, with Richard -- or the other way round.

At the table
 Joerg and I cooked a Chinese dinner for them.

Brigitte & Richard
Bigitte obviously doesn't quite trust the 100-year-old egg.

Brigitte, me & Richard
Saying good bye for quite a long time.

On the last weekend before my flight back to the USA I asked Joerg to take me to Bad Ragaz ("Bad" is "bath" in English and means a spa). You may remember I was there already in spring 2007, and I liked it.

The Churfirsten range seen from Sargans
On the way to Bad Ragaz, looking back from Sargans to the Churfirsten range in the back yard of Walenstadt.

 Sargans Castle seen from the highway
The castle and town church of Sargans, seen from the highway.

 Road from Sargans to Ragaz
On the road from Sargans to Bad Ragaz in the Rhine Valley.

The Tamina River in Bad Ragaz
The Tamina River on its way from the deep Pfäfer Ravine through Bad Ragaz to the Rhine.

Waterfalls next to Bad Ragaz
I thought these waterfalls (see center of the
previous photo!) were man made to attract
tourists. Joerg said if I had ever seen the inner
parts of the ravine (closed in winter) I would
understand there's no need for such gimmicks.

 Laddie and his metal counterpart
Laddie wasn't impressed by his metal mate.

Welded aluminum sculptures
Funny folks. Bad Ragaz is sort of a permanent open-air art gallery.

Table sculpture
Sometimes it takes a second glance to tell what's art.

Yet another funny sculpture
Yet another piece of whimsical art. The entire bench is cast in bronze.

Main Entrance of the Grand Hotel Quellenhof
The main entrance of the Grand Hotel Quellenhof in the spa park area.

 Cat on a car roof
She sure thinks she is an objet d'art too.  

Sign of the Wartenstein Castle Hotel
Pretty artful too: the sign of the Wartenstein Castle Hotel on the steep road up to the Pfäfers monastery.

Joerg wanted to show me the former Monastery in Fläsch, high above the Rhine Valley just a few miles from Bad Ragaz. However, just like the weekend before at the Einsiedeln Monastery, the place was cramped, this time not because of a High Mass but because of a concert.

I told Joerg I'd never go back down to the valley on the same road on which we had reached Pfäfers. I asked if there was another road down. Sure there was one, Joerg nodded with a grin. It was even much worse, in my opinion anyway. Joerg didn't see any problem with hairpin bends and the like, but I said the soles of my shoes were getting worn down just because of my constant pushing the break pedal -- on the passenger's seat, where there are no pedals, mind you. Needless to say Joerg teased the heck out of me.  

View from Pfäfers down to Bad Ragaz
The view from the panoramic restaurant at the Wartenstein Castle Hotel down to Bad Ragaz.

Lokking across the Rhine into Heidiland
View from that spooky road across the Rhine Valley to Meienfeld and the core area of Johanna Spyri's
Heidi novel.

Already in January I had made friends with Sandra, a young woman who lives pretty close to Joerg's practice. We often met while walking our dogs (her little dog is called Funny!), and we had a lot of fun together.

Now it was time to say good bye to Sandra and her doggie.

Sandra with Funny and Laddie
Sandra trying to protect Funny from Laddie's advances.

 Sandra my new friend
It was nice to have her around.

Laddie behind the practice
Last walk in the meadows behind the practice.

The flight back home would have been a relatively simple thing if it had not been delayed by one day because the airline bureaucrats needed a health certificate to make sure I was able to survive the trip. They thought traveling with a service dog means you must be pretty close to your expiry date. So, while Joerg was organizing the certificate, which was a mere formality and cost as just ten Swiss Francs (about $8.50), the plane to Chicago was already aloft, and we had to drive back to Walenstadt for another night.

The next day, everything went well, the airline people treated us very kindly, and Laddie and I reached our home in one piece (each).


Bus terminal at Zurich Airport
Meanwhile Laddie knows where to relieve his bladder before a flight, for instance here at the bus terminal.

Curb area at Terminal A
The curb area at Terminal A, where I had to check in.


The crew with Laddie 
It was not me who asked for this picture, it was the cabin
crew who asked me to shoot it! Laddie didn't care much, though.

Flight attendant, me & Laddie
I was treated like a queen, and this flight
attendant was particularly nice.  

Forrest & Laddie
Laddie's "big brother," my son Forrest, welcoming
us at Cherry Capital Airport in Traverse City.

 If you missed the diaries of my previous trips to Switzerland,
click here for the first trip (spring 2007)
here for the second trip (winter 2007 - 2008)



© 2009 Northern Networks    Sandra Serra Bradshaw, 1360 S. Bay View Trail, Suttons Bay, Michigan 49682