• Deborah Kade

Spiez, Switzerland

The BBQ last night at Tanja's was awesome!!!! Amazing company, tasty delicious food, great conversation and endless smiling and laughing!!!! It was just so much fun!!

Tanja picked me up and Simon walked me home.

Syrena has gotten so much taller in the year since I last saw her. She was the perfect hostess in offering me something to drink. It was so cute. Syrena told me all about her new school. Of course, she had to show me how she changed her bedroom around. While dinner was being prepared, she and I worked on a little art project. So much fun.

This morning I went to the new tourist office to check on my Unspunnen tickets. I was the only person there so we went over the schedule. Unfortunately, the badges are not being delivered until later this afternoon.

Today, I decided to go to Spiez. It is a favorite town of my friend Sharon. It is humid and quite hazy so I thought there might be a nice breeze by the lake.

It was dark on Tuesday evening when I arrived. That was the last time I was by the lake. I have a routine of checking out certain sections when I am traveling on the trains. Going to Spiez I look for fishermen in certain sections, which field the deer are penned up in, are there any cats hunting in the fields, where the water taxis are and how rough the water is. The answers are: two boats in the cove, the farthest field, one cat that has Switzee's coloring, going into Beatushöhlen and small little ripple waves.

Purple butterfly bushes have grown very tall along the railroad tracks. I would say some are over 6 feet tall.

Spiez will be having a "seaside" festival tomorrow and Saturday.

There is a slight breeze coming off the lake. I decided to sit under the oak trees and just relax and enjoy my surroundings. So peaceful and tranquil. Across the lake I see a patchwork of different shades of green. I can tell which sections have just been hayed and which sections were done a while ago. Clusters of houses dot here and there on the hillside. The houses are built in the chalet style. What a beautiful view they must have of the lake and the snow capped mountains beyond. Upon looking closer, most of the barns with their red roofs are built horizontally to the water. I never noticed that before. Little cheese huts are placed here and there. Trees are also clustered together in small groups.

Spiez is known for growing grapes along the hillsides. Blue netting covers some of the vines. Every once in awhile I hear a shrill sound. From years past, I know this is a recording meant to chase away the birds from eating the grapes.

The Air Force is flying over the lake. They are playing a game I am calling "catch me if you can." There are two planes being followed by two other planes a minute or so behind.

The water taxis are zigzagging across the lake. The weather is so warm people are paddle boarding close to shore. The people were very steady on their board. People are sunbathing and I just can't believe there are people swimming. The water is so very cold. Simon told me he was swimming yesterday and the water was refreshing. Are refreshing and freezing cold the same? I don't think so. Wish I had brought my long lens to take some closeup pictures of the buildings across the lake. There are even a few sailboats out. There are people in kayaks and canoes, too. Fishermen have their nets cast out behind their boat. You can tell by the orange buoys trailing behind that he is very serious about catching something. Oh well, next time I will remember to bring both lenses.

Heard the church bells toll it was noon. The sound bounces and bounces and bounces off the mountains. Everyone knows it is time to close up the shops and go home for lunch.

Next to the castle is a castle church. The Romanesque Schlosskirche or Castle Church of Spiez is picturesquely situated at the end of a rocky peninsula overlooking Lake Thun. Regularly used for weddings by locals, the pretty Schlosskirche is well worth visiting for its faded Romanesque frescoes in the apse and the crypt.

Christianity first arrived in this area around 500 AD through the work of Irish missionaries. With Einigen and Scherzligen, the church at Spiez is among the oldest missionary churches in the Berner Oberland.

The existence of a Carolingian church on this site is first recorded in 762, in connection with the donation of the Ettenheim/Elsass Monastery by Bishop Heddo of Strasbourg.

The Schlosskirche that stands today was probably founded around 900-1000 AD in connection with the kingdom of Upper Burgundy (centered around Lake Geneva c.880-1032). Its architecture is consistent with that of Lombardian (northern Italian) churches of the 9th and 10th centuries.

Spiez belonged to the diocese of Lausanne and was ruled by the Strättligen, Bubenberg and Erlach lords (a monument in the floor of the left aisle commemorates Albrecht von Erlach).

Since 1907, the Schlosskirche has served the parish of Spiez; in 1929 it came under the ownership of the Stiftung Schloss Spiez (Spiez Castle Foundation).

Today, the Schlosskirche of Spiez is used by locals for weddings and tourists often stop by after a tour of the adjacent castle.

Both the exterior and interior of the three-aisled Castle Church are Early Romanesque.

The square tower is even older than the church, and probably belongs to the earliest church that stood here. The spire was added in 1628.

The stone interior is austere yet manages to be cozy and welcoming. The graduated ceilings over the nave, aisles and apse make a unique harmony of individual components.

The frescoes in the elevated apse, which is approached by a rather monumental stairway, and in the crypt (under the apse and entered from the left aisle) are the clear highlights of a visit despite their faded state.

The apse frescoes feature Christ Enthroned within a medallion, surrounded by saints and other images. Be sure to turn on the electric floor lamps conveniently placed beneath the frescoes for a good look.

I have been to the castle and church many times but I never went inside to see what the castle was like. Well, I wanted to do different things this trip. I decided on the Castle Museum tour to experience 1300 years of history.

The exhibition, which is set in the historical rooms, demonstrates how Spiez Castle was connected through its owners to Bernese, Federal and European history. Selected objects, new media, stereoscopic imagery and a "hands on room bring history to life for young and old.

The baronage of Spiez. The structure of a feudal society is based upon rights and dependencies from top to bottom and bottom to top. Worldly power comes from the king. He passes it on through fiefdoms, which can be granted and sold.

The Barons of Strättligen are owners of such fiefdoms. Apart from their own land near Thun, they also own several fiefdoms, among them Spiez.

In 1338,Johann IV von Strättligen sells the fortress and dominion of Spiez to the then Bernese mayor Johann von Bubenberg. THe new Barons of Spiez are now the Bubenbergs, duty bound towards the town of Bern. The baronage is governed by the "Kastlan", bailiff, of Frutigen.

As barons of Spiez, the Bubenbergs have the right to direct nearly all daily affairs of their subjects. As land owners, they receive. Dues from the peasants in the form of money or goods such as cereals, meat wine, cheese, etc. in their role as judiciary, they regulate the affairs of their people. As barons, they have to enforce their orders.

The Bubenberg family derives from serving gentry to the dukes of Zähringen; documented from the 1230's. According to legend, one of them oversees the founding of the town of Bern (1191). They ascend rapidly through marriage, political deeds and military service. The family provides eleven mayors, playing a key role, even beyond the confines of Bern.

The barons of Spiez have various rights, including hunting, granted through a fief. Hunting is not only a popular pastime for the barons, but also reflects noble birth.

In addition, the Spiez barons have far reaching fishing rights; these so called "Vischentzen" are often infringed. One caught fishing without permission in the baronage of Spiez is fined.

Viniculture is of great importance in the baronage of Spiez. Numerous vineyards, owned by the barons, are made available for cultivation. The barons also grant the right to serve wine. Winemaking from the castle vineyard takes place in the castle itself. In the so called "Trüel" (the wind press); subsequently the grapes are processed and stored in barrels and either transported to Bern over water or delivered to the local taverns.

The barons of Spiez have extensive powers. In contrast to most other Bernese boroughs, they exercise the prerogative of both low and high justice. Accordingly, they decide over life and death.

Crimes deserving of death are exceptional. Typically, the court deals with less serious matters related to barter, trade and burglary. Other common crimes include infringements of the laws set by the barons. For example: serving of wine. In most cases a fine must be paid. However, in the Morning edle Ages, one awaiting trial or execution ends up in the dungeon.

The law court in the dominion of Spiez consists of twelve aldermen, chaired by the baron. Additionally, a scribe and a notary take part in the trial a bailiff enforces the decisions of the court.

In addition to court income, the barons demand dues and military conscription from their subjects. Standardized measures are needed to calculate the dues and the barons use local Spiez measures.

The climactic conditions of Spiez were conducive to the cultivation of diverse fruit and vegetables. Cabbage and root vegetables dominated the menu, which was enriched by seasonal fruit.

Life in a fortress

The residential tower in Spiez offers the typical comforts for the 13th and 14th century. Little light enters through the windows. The fireplace is the only source of warmth and also serves for cooking. Food is prepared in pots and pans. The acrid smoke escapes through the chimney. Provisions are stored in the cool cellar, mainly grain for making porridge, bread or beer. The nobility also serve meat and fish in large quantities. The few trunks offer storage; a table and chair are sufficient for a meal.

I certainly got a workout today climbing all the very steep steps up to the tower.

I was not figuring on a stair stepper day but that is what I got climbing all the stairs up to the tower.

Unfortunately, once I reached the top of the tower, I saw a storm approaching. I could hear thunder but I didn't see any lightning. Needed to get down all those stairs very quickly so I could get to the train station before it started to rain.

The castle is almost at the lake while the train station is at the top of the hill. It is a 15 minute walk all uphill. It is ALL UPHILL; no level areas to catch your breath at. I only made it half way before big drops of rain started falling. There was some cover by some of the shops. I didn't want my camera to get wet so I went into a shop where I hoped they sold umbrellas. I explained to the salesperson I didn't want to get my camera wet. She smiled and gave me a bag to put the camera in and then she said a little water wouldn't hurt me. I thanked her and trudged up the hill until I reached the train station. I got to the platform at the exact time the train was rolling to a stop.

The rain hadn't yet reached Interlaken when we got to the West train station. I hurried back home with a couple minutes to spare before the rain came.

The storm didn't last very long and the temperatures dropped dramatically.

I had wanted to go to dinner at Ristorante Pizzeria Città Vecchia, our favorite Italian restaurant in Unterseen. Our usual waiter recognized me as I approached the restaurant. He walked over and shook my hand and welcomed me back. He wondered where my husband was. He laughed and said our usual table was empty and led me to it. When Rinaldo, the owner, came out of the kitchen, he also recognized me and waved. A little while later he came over and said he knew I would be back because I couldn't live without their pizza. I had the usual: the Rusticana pizza with a panache. I bet Michael hated to read what I had for dinner.

Another day comes to a close.

Hoping all of you have a wonderful day. I certainly did.


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