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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Unterseen, Switzerland Alpabzug

Today is the Alpabzug in Interlaken and Unterseen. I always look forward to this event!!!!

It was a sunny morning, so Michael and I took a little walk around Interlaken to enjoy the beautiful weather and scenery.

We met up with Rose on our walk. We will go to her house on Monday afternoon for tea and cake. Looking forward to spending some time with her. At age ninety-seven, who knows how many more visits we will have with her.

During summer, all over the alpine regions, cow herds feed on alpen pastures high up in the mountains (a practice known as transhumance. The definition: the action or practice of moving livestock from one grazing ground to another in a seasonal cycle, typically to lowlands in winter and highlands in summer. ). There are about 400,000 cows in Switzerland that do this.

There is usually one concerted cow train in autumn to bring the cows to their stables down in the valley. This typically takes place in late September or early October. In many areas the cows are decorated elaborately, and the cow train is celebrated with music and dance events in the towns and villages. Upon arrival in the valley, joint herds from multiple farmers are sorted in the Viehscheid, and each cow is returned to its owner.

In many places, this Alpine custom of Alpabzug has nowadays evolved into a major tourist attraction, with a public festival and booths set up along the course for selling agricultural as well as artisans' products along with alcoholic beverages.

In spring, the reverse cow train to the Alpen in Switzerland is as well celebrated, though less well known, and called Alpaufzug, Alpfahrt, Alpauffahrt, or Poya in canton of Fribourg.

Today, the cows with their huge cow bells and flower headpieces will be paraded from the Interlaken West Train Station, through Seestrasse in Unterseen and ending in Wydihof. People will line the streets to watch the event. At the Wydi barn, there will a small festival with music and food. The farmers will also be selling their cheese.

Over the years, I have learned one important thing about the Alpabzug. The cow with the huge bell hanging around its neck is not going to move for you. She feels she has the right of way.

We watched the parade of cows come down the street. We heard them long before we saw them.

She looked at me and kept coming. I had to jump out of the way!

The herd of cows loved eating the grass at the end of a very long walk. A few of them even posed for pictures.

Spent a very wonderful evening in Bern with Franziska and her friends. She is an excellent cook!!! She made a tomato cheese fondue. So unique, tasty and quite delicious!!!!!! It is a dish we will long remember. For dipping, she had potatoes, bread, onions, and gherkins. This type of fondue is very light and not like the heavy cheese fondue.

For dessert, she served vermicelles, a Swiss dessert made from chestnut puree. It is made in the Fall when chestnuts are plentiful. It was served over vanilla ice cream with a large dollop of whipped cream on top. So different!! So good!! She also made a walnut liquor. It is made from walnuts and grappa.

It was such a pleasant evening with great people, food and conversation!!

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