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  • Writer's pictureDeborah Kade

Leisurely cruise on Lake Thun

Sunday, September 1, 2019

Yesterday was a long travel day so I decided to stay around Unterseen.

When I awoke this morning, the first thing I saw when I looked out the window was the snow capped Jungfrau and the Mönch.

Jungfraujoch is a saddle in the Bernese Alps, connecting the two peaks Jungfrau and Mönch, at an elevation of 3,466 meters (11,371 ft) above sea level. It is a glacier saddle, on the upper snows of the Aletsch Glacier, and part of the Jungfrau-Aletsch area, situated on the boundary between the cantons of Bern and Valais, halfway between Interlaken and Fiesch.

Since 1912, the Jungfraujoch has been accessible to tourists by the Jungfrau line, a railway from Interlaken to Kleine Scheidegg, running partly underground through a tunnel through the Eiger and Mönch. The Jungfraujoch railway station, at an elevation of 3,454 meters (11,332 ft) is the highest in Europe. It lies east of the saddle, below the Sphinx station, and is connected to the Top of Europe building, which includes several panoramic restaurants and a post office. Several tunnels lead outside, where secured hiking trails on the crevasse glacier can be followed, in particular to the Mönchsjoch Hut.

The Sphinx Observatory, one of the highest astronomical observatories in the world, provides an additional viewing platform at a height of 3,572 meters (11,719 ft). It can be reached by an elevator from the Jungfraujoch. The observatory houses one of the Global Atmosphere Watch's atmospheric research stations. The Jungfraujoch radio relay station, which is not accessible to the public, is installed west of the Jungfraujoch, on the Jungfrau ridge. It is Europe's highest radio relay station.

The second thing I saw was Twisty, the 19 year old cat. Even though Sunny Days has changed hands and is now the Adventure Guesthouse, it felt like coming home to our "Swiss house".

I enjoyed a wonderful breakfast. I was happy to see Joli still doing the house cleaning. Daniela and Wouter and baby Hannah are living in the tiny house in back. I am so happy I got Hannah to smile. She is adorable.

Since I had a long travel day yesterday, I decided to stay in the area and take the leisurely cruise on Lake Thun. The weather improved the closer I got to Thun.

First stop was at Hotel and Restaurant Neuhaus zum see. Michael and I eat here quite often. I love their trout which they will filet at the table and the salad bar.

These three planes kept buzzing overhead for the longest time. Wish Michael were here to tell me what type of aircraft they are.

Next stop was the St. Beatus Caves. Up until 1,900 years ago, a terrifying dragon is said to have been up to mischief in a large cave at Lake Thun. Only the wandering Irish monk Beatus succeeded in driving away the dragon. The limestone cave system, a natural wonder millions of years old, is guaranteed to amaze you. According to legend, the caves provided a safe haven for St. Beatus after he conquered and expelled a fire-breathing dragon that dwelled there in the sixth century. To this day, the underground gorges, imposing halls and bubbling waterfalls of St. Beatus caves exude a special power.

The boat zigzags from one side of the lake to the other.

So many different things to see.

Quite a unique bus. Loved the sound of their horn. Very distinct.

I saw three divers. What could they be looking for?

Beautiful houses dot the hillside

The Niesen is a mountain of slate. Its history began around 70 million years ago when layers of slate were deposited on the bed of the ancient Mediterranean sea. With the folding of the Alps, the Niesen was shifted up from the south to its present position.

The original name was Berg Yesen. "An Yesen" was eventually shortened to Niesen. Yesen is nothing other than the yellow gentian, which flowers to this day on the Niesen. The roots of this plant were dug up and used as remedies, especially in the olden days. This remedy tastes bitter but is supposed to improve appetite, strenghten the stomach, lower temperature, improve libido and the quality of blood.

It was only in the 19th century that mountain climbing became popular. Before that, the belief was that mountains were the place where demons and dragons lived.

The composer Johannes Brahms climbed the Niesen in 1886. He was not very enthusiastic about the hard and long climb but he found the view at the top was worth it.

August 26, 1906 was the first day of work on the construction of the new funicular railway to the Niesen summit. Until 1910, an average of over 200 men were employed on this challenging construction. In those days there were neither cranes nor helicopters. This complicated construction was achieved with the use of an auxiliary timber structure and manual labor. The Niesen Railway began services on July 15, 1910 and the first guests were carried up the mountain.

The stairway alongside the Niesen funicular has 11,674 steps. According to the Guiness Book of Records this is the longest stairway in the world. Unfortunately, you are strictly forbidden from climbing up this way, unless you belong to the maintenance team.

It takes 30 minutes to reach the summit by funicular.

Nestled between hills and vineyards and dominated by a magnificent castle, Spiez is an inviting destination.

There were so many boats on the lake.

Paddle boat

This lake water is very cold. I guess people whom live here are used to it. Look at the young man ready to dive backward off the platform.

Caught him in midair.

The people on the top of the hill must have a spectacular view of the lake.

They must have finished haying.

I have no idea what type of plant this is but the bees loved it!

Someone is growing grapes under the blue netting. They also have fruit trees.

Some of the fruit trees are in the open and some are covered.

Oberhofen Castle is also a stop.

The impressive keep of the former fortress of Oberhofen was likely built in the early 13th Century.

In the 14th Century it belonged to the Habsburgs. After the Battle of Sempach, the Bernese troops occupied Oberhofen and soon afterwards the fortress and surrounding area came under the control of the Scharnachthal dynasty. Other Bernese dynasties followed. From 1652 to 1798, the castle became a bailiwick and was extended and converted into a castle. In 1801, it became a private property again. In the middle of the 19th Century, the castle was transformed under the Counts of Pourtalès whose ancestors had originated from Neuchâtel in Switzerland and migrated to Prussia.

In 1940, the American lawyer William Maul Measey established the Oberhofen Foundation. In 1954, the Museum opened to the public as an outpost of the Historic Museum of Bern. On January 1, 2009, Castle Oberhofen became an independent foundation again. In the new building on the seaside, which represents a bridge between the past and the 21st century, the Restaurant Schloss Oberhofen with its terrace on the lake opened in 2013.

The restaurant serves a delicious salad. Yummy!

Hünegg Castle is nestled in the midst of a splendid park complex filled with exotic trees. The grand residence of the Prussian Baron Albert von Parpart and his spouse Adelheid von Bonstetten was built in 1861 and inspired by the castles of the French Loire Valley. In 1900, the new owner G. Lemke-Schuckert renovated several rooms in the Jugendstil style. Today, the museum is dedicated to the Historicism and Jugendstil movements and gives the impression that time has stood still since 1900. A carefully arranged public park surrounds the castle, with many native and exotic trees dating back to the time of construction.

Thun has two castle. Only Schadau Castle is located on the lake.

Schadau Castle was built between 1846 and 1854 for the Neuchâtel banker Denis Alfred de Rougemont. The location of the castle, on the southern banks of Lake Thun where the River Aare flows out of the lake, and with its views of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau, is almost as attractive as the architecture itself.

Since 1925 the castle has belonged to the city of Thun and contains a restaurant and the Swiss Gastronomy Museum. Between 1972 and 1992 the façade of the castle was renovated by the city's own quarrymen.

The oldest known surviving panorama was completed in 1814 by Marquard Wocher, and is on display at the Schadau Castle, depicting an average morning in the Swiss town of Thun. As of today, it's owned by the Gottfried Keller Foundation.

The five members of the foundation are nominated by the Swiss Federal Council every four years. The Foundation Commission (Stiftungskommission) decides on the acquisition of works of art. Either, the foundation pays for a work of art the full purchase price and places it in a museum of its choice, or it is involved in Museum purchases. Nevertheless, the artwork remains the property of the Swiss Confederation.

The foundation aims the acquisition of major works of art from Switzerland and abroad, to entrust them as loans to Swiss museums or to return them to their original locations, such as the choir of the St. Urban's Abbey. Among other, the foundation acquired the St. Georgen Abbey in Stein am Rhein in 1926, and since 1960 it also owns the panorama wall painting of the city of Thun. The purchases of valuable interiors, including Schloss Wülflingen in Winterthur, Maison Supersaxo in Sion and Freuler Palast in Näfels, preserved those Heritage objects at their previous environments. The collection comprises more than 8,500 paintings, sculptures and other art objects in around 110 museums respectively locations in Switzerland.

The market value of the collection can only be approximately quantified: according to the experts the market value ranges between 500 and 1,500 million Swiss Francs in 2009. The applied federal government financial assets of the GKS was about 4.5 million Swiss Francs at the end of 2007.

Transportation connection times are timed so well. It is Switzerland for goodness sake!!! When I got off the boat in Thun, I only had to cross the street to catch the train back to Interlaken. Unfortunately, the train was the German ICE train, which is my least favorite train as it is usually late. Not today.

The weather had cleared so I decided to walk along the main street in Interlaken. It being a tourist town, most of the shops were open. Usually, on a Sunday, shops are closed as Sunday is considered a day of rest.

I stopped to watch the paragliders fly on the Hohematte. I was happy to catch another look at the Jungfrau.

Timo and Wouter were flying at this location today and I was able to spend a couple minutes talking to them before they took another group paragliding.

I also saw our neighbor, Frau Rösy Meier, working in her garden. She will be 100 years old in December. She was working in her flower garden picking weeds. She is an amazing woman. I spent about 15 minutes talking with her. She has company from Australia visiting. This week she is getting her hair done as the older people in town will gather together and go on a surprise trip. She is very excited!!

My day was complete when I went to Città Vecchia for dinner.

This is Rinaldo's philosophy:

"In the heart of the old town of Unterseen lies the Ristorante Città Vecchia.

The Città Vecchia cultivates the traditional Mediterranean cuisine and attaches great importance to high quality. Our specialties include fresh and lovingly prepared pasta, fish and meat dishes. The home-made pizzas, beloved by our guests, complete the offer.

As a Sardinian it is very important to me to offer typical specialties as well as the noble wines of my country to my guests. At Ristorante Città Vecchia, guests are personally welcomed. With us you experience family hospitality. My team and I are committed to making your visit a culinary experience."

Yes, Rinaldo recognized me immediately and greeted me. He also welcomed me home. Jose gave me a hug and the others also shook my hand and kindly greeted me.

My panache

Mixed salad with Italian dressing. It is called mixed but they never mix the ingredients together. It consisted of lettuce, tomatoes, corn, cucumbers, tomatoes, red cabbage, carrots and butter beans. The fresh warm bread was all I needed to mop up the dressing. Delicious!!!!

A Rusticana pizza with hot oil. Yes, I ate it all!!!!!

The church bells which ring every night at 8 o'clock have rung over three hours ago so it is time for me to say goodnight.

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