A Travellerspoint blog

Switzerland

Don't Trip Over That Mountain - Hiking while in Zurich

Exploring the trail at Uetilberg and enjoying the views and lunch at Uto Klum above Zurich.


View Virtual Tourist Meeting - Germany and Switzerland - May 2017 on littlesam1's travel map.

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[center]View of the Alps surrounding Uetlberg Switzerland

If you have read any of my blogs or if you follow me on Facebook you probably already know that I love Switzerland. You will probably also know that I have a tendency to trip or fall when I am on a vacation. I've tripped in Paris. I've broken my ankle in Chiang Mai, Thailand. I broke my camera falling over a sand dune in Ocean City, Maryland. I don't consider myself clumsy. As a matter of fact I think I am quite agile. So after three visits to Switzerland it was just a matter of time before I tripped over a mountain.

We visited Zurich, Switzerland in 2017. I was excited. I had first visited Zurich in 2003 several years before I had met Mark. I fell in love with Zurich. While there I took the train up to the top of Zurich's only mountain Uetilberg. I had read there was an easy hiking trail there with a beautiful view of Zurich below. There was also a famous restaurant at the top of the trail name the Uto Kulm. Before out trip in 2017 I had told Mark all about Uetilberg and Uto Klum so he too was looking forward to going there. Our trip to Zurich was part of one of our Virtual Tourist travel group meetings. Most of our friends in the group had planned a day trip out of Zurich. We decided instead of taking the planned bus tour we would take the day to hike the trail at Uetilberg and convinced our sister from across the pond, Gillian, to go with us.

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Mark and Gillian on the trail to the top of Uetilberg

It was a beautiful day and the weather was perfect for the hike. It was not a long trail and was an easy hike. There are other more aggressive trails from the bottom of the mountain that can be taken, but we took the train to the Uetilberg station and walked from there instead. As you can see I am usually behind Mark and Gillian when we go somewhere taking photos of everything. I have many photos of Mark's back in cities, trails, and beaches and quite a few of Gillian also.

In the photo of Gillian and Mark walking you will notice some unusual deer like sculptures with lights on their antlers lining the trail. I became fascinated with them on my first visit to Uetilberg in 2003. During our brief train ride up the mountain I think I must have told Gillian and Mark about them too many times and about how excited I was to see them again. The sculptures are odd and unusual and that's probably why I like them so much.

Your subheading here...

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Bruno Weber was a Swiss artist and architect. From 1991 to 2003 Weber was responsible for the sculptural decorations on Uetilberg mountain leading up to the Uto Klum. The decorations include the fantasy deer street lamps and the park benches on the summit.

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Larry on Bruno Weber bench 2003 - Uetilberg

Mark, Gillian and I had fun arguing about what the sculptures were supposed to represent. I said moose. Mark and Gillian said they were deer. We decided they were Dermoose's. When we returned home my internet research proved that I was wrong. They are fantasy deer and not moose. But to me they will always be a moose. Art is how you interpret it.

After hiking the trail we found ourselves on top of Uetilberg where I had promised Gillian and Mark a beautiful view and a glass of wine at Uto Klum.

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And there is the view I had promised them. You can see all Zurich from the top of the mountain and you don't need a drone for the photographs.

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Uto Klum - 4 star restaurant and hotel on the top of Uetilberg

Then to keep my last promise we had a wonderful lunch and that glass of wine at Uto Klum. It is a beautiful 4 star restaurant with a beautiful view of the Alps behind it and Lake Zurich and the city below it.

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Wine with a view - Uto Klum on the top of Uetilberg above Zurich

We took some time to climb the tower on the summit also. There is a small fee to climb the tower but it is worth the cost for the view.

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Larry climbing the tower at Uetilberg

After lunch it was time to start our decline and follow the trail back to the train station. The trail is not too steep. But still I took my time and was cautious. With my history of tripping while on holiday I did not want to take any chances. We laughed at the deer/moose sculptures once more on the way back down. And we reached the bottom of the trail without incidence. There were some small steps at the end of the trail which should not have been an issue for any sane agile person. But we are talking about me here. I reached the very last small step and turned around to say something to Gillian and Mark and it happened. The very last step and down I go. I ripped the knees out of my pants I was wearing and cut and bruised my knees. Gillian went into the train station to get some wet paper towels and Mark helped my put the wet towels on my sore knees and helped stop the bleeding. So I spent my last two days in Zurich limping and grumbling about my knees hurting. But the good part was that I had a great story to share with the other Virtural Tourist friends at dinne r that night. We went out for fondue at a very nice restaurant in Zurich and I got to share the story of me tripping over the mountain in Uetilberg.

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Mark and I are traveling with Gillian in November 2019 to Hawaii. I am requesting she bring bubble wrap for me so she and Mark can wrap me up for protection.

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Larry with Bruno Weber Fantasy Deer 2003 - 2017

Posted by littlesam1 09:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged wine switzerland zurich falling tripping virtual_tourist uetilberg uto_klum bruno_weber Comments (7)

Switzerland - Déjà vu

Looking back on the inpact of my first visit to Switzerland


View Switzerland - August 2003 on littlesam1's travel map.

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Larry 10,000 feet in the Alps on top of Schilthorn

When I to took my first trip to Europe I was with my ex partner. He and I had not done a lot of traveling in the past other than family vacations with our individual families. He was scheduled to attend a conference for his job in France in the city of Marseilles and he asked if I wanted to join him on the trip. All I needed was my airfare and money to spend. The hotels would all be taken care of with his expense account for the trip. He said it was a three day conference and we could plan a weeks vacation around the convention. I was so excited. I wanted to see Paris. But the conference is in Marseilles he replied to me. Yes, I was aware that it was in Marseilles but Marseilles is in France and Paris is in France. It did not matter to me that they were at different ends of the country. They were in the same country. And I was not going to France or even to Europe and not see Paris. So we went to Paris and then on to Marseilles. For the next seven years we traveled to Europe each spring to attend this big medical conference in different cities and countries each year. These were my first traveling experiences outside of the United States. With each trip I was fascinated with the cities we visited. I learned a lot about the culture and the history of each country we visited. And with each experience I came home with a feeling of having discovered something new and wonderful. Nothing seemed familiar to me. I was a stranger in a strange land drinking up the knowledge and the beauty all around me. I never felt at home. It always felt foreign and fascinating to me. Then I went to Switzerland.

Switzerland was never on my dream list of places I wanted to visit. I never really thought much about Switzerland at all. It was just Switzerland somewhere in the middle of Europe. I was thrilled when his conference sent us to Italy. It was a real fantasy to finally get to see ancient Italy. Likewise with the Netherlands and Amsterdam, Cologne, and Copenhagen. But when he told me the conference was to be in Switzerland I was a bit let down. I was glad to be able to continue to take the annual trip to Europe. But I was not thrilled about visiting Switzerland. The only thing I really wanted to see in Switzerland was Piz Gloria the location where the James Bond film On Her Majesty's Secret Service was filmed.

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Piz Gloria above the village of Murren

We planned the trip with little excitement. Neither of us were especially thrilled about Switzerland. We made arrangements to stay in Bern the first few days. We planned day trips , Basel, Zurich, and of course Piz Gloria. The conference was in the remote village of Les Diablerets high in the Alps in the western French speaking part of Switzerland. So we knew we would be spending four days there. Then finally we would travel to Geneva for two last days and fly home from there.

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Les Diablerets

The strangest thing happened. The moment we departed our plane in Geneva I was spellbound. Something felt very comforting and very familiar. I could not quite figure out what it was or why I was feeling this way. We boarded the train in Geneva and headed to Bern. I could not stop staring out of the windows watching the villages and mountains go by. Switzerland just captured my spirit and I felt completely at home.

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Bern

The ten days passed way to fast. I wanted more time. I did not want to leave. To this day over ten years later I can still just close my eyes and be instantly transported back to Switzerland. I find it strange. I don't necessarily believe in reincarnation. And I have no ancestors who came from Switzerland. So there is no reason I should have felt so at home there. But who knows. Maybe I did live there in past life. Or perhaps my mother's German ancestors originated in the Swiss area and migrated up to Germany and I felt some connection through them

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Littlesam AKA Larry Sampson standing in front of the Samson fountain in Bern

Perhaps it's because there is a Samson fountain in Bern.

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The beautiful village of Murren

Or maybe I just fell in love with the beauty of the small villages.

I still feel like there is a piece of me left behind in Switzerland. I came home promising myself to return one day soon and spend some more time there. Maybe I will figure out the connection. Or maybe I will be more confused. But I do know there will be a certain satisfaction to be able to return and continue the journey.

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Chateau Aigle

And I know that a glass of wine from the vineyards at Chateau Aigle is waiting for me on my return. And perhaps there, all will be revealed to me. Switzerland deja vu.

(The original trip to Switzerland was in August 2003. I wrote this blog in 2015. Since then I have returned to Switzerland two more times.)

Posted by littlesam1 10:45 Archived in Switzerland Tagged mountains switzerland geneva alps bern basel aigle chateau_aigle piz_gloria les_diablerets Comments (0)

Lost travel photos - Shaken Not Stirred

Finding lost and forgotten photos from Piz Gloria located above Murren Switzerland. The fantasy vacation of all James Bond fans

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Travel photos. There are few things I enjoy more than travel photos. I love taking them. I love coming home and editing my photos. I love posting them on the Internet and in blogs. And I love looking at them over and over many times after my vacation ended. Each time I view them I relive the experience of the trip all over again no matter how long ago the actual trip happened.

If you know me at all you probably know I am a huge James Bond fan. And I have visited many James Bond movie locations in my travels. I don't go out of my way to visit Bond sites, but if I am in the area and one is near by I do want my photo taken there. In 2003 I got to visit one of the Holy Grail sites for Bond fans. I was in Switzerland with my then partner. I let him know with no question that while we were in Switzerland that I had to see Piz Gloria, Blowfeld's fortress from the movie On Her Majesty's Secret Service. Piz Gloria is a rotating restaurant on top the peak of Schilthorn towering above the tiny Alpine community of Murren. It's very isolated. It is not easy to get there. It is not one of those places where you can take a train, walk out of the station and say there it is. You have to plan your way to get there. There are no roads to reach Murren. There are no cars in Murren. We had to take a train from Bern to Interlaken Switzerland. From Interlaken we took a train to Lauterbrunner. Then from Lauterbrunner we had to take the narrow gauge train up the mountain to Murren. The train station is at the north of the village. From there we had to walk through the beautiful village of Murren to the Schilthornbahn . This is a mountain cable car that takes you to the peak of Schilthorn at 10,000 feet in the Alps. There is also a stop and change in cable cars half way up at the station called Birg. So you have to plan and prepare your journey if you are going to Piz Gloria.

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It was one of my favorite all time travel experiences to stand on the top of Schilthorn and see Piz Gloria. And it was such a wonderful photo opportunity. Neither my ex partner nor I had digital camera's at this time. We were still taking photo using film. And with film you can't take hundreds of photos to bring home and edit and delete the bad ones. You only have a few chances to get the right photo and then hope it turns our well when you get it developed. We ended up with a couple of good photos of he and I together at Piz Gloria and I had a couple of him alone at the location. It never dawned on me until we ended our relationship two years later that I did not have a photo of me alone at this Holy Grail of Bond fandom. I only had the photos of he and I and of him alone. So I have spent years angry at myself for never having my own individual photo taken at Piz Gloria. It was just a stupid mistake.

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The one photo of me at Piz Gloria and not by myself

Every time some one chats about Piz Gloria in one of the Bond fan groups I get angry all over again because I don't have of photo of myself to share with the group proving I had been there. And as each year passed I realized more and more that I would probably never have that opportunity to return there and take my photo. Last year my husband Mark and I went to Switzerland. It was my first time back since the trip with my ex back in 2003. I really wanted to return to Piz Gloria and take that long lost photo. But it was just too difficult. We were no where near Bern or Murren on this trip. And it would have been really out of our way to try and get there at this time. Although that was a disappointed I was still thrilled to be back in Switzerland and share this wonderful country with Mark. We visited my favorite city of Zurich. We went to several other mountain peak restaurants much like Piz Gloria. And I made sure to have solo photos taken as well as photos with Mark this time.

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Since the beginning of this new year it's been a very cold winter. I have spent a lot of time inside my house. I decided to take the time and organize some of my junk that I have need to sort through for a long time. Right now I am working on my home office. It's a bit of a disaster. I have a closet full of old scrapbook papers and supplies that I have not used in over ten years. I am taking them all to Goodwill. Hopefully some one will find good use for them. I also found several boxes of old photos. A lot of these were very old family photos. So I decided to scan them and share them with my daughters. Also in the box was several envelopes full of photos that I realized had been taken by my ex. I remember when we broke up almost 13 years ago now that I had gone through all of our photos and divided them up. We had duplicates made of all of our photos together so I took half of mine and left them with him and then took half of his duplicates and brought them with me. I really had no desire to look at old photos of him and I at the time so I just put them all in a box and packed them away when I moved. I had never really looked that close at his photos before as I was usually more interested in the ones that I had taken not ones he had taken . I was really surprised at some of the photos and have scanned them to save digitally. And then suddenly there it is. A photo of me at Piz Gloria. I did not even remember him taking the photo. All these years being angry at myself for being so stupid about not having a photo taken and now here it is. The photo below is og me at Piz Gloria from this collection of photos. The one above of me at Birg is also from this collection. I was really happy to see them. And seeing the Alpine peaks of Schilthorn seems kind of appropriate with all of the cold weather and ice outside. Below is one last photo of me at Piz Gloria. I will be using this in conversations in James Bond facebook groups and posting it to my Flickr account also very soon.

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The missing photo All by myself at Piz Gloria

There is one last photo of me sitting inside the rotating restaurant having lunch. I will post it below. There is only one problem. I am not holding my James Bond martini in the photo. Can you believe that. I am so mad. No martini photo shaken not stirred. How stupid could I be. I will just have to find a way to get back to Schilthorn and Piz Gloria again. I guess some people are just never satisfied. Hey Mark can you book those tickets for Murren?

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Posted by littlesam1 21:10 Archived in Switzerland Tagged switzerland bern james_bond 007 piz_gloria birg_switzerland murren_switzerland lauterbrunner schilthornbahn Comments (1)

Castle in a Vineyard

Chateau d'Aigle in Switzerland

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I have been reminiscing about the many castles I have had the opportunity to visit in my travels. I have seen large castles on hillsides, historic castles with fabled pasts, and some small insignificant ones. But Chateau d'Aigle in Switzerland is one that stands out in my memory as one of my favorites.

Aigle is a very small Swiss village in the French speaking area of Switzerland. When my ex partner and I were together most of our traveling was related to his professional meetings. He had one each year in Europe and two each year in the United States. For some reason that neither of us understood there was a meeting he needed to attend scheduled in a remote ski resort in Switzerland in the month of July 2003. The ski resort was Les Diablerets. The small village was empty in July except for people attending the conference. We took a train from Bern to the village a Aigle. Aigle is located at the bottom of a mountain below Les Diablerets. Other than this business meeting there is no way I would have ever ended up in Aigle so I am very grateful to whoever set up the meeting. There were not a lot of travel web sites available yet so our research was somewhat limited for the trip. We did buy a couple of travel guides but none of them had any information on Aigle or Les Diablerets. So everything we saw or encountered was a surprise to us. And I did not yet have a digital camera so all of these surprises were recorded on film. I did not have the option to take multiple photos of things I saw. I had a chance for a photo, and then hoping it would turn out, before taking a photo of the next location. Luckily most of my photos did turn out alright and I have since digitized and edited them to make them look their best.

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The train station in Aigle

We changed trains at the tiny station in Aigle and took a very small mountain train up to Les Diablerets. On our journey, just outside of Aigle, we passed a small but beautiful castle. The castle sat in the middle of vineyard on the lower slopes of the mountain. It was breath taking. I knew the moment I saw it that I would be taking that train back down the mountain from Les Diablerets the first chance I had to visit the castle. So as soon as my ex's meeting commenced I took the first train the next day back down the mountain to Aigle.

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The green building contains a small bakery

I arrived in Aigle in time for lunch and I was quite hungry. I found a bakery located in the building in the photo above here. I met a very nice young woman who was working there. I wanted a ham sandwich, the kind they make in France with ham , cheese and a gherkin on a crunchy baguette. I walked into the bakery and could smell the bread. It was wonderful. I also wanted a chance to try out my limited French. I thought I was pretty good with few phrases. I tried to ask for ham sandwich and it must have come out all wrong because the young woman had no idea what I was trying to ask for and there was no English spoken in this village. So I tried to say it again and she still looked very puzzled. She tried to talk to me. I tried to talk to her. And neither of us were able to communicate with the other. We both laughed at ourselves. She finally let me come behind the counter and point to the items I wanted. When I started to point to the ham, then the cheese, she knew exactly what I wanted and made me the perfect sandwich. I left the bakery and walked over to bench in front of a church and ate my sandwich. I was surrounded by the mountains in a village where no one spoke English and I was having what I thought was the best sandwich ever. Then I just let myself get lost in the moment.

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The small road from Aigle to the Chateau

After finishing my lunch I found the road out of the village that followed the railroad tracks in the direction of the castle I had seen the previous day. Once again I let my mind wander and I was in my own little world again walking down small streets in a remote area of Switzerland.

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In the distance you can see the castle in the vineyard

I got to the vineyards and there in the distance was the castle. I had no information on it. I did not know if it was open to the public or not. I just knew I wanted to see it and take some photos. When I arrived I found out it was open to the public. And also I found out there was a restaurant inside and a small bar serving wine from the vineyard. And there I was. Sitting in an old castle drinking wine made on the premises, surrounded by the beautiful Swiss alps. And once again I was in my own little fantasy world. Suddenly some people walked in all dressed in medieval costumes. It was almost like I was dreaming. Apparently they were filming a movie or commercial inside the castle that day. It could not have been more perfect.

The castle dates back to the 14th century. Although it seemed romantic and ideal to me the day I visited it has not always been the most desirable place to visit. In 1804, the castle was acquired by the community of Aigle and until 1976 it was used as a cantonal jail. So it just goes to show one man's romance is another man's prison.

Posted by littlesam1 22:46 Archived in Switzerland Tagged trains castles switzerland vineyards aigle bakeries chateau_aigle Comments (0)

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