Tuesday, 11 November 2014

Wonderful Wooden Bridge

For centuries a wooden bridge has crossed Lake Zürich at its narrowest point between Rapperswil and Hurden. Timber piles found on the lakebed indicate that there was some kind of crossing at this point that dates back to 1523BC. How such a precise date can be given is a mystery to me, but there you have it, this is what historians say! The wooden bridge was part of The Way of Saint James, a short cut across the lake that pilgrims took on their way to the Monastery in Einsiedeln and eventually onto Compostela in Spain. 

In 2001 the 841 metre long wooden walkway was reconstructed and is now apparently the longest wooden bridge in Europe. 

When we were there in October we approached the bridge from the southern side of the lake by Rapperswil. 

The bridge kinks in a few places. After the first hundred metres or so the steel cable handrail moves to the other side.

Looking south.

Looking north.

Wood used to build the bridge apparently came from trees that had fallen in the 1999 hurricane Lothar. The bridge is simple, elegant and beautiful.

Away from traffic on the main causeway this walkway is very peaceful. A perfect place to mediate and reflect. Indeed we saw a few people doing just this. The main sounds were of water lapping against the wooden pillars and of chirping birds. We were lucky the weather was so perfect.

Looking east we saw snow covered mountains in the distance.

Looking west we saw Zürich in the far distance.

Looking down we saw snow white feathers.

More lake photos can be seen hereSailing Swans

Tuesday, 4 November 2014

Sailing Swans

Across Lake Zürich between Rapperswil and Hurden is a wooden walkway. The walkway follows the path that Jacob pilgrims took on their way to Santiago de Compostela as far back as 1523BC. The walkway itself, reconstructed in 2001, is beautifully crafted out of oak (more on the walkway in another post) and the views you get from the bridge are magnificent. We were lucky enough to go on a cloudless day where we were accompanied by coots and swans. Lots of swans.

We noticed that all the swans were gliding back and forth across the water with their wings puffed up. A little bit of research shows that ... 'The wings of a swan form a sail at each side, between which the current of the wind passes, and thus acts upon them with much more effect than it does upon the sails which apply to vessels.' (The British cyclopaedia of ... )

Once the swans had reached where they wanted to go, they fed, nibbling at weeds on the bottom of the lake. Perfectly clear emerald green water.

On thy fair bosom, silver lake! 
The wild swan spreads his snowy sail, 
And round his breast the ripples break, 
As down he bears before the gale.
James Gates Percival, 1795 - 1856

Monday, 3 November 2014

Above the Clouds

When I was a child we used to go to Switzerland every summer to stay near where my mother was brought up. We've just spent the Vacances de la Toussaint there, a lovely week of walks, picnics, thermal baths, very little Internet, all wrapped in comforting layer of nostalgia. 

One day we met up with friends and family and had a picnic where we barbecued sausages on an open fire, roasted marshmallows, drank wine, ate cake all in glorious sunshine with an utterly spectacular view.


As we were sipping on our tumblers of wine a hot air balloon suddenly emerged from the clouds.

Our afternoon was so soothing for the soul. Bliss.