Lucerne – 2002

June 16/2002

“Lucerne is an ancient place, mentioned for the first time in historical records, as “Lucaria” in the year 840. With the opening of the St. Gotthard Pass over the Alps, the growing town began to develop into the major intersection for trade between the Upper Rhine and Lombardy. In 1332, Lucerne joined the Confederation of three original Swiss cantons.”
Excerpt from Highlights of Lucerne, Switzerland By Kathryn Lemmon.

We went to Lucerne, 434 m above sea level, to meet relatives from Berne. The most famous landmark in Lucerne is the Kapellbrücke or Chapel Bridge in English. Check my links section for more links about Lucerne.

Kapellbruecke Marker

Plaque that explains the chapel bridge

This plaque is at one end of the bridge. It says:

In German:
Erbaut nach 1300 als Wehrgang des äusseren Befestingungsringes und als Verbindung zwischen den Stadtmauern beidseits der Reuss. Benant nach der St. Peterkapelle am rechtsufrigen Ende. Eine der ältesten erhaltenen, wenn auch ständig erneuerten hölzernen Brückenkonstruktionen Europas.

Im 19. Jahrhundert wurde die Brücke von ursprünglich 285m auf 200 m verkürzt. Der Bilderzyklus zur Geschichte Luzerns und der Eidgenossenschaft sowie der Stadtpatrone Leodgar und Mauritius wurde von Hans Heinrich Wegman 1614 begonnen. Konzept und Begleittexte von Stadschreiber Renward Cysat (1545-1614). Mit der Brücke ist der um 1350 erstelle Wasserturm verbunden, der auch als Gefängnis und Archivturm diente. Bis 1798 Aufbewahrungsort des Staatschatzes.

In English:
Built in 1300 as defense corridor of the outermost defense retainer and as bridge between the 2 sides of the city at the river Reuss. It is named after the St. Peter’s Chapel on the right side of the river. It is one of the oldest, but constantly renewed wooden bridge constructions of Europe.

In the 19th century the bridge was shortened from 285m to 200 m. The gable pictures inside the bridge tell the story of Lucerne’s history and of the Swiss Confederates, as well as the story of martyrdom of the patron saints of the city, St. Leodgar and St. Mauritius. They were started in 1614 by Hans Heinrich Wegman. The concept and accompanying text were created by Renward Cysat (1545-164). The bridge is joined to the water tower. It measures approximately 140 feet from top to bottom, and it served as a watch tower and corner pillar on the city’s fortifications, as well as a prison, a torture chamber and for the city archives. Until 1798 the treasury was also stored there. Today, the Water Tower is used as the Guild Hall of the Artillery Association.




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St. Gotthard Pass – 2002

June 2002

The St. Gotthard Pass plays an important role in Swiss transportation. It is the directest way to travel from the northern side of the Alps to the southern side.

St. Gotthard Pass

St. Gotthard Pass

Saint Gotthard 

Information from Encyclopedia.com
“(sant got´herd, got´erd) , mountain group of the Lepontine Alps, S central Switzerland, rising to Pizzo Rotondo (10,472 ft/3,192 m high). The Reuss, Rhine, Ticino, and Rhône rivers rise there. It is crossed by the Saint Gotthard Pass, 6,935 ft (2,114 m) high. The pass, first extensively used in the 11th cent., has been important since then. It is crossed by the St. Gotthard Road (built 1820-30). The St. Gotthard Railway (built 1872-80), which links the northern and southern parts of Switzerland, passes through St. Gotthard Tunnel (9 14 mi/15 km long; maximum alt. 3,786 ft/1,154 m), one of the longest Alpine tunnels. A second, 31-mi (50-km) rail tunnel is planned; it is expected to be completed in 2010. The Saint Gotthard Road Tunnel was opened in 1980; 10 mi (17 km) long and with a capacity of 1,500 vehicles per hour, it has greatly improved road transportation between Switzerland and Italy. A fiery crash in 2001 closed the road tunnel for two months.”

Tremola

Tremola

When I was a child I remember the narrow winding road called the ‘Tremola’ that lead down from the top of the mountain to Airolo. Of course, I always got car sick with all those turns.

 

Nowadays, that road can still be used, but it has been replaced by a new modern road with easy curves. The 3rd option is the tunnel through the mountain. Check out the picture I took in the tunnel.

On our way to Lucerne by train we traveled again through the St. Gotthard tunnel. This time is was the train tunnel. The view from the train from Bellizona up the Ticino Valley to Airolo was wonderful. It gave us a beautiful view of the viaducts for the Autobahn from below. When traveling by car it is hard to see over the sides of the road to realize just how hight above the ground one is traveling.

Traveling over the St. Gotthard Pass by car is also a lot of fun. There is much less traffic than through the tunnel. There were people fishing in the lake and others got ready to go for a hike along the many routes.

Once through the train tunnel on the northside of the Alps in the German speaking part of Switzerland the train goes through a series of ‘Kehrtunnels’ to decend. Here is an easy explanation from Gruezi im Zugerland.

“The construction of tracks, bridges and tunnels caused a lot of engineering skills, some hard negotiations, international agreements. Nearly 150 workers lost their life (most of them were Italians). Near the Airolo railway station there is a memorial.

Technically at the time of construction of the railway line many things have never been done before. The main tunnel was the longest ever built. In order to keep the slope below the acceptable 3 %, “Kehrtunnels” (360° tunnels with 300m radius and 3% gradient) were built. The ascent from Erstfeld to Goeschenen is about 630 m over a distance of about 19 km. From Airolo to Biasca it’s a descent of 800 m on a distance of 36 km.”

Church at Wassen

Church at Wassen

“Wassen:
The pretty little church is probably world known. Three times it will catch your eyes. At first it can be seen high up. Then in a 360° tunnel the train changes the direction and is driving back towards Erstfeld. The church appears now about level with the railway track. But then the train changes direction again in other “Kehrtunnel” and after that, the church will appear far below.” 

Swiss Flowers South of the Alps

June 2002

The Tessin is on the southern side of the Alps and the climate is totally different than on the northern side. Warm weather plants grow very nicely here together with palm trees and lemon trees that bear fruit.

I had fun comparing the plants that I knew from Canada with the strange and beautiful ones I saw here.

Plant and Flower Index

  1. This is a Spotted Laurel or ‘Acuba’ in Latin. It is also known as the gold dust plant. It gets white flowers in the spring and big red berries in the fall.
  2. This is a wild dogwood tree. It can also be found in a nursery in pink as well as white. The white is the wild variety, the pink is grafted. This is the tree Jesus was suppose to have been cruzified on. It was thereafter never to grow big enough to hold a man again, as the tale goes.
  3. This is a Jasmin hedge
  4. When I was a child we used to collect these and made garlands out of them. They look like miniature daisies. We called them ‘Margritli’ in Swiss German.
  5. Succulent on a neighbours balcony.
  6. Succulent plants grow wonderfully in this climate. This is a Houseleek (Sempervivum)
  7. This is an Oleander bush. They flower in many colors.
  8. This is an Oregon Grape Holly or ‘Mahonia’ in Latin.



Locarno/Minusio – 2002

Lago Magiore from space

Lago Magiore from space

June 13/2002

We made it safe and sound to the Tessin, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. The picture to the right was taken from space and shows Lago Maggiore (or Verbano), the lake where Locarno is located quite beautiful. The lake is the lowest point in Switzerland 193 m above sealevel, the lake is also 372 m deep. “It stretches for 65 km prevalently NNE-SSW from Magadino to Sesto Calende. Most of the lake lies in Italian territory, only the most northerly end (42 sq km) belongs to Switzerland.” Info from Lago Maggiore Net Site.

Minusio Post Office

Minusio Post Office

My mom lives right next to the post office in Minusio, a suburb of Locarno. On my first day there, I went for a walk in the neighbourhood with my camera.

The Tessin is on the southern side of the Alps and the climate is totally different than on the northern side. Warm weather plants grow very nicely here together with palm trees and lemon trees that bear fruit.

Picture Index

  1. Most apartment buildings and houses have balconies that are used everyday. Here is where many people eat their meals.
  2. Another thing that I found surprising are the many fountains that I saw with drinkable water.
  3. A typical house, painted in warm colors.Many houses have pictures painted or carved on the walls or designs attached.
  4. The Tessin is a mainly Catholic Kanton and this shows by the subjects used in the designs. This design was attached to the house above on the left.
  5. The mainstreet leading into Locarno is typical of just about any modern street in the Tessin.
  6. A lot of the houses are not on the valley ground but on the hillside above. The view from there is just spectacular.


Zurich – Locarno/Minusio – 2002

June 13/2002

We arrived in Zurich to warm summer temperatures and spent a few hours with relatives before heading on the road for our trip over the Alps to the Tessin, the Italian speaking part of Switzerland. It is 215 km from Zurich to Locarno and took us about 2 1/2 hours.

On the Autobahn

On the Autobahn

Driving from the airport to my aunt’s house I noticed that most of the cars were much smaller than what I was used to from Canada.

There was one particular car that caught my attention. It looked so cute, but was also really tiny. It is called a “Smart” and is a 2 seater city car. The little white car in the picture to the left is a ‘smart’. I have more pictures on my transportation page.

Our route from Zurich, 406 m above sea level, took us in a steady climb to the St. Gotthard along the Zugersee and Urnersee. At one point there were lots of trucks parked along the side of the Autobahn. Later I found out that after the bad accident last year, 2001, in the tunnel with a major fire, trucks were no longer allowed to pass each other. So they had to wait in groups of around 50 trucks until they were allowed to continue. On the other side of the tunnel there were similar line ups.

The tunnel entrance at Göschenen is at 1106 m above sea level The tunnel is 16.9 km long and has 2 lanes. The maximum speed is 80 km and no passing is allowed. I was totally surprised by the picture to the right. I have no control over the speed with my digital camera, but this picture came out like a timelaps one. I guess, it is due to the fact that I took it in a moving car that kept a steady speed. The exit of the tunnel at Airolo is a 1141 m above sea level The tunnel itself climbs for about 8 km and then goes downhill for the rest.

For more information and to see my pictures about going over the St. Gotthard Pass go here.

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Halifax – Toronto – Zurich … Let’s Go

Halifax from the air

Halifax from the air

June 12/2002

Our trip begins in Halifax, Nova Scotia at the International airport. The population of Halifax is around 350,000 roughly equal to the population of Zurich, Switzerland with 343,000.

On September 11, 2001 over 40 airplanes were parked on the runways waiting to continue their flights.

There are no direct flights to Switzerland so we have to backtrack to Toronto, 786 miles (1266 km).

This was my view of the Halifax airport from the plane through a somewhat hazy window. Unfortunately, we didn’t have much of a view of the earth below as everything was under a nice fluffy looking blanket of clouds.


When we arrived in Toronto is was drizzling and cloudy. Toronto has about 2,5 million inhabitants.

Our 8 hour plus flight to Zurich took us along a northerly route over Quebec, Labrador, Newfoundland, south of Greenland and Iceland, northern Ireland, London and down to Zurich as there was turbulence on the usual more southerly route.

On our way to Zurich

On our way to Zurich

 

 

My Trip to Switzerland 2002

airplaneOriginally posted this information in 2002 about my trip to Switzerland June 12-26, 2002

I grew up in one of the smaller countries of the world and now live in one of the biggest countries in the world. Taking a trip back to Switzerland gave me the opportunitiy to put their sizes into perspective.

The weather in Eastern Canada this year has been quite cold. No nice warm summery temperatures. We were, however, in for a big surprise when we arrived in Switzerland. We encountered the hottest temperatures in over 50 years. The thermometer rose everyday to between 30-35°C (86-95°F). The humidity was very high and it was quite uncomfortable. Also due to the high humidity a lot of my pictures were not as clear as I would have liked them to be. But I just could not do anything about that.

Canada is almost 250 times the size of Switzerland. That makes Switzerland less than 1/2 of a percent the size of Canada. However, Canada has only about 4 1/2 times the population of Switzerland. Switzerland is only about 3/4 the size of Nova Scotia but has 7 times the population of Nova Scotia.

Click on the name or button to get some statistical information and comparisons about Canada, Nova Scotia and Switzerland.

CanadaCanada

Nova ScotiaNova Scotia

SwitzerlandSwitzerland

Trip Index

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Some Facts About Canada

I currently live in Canada. Here is some information about the country.

Canadian Flag

Canadian Flag

  • Location: Northern North America, bordering the North Atlantic Ocean and North Pacific Ocean, north of the conterminous US
    Geographic coordinates: 60 00 N, 95 00 W
  • Area: 9,976,140 sq km
  • Land Area: 9,220,970 sq km
  • Water Area: 755,170 sq km
  • Lowest point: Atlantic Ocean 0 m
  • Highest point: Mount Logan 5,959 m
  • Population: 34.4 million (2011)
  • Independence: 1 July 1867 (from UK)
  • National Holiday: Independence Day/Canada Day, 1 July (1867)
  • Canada’s National Anthem
Map of Canada

Map of Canada

Some Facts About Nova Scotia

I currently live in Nova Scotia, Canada and here are some facts about the province.

Flag of Nova Scotia

Flag of Nova Scotia

  • Nova Scotia is Latin for New Scotland
  • Area: 21,425 sq mi (55,491 sq km), located in Eastern Canada.
    The sea defines Nova Scotia. No matter where you go, it is never more than 35 kilometres (22 miles) away. The coastline is more than 7,400 kilometres (4,600 miles) long, punctuated by idyllic harbours and inlets, sandy beaches and glacier-shorn cliffs.
  • Capital: Halifax
  • Date Entered the Federation: July 1, 1867
  • Provincial Flower: Trailing Arbutus
  • Provincial Bird: Osprey
  • Provincial Tree: Red Spruce
  • Motto: Munit Haec et Altera Vincit “One defends and the other conquers”
  • Population: 932’966 (2007)

 

Map of Nova Scotia

Map of Nova Scotia

Information from Nova Scotia on the Canada Info website.

Some Facts About Switzerland


Swiss Flag

Swiss Flag

I grew up in Switzerland, here is some information about the country.

  • Switzerland is also known as “Confoederatio Helvetica”, therefore the abbreviation CH. “Confoederatio” stands for “confederation”, “Helvetica” derives from the Latin word “Helvetier”, the name of the people who lived in the area which became later Switzerland
  • Area: 41285 km² (approx. 10’201’746 acres or 15’940 square miles)
  • Boundary: 1882 km (1170 miles)
  • Largest extension north – south: 220 km
  • Largest extension west – east: 348 km
  • Most northern dimension: Oberbargen (N 47° 48′ 35″)
  • Most eastern dimension: Piz Chavalatsch (E 10° 29′ 36″)
  • Most southern dimension: Chiasso (N 45° 49′ 08″)
  • Most western dimension: Chancy (E 5° 57′ 24″)
  • Highest elevation: Mount Monte Rosa (“Dufourspitze”), 4634 m.a.s
  • Lowest elevation: Lake Maggiore (“Lago Maggiore”), 193 m.a.s
  • Time Zone: Central Europe (GMT +1 hour)
  • Population 7,731,167 – 2009
  • Founded in 1291: The 3 states Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden – the so called “Ur-Kantone” unite against the surrounding aggressors. A citizen of each state swore on August, 1st 1291 on a small mountain named “Rütli”: “we will be a one and only nation of brothers …”
  • The Swiss flag is unusual as it is one of the few flags that are square and not rectangular. The symbol on the flag is a white cross on a red back background. Each arm of the cross has to be of the same size and must be 1/6 longer than wide.
  • Switzerland’s National Anthem
Map of Switzerland

Map of Switzerland

Information from About Switzerland website

 
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