Saturday, September 20, 2008
Gruetzi! Things have been slow here at work this week, with me just reading things and getting a broad overview, so I will tell you about the places I've been to last weekend. The weather wasn't so ideal...very cold, rainy and misty, and foggy! Saturday I spent the morning rowing on the Eglisau, which is a river that runs very close to the German/Swiss border. It is just beautiful there!! I think I've written this before- that I joined the Seeclub Zurich for my time here so I can continue to row and train. Most of the other rowing clubs in Zurich train on the Zurisee, which we do as well, but the conditions aren't as perfect as they are at Eglisau. On the Zurisee you have to watch out for sailboats, motorboats, and the rather large ships that transport cars and passengers from one side of the lake to the other (so you don't have to drive all the way around). The Zurisee does have some good points though- if you row down far enough, you pass the Lindt Chocolate Factory, and inhale the yummy chocolate smell! Seriously, the smell is incredible...maybe a marketing trick to get you to eat the Lindt chocolate. ;) Above is a picture of the bridge under which the boathouse in Eglisau is- you can just see the very blue/green water!
On Sunday I desperately wanted to go hiking somewhere...but since the weather was being stubborn, I settled for Einsiedeln, which is a little south of Zurich beyond the lake. The views from the train of the lake were impressive enough! The higher in the train we climbed though, the harder it was to see much of anything beyond 50m. Luckily, in Einsiedeln there is a very impressive kloster called Kloster Einsiedeln, and I spent some time exploring inside. The description in my guide book says, "Records of pilgrims flock to the probably finest example of Baroque architecture in Switzerland. A pilgrimage on the Jakobsweg to the Benedictine abbey with the Black Madonna and the monastery is currently experiencing a veritable renaissance." So needless to say, it was impressive!! Inside there were many figures of a Black Madonna- which were different from the many white Madonna figures I have seen in my travels. I asked someone what the significance of this was and was told that many years ago, the Madonna was represented with fair skin, but after time, the soot from the candles dirtied her face to be almost black. After many years, the figures were all cleaned, but the townspeople were so used to the black Madonna that they insisted she be kept with a black face. Hence, the kloster being filled with the black Madonna figures.
On Monday afternoon I had off from work, along with the rest of Stadt Zurich for Knabenschiessen. I met up with other ThinkSwiss researchers (Charlotte and Joseph), and as Charlotte mentioned in her post, the festival was similar to a huge carnival! Lots of delicious things to eat, things to watch, and fun rides to go on. I'm not exactly sure of the history of the Knabenschiessen myself, but Switzerland traditionally has a history of excellent marksmen and sharp-shooters as the men in the army would perch from atop mountains and hills to protect their valleys and country many, many years ago. A twist on this tradition is now called the Knabenschiessen, which is a contest for the youth in Zurich (boys and girls) to practice their shooting skills. Whoever has collected the most points at the end of the competition is crowned "King of the Festival". Unfortunately, we didn't get to see any of the competition, as it was held Saturday and Sunday, and Monday was just the handing out of the prizes. But we did see a parade with all the participants, which was cool!
This weekend we're taking on Berg Titlis, which is close to Luzern and Pilatus....it's going to be cold at the top (minus 3 degrees Celsius!), so I'm off to go buy some gloves and a hat!
Have a nice week everyone,