Wednesday, December 10, 2008

Rigi and Weihnachtsmarkt

Hello everyone!

It has been snowing all day in Zürich, and is expected to stay this way until Friday! Since it is snowing so heavily in the lowlands, I can only imagine what it is like at the top of the mountains- probably blizzard conditions! Here are a few updates as to what I have done the past few weeks:

Realizing I only had a few weeks left in Switzerland, and that 2 of the weekends would be consumed with rowing activities, I knew I had to get to the mountains one final time. After much online research to find the “perfect” mountain and hiking trail with a great view, to my disappointment I learned that most of the hiking trails and mountains were closed due to preparation for the skiing season, or they were already snow covered, and hence hiking without the proper shoes and dry gear would slowly turn into a very cold and miserable experience. However, things turned for the better as my Swiss rowing friends recommended that we go to Rigi, the Queen of the Mountains. Needless to say, I was more than excited!

The day started out foggy and cold, but at the peak of Rigi, the sun was shining and the view was, of course, INCREDIBLE! I just love the mountains here! It was also quite warm at the top. Located in between the Zuger See and the Vierwaldstädter See, Rigi gives a beautiful panoramic view of the entire Alp range (well as far as you can see). I could see Säntis, Titlis, Pilatus, the area around Interlaken, and many more peaks. We took the Berg-bahn up to the top of the peak and enjoyed a walk around the top taking a zillion pictures and then a nice meal at the hotel at the top (yes there is quite a fancy hotel at the top of this mountain!) I also saw the valley where Swiss legend Wilhelm Tell supposedly shot an apple sitting atop his son’s head (Friedrich Schiller story)…. It was a great day in all.

One weekend Alison (Fulbright friend) and I went to Rapperswil and explored the castle there. We weren’t quite sure why there was a Polish National History Museum inside the SWISS castle, but it was interesting for sure. We also walked across the entire Zürisee (ok at that point it is probably only 2 miles across) to Pfäffikon, as our guide books said walking across the bridge would be a “unique experience”. It sure was an experience, as we froze, first of all, but also saw some unique Swiss birds and views of Einsiedeln and the mountains.

Last weekend was a rowing adventure from Eglisau to Ellikon and back, which is an annual tradition that anyone from the Seeclub Zürich is welcome to participate in. After rowing in a single for the fall, it was sure nice to be in a boat with 3 other people and have teammates. The sun was shining and everyone was in good spirits, as is usually the case here, which made for a really nice day. The only thing that was not enjoyable was docking and launching in Ellikon- you had to step into the freeeeeeezing cold Rhein river! Guess the Swiss are just made tougher than me. ;)

Finally, I have been spending quite a bit of time at the Weihnachtsmarkt at the main train station. It is just it’s just something that we don’t have back at home. In the center there is a live tree absolutely covered in Swarovski crystal, which looks stunning and surpasses the Rockefeller tree in NYC by far, in my opinion. Surrounding the tree are little stands selling things you really don’t need, but end up buying anyways, like hats and scarves and incense and spices, and of course, Glühwein- the Christmasy spiced red wine. Friends huddled together drinking Glühwein with the soft glow of the Christmas lights everywhere is enough to put anyone in the Christmas spirit. :)

This will be my last post to the ThinkSwiss blog, as I head back home very soon. I would really like to thank the Swiss Embassy, Swissnex, the ETH, and all those who have made my experience here so wonderful and amazing!!! To all those future ThinkSwiss scholars, feel free to join the facebook group “ThinkSwiss” and send me any questions you might have about living in Zürich, travelling in Switzerland, or doing research at the ETH.

Adi und merci tausendmal!!

Katherine (no longer :( ) in Zürich

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