Sunday, August 3, 2008

The Train to Schwende

Here's a view from a balcony of the Hotel Alpenblick in Schwende, in the Appenzell Region of Switzerland. I remember Schwende for the sounds we find there: train whistles, church bells and of course, cow bells!

Schwende was our last stop in our tour this year. Michael and Regula were our host/hostess at the Alpenblick, a beautiful hotel that we continue to return to year after year.

Soglio Flowers

These flowers provide a glimpse of what beautful colors you'll see in Switzerland. This picture was taken in Soglio, a small town that we visited on the way back from a walk to Tombal. We all expected Julie Andrews to arrive and break out into song while visiting the meadowlands near Tombal!

Snow Capped Mountains... in July!

This picture was taken on one of our walks near Sils Maria, south of St. Moritz. A storm had blown through while we were in Morcote; the snow is probably the result of that storm. After a day in the Sils Maria area, we returned in the evening to Vicosoprano to a wonderful meal prepared by our chef, Aldo. Maybe others in the group could share the menu??

Monday, July 21, 2008

Sils Maria

We spent a beautful day in Sils Maria, a small town near Vicosoprano. The Romansche language is spoken in this area, and it's the home of Fredrick Nitsche, the philosopher. Bikes, walkers, and horse-drawn carriages are found on the streets, along with the occasional small car. Fred and Alice treated the group to a horse-drawn carriage ride up a mountain path on this unforgettably perfect day. A recent storm produced snow on the mountains; a great contrast to the bright blue sky. We had lunch on a hill before the group split into two for our choice of walks.

Saturday, July 12, 2008

Thunder in Morcote

We've arrived in Morcote, on Lake Lugano in the Tocino region of Switzerland. We had heavy thunderstorms last night rumbling through, with rain this morning and the sun breaking through.

Our hotel overlooks the lake, with a view of Italy on the opposite shore. We'll probably board the morning boat back to Lugano to take in some museums or the marketplace today. We had the traditional Swiss breakfast of yogurt, meusli, breads, cheese, meats, juice and coffee with milk. Great way to start the day!

We're Off to Marcote Today

We had thunderstorms late yesterday and clouds and cooler weather today. We're off to Morcote, in the Italian section later this morning. We're expecting temps in the 90's and sunny weather during our stay.

Last night, we had a cheese and tomato fondue at the restaurant, and earlier that day, several of our group enjoyed crepes of all kinds (mushroom and cheese was the all time favorite!), and of course, at breakfast we have croissants... I'll try to upload pictures once we're in Morcote...

Friday, July 11, 2008

You Cannot Get Lost in Switzerland!

You will find these helpful signs wherever you walk on mountain trails in Switzerland. They often list the walking time that it takes to get to the next village.

A Fine Walk to Weisshorn

We are now in Grimentz, a beautiful little town in the French speaking section of Switzerland. Today, some of us took the funicular up to walk through the Path of the Planets, outside of St. Luc. It has been a beautiful walk, ending at the Weisshorn Hotel, at 7700 feet. We enjoyed cafe, tartes aux abricots and salade. Magnificante!

Wednesday, July 9, 2008


After a long international flight, it is important to rehydrate yourself. Here are some examples of beverages that will do the trick. Most of them are various forms of water with abit of sugar and flavor, all for about 40-100 kcalories each.

The wine and beer are a different story. More on that later!

Why French Women (and Swiss women) Dont Get Fat

Here is a shot of a street near the train station in Winterthur. Bikes are lined up, usually unlocked by people taking the train to work. In Winterthur, most people either walk or bike, there were rarely any cars. Great way to stay in shape!

You will see my friend, Karen Fitton from Iowa, over toward the left. She and her husband Robert, were just finishing up a two week stay in Switzerland when our group arrived. From here, the three of us took the train to Zurich to check out a great chocolate store called Mercur. What a treat!!

Quiche Susse

Hungry? You will always find great food at street side bakeries. Here are some quiche susse, filled with either rhubarb, apple, peach or lingonberry. I saw (and sampled) these in Winterthur on Tuesday, when I was visiting friends from Decorah who were there, finishing up their tour of Switzerland.

lunch time in the Alps

We have just arrived in Kanderstad on a beautiful summer day. Most of the group chose this outdoor spot to relax after a morning train ride. It is just too pretty outside to be in on a computer, so I will make this short.

Monday, July 7, 2008

we have arrived in lenzburg

please pardon my poor typing skills on this swiss computer. we have all arrived in lenzburg and are resting up for the start of the tour tomorrow. the flight from chicago to zurich was great on swiss air, but our plane from mpls to chicago on united was delayed, sending fred and i at a running pace through ohare to catch the flight out. it is a free day tomorrow, and i hope to catch a train back towards zurich and meet up with friends from decorah who happen to be in winterthur. i will see if i can download a picture of a great little kebob stand that we hit when we stay in lenzburg. if the four of us who had lunch there look tired, well... we are in a major sleep deficit...

Saturday, July 5, 2008

The Wine Region, near Montreaux

Here's a view of Lake Geneva from a walk through the vineyards last September, looking towards Montreaux. Along the walk, there are numerous spots to sample local wines. This day trip includes a boat ride on Lake Geneva.

Size Matters in Switzerland!

Most cows in Switzerland will wear a bell while grazing in the Alps during the summer. This lady is probably a lead cow. Lead cows are assigned the largest and loudest bell. Other cows in the herd are kept together by the sound of these bells.

The Appenzell Region

This is a view from the Hotel Alpenblick, a Four Star hotel in Schwende, looking down towards the train tracks. Schwende is a quaint little village in the German section of Switzerland. A short jaunt over those incredible mountains in the background will take you to Austria.

A typical farmstead

This is a view of a typical farmstead in the Appenzell Region. Note that the barn is connected right to the house! The cows are in the Alps in the summer; then in the barn in the wintertime.

Let's GO!

I've been in touch with friends who are currently in Switzerland, and according to them, the weather's been hot and humid. Their 'fleece' never left the suitcase! Because of that, and since we'll be spending a fair amount of time in the southern, Italian section of the country, well... I'm packing light!
Besides what you see here, I'll be bringing a 22x16x10 rolling suitcase. I'll be wearing my boots onto the plane, so I don't need to carry them. In the daypack shown, I'll have a toothbrush, some 'wet ones', my iPod (with my French language lessons!), my passport and health insurance card. Also: eye drops, small bag of gorp (peanuts and raisins), two extra camera batteries in a separate ziplock, a small, good book (A House for Mr. Biswas), a business card to identify the daypack, just in case... and my camera. Since it's an overnight flight, I'll dress in strechy yoga pants, a T-shirt and will bring a fleece, some flip flops, eye covers and ear plugs. I've been pushing fluids to stay hydrated, and getting in some good nights' sleep!

Wednesday, June 25, 2008

A Room with a View

Often you'll see chalets like this with down comforters draped on the windowsill to air out. Just imagine what the night sky must look like from one of those windows! Around back, you'll find livestock including pigs, sheep, and yes- those wonderful Swiss cows!

On the Way to Eggli

This picture was taken in the Rougemont area of Switzerland in September of 2005, near the border with France. It started with a gondola ride to the top of Mt. Rubli, where the vistas were just superb.

On this day trip to Eggli, our day packs included small loaves of pain rustique (whole grain bread), some cheese (both in a zip lock), a bottle of apple juice, a small bottle of hand sanitizer, sunscreen, hat, raingear, camera, passport and Swiss currency.

We returned that night to a feast of raclette and fondue at the Hotel Valrose in Rougemont. C'est si bon!

Monday, June 16, 2008

So, what do the trails look like?

This picture, taken in July 2006, shows a typical hiking trail in Switzerland. Well, OK, the trails DO go up and down, too, which adds to the fun. Trails throughout Switzerland are very well maintained and well marked. The Swiss, being...well... Swiss keep everything in order, including their trails.

As you're walking the trails, be sure to leave gates as you found them (open or closed) and let the person behind you know. We don't want cows, sheep, pigs or goats getting loose!

Sunday, June 15, 2008

Your Fearless Leader, Fred Kollmann... the tall one, on the right, 1050 feet above Oeschinensee, in the Bernese Oberland, in 2007. Along with Fred, his sister Alice, and Alice's son, Michael will be helping out with the tour. Fred is newly retired after 30 years with USDA/NRCS, and is consulting with Ducks Unlimited in Morris, Minnesota. He's finding Western Minnesota's constant wind a challenge in his biking routine!

What To Wear??

Here we have a picture of an Old Frau in front of the Jungfrau (and the Munch and the Eiger) in July 2007, wearing proper attire for the occasion: hiking pants that zip into shorts, wash and wear top, well worn hiking boots, sunglasses, sunscreen. Scarf is optional, but nice to have. Daypack, not shown, has a bottle of water, a cheese sandwich in a ziplock, a passport, a Swiss Pass (train pass), more sunscreen, a camera, lightweight fleece shirt and a hat.

Oh yes- a small coinpurse, too! Swiss currency includes ALOT of coins, so bring a small coinpurse along.

On the Hoher Kasten Trail, 2006

This year, we'll return to the Appenzell Region, noted for its rolling countryside, pre-Alpine peaks, as well as delicious Appenzell cheese, local crafts, costumes and music. This picture was taken along the Hoher Kasten Trail, in 2006.

Getting Ready for the trip...

It's now only a couple of weeks before the group heads out for our big Swiss Adventure! This will be tour #4 for me, and I can't wait to get back on the alpine trails once more; smell that wonderful morning coffee; enjoy muesli and yogurt for breakfast; and yes-!, those wonderful, two hour long, evening dinners... Did I mention the chocolate? The wine? The cheese? The cow bells in the valley?

Food, hikes, good company. What fun!

Last year, I found it fairly easy to find internet service so that I could continue to teach my online nutrition course from Switzerland. This year, I'll go one step further, and try blogging. I won't have the nutrition class to worry about this time, so I can put all my effort into this Swiss Tour blog.

When it comes to packing for the trip, it's good to keep it simple. I start with a suitcase on wheels that measures approximately 22"x14"x10" deep. Dennis does a great job of listing the essentials; follow his guidelines closely! As Dennis mentions, DON'T overpack. I'd add a ziplock bag (not a box:) to the list, in case you find something that calls for one (like... chocolate?!) but nothing more. I'm always tempted to bring a small stash of peanut butter, because it's hard to find in Switzerland, but I'll be fine without it. Oh, a light pair of shoes for dinner, too; you won't want to wear hiking boots to the table.