We left Lucerne by train and connected to the Bernini Express for our ultimate destination Poschiavo. The Albula/Bernina railway line forms the heart of the Unesco World Cultural Heritage site. The Unesco route itself covers 122 kilometres from Thusis to Tirano. It passes 196 bridges, 55 tunnels and 20 towns along the way. It was constructed about 100 years ago. Poschiavo is Italian in nature and very close to the Italian border.
The carnival carries on in Lucerne until the Tuesday before Ash Wednesday. The history goes back to the fifteenth century and the guilds in the city. The city is alive with parades, music, costumes and revelry. Photographing the people and gatherings is overwhelming but fun and colourful.
We travelled by train from Lauterbrunnen and Murren area to Lucerne to join the festivities of Carnival in Lucerne. This city is beautifully located on Lake Lucerne and when we arrived the streets were filled with celebrations and costumes as fitting the traditions of this area for Carnival. Our hotel was centrally located and, as always, the service was impeccable and very helpful. When we returned in the evening, the owner and manager, Oliver, was attired in an elaborate outfit and green lipstick. We had dinner in a local pub type atmosphere and it was a joyful and celebratory/noisy event. Part of our time was centered around a very old bridge which crossed the river in a very central area. There was a very strong chill in the air by nightfall. It is winter here with snow falling intermittently.
Today was a long day of train rides and cogwheel train rides to ascend to one of Europe’s highest peaks, the Jungfraujoch at 11,332 feet in elevation. We had lunch at the restaurant and the cloud cover lifted for twenty minutes. The view was spectacular. This is serious ski country so en route we saw many skiers enjoying cross country and downhill runs. Train transportation in Switzerland is efficient and more than comfortable.
Today we set out to explore the villages of Blatten and Wiler. The afternoon carnival parade took place until nightfall with families out in costume and traditional floats pulled through the village with Tschaggata monsters intermingling with the other participants. These are village winter carnival traditions that have survived with customs of the Swiss history and culture. We spent a few hours walking and enjoying the villages and landscapes.
We set out on a two hour hike to have lunch at the Fafleralp Hotel in the Swiss Alps. The day was sunny and beautifully quiet with a wide flat cross country track for our pathway. An international skiing clientele was at the rustic lunch room and then I walked down enjoying a wintry nature hike while my companions decided to “sled” on traditional wooden sleds. I got in 20,000 steps today on my iPhone registry!
We travelled by train and Postbus from Bern to Blatten up in the Alps. Our hotel for the night is in Ried and very Swiss style, rustic and welcoming. We took a private bus to the Tschaggatta tonight in the next village of Blatten. We arrived early to photograph the monsters in masks and fur with mitts that are used to rub soot or snow on the faces of women. This is a tradition from many years bygone and hundreds of locals and visitors line the streets to see the parade and follow the participants who formerly were young men of the villages but now include young women and some children.
Train today from Zurich to Bern. Bern is the capital of Switzerland. We wandered the streets of Bern exploring the old town and seeing the authentic shops which still have a feel of extension of time with little change. We discovered a residence on the Aare River where I took the photo under the archway of the bridge.
Exploring the city on foot for hours. I have two cameras with me today-My Leica Q and Fuji XT2. They are both manageable and light in weight. I have a small handy backpack so exploring is a natural and easy process. I started my walk along the Limmat River and then explored busy intersections and streets. It is a busy city and the people are incredibly helpful and friendly. I have also discovered an amazing Italian restaurant just two blocks from my hotel up winding cobblestone narrow streets in the old part of the city.
Arrival in Zurich, Sunday, February 4, 2018. My focus is creativity and photography exploring mountain villages and Unesco Heritage sites. My friends from Portland will meet me in two days. I will wander and photograph until then exploring solo.