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Archive for switzerland

In the Footsteps of Chaplin

By Linda Tancs

Charlie Chaplin is an icon of the film industry, renowned for his screen persona “the Tramp.” The Tramp made his first appearance in 1914 in the film “Kid Auto Races at Venice.” You’ll learn much more about his life and career at Chaplin’s World in Vevey, Switzerland. His mansion there, Manoir de Ban, was his home for 25 years, from 1952 until his death in 1977. Now a museum, you’ll delight not only in his furnishings and personal belongings but also in a Hollywood-style studio journeying through his long film career and in 10 acres of parkland with unobstructed views of Lake Geneva and the Alps. Signs and displays are in English and French. A guided tour of the manor using mobile and tablet devices is also available free of charge in English, French and German.

By the Numbers in Solothurn

By Linda Tancs

Eleven is a ubiquitous (and some might say auspicious) number in the Swiss town of Solothurn. You’ll count it everywhere. There are 11 museums. Eleven fountains. Eleven chapels. Eleven churches. When the landmark cathedral of St. Ursus was under construction in 1762, its builder built upon the number theme (no pun intended) by including 11 bells in the tower, 11 altars, an outer staircase with 11 steps and an organ with a grand sum of pipes divisible by 11. And the cathedral took 11 years to build. Of course it did. Even the local beer is named “eleven” (Öufi, in the local dialect). As if that weren’t enough of a numbers game, there’s a clock on the wall of a bank with an 11-hour dial and the number 12 missing. Its 11 cogs churn 11 bells with the aid of a metal harlequin to chime out the local song, Solothurner Lied, at various times during the day. A themed tour about the number 11 can be booked with Region Solothurn Tourismus.

 

The Christmas Spirit in Montreux

By Linda Tancs

Along the shores of Lake Geneva in Switzerland, the Montreux Christmas Market is a long-established delight. You’ll likely find that last-minute gift in one of the 160 decorated and illuminated chalets (stalls). As the holiday music swirls, meander around with a glass of mulled wine (like the locals) and enjoy some culinary tastings. Not to be outdone by other popular markets in the region, Montreux offers a nightly 3D light show projected onto the façade of the renowned hotel, Fairmont le Montreux Palace. Go there during the week and avoid the weekend frenzy.

A Nod to Nutrition in Switzerland

By Linda Tancs

There’s a museum for everything. Why should diet and nutrition be any different? Alimentarium is billed as the first museum in the world dedicated entirely to the subject of nutrition. Located in Vevey, Switzerland (home to Nestlé, the world’s largest food and beverage company), the facility’s exhibitions examine all aspects of the human diet and nutrition throughout the centuries, including eating habits, science, art and culture. There’s also an educational vegetable garden to quench your appetite for knowledge.

Thunder in the Valley

By Linda Tancs

Switzerland’s Trümmelbach Falls drain glacier meltwater from the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau mountains. Europe’s largest subterranean waterfalls, they’re located in the Lauterbrunnen Valley, often called “the valley of 72 waterfalls.” Thanks to the glacier ice melt this time of year, over 5,000 gallons of water per second can thunder and roar through the interior of the Jungfrau down into the valley. The entire course of the cascades is accessible underground by lift, galleries, tunnels, paths and platforms. If you’re going to “Trümmelbachfälle” by train, go via Interlaken (SBB/BLS/Zentralbahn) toward Lauterbrunnen (BOB). A bus will take you from there to the “Trümmelbachfälle” bus stop.

The Longest Staircase in the World

By Linda Tancs

The benefits of stair climbing reach new heights (no pun intended) at the Niesen, a mountain peak of the Bernese Alps about 40 miles south of the Swiss capital, Bern. Long prized by painters for its near-perfect pyramid shape, fitness gurus will be equally enchanted by the opportunity to participate in the Niesen Treppenlauf, a fat-burning (if not vertigo inducing) 11,674-stair climb adjoining the funicular, the longest staircase in the world. It’s not for everyone, though. In fact, only 500 folks will get the chance to participate in the annual event held each June. For everyone else, check the timetable of the trains to Mülenen and the funicular to the summit. Hiking paths are also available.

A Ten-Year Wait in Baden

By Linda Tancs

The Swiss spa city of Baden hosts the largest municipal folk festival in the region known as Badenfahrt. It’s held once every 10 years and, judging by the 1 million or so visitors, worth the wait. This year’s festivities take place from Aug. 18–Aug. 27, featuring theater performances, concerts, parades and fireworks over the Stein Castle ruins. Every festival has a motto; this year’s theme is “Versus,” celebrating the many facets of city life embracing the old and the new.

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