Welcome back to my Switzerland themed A - Z. Today's post is taking you across the country to explore our beautiful lakes, and I'll throw in a river or two, too!
Lakes constitute a major natural feature of Switzerland, with over 1000 km (620 miles) of shores within the country. The two most extensive, Lake Geneva and Lake Constance, are amongst the largest in Europe.
So let's start with Lake Geneva in the French part of Switzerland. We were talking about the city of Geneva and the Jet d'Eau in my post about International Organizations, but is's so gorgeous, let's have another look:
By the way, on the French side of the Lake, and just 45 minutes outside of Geneva, there's Evian, yes, where the bottled water is from!
La Rhône (Rhone river) is one of the major European rivers. Rising in the Rhône Clacier in the canton of Valais, it passes through Lake Geneva and runs all the way through France, dividing into two branches. The resulting delta constitutes the Camarge region.
From Geneva, let's drive a good 100 km (62 miles) along La Côte du Lac Léman as it is called in French.
The area is super scenic and known for wine growing.
As you arrive in Montreux you'll get to see the medieval Château de Chillon, built in the 12th century, (picture on top of this page). Other attractions are the annual Jazz Festival, the Casino, the Queen museum and Freddie Mercury's memorial statue. Read more about it here.
Moving on to Fribourg. I mentioned it in my Fondue post. Isn't it great how it all comes together, the more you learn? It is one of a few bilingual cities in Switzerland: French and German. More about our languages soon!
We climbed up a hill for this view. Totally worth it. The cows like to think so, too!
The river that flows through Fribourg, the Saronne, is meandering through the city, so to get places, people built bridges. Beautiful ones at that, old and new.
Next stop: Biel, another bilingual city, known for its watch industry. Wait for the letter W to learn more about i.
I'll just leave you with this peaceful sunset picture.
Biel belongs to the canton of Bern.
What have you read about the city of Bern? Right, it is Switzerland's capital.
It does not have a lake, but there is the Aare - rising in the great Aargletschers (Aare Glaciers) of the Bernese Alps, extending almost 300 km, it is the longest river flowing entirely within Switzerland. It streams around three sides of the pictoreque old city of Bern and is highly popular among swimmers.
A good 45 minutes' drive northeast bound, you'll arrive at a town called Aarburg. As the name states, it is a "Burg" (German for castle) lying at the river Aare. Aarburg is one of canton Aargau's cities.
The capital is Aarau. That's a lot of towns called after the river, right? It's where I (and a few years earlier, Mr Albert Einstein) went to college. They even named the promenade along the Aare after him.
It leads you to an outdoor restaurant that is only open during summer time. I forgot what it's called, and I googled the following "Aarau, Restaurant, Aare, only open in summertime".
Wanna know what it's called? Summertime, duh.
Now we're almost home! There are two gorgeous castles in my area, one of them being Schloss Hallwyl. It's where you go on a field trip if you're in 3rd grade or so. Many people get married there. As you can see, it's surrounded by water, the river Aabach will join Aare in just a bit!
If you walk 15-20 minutes you'll get to the jetty. A boat ride on the Hallwilersee a beautiful day is a must if you're in the area!
On a particularly lucky day you'll get o see the snow covered Alps! This picture was taken at the Eichberg, a popular destination for a hike or a nice dinner with a view! It's less than half an hour from where I live.
About a 20 minutes' drive across the countryside you'll arrive in Bremgarten, another medieval town in my canton of Aargau. The river flowing under the bridge is Reuss. The upper Reuss forms in the main valley of the canton of Uri. The course of the lower Reuss runs from Lake Lucerne (which I'll show you in a minute) to the confluence with the Aare.
Here we are in Lucerne, one of the most popular Swiss tourist hotspots. I can't blame them, it is absolutely beautiful! I mentioned the mountain Pilatus and the Chapel Bridge in my Alps post.
My blog's name Part-time working Hockey Mom has to do with the fact that my sons has been playing hockey for seven years and counting. His team is based in Zug, which is a 50-60 minutes' drive each way, depending on traffic. Yes, that's a awful lot of driving, considering that they train 10 out of 12 months, and they do so on average three times a week. Please note that on weekends there are games, too.
Anyway. I'm lucky that I absolutely love Zug. So much so that I used to live and work there for a while before I met my husband. Many international companies have their HQs here, courtesy of low taxes. I am still very attached to the city, its many nice spots, and especially the lake. Lake Zug is small, but oh so beautiful. I have hundreds of pictures (hey, gotta keep busy while Colin trains), here's one of my favorite shots: sunset in winter.
35 km north of Zug is Zurich. Zurich has both, a river (Limmat) and a lake (Lake Zurich). Both are typically well visited on a nice spring day like today. Except everything is now sealed off due to the lockdown. Good thing I take pictures every single time I'm here. Just because it's so nice.
On your left hand side you can see the church towers of Fraumünster and St. Peter (largest tower clock face in Europe), on your right side of the river Limmat there's the Romanesque Grossmünster with its distinctive twin towers.
If you live on either side of Lake Zurich, and you need to get to the other one, you have two choices:
Drive all the way along Seestrasse (highly congested) into the city, (highly congested), cross the Quai Bridge (highly congested), exit the city, which is, you guessed correctly, still highly congested!
Take the ferry!
It's a car ferry, very convenient. Many commuters love to use it every day. At rush hour the five ferry boats run every six minutes, back and forth. One course takes about ten minutes.
In 2018, 1.25 million cars (and over 2 million people) were transported. Again, Switzerland has some 8.5 citizens, of which about 1 million live in Zurich and its suburbs.
Every fall they have a theme. This one was forrest animals.
Oh, and just by the way... there's a small lake in the background. Lake Greifensee. Up to a few years ago they organized pumpkin regattas. You heard right. Courageous people would hollow the largest pumpkins and prep them to use as boats!
Here's a video for you:
Sometimes a pumpkin boat is untight and accumulates water to the point that the rower goes overboard.
Another year the theme for the pumpkin exhibition was mythical creatures, and I absolutely loved this wonderful unicorn!
Speaking of mythical. Here's the Blausee - translation: Blue Lake. It's located just as you exit the car shuttle train (looks like we have ferry for any purpose), coming from Valais, arriving in canton of Bern. They breed trouts in the tiny lake.
The largest Swiss canton in terms of surface area is Graubünden, Grisons. It is entirely mountainous. If there are lakes, they are small mountain lakes. This is Lake Arosa, you may walk around it.
The yellow signs will tell you how long you walk to a specific destination. We have them all over Switzerland, they are called Wanderweg = hiking trail.
Speaking of Grisons, it's where the river Rhine origins.
If you visit Switzerland, you're likely to stop at the Rhine Falls, canton Schaffhausen, very close to the border to Germany.
Formed in the last ice age, they are the most powerful waterfall in Europe: 150 meters (490 feet) wide and 23 meters (75 feet) high. In the summer, the average water flow is 600 m2 (21k cubic feet) per second. The picture doesn't do it justice.
I was mentioning the Rhine. After falling, it confluences with the Aare not far from where I live, runs through the city of Basel and proceeds through Germany to The Netherlands, emptying into the North Sea. It's length is 1,230 km (760 miles).
Here's what it look like in Basel:
The people in Basel like to party at least three times a year:
- Fasnacht (huge, three days' carnival festivities)
- FC Basel becomes Swiss soccer champion yet again
- Herbstmesse (fall fairground, complete with Ferris wheel, lots of other fun activities, balloons and food)
Basel also had an event that was particularly important for my son: it's where in 2016 Dunkin Donuts opened their first store in Switzerland!
To wrap it up I wanted to share a picture I seem to have of Lake Constance or Bodensee how we call it in German. After enjoying the annual classic car meeting in Sulgen, we visited a business acquaintance whose family has a weekend hut. I don't know what happened to these pictures, I can't seem to find them in my archives.
So I borrowed this one. It is the Seenachtsfest, an annual spectacle hosted by the Swiss town Kreuzlingen and the German city Konstanz just across the bay. There's a fairground, activities and food booths all weekend long, and it culminates in launching their fireworks together. It is an absolutely stunning experience. I hear it may not happen in the future anymore, though, pollution and everything.
|Photo Credit: Robert Hahn Bauer @ Südkurier|
Something tells me this is gonna be the post I worked on the longest. Geeeez, am I done yet? I hope you enjoyed traveling with me.
Anything that particularly stood out to you? Anything you've actually visited yourself? Let me know in the comments down below.
Come back tomorrow, and I'll take you grocery shopping at Migros, one of our two giants.