Home | Postcards | Food & Cooking | New Friends | Stories | In Transit | Archives

A View of Cambodia from the Mekong River


(When these pictures are posted, and you'd like to have a copy of the picture, simply right-click on the enlargement and "save picture as")
 

October 17, 2008 - April 3, 2012

 

WE'VE MOVED TO CAMBODIA!  Click here for an enlargement

 

Sorry.... This page is currently under construction!  Thanks for visiting our web site!

~ Jeanie and Robert

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

boarded theClick here for an enlargement 7:10 train to Milan, and then on to Zurich.  It was a fine, clear morning, a great day for a train trip!  If you Click here for an enlargementhave not experienced train travel in Europe, you must understand that while the rest of western Europe has beautiful, shiny, clean trains, Italy chooses to continue to rollClick here for an enlargement out their 1940's-era-looking battered trains.   But we got a great deal on our tickets ~ 169 euros (about Click here for an enlargement$200) for 2 round trip tickets to Zurich.  So no problem; let's go!

Along the way to Zurich our train stopped at Lake Como, just south of the Swiss border.  Apparently this area is soclick here for an enlargement exclusive and expensive because Gearge Clooney ownes a place on the lake somewhere.  We didn't see George at the train station, so we cannot substantiate Lake Como's supposed claim to fame.  But it was a gorgeous sunny day, so it sure looked like a lovely area.

Click here for an enlargement   Leaving Italy, we began to see a very distinct change in climate and landscape, as we left the dry & brown fields and low hills of Italy and ascended into the lush green mountain passes of Switzerland.  There were also dozensClick here for an enlargement of tunnels through the mountains, and every time we emerged from a tunnel, the hillsides seemed greener and the mountain peaks more stunningly beautiful. 

Click here for an enlargement The trip took us 9 hours on the train, and we arrived in Zurich at 4:30pm, where we changed trains again for a 20-minute ride to the city of Winterthur, just northeast of Zurich.  In Winterthur we were met at the station by Kirkorclick here for an enlargement Kurtcuoglu, a friend of Robert's from their college days as engineering students at Ole' Miss.   Kirkor drove us to his home in a quiet area of Winterthur, where they have lived for more than click here for an enlargement30 years.  They bought half of this beautiful building, and they rent outClick here for an enlargement apartments on the top and bottom floors, and they reside on the middle two floors.  At the back of the house Kirkor keeps a garden, with apple and pear trees, grapes, blackberries & raspberries, tomatoes, zucchini, and other assorted goodies.  The fruit was allClick here for an enlargement perfectly Click here for an enlargementripe, and we especially enjoyed the crisp ripe pears right off the tree.  Yum!  They also have a kiwi vine that grows up the north side of the house.  They harvest the kiwis in click here for an enlargementNovember, and store them in the basement, where they maintain their freshness all winter long!  So cool!  Across the street from their front door is a beautiful old fountain that flows continuously from a spring.  We actuallyClick here for an enlargement saw these fountains all over Switzerland.  It's as if they are saying, "we have so much good fresh water we can't keep it from bubbling up along every street!"  Also near Kirkor's home click here for an enlargementis a rose garden, whichclick here for an enlargement we noticed while we were out walking the following afternoon.  We also noticed a unique BMW scooter parked downtown, complete with it's own roof!

   But we're getting ahead of ourselves.  On Click here for an enlargementWednesday morning, Kirkor & his adorable wife Ursula decided to show us one of their favorite areas ofClick here for an enlargement Switzerland:  the Gotthard Pass.  So we piled into their van and rode south to the town of Wassen, where we turned Click here for an enlargementwest and headed into the mountains.   We made several stops along the way, to see Lake Guk (Guk means "lake" in German, or so I'm told), and several small waterfalls along the road on the wayclick here for an enlargement up Gotthard Pass.  Ursula had told us that the summer had been Click here for an enlargementvery cool and rainy, which made this weather of clear blue skies seem even more rare and wonderful.

It seemed that everywhere we looked were beautiful mountains, rivers, trails, and people.  Jeanie sounded as Click here for an enlargementexcited as a schoolgirlClick here for an enlargement on a field trip. Another thing we really appreciated was that our hosts seemed to enjoy the experience as much as we did.  And they had done this tour a few times before ….  There were mountain streams flowing between the rocks around every turn, and Robert taste-tested the water a few times to confirm that it was snow melt.  Click here for an enlargement

As noon approached, we topped the first pass, Sustenpass, at 2200 Click here for an enlargementmeters.  We stopped here for a picnic Ursula had prepared among boulders, grass and a pond of water.  As if on cue, as we began our lunch a local man on a nearby hill began blowing on an alphorn, like in the “Ricola” commercials.  We kiddedClick here for an enlargement with Kirkor that he had set that up for our enjoyment Click here for an enlargementexceptionally well.

After lunch we continued our drive, and Robert kept thinking, why haven’t the Swiss taken advantage of all this water power potential … and suddenly there it was, an enormous three-level Click here for an enlargementhydro facility way up in the mountains!  We got out and explored the Grimselclick here for enlargement Dam, and then drove on above it.  As we crossed near the next dam, we noticed there was a large stone island with a road connecting to it, and a hotel and restaurant right in the middle!  There were actually several hotels and restaurants at the top of Grimselpass, Click here for an enlargementas it was a very popular stopping point for the hundredsclick here for an enlargement of motorcyclists who come here to enjoy the winding mountain roads and scenery.  We stopped at a little place for tea and hot apple cider, or “appelpunch”, click here for enlargementand although the sun was still warming us, a cool wind was beginning to cool things down, too.

We then continued down the pass toward the town of Andermatt.  We reached a bridge which is famous as the point where the Russians stopped Napoleon’s French army in 1799.  Click here for an enlargementThousands were killed in this bloody battle, and there is a Russian memorial built into theClick here for an enlargement stone. The remains of the old “Devil’s Bridge” (Teufel’s Brucke) are stillclick here for an enlargement there, next to the waterfall, below the newer bridge.  By now the sun had set behind click here for an enlargementthe hills, and the temperature dropped from the 60’s into the 40’s.  We decided this might be a good place to stop for dinner, and we met the man who manages the restaurant.  Indeed, he rents the building for six months every summer, does all the cooking and cleaning by himself (he has one helper on busy summer evenings), and then in November he travels to Thailand and works for six months in a golf resort!  Well, the food was OK, but the real beauty of it was when the manager offered the keys for us to tour the inside, the “belly”click here for an enlargement of the newer click here for an enlargementarched bridge.  So after dinner we unlocked the gate, flipped on the lights, and explored the infrastructure of the new Teufel’s Brucke.  Robert and Kirkor got on their hands and knees and crawled through the narrow center of the arch to the other side… fun for two engineers!

The next morning Jeanie’s place at the breakfast table was decorated with presents and cards … a birthday to celebrate… #40!  That day we went off to see Rheinfall, a waterfall near the German border.  It was beautiful and clean, spectacular for being such a heavily used waterway.  Industries along the Rhein have done a lot of work to clean the river, and the result is spectacular. 

And even today, they take a side stream and run water through hydro generators.  There are also ferries that take tourists from the viewing area to the rock outcropping in the centerClick here for an enlargement of the waterfall, to get that full "misty" experience.  We enjoyed seeing the old waterwheel, the delicate tropical foliage, and even a watergate!  (Now I know where that word comes from.) The statistics of the falls are there (in six different languages!) to impress you … if you’re interested.

Next we’re off to the lovely old city of Stein am Rhein, celebrating it’sClick here for an enlargement 1000th year.  Most of the buildings along the main promenade here date back to the 14th and 15th centuries, and many are decorated with intricate and elaborateClick here for an enlargement paintings.  We tried to capture some of the art work painted on many of the buildings, but the lighting just didn’t allow it. 

~ Robert & Jeanie 


.....

Click Here to Contact Us