Quite a few years ago I wrote a poem about our deep love of the Bernese Oberland. Some years later the text was used by the
very talented Swiss musician John Hanni for his song 'We love the Swiss Mountain Land'. I thought you might like to read the
original poem wot I rote..
High above the valley floor, I rest and hold my Liz's hand
with firm but tender grip, gazing at beauty on every bearing,
mountains and lakes and forests and clearings,
snow dusted land of magnificent vistas,
jewels of scenic panoramas, this is our Oberland
We're guests a while to walk, wander, explore, reveal,
atop the mountains cape of eternal ice and snow,
lands and places few but angels and the bravest climbers go,
every sense ignited sure, discovery adventure, wonder and awe.
Near the summit, afraid to plummet, fear goes out the door,
in front of you the Oberland, God's vision unfolds before,
black as night, Chuffs glide free, just as the man made gliders be,
in rising air warmed of Summer sun birds take flight, man has fun.
Spring water trickles through meadow fissures, waterfalls crash over rocks and mixes, with streams and brooks and off
a far to join the mighty rushing Aare.
Turquoise and emerald tones of the see, where steam plies and sails play.
Forest and hills ascend around, vineyards heavy with grape,
4k giants oversee without sound casting reflections deep in the lake,
the bells of Gods houses ring out with praise, echoing peak to peak,
the bells of the cows, of the goats as they graze, to the Alpine farmer speak,
of the grass, of the herbs, of the milk so superb, of the cheese that is crafted with love. Delicious fare from the cows
up high as if sent from heaven above.
The Oberland smiles, she's ours for a while, and how we love her so,
nights on clouded hills, when darkness fills, the valley to the peaks.
Morning breaks with crisp clean air, the sun shines bright without compare,
flowers, funiculars, glaciers, marmots, snow and ice and lakes,
liquid sunshine, blissful mountains, just some of that it takes,
for us to make our declaration, as on mountain high we stand.. to say again, with joy and praise, we love the Bernese
Oberland. And in such beauty, He is near, as the anthem sings for all to hear, yes we feel and understand that God dwelleth
in this land.
The main construction webcam is here. (there are several others check them out on the same link)
How big can a fondue be?
how big can a fondue be if it's not being cooked at our house?
Well this big!!
575 Metres on the Brienzer Rothorn
Click the pic for a link to the excellent Beo-News website (in German)
to find out more
Bears have long been a symbol for Bern and are featured on the city's coat of arms. After nearly 500
years in a pit, Bern's famous bears have a new state of the art home - a riverside
reserve on the edge of the old city. The opening of the new 6000 square metre enclosure brings to an end years of protests
by tourists and animal lovers, who complained that the pit was an unsuitable place to keep bears.
.. go to our webcam page under 'B' to see 4 webcams including 3 in the bear caves..
.. or watch the video below.
Ah they're so sweet, two of the Bern's newest residents, Urs and Berna who
were born to Bjork and her mate, Finn in December during winter hibernation.
The cubs remained in the den with their mother all winter, barely visible on the park's webcam.
The arrival of spring has brought mother and babies outside to explore their surroundings,
much to the delight of their fans.
See the video below.
In addition to Björk, Finn and the cubs, the park is also home to bear orphans
Mischa and Mascha, given to the city by the Russian president Dmitri Medvedev and his wife during a state visit in September
Interesting for us older types as well as the kiddiewinkles,
Guiding students throughout their journey is mountaineer John Harlin, the film's hero, whose powerful family
history, and endless passion for the mountains, provides students with a compelling 'hook' into this complex but rewarding
story. In the end, John reminds them that despite how far we've come in conquering the Alps, the peaks will always call out
to people who want to escape the fast-paced world, and try to overcome nature's awesome power. Turn up your speakers, click
the pic and have fun.
Ringgenberg Castle and Church outside Interlaken
Rosemarie has been rambling again, this time to the top of the 13th century Schloss in her home town of
Ringgenberg near Interlaken. Steeped in history (the castle not Rosemarie!) it is now open to the public! As across the website,
please 'click the pics' for a larger or as in the photo above a super high resolution view! Felix Mendelssohn used to play
organ in the church here.
The Harder Funicular in Interlaken takes you high above the
town for some tremendous views of the 4K giant peaks of the Bernese Oberland, as well as the sparkling lakes of Thun and Brienz.
The centenary of the service was celebrated in 2008 with the introduction of two new cabins. Rosemarie was there for
the arrival of the 2nd!
Rosemarie admits to missing the arrival of the first
of the two new cabins, but got some great photos of the second. They are called 'Unterseen' and 'Interlaken', after the two
sections of the town..Below you can see the track raised up on bridges owing to difficult
geological conditions on the Harder mountain, just one of the reasons the funicular took so long to build back in 1905.
In years gone past it took several hours to climb the steep tough 755 metres to the summit
of the Harder Kulm, Interlaken's mountain. With the opening of the funicular 100 years ago this was cut down to 12 minutes.
As of 2008 new cabins shaved off another 4 minutes!
You have to ask yourself.. does this look dangerous to you?!
The replacement of the Harder funicular carriages in 2008 was hurried along a bit by a devastating mud slide
which badly damaged one of the old carriages in the base station. Luckilly these two beauties were already on order so the
funicular was only out of service for a short while. Amazing!
The little Alpine Zoo near the base station of the Harder Funicular has this little chap.. very elusive normally, Rosemarie
got lucky!! There are Ibex to see also. Great fun for the kids.
Whilst on the subject of fun, the Harder and Kids...
Here he is..
Whilst we were mentioning the Harder Funicular above, I thought I should also give note
to the Hardermannli whose face is engraved onto the side of Interlaken's
mountain, the legend of which gives rise to a major celebration at the start of January. The gruesome masked Potschen,
these days, as well as spreading fear into the local populus, has fun as well... (seems like a nice girl!!)
Below the Hardermannli Family at the Harder Potschete: Hardermannli, Harderfroueli + Harder Dwarves
Right, some young spirits join in the parade through Interlaken
Below, the Harder face lit up!
August 2007 and it was big news while we were in the Oberland, and considering my media background very exciting for
me personally. I have a huge poster of the event in my shed to this day. <Bsuech in im Berner
Oberland> was a special series of TV programmes from SF1 was a raving success with large scale live
outside broadcasts on Swiss TV from locations throughout the Bernese Oberland including Gstaad, Brienz , Adelboden, Spiez
Castle and Thun Rathausplatz. We were at the broadcast of the Interlaken programme which you can see below. Towards the end
of the programme, cameras and technical equipment were being hastilly covered with tarpaulins, and just as the hour long programme reached
the end of transmission with fireworks.. the heavens opened.
On the telly!
It's getting dark, but Catherine's dancing behind the ice
The programme was broadcast from the Höhenmatte, which was lined by around 10
lorries, scanners and satellite trucks, and when the show began, Catherine muscled her way on screen ... just! Here are the screen grabs!
I've spent most of my adult life trying to put into words what it is about Switzerland that we love. One
aspect has to be the dual seasons. An example, the Susten in summer above and in winter below. Two very different experiences.
The Susten Pass as of 9.45am Tuesday 6th May 2008!
You will love the real time running maps for Swiss Railways. You can put in a station
name and watch the trains actually move across the map. Great.. You can click on the trains icon for information on destination
, how long to get there, and speed!!!
It currently tracks the timetable but will soon use GPS for 'real time' tracking. I have discovered another
rather cool but hidden feature which you may not know about. If you click a train icon, on the expanding timetable that comes
out there is a 'follow' button. If you click that, your train is centre and the satelitte imagery moves to follow the trains
progress.. amazing! Here's an image from above Spiez which if you click for a larger image you can see the Cisalpino
enroute to Milan at Spiez station.
Did you ever consider Interlaken as a node?! Well it is! A DB ICE train
has been named after the town. Find out more here. Sorry it's in German.
Don't be alarmed!!
It’s Ok, Mike’s playing of the general warning siren on Infotourist didn’t cause chaos around the
Oberland. But it did cause me to want to find out a little more about the civil defence siren system that covers the whole
of the country.
The system has recently been replaced, and the general alarm of a rising and falling sound repeated at two minute
intervals is designed to really ‘cut through’ all that background sound.
Rosemarie’s recording of the annual test was amazing, hearing the various sirens switch on one by one progressing
up the valley. There are nearly four and a half thousand of these sirens across the country complimented by another 2 and
half thousand mobile ones, and
an additional 750 water alert sirens located near dams in case of dam breaks.
In times of peace, the sirens can be triggered to indicate catastropheor
state of emergency, such as natural disasters, radioactivity leak , chemical accidents, satellite
crashes.The triggering is
done via Swisscom’s special high security infranet built into to every telephone exchange. This returns an indication
to the National Emergency Operations Centre (NEOC) that the siren is running. Other agencies involved include the Federal Institute for Snow and Avalanche Research and MeteoSwiss in the event of dangerous weather, but
every competent authority is able and has the authority to sound their sirens when they deem it to be necessary.
On hearing the general alarm the population must tune into their radio station including Radio
Beo for more instructions, but if the general alarm is accompanied by 12 low continuous tones of 20 seconds that indicates
imminent flooding, and you must leave immediately.
The annual siren test takes place in Switzerland on the first Wednesday
A report by Swiss resorts including Wengen, Muerren, Grindelwald and
Gstaad has analysed the likely consequences of the expected global temperature rise of one to two degrees over the next 50
years and it’s no surprise they’re conclusions are…. much less snow.. Well I mean look at this year! Many
resorts now rely on the ski season for upto 80% of their income, but the report says that in future, resorts under 1,500 metres
should not focus on skiing as their main attraction. The professor of leisure and tourism at the University of Berne says
"Skiing will have to become just a side attraction, and not the main attraction anymore" "You'll come here for nice walks,
for wellness, and besides you'll do a little bit of skiing, but skiing will disappear as a main attraction" Gstaad has
already started to invest heavily in luxury spa facilities. "Already a third of our winter guests don't ski," said one
official. The Bernese Hoteliers Association say ‘It's a huge challenge,and it will be painful, that's for sure
The Prof at Bern Uni is none the less upbeat. He says "As the climate gets warmer, many people may want to escape hot
humid cities for cool mountain air." From Liz and my point of view those hot summer days are very splendid, walking up in
the mountains and enjoying the gentle cool clean air off the glaciers… Oh yes there lies another problem.. no glacier
ice by the end of the century.. Sorry Catherine.
'Mistreatment of our planet', 'a fact of nature', 'too many big cars', call
it what you will, but the fall of millions of tons of rock from the East flank of the Eiger is a consequence of global warming.
The glaciers of Grindelwald like those around the world have been retreating at a phenomenal pace, metres every year, and
this has left the mountains with no support from the ice. Fissures have flooded and been eroded by the melt waters undermining
the integrity of the rock, and hence what is being reported as the biggest rock fall in living memory... in Grindelwald!!!
Now you see it!!
But it won't go while you two are looking at it!
Above, the East flank of the Eiger with the Schlosslouwina in the
centre, with the unstable bit left and down a bit ( I think!) Approximately 700 thousand cubic metres of rock fell on
one day in July 07, with two thirds of the mass holding on for grim death.
Apparentely there was no danger to Grindelwald with no houses nearby,
but the debris might have blocked the watercourse. Monitoring of river levels and of course the crack which was growing
at about a metre per day went on in earnest, and the worlds press arrived for what was to be a momentous event, best viewed from Bäregg accessible from the Pfingstegg cableway.
The crack here is apparent...apparentely!
There had been many smaller falls like the one we saw, and like the one below.. but when wwould the big
A micro earthquake was prepared for, and a dust cloud due to the change in air
pressure. All very exciting, but what on earth are we doing to our climate to cause all of this?
As 700 thousand tons of rock falls, a dust cloud looms over Grindelwald, only the first part of what
is expected to near 3 million cubic metres in total. It would make a nice rock garden wouldn't it?!
There were many small falls like the one below, and the one major fall, but the BIG one didn't come in 2007.
So the big question .. when?
Why not test yourself on your knowledge of Switzerland or check out your memory by doing
the Swiss Intelligence Tests. Your first task is to click the link below... Liz and I both got 16 out of 20 and the website
says we should apply for a Swiss Passport!!! Don't bloody tempt us!!!
The Alps, a major film shown in Imax cinemas around the world
in 2007. It's about a mountaineer who makes a personal journey to make peace with the mountain that killed his father. It
features songs and music by Queen. It was filmed largely in the Jungfrau and Matterhorn regions of Switzerland including Grindelwald.
Check out the film's website by clicking here.
Unspunnen... no not the story
of my favourite woolly jumper getting caught in the car door, but a rather large event having taken place in Interlaken
in September 2006. Don't forget you can click any photo for a larger image.
... on the Unspunnen meadow.
The opening ceremony of Unspunnen
on Interlaken's Hohematte Friday afternoon.
One of the many dance groups..
... children from the Tessin.
Mick Pearce captured some amazing images from the fireworks!
Radio Beo got very excited, mind you not half as excited as I did when Mascha turned up broadcasting
from the OHA Trade Show outside broadcast in Thun! Wonderful! Sorry back to Unspunnen!
Below 'The bells were ringing for me and my girl!!'
Then there's that famous stone and all that stone throwing!
Swiss stonethrowing championships
the 40 Kilo stone
Colourful costumes from Appenzell!
The final wrestling round on Sunday
Martin Grab(that can't really be his name?) and favourite Jorg Abderhalden. Grab won in 1 minute!
Poor old Wolfie
BOB - Bang On Bonce for poor old Wolfie
Wolves in Switzerland!! 100
years ago, they were supposed to be extinct, but recently there was the discovery that wolves are once again back in the Bernese
Oberland... not that I reckon they ever went away! Sadly, a 3 year old Wolfie ended up under the wheels of the BOB!
Standard gauge wolf...
.... Wearwolf in Wilderswil?
Wolves were once common in alpine areas and were an important part of the ecosystem, but with
more and more humans coming on the scene, industrialisation and timber clearance for farming affected the wolves’
habitat and food supply. The wolf turned to the farmers animals, and well that was it. Bang bang bang! 150
years ago, bounties were paid for killing wolves, and hence they eventually disappeared off the Swiss landscape. At the
end of the last century, wolves made a natural recovery, moving back to Switzerland from France and Italy. Numbers are
low, but they are proving useful controlling the numbers of deer, chamois and wild boar, which cause a lot of damage
to trees which in turn damages the natural avalanche protectiuon they provide. However, the wolf is not
very selective and the farmer's animals are once again being hit.. so wolfie being hit by a train in Wilderswil..
well there're probably a good few farmers not losing much sleep!
Here are the gorgeous Bernese Alps from space. It's
a late summer view of Switzerland; Jungfrau (marked J - 4158 m), Moench (M - 4089 m), and Eiger (E - 3970 m) North of the
range is Interlaken, flanked by the Thunersee (which NASA can't spell!) and Brienzersee; the long, straight-segmented
valley of the Rhone lies to the south.
Switzerland from Space
Image courtesy of the Image Science & Analysis Laboratory, NASA Johnson Space Center
On the southern side of the Jungfrau is the Aletsch glacier, the meltwaters of which feed the upper
Rhone; another source is the Rhone glacier at the eastern end. I am reminded that roughly half the ice in European glaciers
has melted since 1850. The U-shaped valleys carved by glaciers are clearly visible in the photo..
teacher taught me that the Swiss Alps are elements of a great mountain system that was constructed during alpine folding as
Africa and Eurasia collided, starting more than 90 million years ago. Ancient basement rocks (>325 million years old) of
the Bernese Alps were uplifted, folded, and forced northward between ~29 and 10 million years ago. Here endeth the lesson!
My first foray into panorama photos!
Piz Gloria on top of the Schilthorn...breathtaking!
The Guest of Honour club in Grindelwald.
was a very emotional occasion when in 2002, I became a Grindy Guest of Honour. Grindelwald Tourism honours its guests who regularly visit the glacier village. Nominated
by the hosts of Grindy, after ten years, guests receive a distinction. After twenty years of loyality to Grindelwald the guests
are nominated Guest of honour with a diploma and a golden pin.
The ceremony, a lovely evening
‘do’, was arranged by Grindelwald Tourism for the four of us that were being presented with
Over several glasses of wine, and some delicious nibbles,
the then Director of Tourism Joe Luggen thanked us for our loyalty, and explained
that Grindelwald now counts over 4000 Guests of Honour.
Club was formed in 1992 to promote, and I quote, ‘the individuality and hospitality of Grindelwald by supporting projects’
The club organizes events, ensures good communication between the village and it’s regular guests, and gives them a
little something back for their loyalty (the Guests not Grindelwald!) I am proud to be an ‘EhrenGast’!
Below we're happy to include some of the better Swiss videos knocking around on web!
This is a large 82 MB 14 minute movie about the Bernese Oberland.. It's big.. the movie and the Oberland! If you get stream stutter, you may prefer to save the movie to your hard drive. Includes
Interlaken, Lake Brienz, Railways, Lauterbrunnen, Winteregg-Mürren, Kleine Scheidegg, Grindelwald, Eigergletscher, Eigerwand,
Eismeer, Jungfraujoch, Ice Palace, Ice Plateau, Mountain World, Sphinx, Harder Kulm, Schynige Platte, Alpine Garden, Falconry,
Sledge Dogs, Hiking, Winter, Skiing, Lauberhorn Downhill Ski Races, Winter Sports...you know the sort of thing!!
A trawl of youtube is a little agonising so we've picked a couple of worthy videos. It's always
interesting to hear and see other peoples views of the Bernese Oberland. Here's an 8 minute tour of Dennis Callan's Bernese
Oberland! Dennis is President of the Hawaii geographic Society, so he knows what beauty is all about!!