Thursday, September 3, 2015

Zurich, again and finally

Our last day before we head home, we're back in Zurich.

We decided we should see one of Zurich's galleries or museums before we leave so we chose the Gestaltung Zurich, the Museum of Design. It was a good choice. The Museum is actually in a temporary space but it was still very elegent and stylish and we went on a tour of their 'behind-the-scenes' collection because nothing is actually on display at the moment. So we saw rooms dedicated to collections of stylish chairs, office furniture, graphic posters, childrens' games, logos, refrigerators and so on. All in controlled conditions and carefully catalogued.

There was also an exhibition of the photographs of Steve McCurry who worked in the Middle East. His most famous photo is 'Afghan Girl', the girl with green eyes.  Here's Gemma standing in front of the photograph.

We then went for a last wander through the city and along the Limmat River.

As part of the Summer Festival the Urania Buildingg has developed Spock ears.

Lugano, Ticino

Lugarno. Very steep lanes, classy shops, numerous squares (many with temporary entertainment stages because of a festival), beautiful lake and surrounding mountains, Italian conversations passing by, a historical funicular to the top of Monte Bre with cafes and sectacular views, streets in the old town that twist and turn and a railway station that gets my vote for the most inaccessible because you have to climb up and up steep lanes to get there.

Free movie in one of the squares. It was a documentary about Nini, a female Swiss mountain climber of the 1930s.

A very healthy vegetable garden in the main street.

The funicular that took me up Monte Bre.

The funicular to Monte Bre.
View of Lugarno from Monte Bre.
Here we are on Monte Bre. I met Gemma and Glenn there after they did
an mountain hike and stayed overnight in a mountain hut
(which included a four-course meal and breakfast provided).

Tuesday, September 1, 2015

Bellinzona, Ticino

Glenn and Katrin, Castle Grande
Bellinzona has three castles, all of which are UNESCO World Heritage sites. They are at different levels on the hillside so you can see them all at once. For centuries, since the Roman era, it was an important strategic position between the Italians and the Swiss/ German rulers and changed hands many times. We discovered this in an excellent film we saw at Castle Grande, the lowest of the three castles. The other two castles are called Montebello (it has an outer and and inner drawbridge and an excellent collection of archeological artifacts) and Sasso Corbaro (where we saw a photographic exhibition, photos taken locally in the 1930s). The walls and ramparts can be seen from everywhere in the old town as a backdrop. We had dinner at a restuarant where you walk in from street level, through the service area and up on to a terrace where the view is a small vineyard and the castle wall. It was such a delight we went back the second night we were there. It was also full moon when we were in Ballinzona and as a bonus there we chanced on a free concert one night with duo of skillful musicians, a violinist and a piano accordianist.

We visited all three castles, Castle Grande on the first day and the other two on the second day. Glenn said, when we first talked about going to other two, that there is a bus service that takes you up the mountain. But somehow we ended up walking. I don't know how that happened!! But I made it and it was worth it.

Can you tell that I really liked Bellinzona? i just might have added too many photos to this post. I hope it loads in your browser!

Workmen setting up a concert platform at Castle Grande
The view of the other two castles from Castle Grande
Castle Grande
Castle wall

Pre-dinner drinks
Our accommodation next to the castle wall

Restuarant terrace
Evening concert in a beautiful foyer
Sunrise over Bellinzona, with full moon. View from my window.
The second castle, Montebello

Me, struggling up the hill to the top castle.

View of the two lowers castles from the top castle.
The outer drawbridge of the middle csstle.
The inner drawbridge.

Locarno, Ticino

Just a brief visit to Locarno on Lake Maggiore because I went down there in a small bus from Levertazzo and met Glenn and Gemma there several hours later - they walked across a mountain trail and then caught the bus down the valley.

One of the attractions in Locarno, apart from its setting beside a beautiful lake, is an 800 m cog train (Madonna del Sasso funicular) journey up 173 m from the city to a mountain ridge where you get a birds-eye view of the lake and the city.

After meeting up with Glenn and Gemma again we went for dinner, again at a restuarant in a piazza where we sat outside under umbrellas (we've done a lot of that!). So nice on a warm evening. 

We chanced on a 'Harley Davidson bikes and classic cars' event so we were entertained by watching the owners of said vehicles and listening to the matching music. And we were surprisingly (for a Sunday evening) entertained by a pole-dancing competition. There were about ten girls competing and they were very lithe and strong as well as stylish. They then called on blokes from the audience to see if they could do it and we watched three or four strip off their shirts (and in one case their jeans) and make a fool of themselves. Forgot to take photos unfortunately.