Friday, May 31, 2013

Cow Bells

OHHHHH, there is a place where cows really wear cowbells! All over Switzerland the cows wear bell collars so the owners can locate them at the far corners of the pastures (image from The Guardian). It is known as "the sound of the Alps." I took lots of photos of the cows but couldn't catch one up close like this one...
Interestingly, in Austria some neighbors won a recent lawsuit requiring a farmer to remove the bells from his cows. Apparently the clanging all night, especially at the metal watering trough, kept neighbors awake.

Dying Lion of Lucerne, Switzerland

This is the dying lion....a 10 foot long sculpture in the rock face. It was created in 1820. "It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution, when revolutionaries stormed the Tuileries Palace in ParisFranceMark Twain praised the sculpture of a mortally-wounded lion as "the most mournful and moving piece of stone in the world (according to Wikipedia)." It is really moving and a great piece of art in Lucerne, Switzerland. 

Tuesday, May 28, 2013

The spectacular Alps!

The Swiss Alps are wonderful. This is Grindelwald, a small village at the foot of three spectacular peaks: Eiger (Ogre), Monch (Monk) and Jungfrau (Virgin). Each soars about 2000 meters above the already high elevation town. There are also cool glaciers. It was too cloudy and snowy for a trek up into the mountains on May 26, but I'll go again, for sure! There are cable cars to peaks and the hugely famous Jungfraujoch train that goes to the highest train station in Europe ("the top of Europe"). It is nearly $200 US for the couple hour trip each way. But worth it, I hear!
Grindelwald has fun outdoor activities, from hiking to skiing. And there are fabulous waterfalls all over.

rural Switzerland

WOW...rural Switzerland is so beautiful. Every house has wooden shutters and lacy curtains. This is a town nestled into the alps.

And the next is a typical village by a lake. Switzerland...lakes, mountains, rolling green hills. gorgeous.

BearPark houses Bern's Bears!!

There were wild bears in Bern, and some say that is how Bern got its name (B√§renpark is the official park name). The city contained the remaining 6 bears in a pit in the city until 2009, when they built a nice park for the bears/still at city's edge, right next to the river (on the left side in this image, next to the walking path).


Bern...a beautiful city surrounded by a river. The old town displays flags on every building. And inside those buildings the vendors sell Swiss watches, pocket knives, and the irresistible... BEST...chocolate! Great to stroll around this lovely capital of Switzerland.

Monday, June 4, 2012

Church of Bones...Incredible

OMG...The Sedlec Ossuary is a basement of a Roman Catholic church in Kutna Hata, Czech Republic (about one hour east of Prague). It contains the bones of at least 40,000 people who died of the plague in mid 14th century. As people were dying, the survivors would place bodies near the door to the church and they were subsequently buried. But they ran out of room. According to Wikipedia, in 1511 the bones were exhumed by a monk and piled in the basement. Then in 1870 a woodcarver organized them into 4 pyramids in the corners of the church basement( skull image with coins below) and then did the unthinkable:  used bones to decorate the basement. 
Many were arranged artistically to form a chandelier and this coat of arms (see the skull to get an idea of the scale of this). Sad, fascinating, interesting and I felt the energy. Brings up all kinds of thoughts about whether this is an ethical use of human remains. My perspective --- YES. I'd rather have my bones displayed in an interesting way that provokes thought and emotion then be stuck in the ground forever. Why not? 
WOW. This place is not to be missed.