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Switzerland 2011: Matzlenfurggelen

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:04

If you can properly pronounce this mountain's name you're halfway ready for your Swiss passport: Matzlenfurggelen.

The peak itself is quite easily reachable and not that tall, but it gives a beautiful 360° view of valleys, lakes, and mountains. We took a tiny cable car to reach the level of the Stausee Garichti, an old reservoir, and hiked from there.

Despite the initial drizzle we ended up very lucky with the weather and spotting some wildlife, giving me a chance to play with my new 300 mm zoom lens. Bird or no bird, this was my favorite hiking trip of my vacation.


The view from the Matzlenfurggelen hiking trail. From left to right: Vorder Glärnisch, Wiggis, Rautispitz

The view from the Matzlenfurggelen hiking trail. From left to right: Vorder Glärnisch, Wiggis, Rautispitz

[http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Rhododendron_ferrugineum Alpenrose] is a beautiful kind of Rhododendron that's very common in the Swiss Alps.

Alpenrose is a beautiful kind of Rhododendron that's very common in the Swiss Alps.

A field of Alpenrosen with the distinctive Glärnisch in the background.

A field of Alpenrosen with the distinctive Glärnisch in the background.

The Garichti dam and part of the reservoir.

The Garichti dam and part of the reservoir.

The north side of the Kärpf, still partly covered in snow.

The north side of the Kärpf, still partly covered in snow.

Clouds behind the peak of the Matzlenfurggelen.

Clouds behind the peak of the Matzlenfurggelen.

At the top of the Matzlenfurggelen with a beautiful view of the Linth valley.

At the top of the Matzlenfurggelen with a beautiful view of the Linth valley.

A hiking trail zig-zagging upwards from the east side of the lake.

A hiking trail zig-zagging upwards from the east side of the lake.

The Glärnisch, the most prominent mountain in the area. On the other side lies the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Klöntalersee Klöntalersee].

The Glärnisch, the most prominent mountain in the area. On the other side lies the Klöntalersee.

A Common Buzzard (I believe ...) hovering in mid-air looking for prey.

A Common Buzzard (I believe ...) hovering in mid-air looking for prey.

The beautiful plumage illuminated by light but unfortunately slightly out of focus because the photographer is normally shooting less agile subjects like mountains or lakes ...

The beautiful plumage illuminated by light but unfortunately slightly out of focus because the photographer is normally shooting less agile subjects like mountains or lakes ...

Apparently even letting yourself carry by the wind is tiring.

Apparently even letting yourself carry by the wind is tiring.

The tree makes for a good photo subject even without any birds sitting on it. :-)

The tree makes for a good photo subject even without any birds sitting on it. :-)

I managed to sneak fairly close up to the buzzard without bothering him ...

I managed to sneak fairly close up to the buzzard without bothering him ...

... and ended up catching him all fluffed up by the wind. It almost makes you want to cuddle it if it weren't for the claws and the beak.

... and ended up catching him all fluffed up by the wind. It almost makes you want to cuddle it if it weren't for the claws and the beak.

More Alpenrosen. Like many other Rhododendron this one is actually poisonous.

More Alpenrosen. Like many other Rhododendron this one is actually poisonous.

Hiking with the Glärnisch in the background.

Hiking with the Glärnisch in the background.

A nice view of the Linth valley: Schwanden is the small town in front and Glarus, the canton's capital, is the slightly bigger one in the back.

A nice view of the Linth valley: Schwanden is the small town in front and Glarus, the canton's capital, is the slightly bigger one in the back.


Switzerland 2011: Gruenseeli and Rheinschlucht

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:15

Next up are the photos of two little hikes we did, the first one to an idyllic mountain lake called Grüenseeli, the second one to what some people call the "Swiss Grand Canyon".

After a huge landslide covered large parts of a valley with rubble 10,000 years ago, the Anterior Rhine started digging the canyon known as the Ruinaulta. It has become a popular destination for hikers, bikers, rafters, and, apparently, Swiss people living abroad. ;-)

The Grüenseeli (probably) doesn't have such an exciting history. It is a tiny lake that lies not too far from Arosa, yet far enough to keep away the tourist masses. Luckily this wasn't a concern for us in the first place since summer vacation season hadn't started yet. More of a concern was the weather which set an abrupt end to my taking pictures when the looming rain clouds finally opened their flood gates and forced my camera to retreat.


A bench by a little lake called Grüenseeli. Swiss German likes diminutives, so this one means "Little green lake". :-)

A bench by a little lake called Grüenseeli. Swiss German likes diminutives, so this one means "Little green lake". :-)

The inflowing creek to the lake.

The inflowing creek to the lake.

The water in these mountain lakes is so clear you could have a swim - if it weren't for the cold temperatures.

The water in these mountain lakes is so clear you could have a swim - if it weren't for the cold temperatures.

A second little lake just above the first one. In the background the Western half of the Tiejer Flue.

A second little lake just above the first one. In the background the Western half of the Tiejer Flue.

(untitled)
Gentiana ("Enzian" in German) along the way.

Gentiana ("Enzian" in German) along the way.

Some more alpine flowers that look nice but whose names are beyond my botanic knowledge.

Some more alpine flowers that look nice but whose names are beyond my botanic knowledge.

A fallen tree serving as an island to flowers.

A fallen tree serving as an island to flowers.

And yet more flowers ... The last ones to hit my viewfinder before rain forced me to pack away the camera and throw on a rain jacket.

And yet more flowers ... The last ones to hit my viewfinder before rain forced me to pack away the camera and throw on a rain jacket.


What looks like your ordinary mountain on this photo is actually the South side of a massive high plateau, the Flimserstein.

What looks like your ordinary mountain on this photo is actually the South side of a massive high plateau, the Flimserstein.

The forest hiking trail leading from Trin Mulin to the Rheinschlucht (Ruinaulta).

The forest hiking trail leading from Trin Mulin to the Rheinschlucht (Ruinaulta).

Angry Birds meets traditional Swiss chalet.

Angry Birds meets traditional Swiss chalet.

The brown bear is making a return to the Swiss forests.

The brown bear is making a return to the Swiss forests.

Il spir, the spectacular view platform that opened in 2006. Although not exactly obvious its shape was inspired by that of the [http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Common_Swift Common Swift].

Il spir, the spectacular view platform that opened in 2006. Although not exactly obvious its shape was inspired by that of the Common Swift.

The view down into the "Swiss Grand Canyon", a canyon dug by the Rhine's headwaters after a vast landslide about 10,000 years ago.

The view down into the "Swiss Grand Canyon", a canyon dug by the Rhine's headwaters after a vast landslide about 10,000 years ago.

Il spir.

Il spir.

The view platform is a popular attraction for hikers and other outdoor fans.

The view platform is a popular attraction for hikers and other outdoor fans.

"Zault", a more recently erected view platform on the opposite side of the canyon.

"Zault", a more recently erected view platform on the opposite side of the canyon.


Switzerland 2011: Flora and fauna

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:53

In Switzerland you never have to go very far to see nice flowers and interesting animals. Wild orchids in walking distance from our home and surprisingly tame squirrels just a few car minutes away make for a peaceful day if you want to take a rest in your vacation.


A beautiful specimen of a "Frauenschuh".

A beautiful specimen of a "Frauenschuh".

The Cypripedium calceolus is an endangered orchid but there are still a number of places where it occurs year after year.

The Cypripedium calceolus is an endangered orchid but there are still a number of places where it occurs year after year.

Reminds you of Cinderella, doesn't it? :-)

Reminds you of Cinderella, doesn't it? :-)

Close-up of a Lady's-slipper, as it is known in English. The German word "Frauenschuh" has exactly the same meaning.

Close-up of a Lady's-slipper, as it is known in English. The German word "Frauenschuh" has exactly the same meaning.

Trollblumen (Globe-flower, Trollius europaeus) are quite common in the Swiss Alps in late spring and early summer. It does have a number of interesting names such as Popperolle ("puppet/baby roll"), named after the golden hair of blond baby girls, or Ankeballe ("butter ball") because of its shiny surface.

Trollblumen (Globe-flower, Trollius europaeus) are quite common in the Swiss Alps in late spring and early summer. It does have a number of interesting names such as Popperolle ("puppet/baby roll"), named after the golden hair of blond baby girls, or Ankeballe ("butter ball") because of its shiny surface.

It's not exactly good manners but still quite a feat to be able to pick your nose with your tongue. Think about this next time you have cow tongue on your plate.

It's not exactly good manners but still quite a feat to be able to pick your nose with your tongue. Think about this next time you have cow tongue on your plate.

The flags of Arosa and Graubünden. In the background the Mederger Flue.

The flags of Arosa and Graubünden. In the background the Mederger Flue.

A squirrel looking for food.

A squirrel looking for food.

Squirrels in Arosa are hardly shy.

Squirrels in Arosa are hardly shy.

As a matter of fact, there's an Eichhörnliweg (Squirrel trail), where you're (almost, as we found out two years ago) guaranteed to see squirrels.

As a matter of fact, there's an Eichhörnliweg (Squirrel trail), where you're (almost, as we found out two years ago) guaranteed to see squirrels.

They are so used to humans ...

They are so used to humans ...

... that they will climb up your leg if they get a nut in return.

... that they will climb up your leg if they get a nut in return.

Of course the birds have learned from the squirrels, and are now also relying on the convenience of tourists feeding them bite-sized portions.

Of course the birds have learned from the squirrels, and are now also relying on the convenience of tourists feeding them bite-sized portions.

They're not picky but hazelnuts definitely seem to be one of their favorites.

They're not picky but hazelnuts definitely seem to be one of their favorites.

Chüpfenflue and Mederger Flue, this time seen from the other side of the valley.

Chüpfenflue and Mederger Flue, this time seen from the other side of the valley.

The Tiejer Flue in beautiful evening light.

The Tiejer Flue in beautiful evening light.


Switzerland 2011: Zurich Airport and Uetliberg

posted by Martin Rubli at 14:02

Flying Singapore Airlines to Zurich comes with the benefit of arriving timely in the morning leaving an extra day of activities, thereby lessening the symptoms of jetlag. After last year's visit of the Rhine Falls near Schaffhausen (one of these days I'll upload those photos, I promise ...) we decided to first spend a little time at the airport spotting planes.

Since you rarely get to really see the plane you're taking we figured we'd get a better look from the observation deck. So, after flying it for the third time we were finally able to see the A380 in all its impressiveness from the rooftop of the midfield terminal.

Another trip that, for me at least, was long overdue was to the Uetliberg, Zurich's closest and best-known (I'm tempted to add "only") mountain. In my 13 years of living in Zurich I've only been there once and I merely remember from being told about it.

Here you go, part 1 from our Switzerland vacation 2011:


The Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at gate E59 of the Zurich Airport midfield terminal, the only place where it can dock due to its size.

The Singapore Airlines Airbus A380 at gate E59 of the Zurich Airport midfield terminal, the only place where it can dock due to its size.

This is the very plan we had arrived just one and a half hours earlier. After getting our luggage we took the bus back out to the observation deck because that's really the only place where you can see a plane docked at terminal E. There's no unrestrained view from the architecturally challenged inside.

This is the very plan we had arrived just one and a half hours earlier. After getting our luggage we took the bus back out to the observation deck because that's really the only place where you can see a plane docked at terminal E. There's no unrestrained view from the architecturally challenged inside.

Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A320-214 taking off from runway 28 at ZRH.

Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A320-214 taking off from runway 28 at ZRH.

Swiss International Air Lines Avro RJ100 taking off from the same runway. In the background you can see the beautiful Bernese Alps.

Swiss International Air Lines Avro RJ100 taking off from the same runway. In the background you can see the beautiful Bernese Alps.

Air Berlin Airbus A319-112 lifting off over Rümlang.

Air Berlin Airbus A319-112 lifting off over Rümlang.

Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A330-343 after take off from runway 16.

Swiss International Air Lines Airbus A330-343 after take off from runway 16.

Plane spotters on the midfield terminal terrace. In the background a Singapore Airlines A380.

Plane spotters on the midfield terminal terrace. In the background a Singapore Airlines A380.

The observation tower on top of the Uetliberg, Zurich's backyard mountain.

The observation tower on top of the Uetliberg, Zurich's backyard mountain.

View of the Lake of Zurich seen from the Uetliberg look-out tower.

View of the Lake of Zurich seen from the Uetliberg look-out tower.

Panoramic view of the Lake of Zurich with the remarkable Ruchen (the mountain surrounded by clouds) in the background.

Panoramic view of the Lake of Zurich with the remarkable Ruchen (the mountain surrounded by clouds) in the background.

Sun shades on top of the Uetliberg.

Sun shades on top of the Uetliberg.

The top of the Ruchen, part of the Glarus Alps, surrounded by clouds.

The top of the Ruchen, part of the Glarus Alps, surrounded by clouds.

Ivy riding a barely definable animal. :-)

Ivy riding a barely definable animal. :-)

View of Zurich. Look through the binoculars if you want to see something more closely. (Hahaha ...)

View of Zurich. Look through the binoculars if you want to see something more closely. (Hahaha ...)

The look-out tower on top of the Uetliberg.

The look-out tower on top of the Uetliberg.

An odd lamp along the road.

An odd lamp along the road.


Paris through my eyes

posted by Martin Rubli at 16:52

Every so often I remember that I forgot to post a bunch of photos on my website only to forget it again two minutes later. This is not one of those times. This time I actually posted them.

On our three-day Paris trip last year I got a little bored of stereotype Paris. It's really just like you know it from TV with one big exception; the tourists and their side effects are mostly missing in TV Paris. Real Paris, however, is teeming with tourists, street vendors and other ripper-offers - pretty much everything that takes the fun out of traveling.

Armed with my new toy I started observing the people instead and the little things that no one normally pays attention to. Suddenly the city became much more entertaining!

I give you Paris through Martin's eyes ...


Sometimes you have to wonder how certain things get to certain places ...

Sometimes you have to wonder how certain things get to certain places ...

We were not sure if she's the tourist guide or a tourist but people in Paris sure seem to try to rise over the crowd a lot.

We were not sure if she's the tourist guide or a tourist but people in Paris sure seem to try to rise over the crowd a lot.

Another case of striving for the top.

Another case of striving for the top.

No customers? Maybe it's the exorbitant price of 2.50€ for a tiny ball of ice cream!

No customers? Maybe it's the exorbitant price of 2.50€ for a tiny ball of ice cream!

"Oh my god, what are people doing to me? Get me off this pedestal now!"

"Oh my god, what are people doing to me? Get me off this pedestal now!"

"This city sucks, let me out of here!"

"This city sucks, let me out of here!"

Leaving made easy: Cool design at the top of the Arc de Triomphe

Leaving made easy: Cool design at the top of the Arc de Triomphe

This Japanese couple was taking their own wedding photos. Equipped with a camera and a tripod they were touring the city and taking pictures of themselves in front of famous places. Actually a very good idea, but I probably wouldn't wear Crocs, so I wouldn't have to cut off the feet for all photos.

This Japanese couple was taking their own wedding photos. Equipped with a camera and a tripod they were touring the city and taking pictures of themselves in front of famous places. Actually a very good idea, but I probably wouldn't wear [http://ihatecrocs.com/ Crocs], so I wouldn't have to cut off the feet for all photos.

One of the countless street vendors selling crap to tourists. In this case tacky little Eiffel towers.

One of the countless street vendors selling crap to tourists. In this case tacky little Eiffel towers.

Next stop: Rome

Next stop: Rome

Incentive to fly

Incentive to fly

I'm not a fan of McDonald's (or Star Wars for that matter) but this ad is actually funny.

I'm not a fan of McDonald's (or Star Wars for that matter) but this ad is actually funny.

Lose the stereotype hat and this could have been me on this trip. :-)

Lose the stereotype hat and this could have been me on this trip. :-)