Saturday, 26 June 2010

20 New Friends

3 days in Switzerland, giving a ColdFusion training for three developers of a Zug based company. The training was a mixed affair - the participants weren't beginners at all but a beginner course had been booked. On the 3rd day they were all researching on their own which is much more fun than being taught. Too bad I didn't get most of their conversation - "Swiss German" is very different from German.

Zug is not far from Zürich, a smaller town but also very rich and multicultural - I liked the place a lot. And then, they have the wonderful lake, the mountains ... and the weather was just perfect. Too bad I only had two evenings for myself.

I spent the first evening walking through the old town and hanging out with the other tourists ...

On the second evening, I took the cable car up the mountain right behind Zug, armed with a map for a 1-2 hour roundtrip hike that one of my ColdFusion colleagues had kindly given to me. I was rewarded with breathtaking vistas and a beautiful landscape to walk through. Wonderful!

On a meadow on top of the mountain I met a herd of twenty cows with bells - here's what they sounded like:

The cows came towards me after a few minutes and surrounded me, clearly interested in my digital recorder. Or maybe they wanted to be close to me. I liked them and they liked me. When I turned around and continued my walk, they all followed me for a few minutes.

On the next evening, I got into a plane and flew home again ... after a very nice mini vacation (although of course I had spent most of the day in an office building, looking at a computer screen and talking about programming). I'll be back in July when I'll do a second course.

Thursday, 10 June 2010

Spätzle-Country 7: The Village That Disappeared

Two hikes today, on the last day of our Swabian Albs vacation. It was still very hot, and it is still quite warm now while I type this, sitting on the balcony of our temporary home at 9:30 in the evening. Wonderful! I love summer.

We first hiked in an area that used to be a military training ground for many years since the late 19th century. It was expanded in 1938 - and a complete village had to be abandoned, its inhabitants had to be relocated. Today, the area is a nature reserve but you are not allowed to leave the marked paths because explosive or other dangerous material might lie around.

The church and the little schoolhouse are the only buildings left of the abandoned village - all buildings were destroyed. The church was severely damaged and was later rebuilt by former villagers. An impressive place, and a monument to several different sides of what we humans are.

A painting shows how large the village was before it had to be abandoned, and got destroyed. Amazing what people do.

The little village church with a damaged roof ... it looks new and shiny today.

Inhabitants of the village.

We left this area which had mostly paths with no shadow at all, and drove to a narrow valley with a little stream. Much cooler here, much better to walk.

At the end of our hike, we rested for a while beside the little stream. The sun was very very hot. The water looked very very clean. Very tempting to jump right in !! but as Sabine found out quickly, the water was extremely cold - too cold to take more than a short dip.

This is COLD !!!

Half an hour later we had a gorgeous strawberry milk shake and a coffee in the very good cafe that belongs to our hotel. These cookies looked so tempting that I gave in and bought a large box for us and another one for our dear neighbours who took care of our plants at home.

Spätzle-Country 6: Blue Velvet

The Grosse Lauter river valley was one of the most beautiful little valleys I've ever seen, mostly because of the apparently intact ecosystem and the variety of plants and animals. We walked along the river for a while but we couldn't go very far because it was very hot and the path had almost no shadows ...

The thing that mesmerized me most was the blue damselfly population. These beautiful insects lived along the shores of that little river, dancing in the sunlight, and apparently not afraid of us. We have never seen anything like this. There are various kinds of dragonflies even back home in our garden but not these ones, and not as many. I spent a considerable time trying to take photos of their dance. A difficult task. Sabine was very patient with me. Making a little video (see below) was somewhat easier.

We made a little detour and took a look at the Zwiefalten Abbey - we've been to the Schöntal Abbey a week ago, it is a place that I know well. I thought Schöntal was an excessively decorated baroque church, but it was dwarfed by what we saw in Zwiefalten. Incredible, and even though I don't particularly like baroque churches, it was quite impressive. I made a couple of dozen photos from one position - maybe I can turn it into a 3D photo later.