For the past week, the weather has been quite warm in central Europe. This has brought out the butterflies and other bugs in huge numbers. My walk to the Col du Torrent (@2,918 m or 9,573 ft) last week was therefore interrupted quite frequently while I snapped away. The sheer variety of shapes, sizes and colours is simply amazing, but I couldn’t find the precise names of them all I’m afraid.
I also discovered (on www.reference.com) that a group of butterflies is called a kaleidoscope (or a swarm, but I prefer the former). I like to inform and educate. 🙂
When I entered the Ascona-Locarno marathon (which is in October), I thought it would be good to have an interim race to check on my training progress. Little did I know then that my training would be very spasmodic (indeed, almost non-existent), so the Thyon-Dixence race became a real challenge in itself.
At 16k (10 miles) it’s not long, but the route ascends 700 metres (2,300 ft) over tracks and trails, making it equivalent to at least 23 k (or a little over 14 miles).
By chance, Jude’s sister Charlotte was coming over for the weekend, so she also entered the race. We were together for almost 200 metres before she disappeared into the distance, finishing in 2h 22m 31s, while I plodded in a little bit behind in 2h 28m 14s.
Now, I don’t normally run with my camera at all, but today it and I were firmly joined at the wrist. Well, I needed a good excuse to stop and catch my breath and I knew you, dear readers, would be disappointed not to see some photos of this wonderful race… The things I do for you ! 🙂
They say everything comes to those who wait and, luckily, we were in Vitznau long enough for the weather to change and the clouds were high… So off Jude and I went to catch the train to the top of the Rigi. At 1,798 metres (5,900 ft) it’s not very high, but it sits in the centre of 3 lakes – i.e. Lake Lucerne, the Zugersee and the Lauerzersee.
After taking in the fantastic views, we walked down a couple of stops before Jude caught the train back to Vitznau and I took off down the path for some much needed exercise.
We awoke to another cloudy day, so the Rigi was again off limits. We decided therefore to take a drive only a few miles north to the canton and town of Zug. It’s well known (in Switzerland anyway) for being the home of the rich and famous, as the tax rate is somewhat lower than the rest of the country. I expected to see lots of expensive cars, but I was somewhat disappointed to see just the usual Audis and Mercs. (The most impressive cars we saw on our whole holiday were just down the road from where we live. One was a Maclaren, with a Jura number plate, and the other was a red Rolls Royce from the Valais).
Zug itself has a very modern part as well as a very quaint and attractive old town. I’m not a religious man by any means, but I was particularly impressed with the interior of St Oswald’s church. It’s a ‘must visit’ if you are ever in the area.
I’m also not generally in favour of caging animals or birds, but there were two enclosures near the lakeside, one of which housed two kookaburras! It wasn’t exactly what I was expecting to see.
Today (1st August) is Swiss National Day, so I’d like to wish everyone, and especially my Swiss followers (er, Tammy, I think that’s you) a very wonderful day. 🙂
It’s also very timely, (and I couldn’t have planned it better), that I publish something about a little place which Jude and I visited last week called Rütli. I doubt non-Swiss (and even some Swiss) citizens could tell you about the significant part that it played in the history of this beautiful country. It’s not even a town or a small village, but a simple meadow, which can only be reached by boat or hiking path.
As the story goes, back in 1291, representatives from the 3 cantons of Uri, Schwyz and Unterwalden (today split into Obwalden and Nidwalden) met there in secrecy to renew their pact to oppose the constraints placed on them by the Hapsburg nobility. Effectively it was the first federal treaty and formed the beginnings of the modern state of Switzerland.
Soon after, those 3 would be joined by the cantons of Lucerne (in 1332), Zurich (1351), Glarus & Zug (1352) and Bern (in 1353). The 26th and last canton to join the federation, the Jura, you may be surprised to learn, was as late as 1979.
For the 700th anniversary, a Swiss path was commissioned, to run around the lake from Rütli to Brunnen. It is divided into 26 cantonal sections, whose sequence corresponds to the order in which they joined the Confederation and the length of each section is based upon the number of people living in each canton in 1991 – with 5mm representing each inhabitant. Marker stones are placed at the appropriate points to show the change from one canton to the next. (See map and pics below).
I’ve also added a picture of our tent, to prove that we were camping. Lastly, I’d like to wish all fellow Yorkshire folk a happy Yorkshire day too ! 🙂