Four cantons, one lake, summery weather, and a bunch of great views…

In Denmark, when you head south to enjoy some warmer temperatures, people will often tell you to bring back a bit of the warmth – which rarely works though… However, ever since I came back from my recent holiday in Spain, weather in Zürich has been more or less amazing. It culminated last weekend with lots of sun and temperatures in the high 20s – which is pretty good, considering it was still only April! In that kind of weather I didn’t want to just stay inside, so I consulted the internet for some hiking routes around the Vierwaldstättersee (which I had visited the year before on my trip up Rigi) – which is not only a really nice area, but also quite close to Zürich – and found an interesting half-day hike up a hill on the south-western part of the lake.

The weather proved to be as nice as anticipated, and with spring having really arrived, had flowers and green plants everywhere. Can’t really imagine how it could have been better! After a really nice hike, I ended up spending the afternoon in nearby Luzern afterwards – which I thought was about time, after almost two years in Switzerland ;) I wasn’t the only one with that idea though, and had to share the space (especially around the iconic Kapellbrücke) with throngs of other people. For some reason the very nice area around the old city fortifications were almost deserted in comparison though, and provided a nice finish on a great day!

Looking back here a week later, I almost feel a bit nostalgic also – as this trip may be the last one documented with my trusty Nikon D7100. After more than 4 years of good use, I’ve ended up going ahead with a slight upgrade – more on that in a future post – until then, enjoy the pictures here :)

Kickstarting the holiday season

Even though spring has been preparing its approach for some time now, you can never really be sure when it’ll finally manage to send winter on holiday. Not in Switzerland, and not in Denmark. Thus a bunch of my Danish friends had been contemplating a quick getaway to somewhere that should be guaranteed to be at least a bit warmer than either – and invited me along too! So off to Spain we went, to spend a week in a pretty awesome mansion – relaxing, eating good food, hiking, sightseeing, and everything else you usually do on a holiday.

Being late March / early April, the temperature obviously hadn’t gone to extremes yet, but the 15-20 degrees and, more importantly, almost constant blue skies and sunshine, provided a pleasant change from the “have-some-snow!” approach to spring that weather had taken in Denmark and Switzerland.

In the way-too-short timespan of a week, we managed to see both Valencia and Alicante, go to the picturesque village of Guadalest on the top of a mountain, hike along rocky paths to the top of Penyal d’Ifac, eat lots of icecream, and I even got to make my very first paella (which turned out pretty successful :).

And as usual, I brought along my camera also…

Calendar says March…

…but apparently the Swiss weather doesn’t really care too much about that. After a week of bitterly cold temperatures, on March 1st I woke up to Zürich being covered in a beautiful blanket of fresh powder snow. With temperatures still well below 0C, the snow even stayed real snow, and didn’t transform into the annoying slush that is otherwise the only “snow” we’ve seen in Zürich this season – which was also the reason that I hadn’t really been able to get any half-decent wintery pictures yet.

So when the snow was still there on Saturday, and the weather forecast said that temperatures would stay in the freezing region at least until noon, I got up early and went up to good old Uetliberg, hoping for some somewhat interesting views and motifs. Down in the city it was cloudy, and the top wasn’t really visible, but I hoped that all this was below the top – and I was more or less right –
even though there was still a thick layer of clouds above, it was otherwise clear at the top, with the cold weather providing excellent views to the real mountains in the south. Having cheated a bit taking public transport to the top, I managed to get there while there was still a bit of morning light, providing for some really great views.

Afterwards I hiked back down, taking care not to be run over by the many sledges out getting the last fun out of the soon-to-be melting snow – and of course also getting in a few more shots of the snow-covered forest. And in the end, my timing was good – in the afternoon on the same day the temperatures rose, and the snow started melting. Maybe the weather managed a look in the calendar after all ;)

2017 – the lost pictures

With 2018 already well underway, and me on a busy schedule without much time for taking photos, I took a look back at last years photos to see if there was something I had missed – and indeed there was! Some had been hovering around in my “to-process” queue due to only a couple of pictures from the set being decent, some due to other things overtaking it before getting around to processing – but that doesn’t mean that there weren’t a few pictures here and there that deserved a bit of love after all.

It’s not as mixed a bag as you could suspect, with pictures mainly coming from last winter (with some actual snow in Zürich!), a trip I did to the (pretty nice!) Zürich Zoo last fall, and a handful of pictures from my recent Christmas holiday in Denmark to top it off.

Hopefully there’ll soon be some new stuff also, but my current combination of being busy at work, and spending several of the past Saturdays skiing (which isn’t too compatible with carrying a DSLR in your backpack) just make things a bit difficult at the moment ;)

New York revisited

I recently had to do a work trip to Pennsylvania in the US – and as I was planning the trip, realizing that I’d need a rental car in any case to get to the slightly rural setting of Lititz, flying to New York and driving from there quickly materialized as a workable option. Or well, doing that, just flying in two days early and spending the weekend in NYC was the actual option I was thinking of ;)

Cue plane landing in JFK, and me heading toward Manhattan for a quick revisit of “the city so nice they named it twice”. The setting was slightly similar to last time I stopped by – as in that it was still in the darker months of the year, and still bitterly cold. But as the snow had been exchanged with Christmas decorations and throngs of people (it was the weekend after Thanksgiving after all), it still provided a very different experience. All in all I had less than two days, but still managed to see the Frick Collection, have waffles at the Christmas market in Bryant Park, see Central Park without snow, do a nice walk down the High Line, and see lots and lots of Christmas lights (although I’m still a bit confused as to the connection between Christmas and the Snow White and the Seven Dwarfs-themed decorations that Saks Fifth Avenue had spent a lot of effort putting up in their windows… ah well…).

I could easily have spent a couple of days (or possibly months ;) more in the city, but even so, still a great weekend!

Blue skies in Lausanne

On my quest for getting as much out of the wonderful autumn as possible, my next stop was in a part of Switzerland that I hadn’t yet visited – to the west, around Lake Geneva. I didn’t go all the way to Geneva though, but instead opted to stop in Lausanne. I had gotten a few tips from one of my co-workers who knows the city very well, so armed with that, I got on the train early in the morning. Having arrived, I did the same thing once more – got on another train (although for a much shorter ride!), to Grandvaux, just outside Lausanne, but within the large World Heritage Site of the Lavaux vineyards. The weather was perfect – slightly chilly (it was October after all), but with blue skies and wonderful autumn sun.

I had a good walk through the vineyards, learning a bit about the history and processes along the way, before ending up in Lutry, and taking the train back to Lausanne. After strolling around the city, I visited the Palais de Rumine which had an exhibition by Chinese artist Ai Weiwei. I’m normally not that big a fan of contemporary art, and initially, I didn’t really get the point of most of the pieces exhibited. When I finally got around to have a look in the accompanying booklet though, the added context and explanations turned it into a very interesting experience – especially with my recent trips to Beijing in mind.

Next stop was the Lausanne photography museum, but as I found out when I got there, it was currently closed as they were putting in a new exhibition. Ah well… I took a walk in the nearby park, and came upon the Olympic Museum instead. I wasn’t really prepared to do a full tour, but they had a special exhibition on Sports Photography, which seemed kinda relevant to me ;) And it was really good! Some fantastic and very varied photos, and some really interesting stories behind them also.

After the museum, I took a stroll along the waterfront, found some dinner, enjoyed a spectacular sunset, and then headed back to Zürich after a day well spent!

Amazing Autumn

Back in 2004 I spent August to December in New Zealand – and I think that may be a reason why I enjoy autumn as much as I do. Being on the southern hemisphere, the seasons are reversed, so I traded the typical Danish late-summer-autumn-early-winter sequence for a late-summer-winter-spring-winter sequence instead, and essentially missed a complete autumn. The year after, being back in Denmark, I remember suddenly enjoying the autumn much more than I had done in earlier years – and ever since, despite the often not-so-great weather, the autumn season has had me marvel at the fantastic colors whenever outside.

This year is of course no different. Last year I did a nice bike ride which took me along the river Sihl, and the forests it runs through – I thought that could provide another good way to spend an autumn Saturday, so I climbed on my bike and set off early (or well, early for a Saturday;) in the morning. Got a great ride with some amazing morning light along the Sihl, and stopped at the Sihlwald, where I had a good hike in the forest – all the way up to the Albis Hochwacht lookout-tower. I wasn’t sure what to expect, but I was certainly surprised by the view from the top! It’s not that far from Uetliberg, but its more southern location means that there’s an unobstructed view of the Zugersee, with Rigi right behind it. Sadly it was a bit hazy though – on a clear day, it must be absolutely amazing…

I totally got what I came for though – awesome colors, fresh air and fantastic views. And the fact that the rear tire on my bike was flat when I got back from the hike didn’t manage to ruin a thing (especially since the pretty great Zürich public transport system had a train station right next to where I’d parked;).

Zürich Photowalk

For some reason, I can find it difficult to find inspiration when trying to ‘force’ doing photography – for instance during photowalks and similar, especially in places I know well. When Johannes, one a of my friends and co-photographers from my local church, arranged one here in Zürich though, I kinda had to tag along. And it actually went pretty well! I got a good handful of interesting, different shots from places I thought I knew well, and had lots of fun during it all.

A ski resort in the summer…

If you have even been skiing in the alps, you’ll also have noticed some of the billboards and commercials around the various resorts, that do their best to get skiers to come back during the summer, with pictures of fantastic scenery with lots of mountain flowers and nice green grass – a slight contrast to the snow skiers are usually looking for. Living in Denmark most of my life, and usually going to places with a beach during summer, I’d never actually seen a skiing resort up close that wasn’t covered in snow.

That changed last weekend though, when I, late Friday evening, finally found out where to go hiking the next day (in Switzerland, such a choice can be quite overwhelming for newcomers!). I set out Saturday morning, taking the train to Unterterzen, and then a set of ski lifts up to Maschgenkamm, about 2000m above sea level. Sure, taking the lift up could be seen as cheating by some, but it meant that I could concentrate on enjoying a great hike around the area, instead of having to spend all my energy on going up and down ;)

Being more or less surrounded by mountains, the views were not as impressive as for instance Rigi, but being able to walk for basically hours without seeing cities larger than a couple of houses, definitely has its charm too! On top of this, the air was fresh, the weather was nice, and the main noise was caused by the bells from the large number of cows wandering around on the hillsides (and often on the hiking trails too…).
All in all, a pretty good hike! – and nice to see finally get to try a ski lift during summer also :)

A different side of Switzerland

Two well-deserved weeks of summer holidays were approaching, and I had been planning to do a multi-day biketrip around the Alps close to Zürich – staying at cozy mountain hotels, eating lots of cheese and all that stuff. However, due to a last-minute problem with my bike, that ended up as a no-go, as it required some repairs that couldn’t be done in time… Hmm…

Luckily though, Switzerland is nicely positioned in the middle of Europe, which means that you can jump on a train, sit there for two hours, and then get out in something that’s pretty close to Italy – in my case, Lugano. Situated south of the Alps, between tree-covered mountains, right next to the Lake Lugano, with language, cuisine and weather that is definitely inspired by the southern neighbor, you can’t really get closer to Italy without actually being in Italy.

I had found a very nice hotel right at the lake, close to the city-center, and was prepared for about 3 days of relaxing, hiking, photography, and eating pizzas – ended up a success on all accounts :) From enjoying just sitting in the city park reading or enjoying the sunset, over hiking in the nearby mountains (followed by well-deserved stints in the hotel pool), to great pizza, pasta, risotto and ice cream.

It was basically just what I needed to throw myself into holiday-mode – and I think it’s not that last time I’ll be doing that!