So my lovely wife is spending the entire year in China. I quit being self employed and started a new job. And I moved to Switzerland.
Having sat plenty of time on my sorry lonely ass for the past nearly 3 months now, including Christmas while it was poring with rain outside, I decided it was time for a nice long walk. Get this body moving. Breathe some of that fabled fresh Swiss mountain air. See the world. This part of the world where I'm living now, that is.
When I was searching for a new home, I visited a potential flat occupied by this lovely girl called Anna, who told me that there's a castle in the area. Me and castles go well together, so that was my obvious direction. Having inspected the maps for a bit, it turns out that it's actually pretty much quite a direct straight line right from home all the way there. Approximately 7 kilometers one way, with a few ups and downs along the way of course.
So off I went. Coat. Shawl. Gloves. Camera. Backpack with lenses. Mountain boots. Leonard Cohen playing from the EarPods plugged into my iPhone. First I had to get out of Winterthur, which is not so difficult. It's quite a small town actually, despite it being the #6 city of Switzerland. And it's impossible to walk through Winterthur without encountering a fountain with crystal clear water. I wonder if it's coming straight from springs, or if it's simply tap water. Either way: is it drinkable? I haven't tried yet :-)
And then I was already at the edge of town. Interestingly enough there's no snow in Winterthur, but as soon as you hit the edge of town it's everywhere. Next stage: find my way up the Eschenberg. It's not too bad really. The real mountains are not here yet. But you can see them in the distance from some vantage points. They start about 50 to 60 kilometers from here. One look back, and it's good bye Winterthur for the next 4 hours.
Soon I was completely surrounded by the beauty of the land. The winter wonderland.
And you can call it natural beauty, because the hills are created by Mother Earth, and the trees grow on their own, and the water just flows. But that doesn't mean man doesn't have a big hand in it. For nearly 200 years already these forests are maintained by the foresters of Winterthur, and they're primarily active in winter time. Not in the weekends, but you can clearly see the fruits of their weekly hustle and bustle. I mean, there's so much wood being chopped here, it's hard to be missed. Although you wouldn't notice it in the actual landscape. No big empty fields where once a forest was. They're really good at plucking out what needs plucking out and leaving it all look beautiful indeed.
I eventually stumbled upon their base. Yep... they sure do work with a lot of wood here...
And onwards. I now realised how absolutely quiet it is out here. Nothing but the sound of nature. What a shame to not listen to that but to my music, however amazing Leonard Cohen might be. So EarPods back in my pocket, and on with the walk, and taking it all in properly.
There are plenty of benches to be found scattered through the beautiful nature here. I like how Switzerland takes care of its infrastructure and public conveniences.
And then I walked past this quite well built log cabin. I'm not sure, but it looks like in summer days it can be used for drinks and such. I might find out one day.
After a little while, now 3 kilometers from home, a clearing appeared. In the distance I could see the majestic snow capped mountains. I must be pretty much on the top of Eschenberg by now.
And indeed. In the middle of the clearing is a bar. I might also check this one out some day!
From the clearing I suddenly spotted something sticking out above the forests in the distance. Swapping my wide angle lens for my 300mm zoom I confirmed that this must be what is to be the goal of this journey: Schloss Kyburg!
Walking swiftly down the hill now, I could get some better shots.
But then I had to dive back into the forests again, and a magical world of fairytales opened up in front of me again. I had arrived at a point where streams from at least 4 direction were coming together, heading off further down. The sound of water is so beautiful.
But enough lingering. On I went, up the steps. But... ohhh... ok. One more photo of one of the streams then...
The track took me further along some steps up and down again. I walked through part of the the ground water protection area, and stumbled upon a small river. The river Töss. And its waters are so amazingly clear. And in my world clear water outside means ice cold water. It was flowing pretty fast, so there was no way I was going to try and reach it to touch it. First of all I didn't fancy to tumble in. And secondly I love water but not when it's icy cold. It's beautiful to see though. Given that it's so clear it just has to be coming straight from the mountains.
But! Now to cross it. Luckily I came right upon a bridge. And not just an ordinary one. But a wooden covered bridge. Like the ones of Madison County.
From there, the path turned into steps. Many many steps, up the hill. I couldn't see where they would end.
But that was okay, because the nature is beautiful. So beautiful that they put little plaques all along the path explaining about the huge variety of trees and bushes that grow out here.
In the end the steps turned out to be going along for about 700 meters, taking me up 180 meters. And eventually I realised where they were leading me. Straight to the castle! The benches were all too cold to sit on though.
After nearly 2.5 hours of walking I had reached my goal. And a beautiful one it is.
The views are quite tremendous. This was once one of the most powerful seats in this part of the world.
Now it's a museum. Quite a good one apparently, since it was awarded the European Museum of the Year award in 2002. I'll visit it next time I come here. Now I just wanted to keep on walking.
The castle sits in the lovely little village of Kyburg, which has 1 whole bus stop.
But I didn't take the bus, and went back to the steps, took them all the way down again, and wandered the entire trek back to home, which I reached 2 hours later. After 4.5 hours of walking, I was fulfilled, and in need of a drink.