Sunday, October 8, 2017

Time to say "Good bye/Au Revoir/Auf Wiedersehen "

Sunday Morning - we were supposed to meet up with DD and be treated to a lovely Brunch at the Cafe behind her building.

There were just a couple of things that prevented this from happening. 

First was to get all our luggage safely stowed at the Train Station so we didn't have to drag it around with us for half the day. 

The Other -
Well, You need to get up VERY early in the morning to have Brunch at the best cafe in town when there is a Breast Cancer Fun Run on!

We did eventually find somewhere that had room
but then -

You know the old rule - 
Never trust an EMPTY Cafe!

It had a beautiful View of the Bridge, Cathedral and Fun Run Course, but that is where the 'nice' ended.

This place got our award for the WORST Breakfast and Service for our entire trip!

Placing breakfast behind us we headed off to find a Sunday Market -
Which when we got there... was
"Postponed due to Fun Run"  [Big Sigh!]

Now not knowing how to fill in our last morning - we wandered over to the 'other side of Town' where DD showed us the one thing that in all her time away - made her feel so very far from home.

When confronted with a sign post
and the furthest point on it says SYDNEY 14,000 km.

You don't sit down and work out how far Melbourne is from Sydney!

We saw parts of Strasbourg that had been updated and modernised.

No time left to explore the boardwalk where old Cranes now turned into Sculptures, have been left as testament to the original use of the Docks.

For now we had to reluctantly head back to the Station and board the Last Train on this journey.

Tearfully waving Goodbye to Our Beautiful Girl.
(How I wished we could have stayed longer.)

Two Hours later we pulled into Frankfurt Airport Station.

More like an Airport than a Train Station - and after a mix-up with the wrong Bus and  waiting for a Shuttle that no longer existed we staggered into what was the Best Hotel Room EVER.

(It had a Nescafe Coffee Machine!)

All that was left now was to get a Good Night's Sleep.

Before boarding the plane where they looked after us well and served reasonable meals and "Nice" Snacks.
(See - it says so on the label!)

It was listed on the Menu as the MOVIE Snack and served at about 2 AM - because doesn't everybody needs Potato Crisps at 2 am?

Breaking our Journey Home  in Doha, Qatar
After 6 hours in the Air with another 13:45 hours ahead of us, it was good to stretch our legs.

With Large Open Concourses, Clean Futuristic lines, Lit travelators and Silent Electric Trams that run overhead. 
We commented it was another perfect Movie Set and it would not surprise us to see someone in a "Star Trek" Uniform walk past.

Transiting passengers were taken directly from the Aircraft to the Departure Lounge - no long queues, just a small security check at the boarding gate.
This has to be the Best Organised Airport we have transited through.

After 3 weeks away
Staying at 7 Hotels 
In 4 Different Countries
Travelling on Panes, Trains, Trams and yes Automobiles

It was Good to see
"Welcome Home"

And the conversation on the ride back was . . .

"Where do you want to go NEXT ?"

Saturday, October 7, 2017

An Excursion to BASEL -

Doesn't everyone just get on the train and go to Switzerland for the day?
You do if it is only just over an hour away!

And that is just what we did for our last Saturday in Strasbourg - we let DD lead the way and off we went, arriving in Basel just in time for a wander around the Local Produce Market.

It is said that every fountain in Basel has drinkable Water
- so that no one ever goes thirsty.

Obviously the stall holders here make full use of the facility.

Time to find something for Lunch and there was so much to choose from-

I decided to try the Bretzels from a Street Vendor.
DH & DD chose a more 'conventional' Bread Roll.

And then the hard decision as to where to go and enjoy our meal....

But when in Basel there really is only one place for the Tourist to go -

and that is to the small Plaza behind the Church where you can sit on the wall, watching the Rhine River flow past and see THREE Countries (Switzerland, Germany and France) at once!

It certainly was a Beautiful day and we spent a good amount of time wandering the streets.

There were a few signs that made us smile - some needing to be translated and some were pretty clear in any language...

the Park Zone 
2 Wheeled Vehicles 
will be Towed"

I think that was pretty much what the picture said!

As I mentioned - our DD chose the Outing for today and it was because she had somewhere she wanted to go.

With it's connection to Strasbourg Cathedral by the Architect Ulrich Ensingen, Basel Minster is smaller than Notre Dame but one worth exploring.

And She told us she really needed/wanted company for her Quest.

Interesting as they were - it was not the cool Cloisters or the Final resting places of Bishops long dead that fascinated her.

She had her sights set on the more Lofty goals -

or should I say ... Heavenly?

Come on Mum ...
You did Notre Dame
 ... and an Ice Cave

- You can do this!

So with that we set up the stairs

They started off OK - nice broad sturdy Stone Staircase
and then Past the Clock Mechanism on Metal Steps

Onto Timber and by this time we were wondering IF we really should be up here...

Scramble past the Bell ...
 - WOW was that BIG!

Up more Stairs, over Beams up a ... what? 

That is a ladder!

Onto the VERY NARROW balcony - 
Yes us and a 'million' other people all out for a beautiful day's outing up a Bell Tower.

The people here really need to have a chat to the folks at Hoensalzburg Fortress about crowd control in small spaces!

As much as I wanted to go further - this is as far as I got.  Well actually about half way UP this Spiral staircase which was only wide enough for one person at a time.

Unlike Notre Dame where you go UP one side of the tower and back DOWN via a different route, this climb involved coming back the way you went up. 
So when we met a group of - non English Speaking - visitors coming DOWN we had problems - my claustrophobia kicked in and that was it for me.

Dear Daughter - on the Other hand was further up the Staircase and continued on.


and when she finally came down said
Mum - you couldn't have gone much further anyway.  The stairs just got smaller and smaller and then I realised I was looking at The Sky.. 

I got some Photos and then scarpered out!

- And as her FB entry says - "If anyone is interested to see what the Inside of a Cathedral Tower looks like - I have done the Research for you!"

And now we know WHY they will not let you up there unless you have someone with you!

So after that adventure - it was time to go off and find a Good Coffee and some beautiful Swiss Strudel before heading back to Strasbourg.

The one thing I have missed once returning to Melbourne - Is the beautiful Old Cafe's. 
Where the Food is exquisite, the Rooms are small and intimate, Furnishings warm and inviting and the conversations low and quiet.

Friday, October 6, 2017


We say Goodbye to Zurich and head back to Strasbourg for one last Weekend adventure with our DD.

There are still things we have on our "To Do" list and this time we wanted to make sure we saw the Famous Astronomical Clock in Action.

So, once more we waited in a queue to get our tickets.
And I wondered just how much of our time away was spent either in a queue or in transit.

We were up the front of the line and an entire River Cruise Group was behind us -  (We could tell by their matching White jackets!)

But - The Staff at the Cathedral have been doing this a LONG time so they had Tickets sorted and groups through in a very short time.

Once inside we waited for the hour to arrive and Marvelled at the Pillar of Apostles which stands beside the Clock.

This Column, built around 1230 is the central pillar which supports the vaulted ceiling above us.

It features twelve sculptures: the 4 Evangelists, 4 Angels announcing the Last Judgement and, further up, Christ the Redeemer/Judge, surrounded by another 3 Angels carrying the Instruments of the Passion. 

The pillar is also called “Pillar of Last Judgement” because it stages the judgement mentioned in the Book of Revelation.

Close by, there is a statue of a man resting his elbows on a balustrade. 

According to one legend this was a rival architect to the one who had built the Pillar of Angels. He stated that one single pillar could never support such a large vault, and he would wait to see the whole thing come crashing down.

790 years later ... it is still standing and HE is still waiting!

A screen was dropped from the balcony and a Video presentation in French and German with English subtitles told us the History of the Clock and its Incredible mechanism.

The Clock is certainly not just one time-keeping piece.

When it was created in 1571, its makers aims were to describe Time by Every Means,
in a work which was to be useful and to also Ornament the Cathedral and add to the Town's Prestige.

After it's renovation in 1838 it became a Masterpiece which was Unique to the World.

TIME is indicated by a dial which shows the Official Time (France) and a second set of hands show the Local (Strasbourg) Time by which the Chimes and Automata are activated.


Days of the Week are personified by the gods - Apollo, Diana, Mars, Mercury, Jupiter, Venus and Saturn seated in Chariots drawn by their attributed animals.

Apollo and Diana - symbolising Night and Day stand either side of the large Dial of the Perpetual Calendar.

Apollo with Arrow in hand points to the current day.
Here, he is pointing to the day I took this photo on our previous visit, 13th April 2017 - which this year was Maundy Thursday.

The Black lines on the Dial are yet another movable ring which highlights the Holy Days on the Christian Calendar.

These are calculated each year on the night of 31st December by the 'Ecclesiastical Computation' - another part of this incredible timepiece.

No Computers or electricity, just this beautifully crafted series of Brass Cogs and Wheels that accurately does all the calculations that enable the new year to be established.
It is the most complex Clock Mechanism ever built.

This sets the date for the most important day of the Christian Calendar -
Easter Sunday.

On the other side of the Perpetual Calendar is another Curious Cabinet filled with yet more beautiful Brass instruments -

These wavy discs were designed to take into account
1.  The elliptical orbit of Earth around the Sun

2.  Also it takes into consideration the angle between the equator and the plane that the Earth rotates around the Sun

The same principles are applied to the Moon's Orbit, when added together it gives the precise positions of the Sun and Moon. 
It is so accurate that 200 years ago it predicted when Solar and Lunar Eclipses would take place, as was observed in Strasbourg on August 11, 1999!

The Presentation went on to explain one last marvel.

The CELESTIAL GLOBE which stands in front of the Clock's Cabinet.

This reproduces the Starry Sphere above the Earth.
It includes more than 5000 stars and revolves in one sidereal day.
(A sidereal day is the time it takes the Earth to rotate about it's axis so that stars will appear at the same place in the sky. It is ∽4 mins shorter than a Solar Day.)

Underneath the Globe is a wheel movement which reproduces the gyration of the Earth's Axis which takes 25,806 years!

.... Things you learn when on Holidays!!!

Then at 12:30 PM, which is Mid-Day in Strasbourg, 
the Clock swung into action.

An Angel Child strikes a bell,
Figures of a Child, Youth, Adult and Old Man walk in front of Death who rings the Hour
A Second Angel-child turns the hour glass.

Then the Apostles walk before the Christ Figure who blesses them and then the crowd after the last has passed.
During this procession the Cock - The Oldest working automaton in the world - Crowed THREE times.

The Presentation was now over leaving us in total Awe - this was NOT a modern machine, and it is still accurate today!

We bought a copy of the the Artwork of the Clock and the DVD presentation to enjoy at home

and bade Farewell to this Grand Lady,
perhaps for the last time

- Who Knows?

* * *

*Information From "Strasbourg Cathedral's Astronomical Clock by Roger Lehni
Purchased from Strasbourg Cathedral

Thursday, October 5, 2017

Exploring Zurich - More Museums

We have found in our limited travelling that Museums come in all shapes and sizes.
And before we leave Zurich we had a few hours to explore a few more.
- or should I say DH wanted to ... I am pretty much Museum-ed out by now!


With Zurich Pass and Map in (his) hand
(and Google maps firmly in mine) we wandered down cobble stoned back streets in the Old part of Town to the Zurich Toy Museum.

This is possibly the smallest Museum we have visited and is accessed by the smallest elevator we have ever been in.

From the earliest Dolls and War Era Train sets to Barbie and Star Wars they had 300 years of Children's Dreams covered.

I even found a small familiar face.

I called mine Thumbelina and found her VERY difficult to dress - by the looks of things I am not the only one!

She is in a shoe-box somewhere, maybe I should get her out and put her on display too?


I must admit that I was expecting something more on the lines of a 'Traditional' Museum when we set off to Visit the National Museum of Zurich.

The vision of a Beautiful Carriage in the portico certainly led me to think that was what were were going to see.

But that was about as "Traditional" as it got!

The exhibition space itself is undergoing a total rebuild which has resulted in a Labyrinth of Polished Concrete Walls and Floors and Ceilings.
It certainly was not welcoming - it was cold and smelled of wet cement.

I trust that once finished - visitors will have easy access through the exhibits.  We got lost and disorientated just trying to find our way out!

HOWEVER- the exhibits were housed in State of the Art, modern displays with interactive multi-lingual 'overlay screens' for you to learn more about a particular exhibit.

They were very impressive.

As with most museums Photographs are frowned upon (although I think it is more the Flash photography which is the issue - which can damage fragile exhibits). 

Although I would have liked to record our visit with many photographs, I was only able to 'sneak' one shot to share.

Beautifully hand illustrated Monumental Bible.
12 Monks worked on these 477 pages. Full Page pictures of the Evangelists decorate the beginning of each of the Gospels.

It was an enormous achievement for the Scriptorium of Einsiedelin during the 11th/12th Centuries.

* * *

And with that our time in Zurich was over - 
We certainly did enjoy our time here and would definitely return to Switzerland.
But for now it is back on the Train
Zurich to Strasbourg in 2 1/2 hours

Note: I do not use flash photography as I find the lighting of the exhibits quite adequate.

Wednesday, October 4, 2017

Exploring Zurich - Beyer Clock Museum

Coming from Melbourne, riding on a Tram network is nothing out of the ordinary - after all we do have the biggest Tramways network in the world.  But it is fun to ride on Other Styles of Trams!

Zurich's Trams are - Cute. They have 'Chiselled noses' and only go one way... So you are able to sit in the back and watch the traffic.

Today we jumped on a Tram and rode into the 'Old City' where we went to Bahnhofstrasse - the most expensive shopping street in all of Zurich and then to the Beyer Chronometerie AG.

In the lower level of the Beyer Store is a Clock Museum.

There were Clocks dating back centuries when time was measured by how long it took to empty an earthenware pot of water through a hole in the base.

And Incredibly accurate machines of Brass - Wheels and Cogs and Counterbalances.

This is a replica of the Planetarium of Giovanni de Dondi whose initial purpose was to show the positions of the Sun Moon and the 5 known Planets and show their movements.

It is not known what happened to the Original which was made in 1348, but replicas now exist due to the detailed drawings in Dondi's manuscripts.

From the complex to the Simple yet functional -

A Pulpit Clock dated c1700.

(How I wished we had one of these in OUR Church when my Father's Sermons went overtime!)

Turned as the Clergyman arrived at the Pulpit - the First Glass ran out in 15 minutes, the Second in 30, the Third in 45.  The Minister then could see at a glance if he needed to shorten or lengthen his Sermon!

And then there was the most Elegant of Pocket Watches.

IF - if I could have chosen anything from the display - this would have been my choice.

The case is made of Rock Crystal, the movements - Sapphire, agate and Gold

It is a Unique piece, Made for the Paris World Exhibition of 1855.
And it was beautiful!

And - what Museum would be complete without a piece of HISTORY?

Just a Gentleman's wristwatch.

Nothing special -
Not a particularly interesting timepiece at all

BUT for Who wore it
And When.

Sir Edmund Hillary
Mount Everest

* * * * *

If you are considering a trip to Zurich - The Beyer Clock and Watch Museum is well worth the time to Visit.   
The Staff were friendly and inviting.  We were shown to the Cloakroom where we hung our coats and placed our bags in lockers before being handed I-pads with all the details of the exhibits in our chosen language enabling us to wander the exhibits at our leisure.

And we left with some very affordable souvenirs, which were carefully placed in a 'Store Bag' so that "You can now show everyone that you shopped at one of the most expensive Jewellery stores in all of Zurich!  ;)  "

Tram fare and Entry are included on the Zurich Pass.

Exploring Zurich - Felsenegg

Today's adventure we are (you guessed it) 
back on the train - this time it is a short trip on the suburban network and we are going . . . 

⇦ Here!

To Felsenegg Lookout

I am such a fan of Google Street View

It is a great comfort when you can put your little "Peg Man" onto a path 
and find out where EXACTLY you are going 
before you hit the road

especially when you find yourselves 
up back streets 
heading to what seems very much like Someone's Back Yard!

But then - 

Doesn't EVERYONE have a Cable Car 
in their Back Garden?

Oh well - All aboard and off we went.

It is only a small Cable Car and today it was not busy at all - 
But I can imagine it would be well utilised in the High Seasons of Summer and Winter.

Good to know we are on the right path!
and just 5 more minutes.

But then IF we had taken the only other way of getting here - BY FOOT (no cars allowed)

then we would have been very happy to see this sign!

As sometimes we thought we may just have strayed into Narnia!

The walk was refreshing in the crisp Autumn Air, but
How I wish I could see THIS blanketed in Snow.

Once we reached the top we found  ourselves a table at the 
Felsenegg Restaurant 
and were treated to incredible Views of the Valley below

What more can we say but WOW
we are sitting on top of a Mountain in Switzerland
eating Chocolate Cake!