Sep 16, 2012

Bürchen in Switzerland (reposted)

Milka milk chocolate, with the milk from happy cows---that was the slogan of a chocolate commercial during my youth in Germany. And there we are, in Bürchen, Switzerland, and it's true.

Near Bürchen, Bietschhorn in the background (peak in the clouds)

Bürchen is located on the southern side of the Valais valley, near the side valleys of Zermatt and Saas Fee, at 1600m altitude. The ski lift begins right in front of our settlement, the Chalet zone.

"Chaletzone," Bürchen, Switzerland

It's up on the "alm," which, I think, signifies a high altitude meadow suited for cows. Like other villages, Bürchen is very old, perhaps a 1,000 years, of which it spent more than 900 years in splendid isolation. The road was built in 1934. Before, communication with the outside world was almost impossible. The villages were practically self-sufficient, and autonomous.

Hotel Alpenrösli, Zenhäusern, Bürchen, Switzerland

The Valais valley divides the 2 principal mountain chains of the Swiss alps, with the Jungfrau, Eiger, etc to the north, and the Matterhorn, Dom, etc to the south. It's a narrow affair, with the bottom, at 600m altitude, barely a kilometer wide, and mountains rising up to 4000m and more. Here's a view of the valley.

View of Brigg, Valais, Switzlerland, from the Augstbordhorn

There are two seasons, the summer for hiking, and the winter for skiing. Here's a view from the top of our local mountain, the Augstbordhorn, which is accessible to ordinary hikers like us; it's only 2974m high.

Augstbordhorn, peak
We did it twice, already. You do feel the altitude, though, when you are up there, and the Swiss, upon arrival, exchange high-fives with their kids.

Otherwise, the Swiss are still very Swiss, which is nice. It's the oldest non-antique democracy in the world, established already in the middle ages (Wilhelm Tell, remember?). It has know relative institutional stability since. And you feel it. People are on time (don't arrive more than 2 minutes late for a dinner invitation). Trains are on time. The currency is strong. The discourse is matter-of-fact, and to the point. Unemployment is low. Phone calls are returned. Corruption is subdued. Politicians don't look like movie stars. What a decent country.

Alpine horns plus blowers, the Dom (4500 m) in the background

You want to know more? Click the Bürchen label (underneath), or have a look at my Bürchen page. It's my first go at programming in Flash, so it's a bit amateurish, but anyhow.

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