A January 2002 trip
to Switzerland by zabelle
Quote: Switzerland is home to great art, delicous food and the warmest people in the world. Even though it was January we never got a cold reception anywhere. We only covered the northern cantons but who needs Alps when you have art?src= http://www.igougo.com/photos/journal_photos/Im001500.jpg border=2width =400 height=300 >
The Oskar Reinhart Collection was the highlight of our visit. It is beyond imagination that this is one man's personal collection. The Art Museums in Zurich and Basel have nothing to be ashamed of either.
The visit to Fribourg was a change of pace. We took the back road to get there and I was on a genealogy mission. I have an ancestor from Fribourg so I insisted on at least a short visit. We were all delighted by this beautiful medieval city with its eclectic museum, marvelous churches and stunning walls. It was also the coldest place we visited in Switzerland. Lots of people were skating on a pond as we drove into the city.
It was the warmth and friendliness of the people that will be our fondest memory. The road signs in Switzerland are particularly confusing and often non-existent. We got lost quite a bit but there were always people willing to help us get back on track even if they didn't speak English.
FYI, Switzerland didn't join in the switch to the Euro, they still use their own Swiss Franc.
We drove to the other cities. The motorways in Switzerland are great and not too crowded. If you are going to use them though, you need to purchase a pass at the post office for , this is good for a year and must be placed on your windshield. Many of the Swiss didn't seem to have them but we didn't want to chance a stiff fine.
If you park make sure you look for the machine to buy your pay and display ticket and if you use a parking garage take your ticket along with you, you may have to pay the ticket in a machine before you get back to your car.
The hotel has its own parking garage and you walk up a ramp and into the lower level of the hotel where you can take the elevator to the lobby. We had 3 rooms here since the prices made it affordable for Joe and Bob each to have their own space.
The rooms are attractive but not fancy. The furniture was painted and reminded me of Shaker style. We had a large wardrobe, a small table with two straight back cane seated chairs, a minibar, good reading lights, a firm mattress, wimpy pillows (but there were extra ones in the wardrobe) and a TV that got CNN. The bathroom had a shower and a hairdryer as well as a basket of amenities. Our rooms all had a deck with table and chairs but in January we didn''t get to use it.
Renata, the receptionist was wonderful. She is Swiss but has worked in Australia so she speaks English with an Aussie German accent, it was adorable. She could fix any problem we had. I really like a tub so after our first night I asked her if it was possible to have one. At this time of year quite a few rooms were being painted but she found us one with a tub. Joe also had a problem with a constant whistle from the wind in his room so she moved him to our old room. Problem solved. Our new room was really a little bigger and nicer than our old room so we were very happy.
Breakfast is included in the rate here and was in the beautiful dining room. Part of it is a glass sun room and we sat there one morning. We didn''t see a lot of sun but the view is nice onto the patio. Our breakfast buffet included juice, cereal, fruit, yogurt, meat and cheese and bread, rolls and croissants. A Continental plus.
Everything was immaculate in this hotel from the lobby to the pretty sitting room. And the location gave us easy access to all of Northern Switzerland. Romantik Hotels are noted for the warmth of their welcome and this one was not exception. I would love to come here again.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 6, 2002
Dornach, Switzerland 4143
We were a little disappointed to find that the menu was entirely in German. We can manage a few words on a menu but we were afraid to order totally blindly. Our waiter drafed a young man to come in and translate for us. He did a wonderful job but the translations left us with few details; for example, Al ordered a fish meal that was described as a nice white fish, but what wasn't mentioned was that it came on a bed of spinach, which Al hates. Luckily, Bob was willing to trade his smoked pork meal which included rosti potatoes and lots of roasted vegetables for Al's fish dinner.
I had a Rosti with cheese and ham on top. Rosti is a big fried potato pancake that is made from cooked potatoes. I knew exactly what I was ordering. I started with a salad which was nice mixed greens with grated carrots, red cabbage, white radish, and a very tasty sweet dressing.
We were a little suprised by the almost total lack of English that evening since Monica at breakfast and Renata at the desk both spoke flawless English, but the food was delicious and the service was excellent.
We felt way too bad about our lack of German; we really need to learn some to make them translate the dessert menu. Luckily, we were satisfied with salad and entrees and with our beer and bottled Heidiland water.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 6, 2002
Hotel Engel Restaurant
41 61 - 705 04 04
This is no tourist trap. No tourist could find it! Even after you get to the end of the village you still have to follow the signs up a dirt road for maybe a 1/4 mile or so into the woods to the end of the earth. That's how it feels when you look out from your lofty perch to the valley below. And there in front of you is the green tower of light welcoming you. The view from here was spectacular even at night.
Sunday night is a quiet night and there was only one other table with people. They were expecting us and we were greeted warmly. They knew we wanted fondue so we didn't get menus. We just ordered white wine and bottled water (There was no way Al was going to drink anything but water and drive back down that hill) and enjoyed ourselves. The decor is rustic and Monica had told us that people often go up here just to have coffee and enjoy the view. There is a porch that looks like the perfect place to do just that.
It took a while but they brought out a large bowl of whole grain bread cubes and put some on each of our plates and them out came that fondue pot full of bubbling cheese. We were all game and took our forks, speared our bread and dipped. Oh yes, it was worth every minute of that nerve shattering drive. Not only was it delicous, it was lots of fun and they were so nice to us. They couldn't believe it when we called it quits before we had eatten every drop. But no, we needed some ice cream and sorbet to settle everything down. And this is where I found out that Christophe understood and spoke perfect English as I asked for a decaf cappucino and he called out of course we can make it.
Before we left we all posed with Christophe and his mother Mary and our other waitress for a picture. It will be a night to remember fondly among people who made our visit special. And the ride down the mountain was much easier than the ride up.
061 701 51 50
The house itself is quite attractive and unfortunately photography wasn't allowed inside. As you walk into the first room your eyes are drawn to the painting over the fireplace "The Resurrection of Christ" by Jan Provost. In the opposite corner there is a Holbein portrait of a woman, on another wall 2 Lucas Cranach portraits and a Pieter Bruegel and finally a Grunewald chalk drawing of a woman in mourning. Add some furniture and this is just the first room.
Still life painting here runs the gamut from Chardin's "Still life with crystal bowl and fruit" to Van Gogh's "Still life with herring, tomatoes and lemons". From Goya's "Still life with salmon" to Cezanne's "Still life with peaches".
There is a beautiful Franz Hals portrait of a boy reading, a Rembrandt pen drawing of Jesus in the temple, Claude Lorraine's Landscape with Hagar and the Angel" ,Reuban's "Decius Mus consults the Haruspicians" and Nicholas Poussin's "The Holy Family". And this is just old masters.
What is really amazing is that it still looks like a house and in the main gallery there are chairs around the fireplace where you can sit and enjoy the splendor surrounding you. If you like Impressionists you've come to the right place. There are 6 Van Goghs, and lots of Renoir Cezanne, Manet, Courbet, Millet, Sisley, Delacroix, Degas, Corot and 1 Monet.
There are some wonderful sculptures, beautiful tapestries, a whole gallery of sketches and more. Around 200 works of art in all. There is a small selection of post cards and books for sale at the reception desk. They have a very fine cafe where you can stop for lunch. We had soup, baguettes and dessert. The hot mixed berry pie was worth the visit on its own.
Open Tuesday -Sunday 10-5Entrance 8 Swiss Francs
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 7, 2002
Oskar Reinhart Collection
61 41 52 269 27 40
This museum has 22 Holbeins. Its just unbelieveable. Most of them are in 2 rooms and it is a stunning display. There are 2 very good portraits of Erasmus and a last supper wood panel of extraordinary beauty.
Now if you've read any of my art museum write ups you will know that I love Cranach, Brueghel and Joos Van Cleeve and they are all represented here. The Cranachs are a pair of portraits of Martin Luther and his wife. Historically interesting as well as gorgeous.
There is also a horribly realistic Grunwald crucifixion. Jesus is dirty, cut and bleeding and bruised. Nothing is left to the imagination. I was attracted and appalled at the same time.
The gallery that has the Holbeins and the Cranachs has some natural lighting and it makes an amazing difference in your ability to appreciate the art. There is even an Adoration of the Magi attributed to Durer (not his best work if it is).
This museum has much to offer from its Rodin Sculpture of the Burghers to its Rembrandt (David presenting King Saul with Golith's head). I particularly liked Jan Steens "Children teaching a cat to read" it is very realistic looking with the amused mother looking on.
If you want something beyond the old masters there are paintings by Cezanne, Monet, Pizzaro, Gaugan, Manet, Degas, Sisley, Corot, Courbet, Renoir and Munch. You can spend several hours waundering around here.
Not with your camera however. You can not even walk into the museum with it. There are lockers and you are expected to use them.
The gift shop is very well stocked and there is a small cafe to bolster your strength should you falter.
Come expecting to be dazzled. You will be.
Entrance is 10 SFR and the museum is open Tuesday -Sunday 10am-5pm.
Member Rating 4 out of 5 on February 11, 2002
St. Alban-Graben 16
Basel, Switzerland 4010
+41 61 206 62 62
Attraction | "Kunsthaus Zurich"
The building itself was originally built in 1910 but has undergone extensive renovations since then and is again in the process of major work. There was scaffolding all over outside. Luckily it didn't obscure the fine Rodin sculpture that adorns the exterior.
This is a confusing museum and the setup makes no sense at all. There are multi levels that don't connect and you have to constantly backtrack. They also have annoying staff that follow you around like you are going to lift one of their paintings. It really got on my nerves after awhile. This one female guard made me take my purse off my shoulder and carry it in my hand. It was weird but the art was worth the aggravation even without the Rembrandt.
They had some nice Dutch and Flemish paintings, Van Dyke, Franz Hals, Jan Steen, Reubens, and 5 beautiful small Jan Brueghel landscapes in a glass case.
There were plenty of Italian paintings as well Tiepolo, Canaletto, Veronese, Reni and a very , very nice Fra Angelico.
But the truly amazing part was the impressionist and post impressionist. There are 4 Van Goghs (none of which belongs to the museum, all on loan) a Monumental size Water lilies by Monet, Cezanne, Matisse, Rodin and Picasso. Really fabulous. You just have to take a seat and gawk.
They have a cafe and a rather good size shop. There was not a good museum guide in English, though and very few post cards from the collection. None at all of the Van Goghs.
The museum is open every day but Monday.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 8, 2002
Kunsthaus Zurich Museum of Modern Art
41 (0) 44 253 84 84
Attraction | "Art and History Museum"
The first gallery that we entered was filled with religous art. Early 15th and 16th century statues and panels. They covered the usual topics, the Last Judgement and the Life of the Virgin. Unfortunately, none of the write-ups were in English so I had to translate for my husband. Luckily Fribourg is in the French speaking part of Switzerland.
The second gallery had some even earlier religous art, 14th-century sculptures, very early stained glass. Following this there were five or six more similar rooms. Now as you can imagine I was getting a little bored by all this but then we enter the room with the relic. And what a relic it is, it is St. Felix and its the whole skeleton in a case covered with jewels. It was so weird it was facinating. And yes of course I took a picture. It certainly was the biggest reliquary I've ever seen.
There are a few rooms of period furniture but nothing to compare with St Felix. He was worth every penny of the 85 Sfrs.
There is a small gift shop that had a nice little book about Fribourg which I found interesting in my search for my illusive ancestor Pierre Miville.
Member Rating 3 out of 5 on February 12, 2002
Art and History Museum (Musee d'Art et d'Histoire)
Rue De Morat 12