Wednesday, September 10, 2014


I have wanted to visited Bern, Albert Einstein realized the theory of relativity by looking back on a clock during a tram ride to somewhere and I have wanted to check out this clock.
 Much like the rest of Switzerland Bern is beautiful.
 Everywhere you look (except for construction on that tower in the distance) looks like a postcard.
 Through out the city of Bern are statues and fountains in the middle of the street.
 And large board games, I have seen large chess sets a few times around Europe.  This is something the US desperately needs, don't worry, no one steels the chess pieces. F.T.P = File Transfer Protocol.
 Outside the Einstein Museum.
 A bust of Einstein, this was part of the tour of his museum.  His nobel prize in physics is also on display here.
 The stairwell to the museum.
 But the main reason I made an effort to visit this city was to see this astronomical clock.  This is also called the Zytglogge and is a UNESCO world heritage site.
 View through the arch under the clock.
When you look at this clock its difficult to appreciate the mechanics behind it, the gears that makes this thing keep time.   Looking at the clock you can see what time it is, what day it is, what day of the month it is and a few other things. 
 But I was also able to take a tour of the inside of the clock tower and this was amazing.  This has been in operation since 1580.  Warning, I'm about to nerd-out on gears....
 And looking at it, it's amazing that someone was able to figure out the engineering behind it without the aid of computers or other electronic ways of cheating (like a TI-85 calculator).  But I guess this is the basic setup of any pendulum driven clock.
From the main gear in the center of the room are other gears that run all over the tower that runs the clock face and astronomical clock face.  This gear updated the day of the week.
 This is kind of the same photo as above but at the time this photo was taken the gears were going crazy.  Everything was moving and making noise.
 This gear ran part of the show put on by the clock, it blows a wistle (you can see the bellows) and it also spun in a circle little statues of bears.
 Outside many people gather to watch the show put on hourly by the clock,
 The seven or so bears.
 Just like any other cuckoo clock this things runs with weighs.
 This clock can run for 28 hours, in a 24 day this provides 4 hours for winding of the clock.  The city of Burn has contracted someone to take care of this, everyday.  The way the tour guide described it, the person responsible for winding the clock has no day off. This is one of the weights used by this clock.
 The top of the clock tour has a nice view of Bern.
 Both East and west facing, you need to open shutters too see outside.  The tour guide yells up 'close the shutters please' when everyone is done looking outside.
 The overhead wires for the tram.
 Looking towards the Bern church.
I got a little confused, I'm not sure what this gear is doing.
 But this is the gear that runs the clock on the outside, the clock above the astronomical clock.
 This was the house, skinny building in the middle, where Einstein lived.
 Looking back on another gate to the old city.
 Another large board game, I watched these guys for a few minutes and could not figure out what they were playing.  They kept moving those white and black pegs around the edge of the boxes.
 Statue of Jesus in the train station.
 Need to look at the board to see what the next train to Zurich was.  I took the 16:32 IC intercity train.
 I think 16:32 was rush hour time, very busy on the platform.

Sunday, September 7, 2014


Liechtenstein is a small country, sandwich between Switzerland and Austria, so small that it does not have an airport or train line within the boarders of the country.  As a tourist you need to take a bus from the neighboring Swiss city of Sargans to reach the capital of Vaduz.  
Visiting makes for a good day trip from Zurich, from Zurich central station you can go direct to Sargans station where the Liechtenstein Bus is waiting to take you over the boarder.
The bus drops you off right in central Zaduz, the city is actually really small, you can visit almost everything within three or so hours.  From the bus stop, it's not a far walk to the information desk where you can get a map that points out where the stamp museum is, the castle and other attractions.
This is one of the statues hidden a courtyard of an office building.
Looking up from the main street you can see the castle, I was under the impression this was something you could visit.
So I walked up the path to the castle.  Along the path are signs that explain the history of Liechtenstein, the governmental, political structures and other information we were never taught in school but could learn by checking out the Liechtenstein wikipedia webpage.
Half way up the trail was a directional sign post with two arrows pointing in two different directions with the same word on it.  Wanderweg must mean path but this was obvious...  So obvious that I determined it must mean something else.
The Vaduz lookout!
Looking down on Centro Vaduz.  The street running through the center bottom of the photo is the main street.  The white tent is a market, around the market are restaurants and shops, lots of ways to spend money.
The castle.  It turns out the Prince of Liechtenstein, the royal family I guess, lives in here.  And as a result you can't visit the castle or walk on the castle grounds.  This was not made clear at the trailhead leading up to the castle.... but it's still worth the hike, you can always talk to the guard at the castle gate.
Another view looking over Vaduz
The Liechtenstein Stamp Museum if free to visit and has a water closet.
This is the piazza outside the Liechtenstein Government Building.  It's also the start of the walking path.
Balzers?  Who names these cities?
Back over the boarder is the city of Sargans, Sargans has a castle too but this one you can visit.
Non-Italians trying to make wine.  Good luck.
Sargans is a small town in a valley at the base of the Alps, everywhere looks like a postcard.
Yep, must be Switzerland.
Looking back towards Liechtenstein, this must be the swiss main defense against Liechtenstein.  The town at the left base of that mountain in the distance is Balzers.
This should be on the list of best places to enjoy a local pint.  The mountain behind me is in Switzerland, it's called Mt. Gonzen.  The trail to the summit of Gonzen is on the other side of the mountain, so that hike was not really considered.
If you look really close, you can see another castle in the distance, it's on the summit of a small hill in the center of Balzers.
This is the Castle of Balzers.  It seems like someone lives in there too.
It's okay to walk back to Switzerland or as the locals call it Schweiz.  Open boarders!
This is the Liechtenstein side of the bridge.
This is the boarder, it runs along the center of that river.
The Switzerland logo is kind of boring.
Liechtenstein nailed it.
One more view over Vaduz.