in late may, we (again) visited val bregaglia for another very nice vacation. the weather was great, except on monday when it snowed. we stayed once more in vicosoprano. we did some hiking from soglio to castasegna, and from castasegna to chiavenna:
posts about vacation.
we stayed during the first of the two “chestnut weeks”, dedicated to edible chestnuts which are growing all over the valley. except on the day we arrived on and the first half day, the weather was really good!
we again visited the chestnut forest in castasegna:
and we walked another part of the via panoramica, this time from soglio, and then descending to stampa:
also, again, we enjoyed some great culinary specialities. in particular, we enjoyed several meals (again) at hotel corona, where we also had the opportunity to meet the goats producing the milk for the wonderful goat cheese, which is part of our favorite tomato goat cheese salad. also the different pasta and meat dishes we had were fantastic. yeah well. if it wouldn’t be so far from here (5-6 hours by public transport, depending on how often you want to change trains), i’d guess we’d go there more often ;-)
we were in brand for a second time. this time, we went for skiing, relaxing and taking photos.
well, unfortunately, there wasn’t much snow around when we were there, especially in the valley. many ski tracks were closed, but for beginners as me, this didn’t really matter. (except on one day, when due to upcoming storm they had to close some of the beginner’s tracks as well. :-) ) it was only on the day before we left that it began to snow, and on the day we left suddenly even the valley was covered in a winterly white, which we could watch from inside the bus…
anyway, what i’m doing on skis is now closer to what people would call skiing, and i’ve been able to practice almost every day – so it wasn’t bad after all. unfortunatly, the “taking photos” part of our trip suffered due to that and the small amount of snow. still, here are a couple of nice photos i took:
(on the second photo, you can see the lünersee dam.)
most of the time, we had fabulous weather, except two rainy days and one pretty cloudy day.
the first hike we did was going by postauto up the maloja pass to maloja village, walking from there to the giant’s kettles nearby and from there to the belvedere tower, and then down the pass towards the san gaudenzio ruin and finally until casaccia, from where we continued by postauto.
this is the first leg of the via bregaglia route. this leg is really nice, with some glimpses over the valley (for example, at belvedere tower, and above casaccia, where you have a good view on the albignia lake dam), a lot of forests and shade, and nice rivers. parts of it go quite steep downhill, but even for untrained beginners as us, it was quite manageable.
the second bigger hike we did was the via panoramica (the yellow path there) from the power plant löbbia towards northwest of vicosoprano, from where we descended back down to vicosoprano. near the power plant, we saw a sign forbidding arnie to walk on the water:
whyever they put up that sign… crossing the bridge from the löbbia stop to the other side of the water basin, one enters the via panoramica and can continue to roticcio and from there on to eventually soglio. we left the path somewhere northwest of vicosoprano. (if you have a map, it’s the leftmost path leaving the via panoramica descending downwards to vicosoprano.) this is a really beautiful hike, with lots of nice overviews over the valley and on the mountains.
another day, we took up the cable car to the albignia lake dam. one can also hike all the way up or down, but i think that one is a bit over our capabilities… so instead, we enjoyed the little tiny cable car. on the top, one could still find patches of snow, and one has a beautiful panorama both over the valley and over the lake.
unfortunately, on that day, it was pretty cloudy, so we decided to not hike to the albignia hut (that’s something we’ll do next time…), but take the cable car back down and hike from there back to vicosoprano:
one day, we took the postauto up to soglio, a cute mountain town:
afterwards, we returned by postauto to promontogno and had dinner there.
another trip we did was to visit castasegna. they have a beautiful chestnut exploration path, which shows how chestnuts are planted, harvested and dried. also with a chance to buy honey from around there at a self-service stand.
back in town, we bought some drinks and met a nice cat with wonderful blue eyes.
after being in castasegna, we visited chiavenna, the largest town in val bregaglia, ending the valley at the italian side. we had dinner there, but unfortunately, the restaurant we chose didn’t start serving dinner before 19:00, and the last postauto left short after 20:00…
in vicosoprano, we stayed in hotel helvetia, a former hotel west of the city. while parts of it are used for offices, the other part is rented as holiday flats. it is equiped with a simple kitchen for self-catering, and without much luxury features everything one needs to have a good week there. and in case one is too lazy to cook for oneselves, there are two hotels with restaurants in town, for example hotel corona, where we had three excellent dinners.
after being in tromsø, we continued to oslo. one of the first surprises met us close to our hotel. we already stayed there last year, but didn’t notice anything. this time, we noticed something greenish on the ground, which on a closer look turned out to be many tiny statues:
this piece of art is called the grass root square by do ho suh.
similar to last year, we had great weather. not on every day, though. here are some impressions from the rådhusplassen and the adjacent pier:
we also wanted to see oslo from the sea as well as more closely inspect the oslo fjord. unfortunately, the oslo fjord boats were not really running yet, and many of the boats around oslo itself were not running due to ice. nonetheless, two boats were operating (route #92 to nakholmen as well as the ferry to nesoddtangen). the following photos are from route #92:
after that, we explored oslo by bus, and then continued to tjuvholmen, which is almost finished by now. last year, i took one photo over there, which is not showing a lot since most things you could see were construction stuff. this time, there’s a lot more to see, for example the new buildings for the astrup fearnley museum of modern art:
(the snowman was on the boat to nakholmen. i just put it here because it fits better with the other portrait pictures.)
afterwards, we continued by ferry to nesoddtangen and back:
while being in tromsø, we did two longer excursions by car. driving on icy and snowy roads is not exactly our favorite thing, but since it is quite common in scandinavia (and also canada), we thought it might be not too bad. and in fact, it was quite ok, probably thanks a lot to the great winter tires our rental car had. most of the time we had no problems at all, only noticing that braking could take a little longer than usual. only in two situations we experienced trouble: one time, in a roundabout, the car started steering somewhat different than i intended it to go. well, i managed to take control of the situation, but it was not exactly good anymore :) the second situation was when turning the car, it ended up in a situation where we couldn’t drive forward anymore due to wheelspin. well, driving back a bit more and then steering differently solved that as well. alltogether, i would say driving in this conditions is not too bad, and after driving for some days, i felt quite safe.
our first longer excursion led us to the island kvaløya, an island adjacent to tromsøya, the little island tromsø is located on. we started a bit late, when sunset already had begun (i.e. somewhen around 1 am). we basically circled the southern part of the island.
our second excursion led us east of tromsø. we began driving over to tromsø’s mainland and continuing to breivikeidet, from where we crossed the ullsfjorden via ferry to svensby in lyngen, and then continued to the east side. there, we followed the lyngen fjord southwards until we finally reached the southmost point of our voyage, nordkjosbotn. from there, we drove up north again, this time along the balsfjord, and finally continued back to tromsø.
this time, we started much earlier, and so also got some sunny views. unfortunately, most of the time, we were covered by clouds…
a happy new year to everyone!
we spend the last couple of days of the last year in braunwald, glarus, for a short skiing vacation. the weather was great, much better than announced. it was sunny most of the time:
(sorry for the photo quality. i only took my tiny compact camera with me…)
it was also the first time i ever stood on skis. after a couple of skiing lessons, i even managed to get down the little hill (school to braunwald) and – with a lot of help – the bigger hill (grotzenbüel to school). it was great, even though i was pretty dead afterwards. skiing is quite exhausting, especially with regard to some muscles which i don’t really need for my daily life :)
today i flew back to zürich, via frankfurt. on the second leg, i was sitting at a window, and after some time, a beautiful cloudy sunset scenery presented itself to me, which i have to share with you:
after diving through the clouds, it wasn’t that beautiful anymore, instead it was grey, cool and looking rainy… but well, vacation’s over, isn’t it?
the last days, i’ve been travelling back south, arriving at helsinki airport tomorrow to fly back to zürich. when i started driving south in lapland, it was still ruska time:
(these shots are from the first time i the clouds broke open and let sunlight through on my way south, after having seen a dense cloud cover for the last whatever many days.) the farther south i got, the less colorful the landscape got. but then, there were other interesting things to see.
on my way north, i drove directly from kemijärvi to sodankylä, hence missing vikajärvi, the town i stayed in for 10 days last year in march. but on my way back south, with my first stop-over being kemi, the best way was going straight through vikajärvi. i couldn’t resist to get a better view of some places during fall:
lumijoki: bay of bothnia.
unfortunately, the weather got bad around that point, as on the way to varjakka and back there were a lot of nice views…
(lumijoki lies in pohjois-pohjanmaa, which roughly translates to northern northland. considering that there is a lot more north of it, the name is quite a fail :) )
somewhere before vaasa, i took a small detour and visited the island öja. unfortunatley, the weather was still not very exciting…
from vaasa i continued further south to turku.
when arriving in turku, i was too early to check in into my hotel, so i drove in the direction of the harbour to see some sea. but then i saw turku’s castle and decided to take a closer look at it. the castle was built over 700 years ago and is still mostly intact. one can nowadays walk through a maze of rooms and enjoy many great views, on both medieval and renaissance parts, and there is also a prehistoric exhibition running. it’s definitely a great place to visit! here are some impressions:
turun tuomiokirkko and surroundings.
after dropping my stuff off at the hotel and refreshing myself, i went to see the tuomiokirkko and its surroundings. here are some impressions:
while staying in ivalo, i did a daytrip to kirkenes in norway, and dipped my feet into the barents sea. it was pretty cold, and didn’t got any warmer while staying in it a bit longer. i’d still jump in if i would have taken my swimming gear with me… this is a thing you don’t do that often. as before in ivalo, it was cloudy. and rained a bit. but nonetheless, it was beautiful. lappland is just beautiful. the barents sea reminds me a lot of the north sea. which reminds me that i haven’t been there for quite some time.