A spring in our step

Switzerland rarely does anything as a whole country, as the cantons usually prefer to do their own thing. So May 1st is only a holiday in certain cantons, usually those who want November 1st as a holiday instead! As we live close to two cantonal borders, we can usually profit in some way.

This time, the weather for our May Day was cheerful for most of the day and my husband even mowed the lawn – stating that it was Labour Day and therefore he should be allowed to be working, if loudly! (The Swiss can be very funny about noise on Sundays and holidays… usually forbidden.) – and then spent a very leisurely couple of hours down at Lake Constance on the lower lake, always a bit quieter and more peaceful than elsewhere. IMG_1422Serenity personified – and a glass of champagne always helps! After a pretty drive through the full-blossomed Thurgau orchards, we spent the afternoon celebrating the Mayday birthday I mentioned last time, a big family do, enhanced by the presence of our daughter and son-in-law, visiting from England. Time flies and so it was nice to catch up – it’s nearly a year since our last get-together to see the young couple off, so a lot of growing has gone on in the meantime ūüôā A beautiful day.¬†IMG_1423IMG_1424Originally a 13th century convent, the Feldbach is now a lovely restaurant and seminar hotel, with a large park and breathtaking rose gardens I will wander in a month or so! A popular venue for weddings, those rose bushes round the grass patch (and elsewhere) have been planted over the last 20 years, one for each couple who married there…¬†

Last week saw me kicking my heels in Zurich for a couple of hours, with no shopping on the agenda (!), so we had a walk all through the old town as long as the rain held off. We climbed up the Lindenhof, a moraine hill in the middle of ancient and narrow streets above the historic Schipfe quarter alongside the river and that opens into a high viewpoint over the Niederd√∂rfli, the old town that is on the other side, with the old university buildings halfway up the Z√ľriberg…¬†IMG_1427This is what Wikipedia has to say about it:

“At the flat shore of¬†Lake Zurich, we find Neolithic and Bronze Age (4500 to 850 BC) lakeside settlements, such as¬†Kleiner Hafner¬†and¬†Grosser Hafner(both small former islands), near¬†Bausch√§nzli¬†(Zurich City hall),¬†Alpenquai¬†(B√ľrkliplatz) and Lindenhof. Lindenhof was largely surrounded by water: Until the early medieval area, neighboring¬†M√ľnsterhof¬†(Fraum√ľnster¬†abbey square) was a swampy, by the¬†Sihl¬†river flooded hollow, so that Lindenhof hill was an optimal location for early probably fortified settlements.¬†Middle bronze age¬†(1500 BC) artefacts were found near Limmat (Schipfe).[1][2]¬†For the 1st century BC (La T√®ne culture) archaeologists found remains of a¬†Celtic¬†settlement, a so called¬†oppidum, whose remains were found in archaeological campaigns in the years 1989, 1997, 2004 and 2007 on Lindenhof and¬†Rennweg.”

You tend to forget about the history when you’re wandering through the town, what with all the fancy and exclusive shops and hotels, banks and high-security buildings, but it was all there long before they arrived!

After the Romans and into the Middle Ages, it looked like this…¬†Z√ľrich_-_Schipfe-Lindenhof_-_Hans_LeuHans Leu the Elder, late 15th century

Incredibly different, even if there were already some houses along the Schipfe and the Lindenhof walled (as a result of the Roman citadel) and with tall trees, as it is today! I bet most of the houses on that picture are still there today, too. Certainly the Lindenhof was the only public place and park within the city walls and people would congregate for leisure shooting (longbow/cross-bow) among the traditional lime trees. It was important for public life and regular festivals (the S√§chsel√§uten with the Guilds, mainly) and had lots of famous visitors over the centuries. I can just picture Madame de Sta√ęl floating around on a jaunt up from Coppet on Lake Geneva!

IMG_1429IMG_1428The dovecote is probably one of the few places where pigeons are encouraged – there were a lot milling around, anyway!


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