I bet you thought I’d need to get inventive for Q, didn’t you?!
A region south of Lake Zurich is not very well known and comes after what is confusingly called the upper lake (southern part of Lake Zurich) and Glarus (see G!). There, a long narrow lake curves through the valley between the mountain cliffs – the Walensee. Its sides are almost too steep to be called shores, though they are flatter and more accessible at the top and bottom ends. With the wind whistling through the valley, it’s a popular lake with windsurfers, kayakers and more adventurous, sporty sailors, as the weather conditions are rather unpredictable and heftier than usual on Swiss lakes (possibly with the exception of Lake Lucerne which is essentially several long narrow lakes that are connected).
The main road and a motorway sit quite high on the southern side of the lake with a marvellous view which is beautiful and dramatic. Humans being what they are (contrary?), however, there are several tiny villages based around Quarten.
Their names go back to mediaeval times and to the diocese’s way of counting the farms, presumably based on Latin? There were Prümsch and Segons (first and second) which have been more or less forgotten, then Terzen, Quarten and Quinten (third, fourth and fifth), all of which still exist. Quaint!!
Of these, only Quinten is on the northern side of the lake, with a number of farms perched on a small slope of grass and seeming about to slide gently off down the mountain. The special thing about it is that it is not accessible by road, only on foot or by boat service from Quarten – so probably the main reason it’s tiny! These days, the few inhabitants mainly survive from tourism, as the area is popular with hikers, presumably those with a head for heights… Its location is also particular, as it has a very mild climate and surprisingly, an average annual temperature of 12°C, meaning that mediterranean things like figs, kiwi fruit and palms grow there and it’s home to a number of protected species of reptile (lizards and snakes) which appreciate the dry sunshine. Oh, and there is wine, too, growing on two good-sized vineyards.
As the mountain rises fairly steeply behind Quarten, the connection to the ski region of Flumserberg begins in this area, making it one of the resorts closest to Zurich – you can take a city train from Zurich to Unterterzen and then a cable car all the way up the mountains!