Switzerland, Thun

Mediaeval Thun and its beautiful lake in the Interlaken region of Switzerland was the first goal of our third day in Switzerland and this day proved just why a First Class Swiss Transport Pass is the way to go.  To begin the day we took an intercity express train from Zurich via Berne to Thun.  It’s a longish journey made more comfortable by first class seats upstairs with plenty of leg room and great views of the countryside.  First class on trains is good!

Added to that we had the company of a delightful Swiss lady fellow traveller, Monica, and her 88 year old Mother.  They were on a trip down memory lane, too. Monica was able to fill us in on a lot of what is going on in Switzerland today – especially on the numbers of wealthy German and Austrian people moving to Switzerland because of the world economic downturn and the EU crisis.  This is forcing up housing and land prices in Switzerland and is beginning to have a real impact on ordinary Swiss folks, especially the young people.

We arrived in Thun with an hour to spare before our schiff departed to cruise down the lake. We had to choose – a walk in the old town – turn left; or a walk beside the river -turn right. We chose the quiet walk by the river. Water from the Lake of Thun – the Thunersee – rushes through a weir into the Aar River at Thun.

There are many photos of Thun on the Images section of Google, so I have just added photos of our experience.

I was particularly intrigued by the life saving belt attached to the fourth floor balcony of one of the houses on the banks of the fast flowing river below the weir. Any one falling into the river at this point would be swept away long before that belt hit the water! As usual in Switzerland, balconies are festooned with flowers.

The sluice gates of the old wooden weir were open allowing a great rush of water through. The weir also acts as a covered bridge across the river. In summer it’s festooned in red geraniums – always a favourite of the Swiss.

Cog wheels and machinery for the sluice gates on the bridge are just another example of engineering in Switzerland that has stood the test of time.

The river above the weir looked peaceful enough but was it? These old wooden piles on the weir/bridge have stood for many years against the forces of water.

These Moorhens had to dive constantly to find food for their chicks.

The river here looked placid enough but it was far from placid for these little chicks. It was hard work.

Residential area along the banks of the river. Unlike other places we had seen, here the old and the new architecture seem to work well together.

There are several large villas along the river, some with their own ‘summer houses’ and jetties.This one looked inviting.

For those without their own boats, there are flat bottomed boats for hire to explore the lake.

A walk along this side canal shows off the delightful setting that Thun enjoys at the foot of the great mountains.

An old paddlewheel steamer “PS Blumlisalp”, built in 1906, waits for passengers in the side canal which acts as the ‘port’ for the start of lake cruises on the Thunersee.

The information below is from the web site http://www.paddlesteamers.info   which claims to be ‘the Internet’s leading database of Paddle Steamers past and present’.

Lake Thun’s Paddle Steamer, PS Blumlisalp dates from 1906 but,after withdrawal in 1971, it seemed that the era of the paddler had come to an end on Lake Thun. An unprecedented preservation and, ultimately, restoration project by enthusiasts with significant public support, saw Blumlisalp reenter service in 1992. She is owned by preservationists but operated by her original owners the BSL who maintain ownership of the motor vessel fleet. (The BLS is the Bern-Lotschberg-Simplon Railway, which also operates the local railway services). The recent major renovation was paid for by the preservationist group with financial support from the BSL.  (Long may she sail! JT)

Having always been interested in water birds, I was delighted to see some tufted ducks enjoying this peaceful canal.

Our Motor Schiff, the Berner Oberlander, also moored in the canal, was almost ready to sail, so we joined the queue to embark for our cruise down the length of the lovely lake, the Thunersee.

More of that cruise anon.   J and A

Photography © JT of jtdytravels

One comment on “Switzerland, Thun

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