Posts Tagged: Switzerland

December 21, 2010 – Grand St. Bernard Pass

Grand St. Bernard Pass

Tuesday, December 21, 2010

It’s been awful sleepy around these parts lately, hasn’t it? I mean, I know that Will is sitting there hitting refresh over and over and over, waiting for me to put something else up here, but the rest of us have been checked out for awhile. Something about the holidays, blah blah. And, don’t get your hopes up too much, I’m telling you now that this will be the only post this week. I don’t want to put all that wear and tear on my keyboard if Will is the only one reading it.

Anyway, today’s picture comes from Grand St. Bernard Pass, which lies right on the border between Italy and Switzerland. Rumor has it Napoleon marched his army through these parts back in the day. Actually, that’s not a rumor at all, it might even be true. There’s a monastery right at the summit of the pass that’s been here for hundreds of years, and yes, that’s where they breed the dogs of the same name (the ones with the fictional barrels of brandy or whatever around their neck, that (non-fictionally) are intended to rescue people caught in avalanches and such. ) Thus, the cross. The cross isn’t intended to endorse any particular religion or anything, but since it’s the time of year for Christian holidays, and I live in a predominantly Christian society, this is the kind of thing that I (and now you) get to see all over the place. Actually, I should be slightly more specific: that cross is TOTALLY intended to endorse a specific religion. However, the PICTURE of it isn’t, nor is the inclusion of it here on this blog. There, everybody on the same page now? Cool.

So, enjoy your holidays! Or, at the very least, enjoy the latter part of December! I’ll see you all on the flip side.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/400s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 42mm.

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May 13, 2010 – The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, seen from Zermatt, Switzerland

Thursday, May 13, 2010

Whoops, looks like I missed a day. Sorry about that. I would make up some excuse about how I was really busy, or I was really sick (both excuses I’ve used recently), or that something super important came up or happened that prevented me from posting a picture despite my best efforts to the contrary. But it’s not true. The truth is, I really like the picture I used on Tuesday, and I wanted to give it some more time to bake as the first picture you see when you hit my blog, before it got buried underneath some other mediocre picture that I would have posted yesterday. I figure the first picture that people see when they stumble on in through the door goes a long way toward determining whether or not they’ll decide it’s worth their time to stick around, so I figured I’d give that one an extra day, since it was posted sort of late in the afternoon. (That’s also why I tend to post somewhat better pictures on Friday – since I figure people will be looking at it all weekend. Nevermind the fact that almost nobody comes to my blog on weekends, let’s just go ahead and pretend that’s not true.)

So, now that I’ve given away all my dark and dirty secrets… Here’s a picture of the Matterhorn! As you can tell by the little bit of orange grassy stuff in the lower left corner, we were there in the fall, mid September to be more precise. It was a fantastic time to be in the Alps (although to be fair we got EXTREMELY lucky with the weather on our whole trip), as there were a lot of gorgeous yellows and oranges everywhere that would normally just be ordinary greens. Since I’m a sucker for fall colors, I was loving it.

This picture was taken near one of the stops of the Gornergrat Bahn, which is the train that takes you from the village at Zermatt (ski resort in Switzerland) way up into the mountains. It drops you off way above tree-line (above grass-line too, as it turns out), at a really cool viewpoint where you’re overlooking both the Matterhorn as well as a bunch of huge glaciers that drape the upper reaches of Monte Rosa. (Although it’s worth pointing out that, while Monte Rosa is awesome to look at, from that close it really wasn’t very photogenic, there’s just too much going on, and not enough of a focal point to really draw in your eye. It’s just a jumbled mass of mountain-stuff. Impressive, yes. But I couldn’t figure out how to make it work in the camera lens.) This wasn’t actually taken from the end of the line, rather it was taken I think two stops down the hill. We were still above tree-line there, but there was at least a lot of grass around, which had a really nice warm glow in the autumn sunshine. Lovely day, lovely day.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300mm lens. 1/200s, f/7.1, ISO 100. Focal length: 71mm.

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September 16, 2009 – The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, Switzerland

Wednesday, September 16, 2009

For those keeping track, yes, this is the second photo I’ve posted of the Matterhorn. And yes, it was also taken from near one of the stops of the Gornergrat Bahn (the train that takes you from Zermatt way up into the ski resort), on the same day even. Although this one was taken from a couple stops further down, I believe Riffelberg was the name of the stop.

Not sure why any of you would care, but this is the picture that I use as the wallpaper on my phone. I figured that was as good as any other reason to pick a photo for the picture of the day. Now you know, right?

When I was in Colorado a couple weeks ago, my dad and I watched a show about the geology of the Alps. Among the many factoids absorbed during that time was a little nugget about the layers of rock that make up the mountain chain. I’m almost certainly not remembering this correctly, but I’m pretty sure the main three layers, from bottom to top, are: European rock, then rock from the bottom of the sea, then rock that was once part of North Africa. So, when you look at the peak of the Matterhorn, you can ignore any arguments about whether it’s Italian or Swiss, it’s actually Moroccan, Algerian, Libyan, and Egyptian. Now you know.


Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 39mm.

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August 5, 2009 – Grand St. Bernard Pass

Grand St. Bernard Pass, Italy/Switzerland

Wednesday, August 5, 2009

Man, I wish I could live in Europe. This kind of stuff is incredible. And the craziest part is that you can DRIVE here. And there’s TONS of spots just like it! Really, it’s just not fair. I’ve noticed that a lot of readers are from Italy. You guys don’t realize how lucky you are. :)

This is Grand St. Bernard pass, which lies along the Italy-Switzerland border. This was taken just on the Swiss side, looking back into Italy. The building on the right is the Swiss guard station, and the other two buildings are Italian hotels. There’s also a hotel on the Swiss side, behind me. We were there in early-mid September, which was perfect, since all of the grass and such was a brilliant gold color once you got up above treeline. I’m sure it’s beautiful *any* time of year, but in the autumn it was especially so. I wish I could have had more time there, I would have loved to stay in one of those hotels and just spend a few days hiking in whatever direction caught my fancy each day. But, I sadly only had about 6 days total for driving around and exploring, and this was the last night we had before we had to start bee-lining it toward Venice. Sigh. Next time, next time.

There are two Saint Bernard passes, Grand and Little. Grand (this one) is 8000 feet high, and as I mentioned goes between Italy and Switzerland. Little is about 7000 feet high, and goes from Italy to France. Both of them are accessible from the Aosta valley in northwestern Italy, which is capped at the end by Mont Blanc (Monte Bianco). I would have liked to have been able to drive both of them, but the timing just didn’t work out.

As you can tell, the view was a bit hazy looking back into Italy, since this was taken looking south, and it was mid-afternoon. The view north (into Switzerland) had better light (and I got plenty of pics that direction too), but the quality of the Alpine views was spectacular no matter which direction you were facing.

When I was there, I only had one lens with me, which is my 28-300 mm all-purpose whiz-bang best-thing-since-mayonnaise lens, which works for just about everything, but, since it starts at 28mm, I lose a lot on the wide-angle end. I’ve been thinking a lot lately that having a more wide-angle lens at least handy would be cool, as here it may have helped me get a nice shot that included the whole lake in the frame, as well as the mountains. I’m intending to steal back the 18-55 that came with the camera from my buddy Dan who is borrowing it, but I’ve also tossed around the idea of getting something even wider, but that would require spending some cash, which is never fun. (Except when it is.) We’ll see, that’s still an open question. I do hate the inconvenience of swapping lenses (which is why I’m so fond of my 28-300), but lately I’m realizing that it might be an impossible dream. Oh well.

Anyway, that’s it for today.  See you all tomorrow!  (Or, Friday, if I decide to go ahead with the 3-day-a-week idea.)


Update:  Oh, forgot to mention… Grand st. Bernard pass is where monks traditionally have, and still do, breed st bernard dogs for … All the things that you would normally breed such a dog for. Like carrying your booze for you.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/6.3, ISO 100. Focal length: 32mm.

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June 24, 2009 – The Matterhorn

The Matterhorn, seen from Zermatt, Switzerland

June 24, 2009

As long as I’m on the theme of famous mountains.. This is, of course, the Matterhorn (or, Cervino to the Italians). It straddles the border between Italy and Switzerland. In fact, there’s a ski resort on either side (Zermatt in Switzerland, Cervinia in Italy) . I’ve heard that there’s lifts on each side that will take you up to the ridge, so you can ski between the resorts. Which is somewhat ironic considering that it would take basically a whole day of driving to get from one or the other. I know this because that’s basically what we did.

In today’s installment of piecing together the itinerary from when Julie and I were in Italy, I’ll mention that we spent a night and most of a day in Zermatt. Which is in Switzerland. After we had spent a couple nights in the national park in Italy, we drove over St. Bernard pass (yeah, where the dogs come from) into Switzerland, and got into Zermatt in the early evening. We stayed in a small hotel in the town of Randa, which is one town down from Tasch, which is where you catch the train into Zermatt. (You can’t drive there.)

The next morning, we parked in Tasch, and took the train into Zermatt. While there, we took the Gornergrat Bahn which takes you way up onto the mountain. That’s where I took this. (And a bunch of other pictures which you may or may not ever see.)

I think that’s all I wanted to say about this picture. That’s definitely all that I’m *going* to say about it. See you all tomorrow!


Nice shadow from the Matterhorn there.

Notes: Canon EOS Rebel XT, Tamron 28-300 mm lens. 1/200s, f/8.0, ISO 100. Focal length: 71mm.

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