Tuesday, July 26, 2016

Images from Europe: Aare River Valley, Switzerland

If you could live anywhere you wanted, where would it be? A tropical beach? A metropolitan skyscraper? A snowy mountainside? A Mediterranean cliff? While our visit to Gimmelwald, Switzerland last September introduced us to some breathtaking scenery, the Aare River Valley probably more closely fits my idea of an ideal domicile: more easily navigated than the High Alps; forested, but not too heavily; mountainous without feeling claustrophobic or acrophobic; and as you can tell in the photo, scenic even on a cloudy day. I love my surroundings in Central Illinois, but this region definitely gives my home a run for its money.

Our primary reason for visiting this region was to view Reichenbach Falls, probably best known as the location of Sherlock Holmes' last battle with Professor Moriarty in Sir Arthur Conan Doyle's "The Final Problem." The Reichenbachfall funicular carries passengers 800 feet up the mountainside to a viewing station that offers a classic view of the full height of the section that impressed Conan Doyle enough to include it in his story. That's not the only view from that station, however.

If you turn from your view of the falls and look toward the northeast you'll see the pleasant valley pictured above. Rain had fallen just before we arrived, leaving low clouds and the misty atmosphere that gives this photo some of its charm, however, I suspect the valley may be equally charming in full sunlight. I think I could be content living in this quaint valley for the rest of my life.

As a tourist attraction goes, I recommend this area for the trip (train or hike) to the Upper Reichenbach Falls and the delightful views of the valley from the mountainside. Although we didn't see nearby Aare Gorge while we were there, we understand it is very scenic and offers unique hiking opportunities via walkways over the river. Should we return to this part of Switzerland again in the future, I would like to include more time in the itinerary to explore this area more fully. Anyone care to join us?

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