Tuesday, August 9, 2022

Nendaz, Switzerland (ski resort)


Nendaz (population 6,600) is a sprawling ski resort.  
That's the valley floor below.
Nendaz main shopping street isn't much and could use an upgrade for pedestrians. 
This wood carving greets people entering town. 
Chalets line the mountainsides.
Public pool with nice views.
Colorful home.
Chalet still in use. 
View down to the wine vineyards.
Dozens upon dozens of condo buildings. I can't believe all the cars with license plates from The Netherlands. Then again, I've cycled through the flat Dutch country and understand why the mountains would be a big lure. Also many from Belgium and Great Britain. 
Nendaz is very family-friendly. This kids activity complex is located in the town center. 
View down to the valley. 

Sunday, July 17, 2022

Belfort, France (Lion of Belfort)


Belfort, with 47,000 residents, has a compact downtown. The building on the left is city hall and the ornate building on the right is a French government building.  
The beautiful red sandstone Belfort Cathedral, built between 1727-1750, has been a national monument since 1930.
Looking up behind the main square (made to look like a beach--with sand) you can see the citadel (fortress) up on the hill.
During the Franco-Prussian War the French withstood a siege of the city in 1870. To commemorate the event The Lion of Belfort was commissioned.
Finished by Frederic Bartholdi in 1870 and made entirely of red sandstone, it's massive! Standing 36 feet high and 72 feet in length. Shortly after its completion, sculptor Frederic Bathholdi started on his most famous work: the Statue of Liberty
Fortifications still stand in the city center.
Vauban, the famous military engineer, was responsible for building Belfort's fortifications and citadel in 1687. As usual with Vauban there are layers upon layers of ramparts and moats.
Many of the villages I cycle through have colorful flower displays to greet visitors.

Saturday, July 16, 2022

Besancon, France (Citadel/Fortress)


The Doubs River weaves its way around Besancon, population 130,000. Looking to the left I see this view. At the far end on the left bank stands a medieval watch tower.
Looking to the right I see this view.
Besancon's town hall. 
Up the hillside you can see part of Citadel Besancon's formidable walls. That's why I'm here.  
Built in the 16th century, Porte Rivotte is the last remaining medieval entrance gate to the city. 
Heading up to the citadel you pass through a Gallo-Roman triumphal arch which dates back to the second century. On the other side of the arch you can see the dome of Besancon Cathedral. 
I've written many times about the French military engineer Vauban (1633-1707).  He was a superstar. Over his lifetime Vauban oversaw the building and rebuilding of over 300 fortifications. His full name was Sebastien Le Prestrede de Vauban. To reach the citadel one has to pass through several entrance points. Here's the first.
To go from the first entrance to the second you pass over a moat--which by the way contains monkeys. More on this later.
This is the second entrance--over another deep moat.
View toward city as you keep going up.
The citadel covers 27 acres.
Built between 1678-1771, it's been designated a UNESCO Heritage site. 
View toward city and the Doubs River. 
A complete walk around the ramparts (walls) will add up to one mile.  
The Germans occupied the place between 1941-1944. One hundred resistance fighters were sentenced to death by a German military court and were executed here.

The city acquired the citadel in 1958 and it now houses three museums along with a zoo. Here you can see several of the bird enclosures. 
Citadel means fortress but, also means "little city". If a citadel came under attack or an enemy laid siege----it had to be self-sufficient. Three things were most important: having water, ammunition and, food. This is the room where grain was crushed to be used in the making of bread.  
Two horses walked around to power the wheel.  

Monday, July 4, 2022

Engelberg, Switzerland (ski resort)


Engelberg (population 4,100) is located in the Uri Alps in Central Switzerland and is a major mountain resort. 
A cold-looking river runs through the town.
This ski jump is a regular host for World Cup competition. Jeez, it looks like a skier could end up in the water.
Engelberg has a pedestrian-only shopping street but, it's lunchtime and not many shoppers are out and about.
Another view of pedestrian street. I normally judge resorts by their pastry shops. Engelberg has two and both are excellent. 
What are all these people lining up for? A gondola.
This gondola whisks people up the mountain where they can then hop on another gondola to go further up. See lots of hikers, rock climbers and, many many paragliders. At one point I counted over a dozen paragliders gliding over the town.

Engelberg Abbey is a Benedictine monastery dating back to 1122. It's a large complex located near the town center. Can you imagine how isolated this place was back then?
Part of Abbey complex with sculpture garden.
Main Abbey building. See those three tractor tires piled up? That's an art installation titled "Tire Tower".  Since 1851 Engelberg Abbey has run a boarding school. It'll run you about $45,000 a year to send your little ones here. 
Engelberg Abbey is famous for making its own cheese. This is their cheese shop. I ask if all those cheeses are made here. Nope. 
These are the cheeses made here at the abbey.
Normally I don't post pictures of church interiors as they never seem to show their grandeur. This is Engelberg Abbey's church. 
It's high noon and the public pool is empty. Why? Don't know but, maybe it's not heated? 
Cycling down this trail--who knows where it will take me.
Wow, came upon this driving range. I ask if there's a golf course and was told it's right up the road. 
Golfclub Engelberg-Titlis is a par 71 course.
I was watching this foursome and saw one of them having to go out of bounds and deal with a cow grazing next to his ball. 
Golf clubhouse.
Cycling down the mountain I spot this forlorn-looking chapel (Holy Cross chapel). 
Turning around from the chapel I caught this waterfall on the other side.