Sunday, September 29, 2013

Fribourg, Switzerland Part 2

 Fribourg Part 1 was the city center and this is the lower part of Fribourg.
 Note Fribourg's cathedral tower on the left.
It's a very steep walk down and this funicular has been transporting people to the city center for more than a 100 years.
 View of a funicular car coming down.
 Another fountain.
 And another fountain.
Alpine horn blowers are serenading people in the lower part of town.
 You can see more ramparts.
 Hey, there's my chef buddy waving at me.
 Beautiful covered bridge.
 Same covered bridge.
 This fountain features a soldier.
 Note the very steep cliffs behind the buildings.
I was cycling by and heard all this noise. Turns out it's a swimming pool and locals are playing kayak polo.
 Never seen this in southern California.
Only a few blocks from the swimmers and behind a freshly mowed field of corn I come upon Maigrauge Abbey. Dating from 1255, it is still in use and formerly contained a hospital.
This is the rock road/trail from the abbey up to a monastery. I nix trying to cycle up and resort to pushing the bike.
Leaving the lower part of Fribourg you can see the pool and school grounds in the distance.
Back in Fribourg's city center, it is now 1 p.m. and this is heading to the main street festival area.
Eight thirty in the morning and I was at this patisserie. Why am I back again at 1:30?
See up in the top of the photo a pie that looks to be pumpkin or sweet potato pie? Well, that's a wine tart. Come autumn, wine tarts are common offerings. What's funny is that the majority of pastry shops don't use wine in the recipe but, usually peach, apricot or apple syrup. To the right of the wine tart is a pistachio/cherry tart. Why is there a slice missing from each? That's due to my early morning visit. Boy were they good!!!!!
 All these choices and what do I choose?
Two more slices of absolutely fantastic wine tarts!!!

Saturday, September 28, 2013

Fribourg, Switzerland Part 1

I've mentioned before the advantages of visiting a European city on a Sunday. Stores are closed (even supermarkets!) and normally vibrant city centers are absolutely dead--giving me the opportunity to soak up the old town areas in peace--though a big downside being most pastry shops also being closed. That was the plan when arriving in Fribourg, Switzerland (population 36,000) early on a Sunday morning. Well, you can imagine my disappointment in finding a big food and crafts festival going on over the weekend. Though I see quite a few beer garden tents set-up on the shopping streets it's early in the morning and they haven't opened.
Fribourg lies on the border line separating the French-speaking part of Switzerland from the German-speaking. That explains why the University of Fribourg (10,000 students) is home to Switzerland's only bilingual university. But, what makes Fribourg so special is this tidbit: it is home to one of the largest preserved medieval city centers in Europe.
Fribourg is familiar to me as I cycled through years ago to visit several companies having their headquarters here. Heard of Scott Sports? They are a big maker of bicycles, motorsports gear, sportswear and winter equipment. They've been here since 1978 and I visited them in 2004. Villars chocolate has been manufacturing chocolate in Fribourg since 1901 and though my visit was quite a few years ago (2003) I remember the disappointing reception.
See how quiet this street looks, in a few hours it will be packed with people.
 This vendor is setting up shop.
 Check out the painted saws and paintings on pieces of log.
 These ladies are doing embroidery the old-fashion way--by hand.
 Sample of the women's wares.
That's Fribourg's Cathedral of St. Nicholas behind the couple on the high wire. Fribourg is Switzerland's most Catholic city with 70% of the population Catholic. Built in 1283, the Gothic cathedral's tower was finished in 1490 and rises 250 feet (about 24 stories).
 The city center sits high on a rocky hill overlooking the Sarine river.
I took this photo from the city center (unfortunately it's into the sun). I wanted to give you an idea how high up the town lies.
Fribourg still has more than a mile of medieval ramparts from the 14th century. Ramparts are defensive walls. So, imagine you are back in the 1400's and make your way to Fribourg. This wall, encircling the whole city, would greet you.
Though Fribourg is hilly, the wall continues.
This is from the INSIDE of the rampart (wall). Notice the elevated walkway allowing soldiers to look down on approaching foes.
 See how the tower is fortified on three sides and not on the side facing inside.
 This plaque announces the date of the wall's construction.
I'm on the outskirts of Fribourg and cycling across a very long and high railroad bridge above the Sarine river.
This is the lower part of the railroad bridge reserved for cyclists, walkers and jogger
This is a new--uncompleted bridge that will connect Fribourg to the other side of the steep Sarine river gorge that rises more than 130 feet. Bicycles will  be allowed.
As mentioned, Fribourg is very Catholic and religious symbols can be found everywhere--even in a park.
Typical in Switzerland are fountains--great for filling up water bottles with cold, refreshing water.
 Another fountain.
 This alpine horn blowing serenade is taking place in front of city hall.
 Alpine horn blowing and flag waving are what the locals and tourists like.
Here the crowd is leaving happy--even the nuns. Why? It's not because of the horn blowers but, because FREE samples are being generously given out to onlookers.
Besides free samples of local wines (not very good-----tastes like watered-down Kool-Aid) they are passing out samples of a local treat---some kind of a sweet roll filled with a marmalade (?) containing raisins AND mustard. Verdict? Fantastic as I snag three!
This was taken using my zoom lens. It's up on a hill on the other side of the river gorge. As mentioned, Fribourg is very Catholic and along with Maigrauge Abbey (dating from 1255-you'll see a photo of it in Part II), there're three monasteries around town (all dating from the 1600's)--with one being in the big building in the upper right corner of the photo.

Monday, September 9, 2013

Dole, France

I've been to Dijon, France (population 150,000) on multiple occasions
and regulars have received dispatches from those visits. And no, the buildings are not all mustard colored. This trip finds me in Dole (population 25,000), located about 25 miles south of Dijon.  What's Dole's claim to fame?  It's the birthplace of Louis Pasteur. This French chemist (1822-1895) doesn't receive enough credit for improving our quality of life. He's the man best known for inventing the technique of treating milk and wine to stop bacterial contamination, a process now called pasteurization. Did you know Louis (I wonder if his buddies called him Louie?) is also responsible for the first vaccines for rabies and anthrax? His medical discoveries were numerous but, he also made significant discoveries in chemistry. Pasteur's motivations for curing infectious diseases might have something to do with three of his five children dying of typhoid.   
It isn't hard to find where Pasteur was born as there are numerous sign's around Dole pointing you in the right direction---like this brown arrow sign. 
This is the front of the house where Pasteur spent the first five years of his life.
The house was located in the tannery section of town--the poor part of Dole. A tannery is where they make leather out of animal hides. One can only imagine the stench, poor sanitation and hygiene--ideal breeding grounds for germs.
The plaque next to the entrance. The house is now a museum to Dole's most famous person. It's 8:30 in the morning and the museum doesn't open until 10 AM. Not enough to do in Dole until 10AM so, I'm off.
The rear of Pasteur's birthplace overlooks a canal flowing through town and emptying into the nearby Doubs River. That weird metal contraption in the water looking like a spider is a piece of art.
Matter of fact, this canal area is quite beautiful.
Patio area of restaurant on the canal.
The ducks have set-up home here.
One last look at the canal.
Passing through the town of Seurre, population 2,500, visitors are greeted by this gigantic bike. I don't see any brakes on it so I guess it's "ride at your own risk".
Beaune, population 22,000, is the epicenter of wine in the Burgundy area of France. This is the main church.
Do not like Beaune. Why? The city center streets are lined with cobblestones.
Trying to cycle around is a disaster as the bike and I shake, shudder and bounce over the unfriendly streets.