Thursday, June 28, 2012

A Day in The Lake Biel, Switzerland Wine Region

On Saturday, June 23rd, we decided to explore the wine country around the Lake Biel area.  This area is located northwest of Vevey and takes about 90 minutes by train.  

In Lausanne we switched to a "tilting train"  This is the first time that we have ever been on such a train.  A "tilting train" is a train that has a mechanism enabling increased speed on regular rail tracks.  As the train rounds a curve at high speed, objects inside the train experience centrifugal force. This can cause seated passengers to feel squashed by the outboard armrest due to its Centripetal force, ( the force that makes a body follow a curved path) and standing passengers to lose their balance. Tilting trains are designed to counteract this discomfort. In a curve to the left, the train tilts to the left to compensate for the g-force push to the right, and vice versa.  

Until we got use to the ride, we felt a little "sea sick", but the train can really go fast.

Arriving at the Biel (German)/Bienne (French) train station.

Biel-Bienne is located on Lake Biel.  Approximately three fifth of its 53,000 inhabitants are German and the other two fifth are French speaking. However, both language groups and cultures get along amazingly well. It is the largest bilingual city in Switzerland.

It became actually bilingual through the culture of French watch makers that relocated in Biel a few hundred years ago. Much earlier, the prince's abbot of the city of Basel actually founded the town around 1220, but it didn't become part of the Canton of Bern until 1815.  

Many famous watch manufacturing companies like Omega, Tissot, Rolex, Movado or SMH (Swatch) are located in the town.

Because we were short on time, we decided not to spend any significant time touring Biel-Bienne.  However, this is definitely a town that we will re-visit.

We took the "little family" along on this trip.  Here we are in front of the boat that will take us to the next town.

We also traveled with a few of our friends from Nestle, from left to right, Jodie, Paula, Terese, Patty, Ash and Juan.

Arriving at the picturesque town of Twann.

The "little family" in Twann.

By the time we arrived in Twann, we were getting hungry for lunch.  We stopped at this charming little family owned hotel that also served lunch.  We were met by the grandson of the owner.  Many of the foods that they serve are from the recipes handed down from his grand father.  The food was excellent. We also had a very good local swiss white wine.

One of the many tasting rooms in Twann.

Rather than taking the boat to the next town (Ligerz) we decided to take the short walk.  We walked through some vineyards.  This time of year, with the grape vines in full bloom, the hillsides are absolutely gorgeous.  While on the walk we came across this house with plants growing on the roof.  Lake Biel is in the background.

The church in Ligerz.  

This "little white" church, which was built in 1536, sits in the middle of a vineyard overlooking the city of Ligerz.  Its seating capacity is 230.

Rebbaumuseum (Wine making museum)

This museum is located on the bank of Lake Biel. It was built in the 16th century as "The House of Lords of Ligerz".  In 1973 it was renovated and opened to the public as the "wine making museum". The permanent exhibition in the museum is dedicated to the wine-growing region of Lake Biel. The tour takes you through the "Year of the vine" and displays a rich collection of vineyards and cellar equipment, presses, pumps, vats, tubs, barrels, various filling and dispensing machines, as well as objects from distillery and cooperage, agricultural and home economics. 

One of the giant wine presses on display at the museum.

More items on display at the museum.

The funicular station in Ligerz.  

The funicular will take you through the vineyards that overlook the town.

We had a little bit of time before we needed to head back to Vevey, so we took the train from Ligerz and stopped at Neuchatel.  

A view of Neuchatel from the balcony of a hotel overlooking the city with Lake Biel in the back ground.

Another view of Neuchatel

Neuchatel is definitely another city that we will re-visit when time permits.

By the time you read this blog, Paula and I will be back in Portland, Oregon preparing for the annual 4th of July celebration at Cannon Beach.

Also, while I was in Salisbury, UK in early June, I step off of a curb and landed awkwardly on my left foot and was in a lot of pain.  Once I got back to Vevey, I made an appointment with an orthopedic doctor recommended by the Nestle Health Center.  He was not sure what damage I had done, but did prescribe some treatment.  Once I got to Portland, I visited my regular Orthopedist.  His diagnosed it as a partially torn plantar fascia.  This is the tendon that connects the heel bone to the toes and creates the arch of the foot.  He recommended a walking boot to relieve the pain.  I will need to wear this boot for 4 to 6 weeks. So, once we return to Vevey, our travels will be to places that do not require a lot of walking.


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