Wednesday, February 29, 2012
HAPPY LEAP YEAR DAY!!!
Today was my 21st day away from Camarillo, my family and my friends. As usual, I am torn because I miss them all but at the same time I am having such a wonderful adventure here in Switzerland.
I guess I just need to keep taking life and Helvetica one day at a time.
For today's field trip I boarded the #4 bus which took me to Thun's military installation at the Waffenplatz Polygon.
The entrance to Switzerland's
largest Tank Corps Base
In exchange for my California Drivers License, I was given free rein throughout the base.
Panzer is German for tank and the base has a very nice collection of World War II vintage tanks as well as some newer ones.
I love tanks.
It quickly became apparent that the Swiss Army has more than their world famous knives at their disposal it case of an invasion.
Little Kevin Contreras' long lost uncle.
No History Channel in Switzerland, now that is something that I really miss.
Besides these great Panzers outdoors, the base also houses an indoor museum which was not as impressive as the tanks themselves but nice nonetheless.
I had to ask directions as to how to find the indoor exhibits since everything is written in Swiss German.
The first soldier that I asked for directions pointed me to a set of buildings about 500 meters away. When I got there I saw another soldier and asked him if this building was indeed the indoor Panzer Museum. His answer was no, it was across the street about 200 meters from where we stood.
No dice. I asked a third soldier if he knew the location of the mysterious museum. He pointed me back towards the outdoor museum and said that it would be on the left about 200 meters past the WWII tanks.
That is when I ran back into the first soldier who asked me if I had enjoyed the indoor museum. After I explained what had happened, he personally escorted me directly to the front door of the hard to find indoor museum. I told him that if I ran into him in town, the first beer was on me.
I think I also talked him into coming to one of our Tiger games.
By the way, the indoor Panzer Museum was about 50 meters from where the third soldier had sent me back in the opposite direction.
This team is for players 13-15 and is of the nine man variety with two less linemen than what the Senior and U-19 teams play.
Simon is only ten but is very fiesty. He is too young to play on any of our teams but loves the game and just wants use his speed and his excellent hand-eye coordination to catch every pass that I threw him.
He'll be a good player someday.
Those pads look familiar
Our overnight, three day, five practice Juniors Camp is looming this weekend in a village called Castel San Pietro near the Swiss city of Mendrisio. Thus we were handing out equipment tonight after practice to the yougsters that were going to travel with us via a five plus hour bus ride starting at 6:00 a.m. Friday morning.
The season begins for the U-19 team on March 25th against the Lugano Lakers. Our Seniors tee it up for real in our first NLB game of the 2012, at home against the Basel Meanmachine on April 1st.
Tuesday, February 28, 2012
After yesterday's road trip, today would be a calm day. During my time in the heart of Thun's historic area today, I felt the need for a healthy snack with my cappuccino so I had an apple.
Sort of . . .
Our local bookstores offer a little bit of everything.
I got on Bus #3 today to check out the new Arena Thun, home of the FC Thun fussball team, a.k.a., soccer team.
In only its second year of operation, could you ask for a more picturesque setting for a stadium?
I was surprised because I thought most Fussballistas did not like playing on synthetic surfaces. Still, this 10,000 seat state of the art facility is a little gem.
I can't wait to see FC Thun play a Swiss Super League game here but it won't be this weekend as originally planned. We will not be returning from our three day/five practice mini-camp for our U-19 and U-16 clubs in time for their game Sunday.
Our mini-camp will be held in the Italian speaking section of Switzerland's southland in the city of Mendrisio. We will be joined by the Junior squads from the Bienna Jets and Lugano Lakers organizations.
Should be fun.
Next to Arena Thun
This facility is also quite new, a mall if you will.
With the Alps as a backdrop, I guess it is O.K. to call it the Panorama Center.
To the right on the main floor, it had about eight items that I had been looking for but had not found in the old town. My life is much better now.
Across the street from the Arena Thun and the Panorama Center is a patch of flat open farm land. Looks like a good place to go for a walk on Wednesday.
Is that an ad for a horse meat ristorante in Thun?
I need an address, STAT!
U-19 practice tonight indoors at a facility that we share with . . .
He had just been outfitted with his first ever helmet and shoulder pads when I took this photo. It was his first practice ever tonight and he is raw to say the least.
Still, he was aggressive, coachable and liked contact.
He will be a good player for the U-19 team for sure.
We had another spirited, high energy practice again tonight.
I love our players and our coaches, the future is bright!
Monday, February 27, 2012
Monday is travel day for me.
I got up early and strolled down to the Thun Bahnhof and used my Swiss Half-Price Card for the first time to purchase a train ticket to the western French speaking region of Switzerland to . . .
The Canton of Vaud's . . .
They have called Lausanne home since 1915.
The very comfortable and scenic train ride to first Bern and then on to Lausanne took about 90 minutes. Once in Lausanne I was able to use My Swiss Half-Price Card again to buy Metro tickets. After just this one day, I have already recouped a little over 25% of the Half-Price Card's purchase price and I still have 4 1/2 months left to explore Switzerland.
Lausanne is a very steep city on Lake Geneva's north shore that, fortunately for me, has a fine Metro that moved me quickly to the two parts of the city that I wanted to explore.
This is Lausanne's lakeside district and it has a lazy, laid back feel to it.
The big "C" on the mini-island tells boaters which way the wind is blowing, good to know if you are out on Lake Geneva for a sail.
As you can see by their T-shirts, it was a scorcher today, 9ºC/48ºF.
I should have worn shorts.
A native of the Vaud canton, he was only the fourth Army officer in Swiss history to attain the rank of General.
Although Switzerland is famously neutral, during World War II General Guisan is credited with mobilizing the Swiss Army and the Swiss people in case of an invasion by Nazi Germany.
Talk about laid back . . .
My main goal in the Ouchy beach area of Lausanne was to visit the home of Baron Pierre de Coubertin's Olympic Movement.
European Museum of the Year
Great award, my Rick Steves guide book confirmed that this was a top notch, must see museum with great video clips and high-tech displays of Olympic Glory.
Well, I could at least still walk through the grounds to see some interesting artwork.
Simply, this piece celebrates the anatomical stucture of the foot of a Marathon runner.
Lee had famed runner Rick Torres in mind when he designed this work.
"The Flying Finn"
The premier distance runner of the 1920's, Nurmi won nine Gold Medals and three Silver Medals competing in the Olympiads of 1920 in Antwerp, 1924 in Paris and 1928 in Amsterdam.
He won an astounding FIVE Gold Medals in the 1924 Paris Games alone!
"The Czech Locomotive"
The next great distance runner in Olympic history, Zátopek won four Gold Medals and one Silver Medal competing in the 1948 London Games and the 1952 Helsinki Olympics.
He won three of his Gold Medals in Helsinki.
"The Toughest Thun Tiger of Them All"
I saw this same work on the campus of the University of Lund in Sweden.
Back on the Metro, it was time to go uphill to the historic sights of Lausanne.
This was the first thing I saw as I came out of the Lausanne-Flon Metro station.
I had to have two slices of Heaven for medicinal purposes only.
It took 30 years, 1397-1427, to build and served as the palace for the bishops of Lausanne who ruled the city. When the bishops were overthrown, the new overlords, the bailiffs of Bern, used the Château as their headquarters.
He led the fight for the independence of Lausanne and the canton of Vaud. In 1723 he would be beheaded for his efforts on the orders of the Bernese authorities.
This memorial stands on the front of the Château which now houses the seat of the cantonal leaders of Vaud.
This school's original purpose was to train a new kind of Christian leader after the Reformation. This was the first French speaking Protestant school in Switzerland founded in 1590.
Ancient business signs in Europe are interesting to me, here are three that I found today in Lausanne that I enjoyed.
Construction started in in the mid-12th century and was completed in the 13th century.
It is over 300 feet long and while originally Catholic, it is now an Evangelical Reform Church. That means that it belongs to the tradition of early Protestant reformer John Calvin.
It is closed now to protect the priceless stone carved statues seen in the next five photos.
but I'll bet they were holy
Amnerican built by Fisk, a Boston based company, it was installed in 2003 at a cost of 4,000,000 Swiss Francs.
The Cathédrale Notre-Dame was worth the visit.
Now that is something you never see in public restrooms in Camarillo, California.
Before going down the steep steps, I looked down to grab the hand rail and saw . . .
Isn't that is French for The Camino de Santiago?
After a 17 month absence, I was back on the Camino but only for a few hundred meters this time.
The Camino has many different starting points but all end in Santiago de Compostela, Spain.
The Camino's Swiss route starts at Lake Constance in the northeast corner of Switzerland.
Le Barbare means The Barbarian. This is a great little café just below the Cathédrale on the Chemin de St-Jacques.
The waitress did not speak English, I don't speak French but we were both fluent in Spanish.
The sandwich was perfect but the Hot Chocolat was incredible!
The chocolat was of the thick, La Brea Tar Pits consistency like the ones I enjoyed in Madrid only richer and thicker.
There was a lot of lively conversations going on in French all around me but not so much from this mademoiselle.
Now, while I fully endorse the concept that tough sounding German should be the official language of American football worldwide, French is another deal altogether.
Even though I can not speak a word of French, the sound of this most romantic of Romance languages all around me was a delight.
I even think that it is a great language to argue in if the couple to my left who engaged in a brief skirmish are any example.
Laura, Laurie . . . close enough to bring the point home.
In judgement of . . .
Appropriately adopting the sign of the Swiss Army Knife and Fondue.
It was formerly the university, it now houses a collection of museums.
Again, I miss my Bride GREATLY!!!
This day trip to Lausanne was indeed a fine adventure to another beautiful Swiss city.
Now to decide, where to next Monday?