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1979 and 2003 (and Liechenstein)


1979 Switzerland

The first time that I ever skiied was in Switzerland in 1979 at Saas Fee  (click here for my journal entry of that experience).  We put our skiis in a horse-drawn cart to transport them to the bottom the ski lift.  That's my brother, Paul in the brown sweater:

After 1979, I skiied every year for 20 years. My Trip List shows where I went every year.  In 1996 I skiied in Austria.  Skiing was good, however, I swore that I would never ski in Europe again because Western USA (Vail, Park City, etc etc) was so great.  Well, in 2003 I saw this trip with the Atlanta Ski Club and I had to sign up because it was so close to the tiny country of Liechenstein. After the ski trip was over, I did not return to Atlanta with the ski club - I sent my suitcase back with a friend and took off with a backpack to place new and unknown.


2003 Switzerland Trip in Dec. 26 2003 to Jan 3 PLUS 6 more days to Jan 9, 2004  (15 days)

Atlanta Ski Club (great) Trip Leaders were Mary and Kenny Donaldson.

Breakfast and Dinner was included in the price of the trip. A big New Years Eve party and dinner was also included. 

Trip cost in USD: Ski Club $1495 / 8 days = $187 a day. 

              $54 BackPacker + $60 Vaduz + $160 Wellenberg + $290 Marriott = $564 / 8 days = $70 a day.

Lift tickets and rentals were not included. Cost for a "Sportpass" (includes train and bus transfers) 2 day 80 Euro, 3 day 110, 4 day 141. Ski rental was $120 USD a week.

Exchange rate

On Nov 11, 2003 the rate was $1.00 US = 1.21 CHF or $.82 US = 1 CHF

On Jan 22, 2009 the rate is  $1.00 US = 1.53 CHF or $.86 US = 1 CHF.

At the Atlanta airport on Dec 26, 2003 I paid $89.88 + 5.50 commission and got 100 Swiss francs.

The main ski mountain is Jungfraujoch  It's the UNESCO World Heritage center of the Alps, referred to as "The Top of Europe". The peak is 13, 640 feet ( 4158 m ).  You can take the Jungfraubahn train up to the highest viewing point 11,780 feet.  At the top is the Sphinx Observation Hall and the Ice Palace.  You can see Germany and France from this point.

The other ski mountain is the Schilthorn This mountain was featured in the James Bond movie "Her Majesty's Secret Service".  The day that we skiied on this mountain, we ate lunch at the 360 degree revolving restaurant on the peak at 9748 feet.

I did not like this: From the hotel, we had to carry our skiis and walk about 100 yards to the train. Take the train to a town, then catch a bus to bottom of the lift.  It was a royal pain.  But this is interesting about the train that we had to ride to get up to the ski area:

The Jungfrau Railway, pioneer of all mountain railways, began operating a year-round service from Kleine Scheidegg to the Jungfraujoch in 1912 . The mountain terminus is the Jungfraujoch, altitude 11,332 feet (3454 metres), where Europe's highest-altitude railway station is housed in two underground station halls.

The railway was planned to be operated by electricity right from the start. Today it operates using 1125V three-phase current with two parallel track systems.

The most important stretch is the 7km long tunnel through the rock of the Eiger and M'nch. Two intermediate stations, Eigerwand and Eismeer are situated in caverns blasted from solid rock. Both have panorama windows giving absolutely breathtaking views of the Alpine world.

The Jungfraujoch rail station is the highest-altitude station in Europe at 3,454 m/11,333 ft, in UNESCO World Heritage of the Alps.  Here we are eating lunch at the Top of Europe, Glacier Restaurant

Optional excursions were offered every day.  I only did the one on Friday because I had to get the Lion picture.


This is a brief journal of this trip:


Day 1, Day 2 Friday, December 26, 2003 to Saturday Dec 27

I flew with the ski club group from Atlanta to Frankfurt 4:30 pm to 7 am, then to Zurich 9 am to 10 am.  Then we took a bus from Zurich to Interlaken.  We were allowed 2 checked bags not to exceed 70 pounds each (skis and small boot bag count as one bag).

We stayed at the Royal St. George hotel in the center of Interlaken.

Royal St. George

Hoeheweg 139, CH-3800 Interlaken, Switzerland. 

Tel: 011-41-33-822-7575 

6 pm Wine and cheese party.  Fondue dinner at the hotel.

Day 3 Sunday, December 28

Ski the Grindelwald-First, the easiest of the ski areas.  It was still challenging.

Dinner at Hotel Interlaken next door.

Day 4 Monday, December 29

Ski the Grindelwald area.  Lunch at Jungfrau Eiger Restaurant.

Some people did the optional excursion was to Zermatt by bus then train.  Spend 4 hours in the city - 7 am to 7 pm. $65 USD.

On Monday night we did night sledding, called "Sledging".  We took the bus to the "Chalberboden", then had a 30-minute hike up a path up to the Nessleren Alp.  It was a 4-km sledge run down to the cheese fondue at the Niederhorn mountain restaurant.  Cost was $115 Eur.  It really was great fun.  The company that arranged it was Outdoor Interlaken AG  PO Box 451, CH-3800 Interlaken. Tel. 033 77 19.  The other very interesting available activities that were on the list were:

Rafting Lutschine

Fun Yak

Canyoning Saxetbach

Canyoning Grimsel

Canyoning Chli Schliere

Canyon Jump

Day 5 Tuesday, December 30

Ski Murren-Schilthorn, lunch at Birg.

The optional excursion today was to Montreaux/Lake Geneve.  bus, visit Chillon Castle, to Gruyere - 8 am to 6 pm. $56.

Fondue dinner at Hotel Interlaken.

We really got high on this trip! 

Day 6 Wednesday, December 31

Ski Murren-Schilthorn.  For lunch, our group met at Piz Gloria - The big revolving restaurant.

The optional excursion was to Bern/Emmental. See cheese dairy, cathedral and clock tower in Bern - 9 am to 7 pm $42.

New Years Eve dinner and party at Hotel Interlaken.  It was quite a show with a baked Alaska dessert, then fireworks at Town Center at midnight.



Day 7 Thursday, January 1 New Years Day


Ski Kleine-Scheidegg Mannlichen, lunch at Eigergletscher.

The optional excursion was a 3-Country Tour. Alot of driving to Germany, France and back - 7:30 am to 7 pm $60.  12 hours in a bus, no thank you.

Dinner at Hotel Interlaken.

Day 8 Friday, January 2

I did the optional excursion to Lucerne:  8:30 am to 5:30 pm $49.

A bus ride to see the Chapel Bridge, Lion Monument. I saw these back in 1979, so I had to get photos 14 years later of the same locations. Too cool.

We shopped and had lunch. We ate at a great restaurant named "Stadkeller". It reminded me of the Ratskeller at University of Florida.  Address is Sternplatz 2, CH-6004 Lucerne Switzerland.

Here's a great photo of me in Lucern in 1979, and again 14 years later:



Friday night everyone was partying in the bar in the hotel.  I got ZERO sleep because the light in the room was on all night - Martha was having a good time with the group in the bar and never made it back up to the room to pack until right before we had to leave...AT 3 AM!

Partying at the bar - there were really alot of talented people on this trip!

Day 9 Saturday, January 3

Everyone else is flying back to Atlanta today. I'm staying another week.  But I did join them on the bus ride to the Zurich airport.  The bus was supposed to leave the hotel at 3 AM!!!  but someone couldn't find their passport, so were a little late taking off.

At the airport, I kept my backpack and Martha took my suitcase and checked it through to Atlanta.  I said goodbye to the group and headed off for my week of discovering another new country.  Before I did that, I found a quiet place in the airport (the chapel) and took a much needed nap.

I took the train from the Zurich airport to the downtown station (about 10 miles). I found Tourist Services in the train station.

Zurich Tourismus im Hauptbahnhof Postfach.  CH-8023 Zurich
Information tel +41 1 215 40 00  Hotereservation +41 1 215 40 40

They explained the trains. Also online at  Also see and   I found the train that I need to take to/from Leichenstein tomorrow.  They also helped with with hotels: one in Vaduz and a special holiday promotion rate at the  Wellenberg Hotel in Zurich when I return from Liechenstein.

My energy was fading, so I need to get moving.  Before I left Atlanta, I made a reservation at the City Backpacker place.  It's near the train station:

City Backpacker

Niederdorfstrasse 5  CH-8001 Zurich, Switzerland.

In 2003:  single room Sfr. 66.--/night and double room Sfr. 92.--/night/room
(showers/restrooms on the floor; taxes included; without breakfast)

In 2009: single room Sfr. 71.--/night and double room Sfr. 104.--/night/room

On the way to the "hotel" I stopped in a grocery store and bought juice, milk and a sandwich.  I checked in and I was so tired, and I was also getting sick.   I was also very pissed that I was getting a cold.  Note to self: next time, don't take a sip of someone else's beer when offered.  So I went out looking for cold medicine.  I found a pharmacy and communicated to the nice lady that I needed cold medicine.  There is one thing that works for me and had it written on a piece of paper:  Pseudoephedrine HCL: 30 mg.

So she goes to the back, and finds a box labeled "Pretuval".  The ingredient list showed "pseudoephedrini hydrochloridum 30 mg".   The box also said "stoppt das Laufen der Nase" and "mildert Kopf - und Gliedershmerzen".  I was guessing that it "stops a runny nose", and its for "mild coughs" and a "Gliedershmerzen" sure sounds like a "Sneeze" in German to me.   I bought the box of 20 tablets for 11.45. 

That sure reminded me of the time that I had to buy cold medicine in Bangkok.  I found (what I assumed was) the exact equivalent of Contac capsules.  I bought a pack of four. When I got back to the hotel, I discovered that there was only 3 pills.  They were in unopened blister packs that were not disturbed - so they looked ok to consume.. Ok the joys and adventures of other languages.

Anyway.  So I ate, then climbed into in bed and slept and slept slept until morning.  Oh yeah, bathroom was down hall. Oh joy.

Day 10 Sunday, January 4

Still felt icky in the morning, but I had to get moving if I wanted to see Liechenstein. So where the heck is this country?

I took a train from Zurich to Sargens (about 55 miles). Then I took a bus for 20 long windy miles to Vaduz, Liechtenstein. Bus info at  I paid 2.40 CHF or 1.60 EUR for the bus ride.  The ticket is from Sargens to Schann, but I got off in Vaduz.  They let me off near the hotel. I walked a couple blocks, then I checked into hotel in Vaduz:

Hotel Landgastof Muhle

Martin Jehle, Landstrasse 120, FL-9490 Vaduz.  Tel +423 232 41 41 

Cost was 75 CHF or 50 EUR.

About Liechtenstein:

Liechenstein is a constitutional hereditary monarchy, based on democratic principles.

The country is 15 miles long and 7 miles wide.  Or 61 square miles.

The lowest point is 1410 feet and the highest is 8525 feet above sea level.

Population of 34,000 people live in 11 villages.

More about Liechtenstein  and and

I walked to the main square in Vaduz.  There was an Internet terminal where I emailed my picture to dad.  I had a wonderful lunch at a restaurant on the square.  The whole country is within a valley between mountains.  I saw the castle on the hill:

I walked back to the hotel and fell back in bed.  Oh yeah, there was fabulous luxury in the bathroom:  heated floor!  It was so wonderful to feel warmth on the floor.

Day 11 Monday, January 5

Check out of Vaduz hotel, find a bus to the town of Sargens. Then I took the the train back to Zurich.

The hotel that the tourist service found was very close to the Backpacker place (5 doors down).  I checked into Hotel Wellenberg

Niederdorfstrasse 10 - Zurich Switzerland
Phone +41 (0) 43 888 44 44

Hotel is situated "in the heart of he Old Town" - it's in a very busy place, very noisy and too near the bells that that seems ring alot at the GrossmÂinster ("great minster") church.  I walked down the street to see the church:

The GrossmÃster ("great minster") is a Romanesque-style church that played an important role in the history of the Protestant Reformation. It is one of the three major churches of Zurich. The core of the present building near the banks of the Limmat River was constructed on the site of a Carolingian church, according to legend originally commissioned by Charlemagne. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220.  Stained Glass inside the church by Swiss artist Augusto Giacometti added in 1932.

I climbed up the to the upper part of the south. Whew. tired.

I found a good Gyro for dinner.  Back to hotel and try to sleep.

Day 12 Tuesday, January 6

Sightseeing all day.  I visited the other two major churches in Zurich:

The FraumÃrich was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. The stained glass windows are by Chagall.

St. Peters is the other main church in the old town of Zurich.Located next to the Lindenhof, the former Roman castle. An early church of 10 by 7 metres is archaeologically attested for the 8th or 9th century. This building was replaced by an early romanesque church around AD 1000, in turn replaced in 1230 by a late romanesque structure, parts of which surive.

Rudolf Brun, first independent mayor of the town, was buried here in 1360. The nave was rebuilt in 1460 in Gothic style. Prior to the reformation, St. Peter was the only parish church of the town, the rest being part of monasteries. The current building was consecrated in 1706 as the first church built under Protestant rule. Until 1911, the steeple was manned by a fire watch. Restoration work was carried out in 1970 to 1975. The steeple's clock face has a diameter of 8.7 m, the largest church clock face in the World. The bells date to 1880.
Peculiarly, the church's steeple is owned by the city of Zurich, while the nave is owned by the St. Peter parish of the Swiss Reformed Church.

Day 13 Wednesday, January 7

I opted to check out of the noisy Hotel Wellington. Cost for the hotel was a reasonable $80 USD a night.

Walk down the road (about half a mile) to the Marriott. Before I left on this trip, I made a reservation (via Expedia) for my last night of the trip at the Zurich Marriott Hotel. If the backpacker place was nice enough, I was going to stay there again and cancel this Marriott reservation. Needless to say, I kept the Marriott reservation. And I'm very glad that I did. After days of traveling, skiing, hiking it around with a backpack, I had an awesome quiet room and very comfortable bed, and it included breakfast. Marriott caters to Americans, and I know from experience the hotel chain has good breakfasts.

Zurich Marriott Hotel
Neumuehlequai 42
Zurich, 8001 Switzerland
Phone: 41 44 360 7070

The Predigerkirche church was not far from the Marriott. 

Day 14 Thursday, January 8

There are billboards around town that the Book of Kells was at the Suisse Museum.   The Book of Kells is supposed to be at Trinity College in Dublin, but when I visited Dublin in 1999, it was not there!  So now I had visit the museum to see The Book.

Suisse Museum

Museumstrasse 2, CP 8023, Zurich

The museum had a basement (farm implements, cannons), ground floor (middle ages, 15 century, prehistory 100000 BC to early history 800 AD) 1st floor (Renaissance 16 to 18 century, Hodler frescos, money museum), 2nd floor (silverware, lifestyle and fashion 18 to 20 century), and 3rd floor (costumes and toys).

I finally found The Book:  The Book of Kells is a mysterious art treasure of the 8th century. Around 800, Irish monks glorified the New Testament in this Gospel Book which contains a total of 680 large-size pages whose decoration is among the most imaginative and elaborate known in western book illumination. It boasts outstanding symbolical power and mystical radiation. All but two of its pages are decorated with ornament and painting.  For a facsimile of the Book of Kells, see

Here are my notes:

The Book of Kells - a Latin version of the gospels. A faithful re-creation of the original manuscript MS 58 preserved in the Library of Trinity College Dublin.  This is a limited edition of 1480 copies. This Fine Art Facsimile is number X.

680 pages.

Pages are 330x255 mm but originally may have been 370x260 mm.

It contains 340 leaves in 1588 they number 343 but there may have been370 with uilded edges written in Old Latin and Vulgate (Irish family language).

This is an 18th century treasure, created c. 800 A.D.

You can only see 4 pages at a time behind a glass. The 680 page manuscript is divided in 4 volumes. Pages are turned regularly. now we can leaf through it in it entirety.

The scribes used quill pens made from the tail feathers of the swan or goose. Ink was made of sulphate of iron and oak apples combined with gum and water.

Also ink black carbon ink made from soot or lamp black mixed with gum and water.

Ink pot mad eof cowhorn and stuck in the ground.

It was written in the "scriptorium". 

Matthew 28 11-20

guidam de custodibus uenerunt...

con / summation em seculi / secundum marcum

The chief preists bribe the soldiers ; Jesus appears to his disciples; 'going therefore teach ye all nations.

Collective image on. p. 129

man - birth - Matthew

calf - death - Mark

Lion - resurrection - Luke

Eagle - hevaen - John

God is represented as peacock p.277.

Created in Iona - island off west coast of Scotland.

Written on vellum (calf skin)

33 major decorated pages.  16 to 17 lines per page.

manuscript illumination - to decorate beginning letters so they could more easily locate information.

Day 15 Friday, January 9, 2004

Very early in the morning, check out of Marriott. Cost for the hotel was a well-worth it splurge at $145 USD a night.

I flew from Zurich to Frankfurt 7 am to 8 am, then back to Atlanta 10 am to 2:30 pm.

What a fabulous trip!


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