I am starting a new cycle of travel notes following the itinerary of the trip Liliana and me made in the last days of August and beginning of September this year. This trip started and ended in Zurich, lasted 11 days, and took us through the area in Switzerland North of Zurich, then to the Black Forest in Germany, to Lorraine and Alsace in France and back to Switzerland to Basel and the area around the lake of Gruyeres. Overall 1600 km.

A few words about how we planned for the trip. I always use the green Michelin guides when they are available. In this case I used the Germany and the Alsace, Lorraine, Champagne ones. For Switzerland I did not have a Michelin at hand, but the Rough Guide was an acceptable replacement. For hotels booking I used www.bookings.com – it worked perfectly, as it did in our previous similar trip to Catalunia.

Here we were after an event-less flight to Zurich (well, if you take out the longer than one hour line at the check-in counter at the Ben Gurion airport). The plans for the first day included a visit of the museums in Winterthur – advertised in the guide as some of the best in Switzerland, and the Rhine falls, close to the end-point of our trip in Schaffhausen, were we booked our hotel for the night.

closed for summer vacation

A big disappointment was expecting us in Winterthur however. All museums in the city were closed that week, the last exhibition having wrapped-up during the weekend prior to our arrival. They could have warned us on the Web sites at least :-(

elevator from the castle to the falls

We had not too many options but to have lunch (in a nice and reasonabled-priced Italian restaurant) and proceed to the next point in the itinerary. The Rhine Falls (Rheinfall in German) are the largest plain waterfalls in Europe. If you come without Niagara falls expectations, they offer you a splendid experience. Just ignore the parking recommendations and drive close to the Rhine falls castle, if not in pick season there are good chances that you will find a parking spot and spare some 10-15 minutes of useless walk each way. Then pay the fee and enter the castle which has little to offer but the access to the falls. Best and fastest way is by using the spectacular glass-walled elevator, and this is how you get closer to the view on the falls.

the Rhine prepares to reach the falls

And here they come. After running under an elegant bridge the Rhine waters seem to gather energy for the falls experience.

the Rhine falls

The view is amazing. At 23m height only they may not compare with the Niagara falls, but the setting with the outskirts of the city of Schaffhausen in the background are truly beautiful. An observation deck completes the viewing experience for those who want to get a closer look …

boat in the mist

… and tourist boats get you until under the falls and let you feel the mist on your own skins.

Rheinfall by Leonhard Trippel - 18th century

We had already read in the guide that the better view may be the one on the opposite shore, by the city. The confirmation was received the next day when we visited the art collection in the Museum zu Allerheiligen Schaffhausen. Half a room in the Switzerland without Switzerland exhibition (I will write about it in a future episode) was dedicated to paintings representing the falls and most of them were made on the other shore. First I remember is one made in the 18th century by the Schaffhausen native artist Leonhard Trippel (1745-1783).

Rhine falls painted by Philipp Hossli - 1916

Next comes the view immortalized by another Swiss artist – Philipp Hoessli in 1916.

Rheinfall mit Kanzel und Springer by Michael Lio - 2005

And here is the 21st century view – from the same shore we visited – of the observation platform (and a jumper in stormy waters!) painted by Michael Lio in 2005.