Cleaning one place always causes more chaos in another so i could not find my battery recharger so there are few photos and none of the castle but google came to my rescue ..but after almost having slipped off a slope in the alps this weekend i was motivated to do what i swore i would never do again and i joined a group of hikers this afternoon loaded with a lot of doubt but some hope and a dog i did not ask whether she could come along.
The first group i saw in the train station had a dog but then it turned out to be a hike of the association of blind people ..i was very tempted to join them because then i would not have to worry about being too slow but then i found the group, a quite large group made up of people around my age( yes!) no worries of those speeding young iron men who ran the international hiking groups i have joined after the East German with borderline syndrome ( we assume) had managed to alienate all the group with her tendency to scapegoat a targeted person making up odd stories about them , when she began to scapegoat the dog, we knew it was time to leave but when she went through her positive mood, it was a pure delight, smiles all around, the problem was you could never predict what persona she would bring with her to the hike..anyway, this time i felt this was the right group, as Goldilocks said; “Not too soft not too hard”, not too old, not too young, not too fast, not too slow, we even managed to keep up with the group in the comfortable belly of middle ! Hurray for us.
It was a great relief that not only was i not the oldest, a comfortable somewhere in mid range there too but the dog was not the oldest, a long haired dacheshund who was 14 and a half years old, Bestian walked most of the way ahead of us, but shell bee definitely was up for the challenge and would have walked up front had it not been for the leash that was required to be on.
The hiking group had a system of one leader walking in the front and the other in the back , the leader up front placed a flag in strategic places so that no one would get lost.
The hike began in a town called Illnau and ended in a city called Winterthur, the second largest city in switzerland, about half an hour on the train from Zurich ‘s main station.
Nothing felt as good as not having to make the decision of where to go, just follow like a duckling the nice elderly experienced swiss hiking guides with the red baseball caps. ( and yes, it was a great relief not to see “Donald Trump ” written on the red caps, so much for too much media conditioning..)
We walked through rain in the woods , colourful umbrellas carried by the ladies gave the impression of a Japanese scene. The battery was out so words must describe the colors and the texture of the hike, it felt green and comfortably not too cold, not too hot, it was the teaching of the middle way, what the Greek found to be the ideal.
It felt like the new kid in a new school on the first day of school at the beginning, all those new faces and you do not know anyone and they all seemed to know each other ..but S. , a houseman was my first friend,as two stay at home parents we had found many common themes but hiking is sort of like speed dating and somehow k. came up to me and began to speak of her beloved horse whose death she was still mourning, the horse’s many health issues at the end, the places they had gone to, and yes, here too, they had ridden, i felt as though i had known the nameless horse, the details, the many many details and constant flow of words.. death became the theme, and we were soon discussing burial, ashes, and her shelf of ashes of pets and even a parent..i always thought if i had ashes of a beloved i would find a special place to scatter the ashes, a place that would be meaningful to us ..it is interesting but this was exactly a theme i had been thinking about lately..and there was K. talking about it constantly , “the body”, she had said in her own special way, “was like a pyjama “, you put on and off..
I felt at one point unable to hear anymore stories of the dead horse, but then came a dead rat, a dead rabbit, and the detailed struggles of both. It was like hypnosis. I who have never been a good listener suddenly had no place to escape, i was too slow to move ahead in the group and feared being left behind and losing the group despite the flags..so i had to walk about three hours , saved only by the fact that my comprehension of swiss German is limited so i did not hear every detail of the horse’s last few months on earth but it was enough to make me more patient, less critical and also being very grateful i never owned a horse, i did not realise how complicated life can be for an elderly horse.
Conversation with the men were refreshingly short and limited to exchanging technical details about shop talk, and there was the investigation of the very active Dacheshund’s owner as to what is the secret of the dog’s eternal youth and vigor.
It was good to be surrounded by the swiss and to not drown, not feel alienation, everybody played along and there was little room to feel as an outsider, and so as not to feel out of place i tried a new social strategy which was recommended by Dale Carnegie ‘s “How to win friends and influence people ” – mostly to listen and yes , it is also less exhausting and makes for a better ambience between people in a group . I think i might do more of that..
Walking over the hills and far away time slipped away, we were walking two three four five hours and stopping for two five minutes breaks which i seemed to miss because by the time i found where my squashed sandwich was it was time to move on.. the dog pulled on the leash like a husky in a time clearly in her element and at the end of the hike the experienced swiss hiking guide had given the dog a compliment saying that as far as he is concerned , she is always welcomed to come along without the official request.
We reached the Kyburg castle passing by it but i had been there with my son’s kindergarten class celebrating his 6th birthday , it is a very nice museum of midieval times, kids can dress up as knights and can learn how life used to be way back then. I was impressed with how they kept food in the cellars and how they had lived without electricity.
Switzerland does not bring up associations of castles for me so visiting castles here is always a surprise and since in Switzerland it is possible to get to most places by public transportation and a bit of a hike in the green, this was a delightful experience.
There were memories of hiking in the military , everyone kept a nice steady pace, even without the uniforms, and we made it to the wildlife park as the sun began to set, had a nice drink, for me the local Rivella, a soda based on milk, it tastes better than it sounds, for others coffee, i managed to find an Italian photagrapher in the group, there to practice German , who had agreed to lend me his photos ..so i was very happy to have memories of the deer and the bisons , though i realize it is part of my issue of learning to “let go”..i always feel the need to hold on to a beautiful image and capture it in a photo and for a while i was obsessed with taking photos on hikes making it difficult to catch up with the others.
“Live the moment”, i told K. who was still mourning the horse whom she used to ride in this very area ..”enjoy this day because we never know when will be our last day”, K. stopped talking about the horse and maybe she just did not have any more words to say after four hours or more ..
We had began at 13.00 , walked since 13.30 and now we were facing the city where we had arrived exactly at sunset , approaching from the woods , everything looks beautiful bathed in pink and orange , it was 18.45, so i figured we had walked about FIVE hours . No one was lost, no one had died ( except the horse , the rat and the rabbit and the parent of k.) no one was hurt..
There were no photos but we all shook hands formally as pupils in Swiss schools shake the hands of the teacher but we were all the teachers and we were all the students. I thanked the group leader who promised that the dog may come whenever she liked ..the dog did not seem to slow down and pulled me towards the train home..
we entered a train with clean people in office clothes, i felt a bit self conscious with my muddy hiking shoes ( yes, THIS time there were hiking shoes , not sport shoes, and yes, that did make a difference) a new sort of energy seemed to permeate the air , the swiss commented on the dog seeking to sleep in her bag…there was the type of buzz i get after meditation only this time it lasted a bit longer..we were tired yet felt a sort of satisfaction. a Veni Vici Vidi *
Conclusions for future application:
- ALWAYS always wear hiking shoes, it makes hikes so much more comfortable especially when it is raining or just rained as tends to happen in Europe..
- Listen more than talk, then you can learn something, even about a dead horse, everyone has a story to tell..and you never know when the knowledge might be useful , if only to help you become more compassionate towards others.
- Don’t arrive last minute , it adds unnecessary stress though it does make a unique entrance everyone stands and looks..
- Take a camera or make sure the battery of your mobile phone is loaded, you never know when a deer might cross your path or a great sunset you might want to share with others appears…otherwise practice living the moment, you will not always find an Italian photographer ..
Peace, love and light!
“Veni, vidi, vici” (Classical Latin: [ˈweːniː ˈwiːdiː ˈwiːkiː]; Ecclesiastical Latin: [ˈvɛni ˈvidi ˈvitʃi]; “I came; I saw; I conquered”) is a Latin phrase popularly attributed to Julius Caesar who, according to Appian, used the phrase in a letter to the Roman Senate around 47 BC after he had achieved a quick victory in his short war against Pharnaces II of Pontus at the Battle of Zela. The phrase is used to refer to a swift, conclusive victory.
And here is some background information about this fabulous castle!
The first fortification at this site was likely built in the second half of the 10th century by the counts of Winterthur. It is first mentioned in 1027 under the name of Chuigeburg (“cows-fort”), which name points to an original use as a refuge castle for livestock. The modern spelling Kyburg first occurs in the 1230s (other spellings of the 11th to 13th century include Chiuburch, Cogiburk, Kuiburc, Chuͦweburg, Chyburc, Qwiburg, Kiburc, Chiburg, Kibor, Kyburc, Kiburg)
The early castle was destroyed in 1028 or 1030 by emperor Conrad II. A county of Kyburg was formed in 1053 as a possession of the counts of Dillingen, and from 1080, the counts of Kyburg emerged as a cadet line of the Dillingen family. They rose to be the most important noble family in the Swiss plateau beside the Habsburg and the House of Savoy by the 13th century. After the death of the last count in 1264 Rudolph of Habsburg claimed the inheritance for his family. With one interruption the Imperial Regalia of the Holy Roman Empire were kept in the castle between 1273 and 1322.
The core of the extant castle originates in the 13th century, with the addition of substantial parts in the course of the 13th and 14th centuries. It is among the largest surviving medieval castle comlexes in Switzerland, consisting of a bergfried and palas with additional residental and economic buildings and a chapel, all connected by a ring wall enclosing a large courtyard.
In the 1424 the city of Zürich bought the county, and the castle became the seat of the reeve. The dilapidated castle was substantially renovated at this time. The chapel has substantial late Gothic frescoes commissioned by Zürich. Substantial changes to the structure were made under reeve Hans Rudolf Lavater during 1527/8. Further changes were made to the structure in the early modern period.
The castle was plundered by the local populace in 1798, but it was again used as administrative seat from 1803 until 1831, when it was sold by auctio to one Franz Heinrich Hirzel of Winterthur who intended to use it as a quarry. To prevent its destruction, the castle was bought by the exiled Polish count Alexander Sobansky (1799–1861) in 1835. The Sobansky resided in the castle for the next 30 years. In 1917 the Canton of Zurich bought the castle back, since 1999 a society runs it, the Verein Museum Schloss Kyburg.