The cows, they did come home!

This year, we had an opportunity to visit the 10th annual Entlebucher Alpabfahrt (descent from the Alps) at the end of September 2013 in Schüpfheim, Switzerland.

Every year, farmer families take their cows into the mountains in spring and they return in the fall. Traditionally, different families came back at different dates depending on the weather and the pastures, but for the last 10 years, several families have co-ordinated when they return and the date is announced in advance so visitors can join in the festivities.

The custom of going up and down the mountains has always been filled with tradition. In the photos you can see some of the traditional clothing and decoration of the cows. The event is also very popular and crowded as you can see in the photos. And of course, there were lots of cows – about 200 in total!  Not just any cows, this is where the Emmentaller cheese comes from (“Swiss cheese” to you Americans). These are some of those very cows. Give these ladies a toast with your next ham-n-Swiss.

As usual, we took some panorama photographs. Click on the photo to have a closer look:

Alpabfahrt in Schüpfheim, Switzerland

Alpabfahrt in Schüpfheim, Switzerland

Or look at the interactive version by clicking on the image below:

A second panorama:

Cows coming home in Schüpfheim, Switzerland

Cows coming home in Schüpfheim, Switzerland

Click on the image below to interact with the panorama:

The sound of the cows coming by is very loud due to the large cowbells they have around their necks. Have a look at the video below to get an impression about the sound:

At the event, we also saw a Jodling choir performance on street. Jodling is a specific type of singing that is typical for the Swiss and Austrian mountains. You can see a brief video of the choir singing here:

Of course, we also took tons of photos! Click on the link below to have a look at some selected photos from the day.

Alpabfahrt Album

Alpabfahrt Album

 

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Inside Iceland

One of the amazing experiences you can have in Iceland is to actually go inside of a volcano. During this excursion, you go 120 meters down into a magna chamber of a volcano that erupted 4,000 years ago. Being in the magna chamber itself is breathtaking and the trip to the volcano is an equaly experience. To go down into the volcano, you first walk about 3km/2 miles across lava fields, an experience in its own right. You then descent into the volcano in an open lift with only 6 spaces similar to the ones used by window cleaners. The trip 120m down to the bottom of the volcano takes about 7-8 minutes.

Inside the volcano, I took this panorama which received over 3,000 views on 360cities.net within the first few weeks. The panorama was taken inside of the volcano and shows the beautiful colours inside the magna chamber and the size of the chamber. You can also see the hole where the lift comes down. If you look closely, you will also be able to see some water coming down, which is there permanently. Inside the cave, it is completely dry, though.

Inside the Volcano

Inside the Volcano

Click on the image below for the interactive version of the panorama so you experience the volcano for yourself:

 

This colourful panorama, which was also taken inside of the magna chamber, shows the colors even more clearly as in a painting and also shows lift coming down.

Inside the Volcano

Inside the Volcano

Do explore the interactive version below to have a closer look at all the colors, the lift and the individuals in the volcano:

 

In this next panorama, you can see the entrance of the volcano and a group of visitors coming up from the depths of the magna chamber. The entrance also provides a beautiful view of the surroundings, including lava fields, some snow and a view of Reykjavik in the distance. The red  ground is also striking.

Entrance to the volcano

Entrance to the volcano

Explore the interactive version for a closer look:



The walk to the volcano itself is also a great experience as you are walking through lava field with out-of-this-worldly views. This panorama was taken along the walk to the volcano across a lava field and nature reserve. The gap between rocks are the tectonic plates between the American and European continent slowly moving away from each other. In addition to this meeting of tectonic plates, you can also see the surrounding hills, the lava fields and the surrounding area. The panorama also shows the path towards the volcano in which you go down.

Tectonic plates on the way to the volcano

Tectonic plates on the way to the volcano

Have a look at the interactive version of this panorama to better explore the area:

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The origins of Switzerland

Every year on August 1st, Switzerland celebrates its national day with festivities around the country. This year, we had the opportunity to attend the festivities in Brunnen, a town on Lake Lucerne (Vierwaldstättersee) a beautiful lake in Central Switzerland. The location is also historically signficant as it is near a mountain meadow called Rütli, where the legendary oath of Rütlischwur took place which was the start of the independence of Switzerland and goes back to the 14th century.

The annual fireworks are attended by thousands of people, many viewing the spectacle from the shore and others from boats on the lake. A flotilla of large boats travel from surrounding towns and cities, including Lucerne, to see the fireworks.

The weather on August 1st was beautiful this year. This photo was taken around 20:30 and shows the last rays of sunset hitting the surrounding mountains and showing a beautiful sunset over the lake:

Last rays of sunshine hitting the mountains around Brunnen, Switzerland.

Last rays of sunshine hitting the mountains around Brunnen, Switzerland.

Click on the image to see a larger version of this panorama or have a look at the interactive 360 panorama version of this photo:

Before the fireworks, I took the opportunity to take a photo over the lake at dusk:

Dusk in Brunnen right before the fireworks

Dusk in Brunnen right before the fireworks

Click on the image to see a larger version of this panorama or explore the panorama in more detail on this 360 panorama version of this photo:

And then, finally, there were the fireworks themselves. The picture below does not do it justice, but gives you a flavor of the experience:

1. August Fireworks above Brunnen, Switzerland

1. August Fireworks above Brunnen, Switzerland

You can look at a larger version of this image by clicking on the image or interact with the interactive 360 panorama below:

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Züri Fäscht 2013

The Züri Fäscht festival is a large event that is organized every three years in Zurich, Switzerland and attracts millions of people. There are many activities taking place throughout the city during the festival. The 2013 event took place July 5-7 in sunny and warm weather attracting many festivalgoers. For the first time, we were amongst the visitors of this festival.

The highlight of the festival were the fireworks on Saturday night, which were spectacular and included a helicopter shooting off fireworks from the air during the ground fireworks and parachutists jumping from a plane. Unfortunately, it was hard to find a good spot to see the fireworks as it was extremely crowded.

You can find some photos we took at the festival here, including some of the fireworks shot.

Photo Album Zurich Faescht

Photo Album Zurich Faescht

We also took a panorama that shows the trampolin show “second Life” by the Belgian group Criq’ulation Locale. The show includes jugling, trampoline jumping and acrobatics on a floating pontoon.

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Christmas lightning in Zug, Switzerland

Every year, at Christmas time, Metalli mall in the center of Zug, Switzerland, is elaborately decorated with Christmas lights, special lightning effects, temporary structures and decorations.

These two panorama images show some of the lightning in the mall. Click and drag across the interactive version to move around the images.

Panorama:

Zug Metalli Christmas lighting

Zug Metalli Christmas lighting

Interactive version:

Panorama:

Zug Metalli Christmas lighting

Zug Metalli Christmas lighting

Interactive version:

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King Albert 2 visits Switzerland

On 29th of August 2010, King Albert 2 of Belgium visited the Astrid Chapel in Küssnacht Am Rigi in commemoration of his mother, Queen Astrid. We had the opportunity to attend this occasion and created a Virtual Reality Panorama of the event. A Virtual Reality panorama allows you to look around in all directions, so you can explore the surroundings. In this case, I created a composite panorama that contains three separate events that happened during King Albert 2’s visit: His arrival at the Chapel, the greeting of the invited guests and the attendance of the mass. As such, by looking at the panorama, you can experience the visit as if you were there.

King Albert II visit to the Astrid Chappel in Küssnacht, Switzerland

King Albert II visit to the Astrid Chappel in Küssnacht, Switzerland

You can have a look at theinteractive image below:

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Zugerberg – our best immersive photo yet!

Next to Zug is a small mountain called Zugerberg (“Zugermountain”). A few weeks ago, we managed to visit it at exactly the right time when the sun was setting over the nearby mountains. Here are some photos and a 360 immersive panorama.

Click on any of the photos to see a larger version:

You can look around this 360 panorama by clicking on the image below and using your mouse to look around:

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More immersiveness: Cham waterfront

Here is another 360 panorama we took a few weeks ago at the waterfront in Cham, Switzerland. Cham is a small town next to Zug which also borders on Zuger lake.

Cham waterfront in winter

Cham waterfront in winter

Below is the interactive version of the panorama:

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Our first immersive panorama: Zug Station

We started something new that we are very excited about and are now taking full 360×180 degree panorama’s. These are high-resolution panorama pictures in which you can rotate in all different directions, so you can look around, to the top or to the bottom and can fully experience a place.

Our first successful attempt to doing this was the local train station, which came out well. Below you can see the “flattened” panorama showing a full 360 degree view of the station.

Zug Bahnhof panorama

Zug Bahnhof panorama

You can also have a “spin” with the below picture. More to come in the near future!

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Skiing on the little nearby hill

Yesterday, I went skiing at the closest “decent” place to go skiing, which is Stoos. There are a couple of places closer to Zug, such as Rigi, but these places tend to be very small ski-areas and not really of any interest to me, so Stoos, with a height of 1922m (6305 feet) really is the local hill for skiing purposes. By public transport, it takes a bit over an hour to get there from where we live.

Conditions for ski-ing were fabulous: there has been tons of snow over the last few weeks, the sun was shining and the skiresort was not too crowded. Although the sun was shining on the ski-slopes, there was a thick fog in the valley, as is so often the case around here, creating some really nice views with peaks sticking out through the clouds.

Although pictures do not fully do the views justice, here are a few images for your enjoyment. As always, click on the images for larger versions:

View from Fronalpstock:

20100214-StoosFeb10L_02

Some nice pictures from the slopes:

20100214-StoosFeb10L_01 20100214-StoosFeb10L_03 20100214-StoosFeb10L_04

View from Kingenstock:

20100214-StoosFeb10L_05
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