Friday, September 27, 2019

Lucerne, Switzerland

In June of 2018 we decided to go on an eleven day trip to Europe with some WashPA friends. The trip included two travel days, two touring days in Lucerne and a seven day river cruise. The Romantic Rhine and Mosel River Cruise aboard the MS Emerald Sun started in Basel,Switzerland and ended in Amsterdam, Netherlands. The big day started when we got up at  6AM on September 11, 2019. A bus picked us up at 9AM in Washington and took us to Greater Pittsburgh Airport. The 11:50 flight to Newark was only 45 minutes followed by a five hour wait for our 6:30 red eye flight. We arrived in Zurich at 8:30 AM, 12:30 AM in Pittsburgh. After clearing immigration and collecting our bags we boarded a bus for the one hour ride to our hotel in Lucerne where we had to wait for the room cleaning to be completed before we could check in. At this point we had been up nearly 24 hours so a quick nap was the order of the day. We did do a bit of exploring before the 6:30 welcome dinner where we met Anna our Mayflower cruise hostess. As most of us got very little sleep on the plane, it was a very long grueling day, but we were here and ready to tour. 
We stayed at the Grand Hotel Europe that had been built in the early 1900's when the British discovered that Lucerne was a beautiful spot for a holiday. While the building was old, it had been renovated with the rooms looking like they came right out of the Ikea catalog.
Just a few steps from the hotel there was a park along Lake Lucerne with this beautiful view of the snow covered Alps. The weather was fantastic with mostly blue skies and comfortable temperatures.
Part of our group gathered on the porch while waiting for dinner, Denise, Jim, John, Patrice, Bobbie Jo, Dick, Gail, Anne Marie and Rick. They don't look to bad after such a long day of travel.
We could see beautiful Mount Pilatus from the porch. We saw hang gliders soaring off the mountain. We had a tour to the top of the mountain on our last day in Lucerne, Saturday.
That first evening we were rewarded with this beautiful full moon over the lake. 
On Friday we had a walking tour along the lake and in the old town part of the city along the river that empties the lake. There were many beautiful swans enjoying the water and looking for a handout.
One of many sculptures on the park along Carl Spitteler Quai. Spitteler was a Nobel winning poet who died in Lucerne in 1924. One evening we were walking in the park and a group was gathered to listen to his poems being read. 
Shops and restaurants along the Reuss River in the old part of the city. On the left bank of the river is St. Peters Church, the oldest in Lucerne.
The Chapel Bridge, built in 1333, and the octagonal Water Tower were part of the old city fortifications. The tower has been used as a prison, torture chamber and treasury over the years. In 1993 a fire damaged the bridge.
A few of the 122 paintings hanging in the roof of the bridge. The paintings done in 1599 by Heinrich Wagmann show the daily activities and dress of the people. Two-thirds of the original paintings were destroyed or damaged in the fire. Copies were made as part of a $2.1 million reconstruction.   
Ken, Mary, Patrice, John, Gail and Anne Marie enjoying the sunshine and beer at Rathaus Brauerei Restaurant. Not only did this place have good beer, it had great pretzels and pretzel sandwiches.
The white castle overlooking the city was built as a private home and is now a hotel. You can get to it by taking a short incline.
A second old bridge across the Reuss River. The tower in the middle is one of 10 that remain from the old fortification. If you climb that tower you can walk atop part of the old wall and see all the towers.
Wonderful view of the city, lake, river and mountain from the top of the tower. What a beautiful place.
Here we are at the top of the tower. That day my fitness app recorded 8.2 miles, 22,706 steps and 26 floors up and down. Much of this was optional but we soon learned we would be doing a lot of walking on this trip.
Along the city wall we encountered these hairy cows. They are a Scottish breed. There thick long coats make them ideal for colder climates.
Once you get up on the wall you can walk to five of the towers before you exit. It was a bit of a climb but well worth it for the view.
In the market square we found this painting of Jesus performing one of his most famous miracles to advertise the business in the building, a wine store. 
Sculpture of a Swiss sheep herder. Neat but I was looking for Heidi and never saw her.
In the afternoon we did an optional Lake Lucerne boat tour on the MS Saphir. It was great getting out on the water and learning more about the beautiful lake and mountains. I did not get a good picture but along the shore was a statue to honor Saint Nicolas.
The water was crystal clear and people were taking advantage of the beautiful weather. We only saw a small part of the lake that extends into the mountain for many miles.
We had signed up for two optional excursions including one to the top of Mount Pilatus. ON NO!!!! This is what we awoke to on Saturday morning. The mountain hidden by clouds that came almost all the way down to the lake. We expected we would be seeing nothing but clouds on the tour. I later learned that the mountain name may have come from the word "pileatus" meaning "cloud-topped". 
One of the legends of the mountain is that a dragon with healing powers lived on the mountain. A chronicle from 1619 reads: "as I was contemplating the serene sky by night, I saw a very bright dragon with flapping wings go from a cave in a great rock in the mount called Pilatus toward another cave, known as Flue, on the opposite side of the lake".
Mount Pilatus is today a playground for the Swiss with many things to do on the mountain well behind just hiking and biking. There are hotels, restaurants, a rope park, alpine slide and more. There are two ways to the top, a cable car than a gondola or a cog railway.  
We took the four person cable car that had two stops before transferring to the 55 person gondola to the summit. It was still cloudy so we did not really expect to see much. 
The clouds did seem to be thinning a bit and we saw this Swiss chalet on the side of the mountain. We were amazed at how many homes there were high up on the mountain.
WOW, almost suddenly we broke through the top of the clouds to clear sunny skies. Another Swiss chalet higher up on the mountain.
Another WOW! When we got to the top we were greeted with a fantastic view of the distant Alps. We could see the 13,642 foot Jungfrau, a mountain we went to the top of when we were in Switzerland in 1985. You can see one of the many trails that you can hike. You can purchase a one way ticket to ride up and walk down or walk up and purchase a ticket to ride down.  
Rick, Denise, Nanc and Jim soaking up the high mountain sun. We had been warned that it could be cold at the top, but were way over dressed for this fantastic day.
The cog railway at a gradient up 48 percent was built in 1889. It is still the steepest cog railway in the world. It is a 30 minute ride to the top from Alpnachstad at the other end of the lake. 
Looking down on the gondola. The lake was covered by clouds but it was clear from the gondola station.
Look carefully and you can see a hang glider. What a ride that must be. The day before we could see the gliders from the hotel porch. 
The Alps were the view on one side. On the other the view would look down on the lake on a clear day.
Nanc at the top. The buildings are shops, restaurants and hotels. Sure would be a great place to stay. The night sky would be fantastic. Sticking out of the clouds in the distance is the Flue, the mountain the dragon flew to.
On the way down I got a front row seat in the gondola. It was a great ride. At the station there are several activities and trails.
We not only saw a few cows on the mountain but we also could hear their cowbells ringing like a mountain symphony. I should have taken a video so you could hear the bells.
Our three day two night stay in Lucerne was over too soon. It did gave us a chance to explore the beautiful city and have some time to overcome the jet lag. In the afternoon we boarded a bus in Lucerne to transport us to the Emerald Sun on the Rhine in Basel to start the next leg of our adventure, sailing down the Rhine. There were many beautiful Swiss homes and farms along the way. 

Sunday, September 22, 2019

Oliver Miller Homestead

A visit to the Oliver Miller Homestead in South Park near Pittsburgh has been on my to do list for several years as Oliver's wife Mary was a Tidball. We have meet a few Tidballs during our travels and wanted to check out the family tie to the homestead residents.
Oliver Miller and many of his Tidball relatives moved here from Eastern Pennsylvania in the 1770's. Many of the family were Revolutionary War veterans and were active in the Whiskey Rebellion. Oliver and Mary's son Oliver was killed in the rebellion.  
When the Miller family arrived in what is now Pennsylvania, the land was claimed by Virginia. They first built a two story log cabin that had a wood shingled roof, a rarity at that time. In 1803 they began building this stone house as an addition to the log cabin.     
On Sundays at the homestead they have guides dressed in period clothing. I was greeted by a Tidball but I failed to remember the first name of this long lost cousin. The flag is the Whiskey Rebellion flag like the original one I wrote about in the last post about the Century Inn.
This room is filled with spinning wheels, a loom and other equipment used by pioneer families. When the last Miller lived here, until 1927, this room was the kitchen.
A demonstration of weaving the yarn into material.
The Keeping Room is furnished with period pieces but not furniture that belonged to the Millers.
The second floor is not always open to the public but they let us upstairs because we were relatives. This was the children's room.
The other bedroom is now the quilting room where Homestead volunteers use the Miller quilting frame. This one was done for the first Miller-Tidball Reunion.
This quilt shows the names of people who lived in the area when the Millers first moved here. It has Mary Tidball Miller's name on it. Another name is Indian Peter with the mark he used.
Beside the stone house is a beehive oven where they baked bread and pies and dried fruit and vegetables.
The forge, where they make and repair tools, was built in 1991 to show what a 1800's blacksmith would make.
This replica of the Miller's original cabin with the wood shingles roof was built in 1988
The interior of that cabin sure looks a lot nicer than I think it would have looked when they lived there in the late 1700's.
This shed has woodworking tools they would have used. They were doing a demonstration on horning, making a powder horn out of a cows horn.
The barn, built in 2005, is a typical Pennsylvania bank barn, one built on the side of the hill that gave level access to two floors. There are exhibits on the Whiskey Rebellion and a trading post on the top floor and a meeting room with a library containing an extensive Miller - Tidball genealogy on the lower floor. 
In the genealogy room I did find this note on John Caldwell Tidball whose biography "No Disgrace To My Country" spiked my interest in finding out more about my family. I have an old genealogy from the University of Pennsylvania that John did in the late 1800's. We have visited his grave in West Point.
I searched the books a bit and found this page on William Tidball (1796 - 1887) who I believe was my most direct relative, but I did not find a link to my grandfather Andrew Paul. While I did not find that link, it was still interesting touring the homestead with a direct link to my family in Western Pennsylvania.