Click for more information about Glarus
2014 Aug by Peter Kuiper
Three days off!
That’s too short to go to Zuidwolde and work on house or garden, so why not see my last Canton in Switzerland?
I didn’t manage to get a ticket for the first flight, but nevertheless landed in Zürich just before eleven. The train station is located under the airport terminal. I got a ticket within minutes and off I went to the Zürich Hauptbahnhof. Here I just missed the hourly train to Linthal. Not to have to hang around for 45 minutes, I took a train direction Chur. After some long tunnels, the train came out in the open along the Zürich See. It was raining off and on. The slopes around the lake are densely populated. On the way I noticed some wonderful palace-like mansions. These residences must be among the most expensive places in the world to live.
I got off in Ziegelbrücke, it had started to rain again. In Switzerland, this July, had been the wettest July in recorded history. No way to walk around in Ziegelbrücke.
I decided to have a coffee in the station shop. This shop seemed to be a local hot spot, people were drinking coffee or hanging around between the shelves. I was greeted by the lady behind the counter with a friendly „Grüezi“. The coffee, in hiding deep down in a paper cup, set me back CHR3,30, about €2,80 the prize of a big Latte Macchiato served in a café in Berlin.
I got back on the train and not very long after that we arrived in Glarus. It had stopped raining. Trains run hourly, I decided to have a quick look the capital city of my 26. Canton.
My „Rough Guide“ said, Glarus wouldn’t worth a visit, but I liked the place. First of all I am not travelling to places because they are nice, but simply to see them. When they are nice, ok, if not, I’ve been there. Glarus featured a station building like an old castle with to the left, just across the street, a nice park with a pond with big fountains. Opposite to the right there was a nice traditional Grand Hotel - Hotel Glarnerhof - and all over town there were mansions located in beautiful gardens. This place looked like a rich town. Slightly upward, a big church with twin towers, dominated the city. At the end of the town was another little church, more a chapel, on a little hill, overlooking Glarus. It took some energy to get up there, energy I didn’t have after this week of very hard work. Just the little hill showed me how terribly tired I was. I had no power at all!
It started to rain again, I rushed back to the station and continued to Linthal. The Canton Glarus consists out of one big valley. Old farmhouses abound on the green valley floor, left and right the hills are densely forested, white waterfalls rush down the steep slopes. Beautiful scenery! Far too quick the train arrived in Linthal. This wasn’t a big place, but just a hamlet with a church. A bit off the track church spires revealed further villages.
I checked the bus departure times for the Klausenpass and walked up to the ropeway. The ten minute ride to Braunwald costs CHF7,20. In Linthal it had been drizzling out of thick clouds, minutes later I was surrounded by them. In Braunwald the houses were barely visible. After a little detour I found my „hotel“, a backpacker lodge where Christian had reserved two nights for me. This was the cheapest place we had found in Braunwald and as I saw now, the ugliest building in town as well. Concrete in different levels and orange colored balconies, awful!
The young lady at the reception, audibly German, was very friendly though and the room ok: a room with a bathroom, a balcony, breakfast included for €56 per night is a good deal in Switzerland. After a nap and a shower I went out for a walk. This was a beautiful rural town with lots of traditional old farm houses. Only the ones at the street I could see, the farms higher were not more than a grey shade. The visibility changed off and on between 50 and a few hundred meters. I walked back and went to the super ugly bar to get something to eat. I expected backpacker prizes, but they were real Swiss: a pork steak, French fries, a salad plus a small beer for CHF36, that’s about €30. The food was good though and it was plentiful. While chewing I watched the crowd. Next to me was the table for the regulars, sitting around the „Stammtisch“. Three, four men were drinking beer, hardly speaking a word. Once in a while one made a remark, a short reaction followed, a giggle and silence again. Other guys turned up, after some big Grüezis and a few words about their day, silence again. Even with the nice lady serving them, they didn’t talk. A short movement just above the table and she came with a small beer, an ample movement and she turned up with a big bottle…… how exiting!
I slept around the clock and the next morning I felt really refreshed. The main feature of Braunwald is that it’s a traffic-free town. Cars have to be parked next to the ropeway down in Linthal. You can hear the silence.
Breakfast was basic: coffee, orange jus, bread, butter, cheese and of course, Muesli!
It was still early, but the Tourist Information Office was open and I was provided with some maps. The lady in charge suggested me to walk up the gravel road - the one I had walked last night - and later chose one of the many possible tracks. She suggested the „Panoramaweg“, as all the others might be very muddy after these weeks of heavy rainfalls.
This morning, the clouds were even thicker than yesterday, I couldn’t see anything. All the houses, even the ones at the street, were not much more than grey patches. I was going up and up, Braunwald lies at about 1200m, the mountains behind the town reach well over 3000m. I had the feeling that the clouds were slowly lifting at walking speed. I could look down now, but further up the slope and mountains were still covered in clouds.
After crossing some meadows and many rushing little streams I entered the forest. What a forest! The mix of enormous century old fir trees and the lush vegetation beneath them was simply beautiful. I made lots of pictures. There was still no real view, so I turned my attention to the plants and flowers at the roadside. Where ever I walked, all meadows and even the forest, were fenced off by thin electric wire to protect nature against cattle. Here I didn’t see any, but sometimes I heard the cowbells jingle through the fog.
The gravel road brought me up ever higher. At steep slopes there was all kinds of avalanche protection, most barriers completely overgrown by weed. A woman appeared out of the mist, the first human being I met on the trail, the bad weather seemed to keep off most hikers. This German lady had been here since two weeks and told me that the heavy rains had wasted the mayor part of her holiday. “Today is a great day!” she said, “you are lucky!” I wondered why she hadn’t just continued a bit further South, in Italy the weather is always great in summer.
Suddenly it got a bit clearer. I seemed to be between two layers of clouds. Above me the sky was still grey, but in front of me a long ridge became visible, the slopes further down on both sides were hidden in clouds, very unreal!
At the end of the ridge there were some benches and road signs in different directions. I stood on the Chnügrad at 1850m. After a short break, I decided to continue to Gumen, as the lady at the Tourist Information had told me that there was a restaurant there.
I passed another ridge, the Seeblengrad at 1845m, came through a dark, wet tunnel and finally arrived at Gumen at 1910m.
The restaurant was a big place and not far from a ropeway, so people could get here easily. Despite the ropeway, except for a family of four passing by, there was nobody around. A woman was cleaning the tables on the outside terrace and told me that the place was “self-service”. From the lonely cook inside I ordered coffee plus the specialty of the day, “Kaiserschmarrn”, a simple dish made of egg, milk, flour and sugar, served with hot vanilla sauce.
The restaurant - I sat outside on the terrace - seemed to be surrounded by jingle bells, but I didn’t see any cows. Back on the trail that would change dramatically, there were too many of them. The signs led me to a meadow. I entered through a narrow gate and soon I was surrounded by cows. They all used my trail. To the left the sloop went steep down, to the right steep up. No way to pass these stupid creatures. I did a lot of shouting but that did not impress them at all. They seemed to be used to people and just ignored me. No other way then slowly follow the crowd and hope to get on. I sank up to my ankles into the soft mix of dirt and cow shit. The next evening, in the plane back to Berlin, I could still smell it, people giving me strange looks.
The cows were one and two year olds, some were playing making love right in front of me. I strongly hoped that they wouldn’t find me attractive.
Another fence blocked the trail, the cows climbed upward. I felt relieved to get out of the meadow.
The landscape got more and more barren. It got a bit clearer now and I saw the family following me, but later they seemed to give up and I was completely on my own again. The signage was great. Either there were proper signs-boards, or white-red-white stripes were painted on the rocks.
High above me, one rock seemed to be painted orange. I stood still, watched it thoroughly and tried to figure out what to make of it, as it suddenly waved at me: somebody with a bright orange jacked was sitting there.
I was crossing an area with flat slippery white rocks, intersected with deep cracks. It looked as Switzerland was breaking apart here. Switzerland this bastion of stability on the brink of becoming a new Rift Valley? I took great care not to slip into one of these cracks.
I met two men standing on a rock and eating something. The clouds were so dense I did not see them until they were close. We talked and I told them, that because of the lack of view I concentrated on the little flowers hidden between the rocks. “Yes we too” they said, “and we even saw Edelweiss!”
I concentrated on both rocks and cracks, plus on Edelweiss now, but I didn’t find any.
I got tired and had a break. I still had some bread, cheese and tomatoes from home, sat down on a rock and ate. And what did I see 15 cm in front of my shitty shoes? Edelweiss! I couldn’t believe it! And then I saw some more of them - a little bush of three - and made some pics.
An orange patch appeared on the trail. “We met before, I waved at you!” This young lady told me how she enjoyed this mysterious day in the mists. I had enjoyed myself as well, but would have preferred to see some mountains. “I will walk back now” she said. “But the signs say the Bärentritt leads back to Braunwald!” I said. “It does, but it’s very steep. But there are iron ropes to hold on to”.
I wasn’t in the mood to walk back the same trail for five or six hours and followed the signs to the Bärentritt.
It got clearer now, in the distance I saw a glacier on a steep slope, its higher section still hidden in clouds. The opposite side got visible and I noticed that I had walked along a steep rim. I followed the trail and suddenly had this amazing view all the way down on green meadows, Braunwald and the little church of Linthal on the valley floor. Wooow!
The descent was steeper than I expected. In fact it was steeper than any track I had walked on for many years, even in Nepal. The combination of being just by myself, not having a stick, starting to get tired and everything being wet and slippery because of the fog, did make me feel a bit uneasy. At least I still had time enough - it was about four now - so I could take it easy. I made stops in safe places and took some nice pics. The combination of lush green grass, flowers next to the trail and the steep rocks in the distance were picture perfect.
My knees started hurting and I was happy that the slope eventually got less steep. The abundance of flowers in the meadows was overwhelming. The jingle bells got louder, soon I passed the first cows. One cow, standing in a sea of long grass and flowers, looked at me. The picture I made of her couldn’t have been more Swiss: her big bell, the flowers, the pine forests, the rocks in the background…..
Finally I got to a gravel road. There were lots of cows around here. A young man and three girls appeared, all of them carrying long wooden sticks. “What’s going on here?” I asked the guy. “We are rounding up the cows, they have to be milked!” The whole thing did not seem very professional. There was a lot of whistling and shouting. I think these young people weren’t real farmers, more youths trying out Alpine pasture life for a summer.
After I passed the lonely farm the cows were heading to, there was a sign board again. Braunwald was indicated twice with different walking times. I was tired and choose the shortest connection, most likely a wrong choice, as a muddy trail through a forest was endlessly leading steep down and an imposition towards my knees. It would have been much better to have walked this whole tour the other way around. Steep up and gently down.
More farms came into sight. The weather was beautiful now, the sun had come out. Braunwald just consists out of old wooden farmhouses, scattered on the pastures over a big area, really beautiful.
I met the German lady again who had been the first human being on the trail this morning. We talked for a while. She was staying in a B&B with kitchen facilities. “I will cook something now” she said. As she did not invite me I headed home and ordered - it was after seven already - something from the German girl. Chicken nuggets and chips for just CHF19, a bargain.
My third and last day! I had slept like a log after yesterday’s ordeal and felt really refreshed. I stepped out onto my balcony and could not believe the view! Mountains, mountains, mountains. Mountains everywhere! Today it was crystal clear, the sun was out, the sky deeply blue. “I hope this will last a bit” a thought skeptically, as my father always used to say that “an early guest doesn’t stay long”. How right he would be. At least it wouldn’t not rain today, but already on the way down with the ropeway, the mountains were sticking their heads into the clouds again.
The bus was waiting in front of the station, there were no other travelers in sight. And I had already worried not to be able to get on without a reservation. The driver asked me if I had some kind of discount card. “No? Then this trip is going to be very expensive for you! CHF40 (about €34 for about 45km). I had the front seat, the bus driver was very talkative. “Many people in Switzerland have a 100% card” he said. “They use the card to go to work and in the weekend they make daytrips.” How true he would be! Just minutes later a train arrived and about everybody disembarking wanted to board the bus. This marked the end of our German conversation, from now on he talked Swiss to the passengers. A second bus had to be called to seat all the people.
The bus driver seemed to love his job and must have performed well. There were lots of giggles and laughs as he told his audience about the Klausenpass. I hardly understood a word and concentrated on the beautiful scenery. On the street there was a lot more action now as a bit over a year ago when I got stuck on the other side of the pass because the road was still closed. Only from the end of June to the middle of October this pass is open to traffic.
There weren’t many cars on the road, but there were lots and lots of motorbikes and even more bicycles around. It seemed to be a holiday today - National Day - August first.
We passed some small villages and farms and were driving through the forest now. We passed a few tunnels and soon, after some hairpins, came out in the open above the tree line. The road got very narrow, approaching traffic had to stop and back up several times to let the bus pass. Sometimes we were driving behind the bicycles as the road was too narrow to overtake them.
There was a small village up here with, that bit I understood, a huge population of skiers in winter.
The driver dropped me at the pass at 1952m, an easy height to remember, as I was born that year. “You just walk down to the next hotel and board the next bus in one hour” he had told me. Except that one, there was only one more bus in the late afternoon, too late for me with my evening flight.
Up here in 1952m there was a café with an outside terrace full of bikers and cyclists. I seemed to be the only person in street dress and felt a bit out of place. I walked down. Many cyclist passed me at an enormous speed. 40km? 50? Faster? “Sometimes I ride well over 70” told me a guy half an hour later at the mountain lodge. For me this seemed fun between life and death: a stone, a rabbit, a cow…….
I boarded the bus again and enjoyed the view on the mountains. Some summits were still covered with snow. Soon the first farms appeared and I reached the area where I had got stuck last spring. Finally I had made it! I had crossed the Klausenpass!
I passed familiar territory now, but nevertheless enjoyed the beautiful trip down to Altdorf. The center of the city was blocked because of the National Day celebrations. This is heavy Wilhelm Tell country. A big statue of him and his son with an apple on his head dominate the village square. I had seen the place last year and continued to Flüelen at the end of Lake Lucerne where I bearded the train back to Zürich. Here I crisscrossed the city for a couple of hours, took the train to the airport and flew back to Berlin. |
2014 Feb by Jorge Sanchez
I reached Glaris, the capital of the canton de Glarus at about 5 PM. I still had a couple of hours of light to discover the town before looking for a place to spend the night inside my sleeping bag, better covered, in case of rain. The imposing railway station, which looked a castle, would close its gates at midnight, I was informed, but the platforms would remain accessible. The hotels in Switzerland are ridiculous expensive and I avoided them as much as possible.
The location of Glaris was wonderful, surrounded by several snowed mountains (it was February).
To start with my visits I went to the church. It was open. A plaque on its wall informed (in German language) that it was built from 1863 to 1866.
Then I walked for about one hour to see another church on the top of a hill, the City Hall, and several nice houses.
I was surprised to notice that the flag and heraldic of the canton of Glarus was a monk. I asked the people in the street and a gentleman told me that the monk represented the Irish monk Saint Fridolin, who evangelized that area during the VI and the VII centuries, on his mission to evangelize Europe. He even founded a monastery in Germany, called Säckingen.
When it became dark I bought some food in a supermarket and headed to the railway station where I spent the night on a bench in the platform. The next day I travelled to the canton of Graubünden. |
2012 Dec by Leslie Rutledge
I visited Glarus on a recent European car tour. On entering the Glarus area by road you pass a big sign telling you that it is a UNESCO WH site, unfortunately it does not tell you why or where it is, I had to find that out by chatting to some of the locals (luckily my German was sufficient in this German speaking part of Switzerland). I say that in Switzerland every town is built next to a lake or a mountain, well Glarus had no lake but it was surrounded by 5 mountains of 2000 metres or more. Glarus itself has nothing much to write home about but has a nice little railway station. The WHS was actually situated at the tiny village of Elm some 25 miles away from Glarus up the Sernt valley at the Sardona pass. I took a slow drive up the valley, where most of the mountains are over 3000 metres and thick snow lay everywhere except on the roads. The area of Sardonia is called the Swiss tectonic area because of moving rock formations and glacial landslides. I have to admit that because most of the mountains were covered in thick snow it was not easy to distinguish where exactly and what was happing during this process and it would probably be better visited in the summer. Elm is also the home town of Switzerlands most famous and medal decorated female skier Vreni Schneider and she runs a skiing school in the village. On the day I visited the place was packed out with day skiers. |
2010 Oct by Frank J Britton
Swiss location 18. According to legend, the area was converted to Christianity in the 6th century by the Irish monk Saint Fridolin. His image appears on the Glarus flag and coat of arms, a little bit of Ireland in Switzerland. Glarus became the first Swiss canton to lower the voting age to 16.
We drove up from Maienfeld in Graubunden and stopped in Bilten, pop. 2000, for coffee and cake. |
2001 Apr by Veikko Huhtala*
Näfels is the northern municipality of Glarus Canton in Switzerland. 2001 we were travelling by road via Näfels from Zurich to Sargans and stayed short time in the village. There are living 4000 people and it is located in nice valley between beautiful mounts. Glarus is mountainous canton and its highest mount Tödi is more than 3600 meters high and is located on Glarus Alps. I think that next time we are going to Switzerland, we are going to visit Glarus again, and to capital Glarus as well, which is a little bit bigger town as Näfels. |