Exploring culture in and around Spiez on two rainy days

In August 2020, my friends from Regensburg stayed in their apartment at Spiez and I joined them. We went for nice walks on two sunny days and now, I will tell you, how we benefited from the rain to explore some culture in and around Spiez.

Source: Google Maps

Our cultural excursions include the castle of Spiez with the exhibition about the paintings of Friedrich Dürrenmatt, the charming church of Einigen and the museum of the Abegg Foundation at Riggisberg.

 

Dürrenmatt’s paintings in the castle of Spiez

The castle of Spiez (facing the mountain Niesen) and…

… the adjacent Romanesque church are two gems above Spiez.

Until October 2020, the castle shows the paintings of Dürrenmatt as a special exhibition. Friedrich Dürrenmatt (1921-1990), well-known Swiss author, was a gifted painter, too. He said: «Ich male aus dem gleichen Grund, wie ich schreibe: weil ich denke.» (I paint for the same reason that I write: Because I think).

As a child, Dürrenmatt created this charming map of his village of birth and childhood (“Geographie der Kindheit”).

I find details that are important for a child such as “Mist” (dung heap, I imagine, it “stinks” here), the places, where the presumed “Hexe” or “Gespenster” live (a witch and phantoms, I remember such scary places from my own childhood), the “Lieblingspaziergang” around the “Ruine” (the favourite walk around the ruin), the artists of the village (painters, poets, the place with access to Karl Mai etc), the main intersection, where accidents (“Unfall”) happen, the mountains surrounding the village, and the way out, to Burgdorf, Thun or Bern…

After having decided to write books, Dürrenmatt continued painting, often accompanying the themes of his books. For instance, he illustrated his ballad “Minotaur” (“Illustration zu Minotaurus, Nr. IX”).

I shiver looking at these birds threatening the labyrinth.

Illustration Nr. II shows the world as seen by the minotaur in his labyrinth. He is caught in a maze of mirrors, where he sees his image reflect, and he sees the reflections of the reflections of his image.

The ballad is a parable for the individual being caught in an increasingly non-transparent world, where he will pay for a crime he has never committed, as the exhibition comments explain. I can somehow empathize with this feeling of being caught, though Dürrenmatt wrote his ballad some 40 years ago; I feel like reading it soon.

Meanwhile, after having returned home, I read “der Richter und sein Henker” (“the judge and his hangman”), where the criminal business man, Richard Gastmann, will be sentenced for a crime he has not committed, but he has committed many crimes before that. In “Der Verdacht” (“Suspicion”) a doctor managing a clinic is uncovered as being one of the doctors at the former German concentration camps and he ends up being forced to commit suicide by one of his former victims that had to undergo surgery in the concentration camp. These are two thrilling and interesting criminal stories solved by the inspector Mr Bärlach, about to retire from his work.

 

The charming Romanesque-gothic church of Einigen above the Lake of Thun

Above the Lake of Thun is the charming church of Einigen, dedicated to Saint Michael. It goes back to the 7th century and is the first of 12 church foundations around the Lake of Thun (“Thunerseekirchen”, see Jungfrau Zeitung).

The existing church dates back to the 10/11th century. It is the oldest of the churches of the Lake of Thun, all early Romanesque with the pilaster strips and the friezes of round arches on the apsis, typical of that time .

Below the church we find a nice place to sit with the view of the lake.

The church is a stop on the pilgrimage route of St. James. You can acquire your pilgrim’s stamp here.

Inside we find the sober atmosphere that is typical of protestant churches, with the late gothic baptismal font in the choir.

It is not easy to spot the devil’s face on the wooden ceiling.

I like the stylised cross made out of branches and decorated by a bunch of flowers.

The glass windows from the early 16th century show the coat of arms of the noble family Erlach.

Peter, the Bavarian friend, stands in front of the stand with the bible and murmurs something like “is this a catholic bible”? Yes, it IS a catholic bible, translated by the professors Hamp, Stenzel and Kürzinger (Pattloch Verlag Augsburg 2002). Here, in the protestant church of Einigen! I value this sign of respect between Catholics and Protestants.

The illustrations by Rosina Wachtmeister are beautiful. Below is the painting of the creation of the world, day six.

I do not know, what these wonderful animals stand for, I just admire the paintings…

… and I leave a note in the guest book to express my pleasure about this bible that convey the sign of tolerance.

 

The Abegg Foundation (Abeggstiftung) in Riggisberg: Impressive textile collection

Abegg was the owner of textile factories in Northern Italy, and he sold his factories in the late 1940-s, anticipating the decline of the textile industry in Europe.

He built his noble villa just outside of Riggisberg in the Bernese Prealps.

In addition he founded the museum for textile and applied art with a centre for conservation and restoration of textiles.

The collection includes artefacts from the Ancient Near East, the Silk Road, Antiquity, Middle Ages and Renaissance/Baroque.

No photos allowed in the museum. My friend just takes some pictures of the postcards sold in the entrance hall. The museum website gives an excellent overview of the beauty of the museum. To give an impression, I include two postcards.

This beaker from Persia, 6th-5th century BCE, is called Lapis Lazuli Rhyton.

This medieval embroidery, showing a man doing falconry, is a good example for the textile artifacts.

I do recommend visiting the Abegg Foundation at Riggisberg.

 

Good-bye Spiez, I hope to return in winter…

With the view of the Lake of Thun with Giswil, taken from the Spiezberg, I now say good-bye to Spiez, after four beautiful days. I hope to return in winter to go for skiing in the area. However, I am afraid that under the current circumstances, alpine skiing will be different this year.

 

Spiez – always my entry point to the Bernese Alps – again in summer 2020

Spiez is a small city on the lake of Thun. My friends from Regensburg in Germany have an apartment at Spiez. They take it as a entry point to hike or ski in the Bernese Alps. I regularly join them and stay in the friendly hotel Seegarten bordering the lake, where I love to fall asleep, while the ducks and the crested crebes are quaking under my balcony.

Source: Google Maps

In winter, we like to ski in the Mürren-Schilthorn area. From Spiez, we reach the cable car to Mürren in about half an hour. From the revolving restaurant on the Schilthorn, we have the gorgeous view of the “Grand Trio” of the Bernese Alps, Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau…

… and, after a turn of 180 degrees, we enjoy the view of the Lake of Thun and the bay of Spiez.

When skiing, we love to have lunch on the Schilthorn, where we hear the voice of James Bond saying: “My name is Bond – JAMES Bond”. And we see him fight wearing a perfect suit with tie.

The bay of Spiez is dominated by the castle and the church as well as by the Spiezerberg (mountain of Spiez) with vineyards facing the sun.

In February 2020, I took the small path called “Strandweg” from Spiez to Faulensee. The “Strandweg” has been installed by August Mützenberg in 1914. Mützenberg was a hotel owner at Spiez. He even invoked the federal court to expropriate land to build the continuous path along the lake (see Hans Wininger, “Hundert Jahre Strandweg, Spiez – Faulensee”, Werd und Weber Verlag Thun 2014).

Football players stand here. They remind us of the “miracle of Thun” (“Wunder von Thun”), when in 1954, just after the Second World War, the German team won the championship against Hungary, after having formed “the (team) spirit of Spiez” or “Geist von Spiez” by walking along this path. Among others, I get to know Sepp Herberger, the trainer, …

… and the scorer Helmut Rahn (he scored two goals).

Across the lake I can see the Niederhorn (right) and the Sigriswilgrat (left). The valley between the steep and rocky slopes is called “Justistal” and it is famous for the “Justistal” cheese.

In the middle of the lake is the iron bridge that is to shorten the distance to the opposite shore of the lake creating the illusion of meeting others (Marianne Lütz, Burgdorf, see Wininger, p. 65).

There is more art to see such as the “Gegen-Teil” (“Opposite Part”) by Zryd Björn from Adelboden (not exactly a name that I have met in the Bernese Alps so far…).

At this beach, people and dogs can go for a swim. But dogs, please, do behave yourself, as the sign tells you: “When I take a swim here, I am respectful – NO – (and) walkers will stay dry”. I must admit, I have not observed one dog studying this sign…

The small bar “Pura Vida” is closed now. At Costa Rica, “pura vida” alludes to how great life is, and the Ticos keep on saying “pura vida” at all circumstances such as “how are you?” – “pura vida!”.

Yes, pura vida! I always enjoy it at Spiez.

 

Kiental

In August 2020, I am back with my friends, and we enjoy two sunny days to go for walks in the mountains.

Our first walk takes us to the Kiental. From Griesalp we walk up to the “Oberi Bundalp”, where Peter, being a typical Bavarian, has a beer and we, the ladies, have  “lighter” drinks.

After about two hours, we have our next stop at Gamchi, a friendly restaurant that serves an excellent cheese melted over bread.

The friendly Gamchi dogs enjoy to play with Peter. They come back again and again and Peter throws the ball again and again.

Walking back to Griesalp along the canyon, we enjoy the view of the Blüemlisalp chain…

… and we also look downstream to the Prealps around the Kiental.

We continue along waterfalls…

… that shape rocks.

For me, it was a very intense feeling to return to the Kiental, where I had been with Ernst so many times (my husband who now watches from above). Every winter we came here to climb the Bundstock with skis; I spotted the route to the top that we used to take. I also identified the slope that we once skied down in great powder snow, after having decided to stop and return – there was danger of avalanches and it was not recommended to cross the so-called “Bärentritt” which is  very steep. Near an alpine hut, away from that slope, we had a relaxed picnic in the sun, and about an hour later, the whole slope had slid down – yes, we were right to return –  there WAS danger of avalanches! And it was a shock for us.

 

Doldenhornhütte (Doldenhorn hut)

Our second walk took us to the Doldenhorn hut that sits on the top of a rock like an eagle’s nest, some 800m above Kandersteg and below the Doldenhorn.

When going up, the view broadens: Kandersteg and the Kandertal are below us.

The climb is rewarded by this wonderful view of the Oeschinensee…

… and of the Kandertal with the mountain village Kandern.

The Doldenhorn hut serves excellent Röschti (grated potatoes).

Unfortunately hiking wears the boots and the sole came off. Luckily, the hut manager had a solution: Cable straps…

… which allowed us to continue walking. It was a steep and winding path, going down some 800m, up to Kandersteg.

We had dinner in the restaurant Altels in Kandergrund and watched the clouds cover the sky. Now we look forward to two days of culture instead of hiking. And there is some culture in and around Spiez waiting for us.