Festung Aarburg, Olten – Aarburg – Olten, July 18 2020 with Korinna

Festung Aarburg

During my daily commute from Zurich to Bern, I often noticed a big castle positioned on the Aare River. Finally, after 9 years of commuting I finally visited with a friend. This hike from Outdoor Active is a easy stroll from Olten to Aarburg, followed by a 7 kilometer hike including a 250 meter ascent to the Sälischlössli and a pass by an animal park on the way back to Olten. We included a visit inside the Festung Aarburg, an old castle which is now in use as a Jugendheim (Juvenile Detention Center) for boys aged 16-20. For this reason, visiting the castle is limited and currently, there is only one 1.5 hour tour per week on Saturdays at 14:00 (in Swiss German). It was well worth the visit.

The walk to Aarburg is along the Aare by meadows, train tracks and farms.

On the path to Aarburg from Olten, the Sälischlossli, a rebuilt castle with a restaurant, can be seen across the river at the peak of the first hill.
The view from a distance shows the size and location of the Festung Aarburg.

At 14:00 on Saturdays, the Festung Aarburg is open for a guided tour in Swiss German (cost 10 CHF). The guide explains the castle’s construction history, life in the castle, how the rooms were used and a bit of how it is used today as a juvenile detention center for boys aged 16-20. The fortress, strategically located at a narrow point of the Aare River, is built into a massive spur of rock with steep walls on the outside.

After the castle visit, we continued to the Sälischlössli, a small castle with a restaurant built in 1870/71 as an expansion of a castle ruin. After the walk up, the Restaurant Sälischlössli is a relaxing place to have an ice cream (or french fries) and a great view.

The way home passes by an animal park. Unfortunately, the raccoons were not out but we did find some handsome deer.

Hike near Lauterbrunnen Wengen: Gimmelwald – Sefinental – Stechelberg

Friday, June 26, 2020

This 11.5 km hike from outdooractive.com has a gentle 200 meters up followed by 900 meters down. Travel started with a train from Bern to Interlaken Ost, another train to Lauterbrunnen, followed by a gondola to Grütschalp, and finally another train to Mürren, the starting place of the hike. Highlights include views of the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau, many waterfalls including at one point the trail going behind a waterfall and an old water-powered sawmill.

View of the Eiger, Mönch and Jungfrau from the train to Mürren
View at the start of the hike
Town of Gimmelwald
The number and variety of wildflowers was amazing.
This old sawmill is in the Sefinental. Powered by water, it is still functional as seen in this video.
Stop for a rest and a foot bath in the ice-cold water.
Thanks for the hike, Marta!

Bern Restaurants

Du Nord SG’s and my favorite restaurant in Bern, nice chill atmosphere with good food
Royal Asian good food at a good price, 10 CHF for lunch
Kloesterli Weincafe nice food and wine, excellent polpo
Tre Fratelli I had a homemade pasta with seafood, really yummy, would bring my Italian relatives.
Restaurant at the Alpine Museum nice lunch place, fills and some plates sell out, good secret tip for lunch in Bern, Helvetiaplatz 4, reserve +41 31 331 22 22
Restaurant Commerce good food in a homey atmosphere, one of those restaurants where it seems like nothing has changed in many a year
Fugu Nydegg Thai & Japanese restaurant. The owners are Thai, so better stick with Thai … and spicy really means spicy
Essort great lunch but also excellent in the evening

Zurich Restaurants

Restaurants in ZuriNord

Ooooh Curry – I haven’t tried it yet but everything that passes through this space has been good albeit short-lived
Restaurant Kerala really nice Indian by Radiostudio
Asiaway Holy Cow! Some of their food is really fantastic. Fresh herbs and lovely sauces. Oerlikon has some great restaurants.
Dapur Indonesia tastes excellent but is a bit expensive for what you get
Schnitzelhuus If you want a good schnitzel, this is the place to come. Portraits of Austrian and French royalty are the decor. Sometimes the staff wears traditional clothes which makes for a nice atmosphere for visitors.
Cheyenne The food isn’t the best in the world but sometimes we like to eat in an American atmosphere. It is like a sports bar so it can get loud inside. In the summer, it is a nice place to sit outside.
Giesserei Good Restaurant in Oerlikon, pricey
Rolli’s Steakhouse At one time this was our birthday standard, good steak served on a hot stone, reserve at least a week in advance
Stadionli – restaurant at the Kunsteisbahn Oerlikon Siewerdstrasse 80 043 333 49 14 ; The restaurant belongs to the Ice Skating Rink so you would think the food would be terrible but the nightly specials are excellent.
Coopers Pub – for when you need a pint o’ Guinness
Venus Bistro – finally the thorn-in-my-side porn kino in Oerlikon closed, I just didn’t like that this was the only kino in Oerlikon, why don’t we have an arthouse kino? Venus Bar opened in the space below.
Metzgerhalle – standard good swiss food
Suan Long – not bad fast food Chinese at Neumarkt (building with the big Migros)
Gonzales – nice Spanish food in a comfortable atmosphere
Tamarind Hill – good Indian at Salersteig

New to try

Trattoria Sempre – Niederdorf
Restaurant Baeren  – recommended by Andrej – Stedtligass 26, Grüningen<
Silex Restaurant and Wine Bar recommended by Svenja
Tibetasia – recommended by Tina
Minine Sushi Restaurant – recommended by Martin
Bodega Española – not new but i haven’t beene there in ages
Marcellino work recommendation 
Turbinenhaus (Tre Fratelli Provisorium)
Moudi’s Lecker Cafe
Markthalle not new but it’s been a while

Restaurants in Zurich

Restaurant Coco – really lovely atmosphere when you can sit outside surrounded by fairy lights- fantastic food
Restaurant Altes Klösterli – close to the zoo, pros: you can eat while watching baboons, cons: lots of kids, i would only go here again when the terrasse is open
GÜL Turkish fine dining, really well-prepared but expensive food
Restaurant Akaraka An opera singer had a life-changing injury, resulting in an inability to be on stage for 2 hours. Restarting his life trajectory midlife, he opened a Korean restaurant with excellent food where he comes out every hour or so to sing beautifully.
Cheti’s Curry Indian and Sri Lankan Food, very very good curry, owner is a nice person too, Seefeldstrasse 7A 8008 Zurich Tel: 043 268 55 85
India Street Food
Sri Lankan, Indian food. Langstrasse 213 8005 Zurich, woo, samosas and other tasty deep-fried hand held food for 3 CHF each. Mo – Sa 11:30-23:30
Good Thai for 18-20 SFr per plate. Brauerstrasse 9 8004 Open from 11-21 Uhr. 01 241 39 37 I make Homer Simpson noises when i think of this place. There is another one at Helvetiaplatz, requires reservation
Didi’s Frieden – we had a really nice dinner here with good food and wine. It is loud though and that is a pity because it detracts when you can’t hear.
Restaurant Joseph our current favorite, small plates of food so 4 or 5 make a delicious dinner for around 80 CHF per person Our current favorite restaurant 4 or 5 small plates for 80 CHF, really great food
The Bombay Store Stampfenbachstr. 32 8006 Zurich 079 200 14 18 Good cheap Hallal Pakistani food for 15 SFr per plate
Sternen Grill at Bellevueplatz täglich 07:00-24:00 – the best bratwurst stand, also the best mustard, which you can get in a jar to go
Hot Pasta near the ETH main building, good pasta at a decent price, not big portions so big guys have to stop at McDonalds after
Restaurant Schlauch Münstergasse 20 ObereZäune 17 Niederdorf good organic Swiss food for about 20-25 Sfr per plate. Lots of pool tables too.
Baur au Lac Talstrasse 1. 01 220 50 20 Best Sunday brunch with a fantastic dessert bar. It costs around 85 Sfr so go hungry. Reservation required.
Der gruene Libanon Lebanese kebobs by the main train station
Restaurant Hirslanderhof Geheimtip Forchstrasse 76, 8008
Restaurant Rigiblick One of the best dining experiences I have had, everything was tip top, lunch menu took 2.5 hours for 4 courses
Restaurant Cedre Everyone’s favorite Lebanese Restaurant, Badenerstrasse 78 8004 Zurich 044 241 4272, needs a reservation, really great food
zum Kropf
Good Swiss food, not too expensive.
Roi-et Daniel said that this food actually uses the whole scale of hotness i.e. they might actually produce food that is too hot to eat.
Beyond Good Chinese food next to the Bahnhof, Zollstrasse 20 8005 043 355 8345
Kantorei Good Swiss food, not cheap. Neumarkt 2, 044 252 27 27
Restaurant Pergola Recommended by Markus – get some kind of fleisch for two
Brasserie Johaniter Niederdorf decent Swiss food at a reasonable price
Mere Catherine Nägelihof 3/Niederdorf – good food for about 70CHF per person for dinner, wine and dessert
Linde Oberstrass Back & Brau, Universitätsstrasse 91
Reithalle Gessnerallee 8 nice place to eat and sit outside in the summer
Alpenrose 01 271 39 19 Daniel and Sophie’s favorite high-end Swiss food Reservations are required. Corner of Limmatstrasse and Quellenstrasse.
Blinde Kuh Mühlebachstr. 148  Tel: (01) 421 50 50  Dining experience in complete darkness with seeing-handicapped waitpeople. a unique experience…  Must make reservations far in advance.
Restaurant Waldhaus Katzensee  Wehentalerstr. 790  the perfect family restaurant with a collection of 1-franc rides out front, a small train to ride, and a playground- all within view of an outdoor eating area.
Morgenstern Zwinglistrasse 27; 01 242 68 30 not cheap but consistently good Italian food

R.I. P. Old favorites

Palmhof now changed into an alehouse (Alehouse Palmhof) with a good beer selection (food is ok). The old Palmhof was unique, what a loss that it is gone. I’m keeping it on my list as a memory. Universitätstrasse 23 8006 Zürich
Mohrenkopf Niederdorfstrasse 31, my favorite cafe in Zurich, they have good food, nice coffee, and their specialty are Mohrenkopfs, marshmallow inside and chocolate outside
Samurai – best sushi I have had in Zurich, Weststrasse 180, 8003 +41-43-811-5678, since this time though, a lot of Sushi restaurants have opened in Zurich so there are probably good ones that I don’t know about

Eating my way through Switzerland

Solothurner torte from Suteria in Solothurn

Engiadiner Nusstortli from Cantieni on the main street of Skuol

Merlasco for spices like Harissa, also sold in the Marketplace in the Viadukt

Panettone from the Panneteria in St. Gallen, not just for Christmas , also try Capelli for pannettone

Hüppen from Gottlieber

Birrawegge from Baggenstos in Seedorf, Uri

Fighting Unfair Collection Practices in Switzerland

A big Danke! to the Swiss Stiftung für Konsumentenschutz (SKS) for saving me 58 Swiss Francs! An unpaid bill from Ricardo that I did not see was sent to Intrum Justitia for collection.  Ricardo has some strange billing practices, namely they send (sent?) periodic bills with charges for posting items but the big bills with the fee incurred when something actually sold seems to only go to the internal Ricardo mail. I never checked this internal mail box because they were periodically sending me bills! What gives, Ricardo? Are my settings wrong? Are you complicit in this Abzockerei?

This SKS page explains what to do if you get such a bill. It also explains that Inkasso firms (in my case Intrum Justitia) are only allowed to bill you for the amount of the unpaid bill plus interest. They are not allowed to tack on a huge fee as their fee must be collected from the firm for whom they are collecting. In my case the unpaid bill was 38.65 CHF, the interest was 0.10 CHF and the Intrum Justitia fee was 58.00 CHF. I followed the instructions on the SKS page which includes a letter to send to the Inkasso firm (Musterbrief). I modified the letter to include my personal information and my numbers and sent it to Intrum Justitia registered with return acknowledgement requested.  I immediately paid Intrum Justitia the part that is legally required, i.e. 38.75. Within 5 days my Ricardo account was unblocked. After one week, I have not heard back from Intrum Justitia.

SKS will help members without cost and for non-members help is available via a 900 number. Membership is well worth the cost.

  • March 6: Letter from Intrum Justitia is dated March 6
  • March 7: I paid Intrum Justitia 38.75 and sent my letter by email to Intrum Justitia with a copy to SKS
  • March 8: I sent registered letter by Swiss Post
  • March 13: My Ricardo account was unblocked
  • March 23: I received another bill from Intrum Justitia for 58 CHF. Note that this second bill is dated March 13.
  • March 31: I send a second letter to Intrum Justitia based on the first letter.
  • May 8: I have not heard anything else from them.