© 2011 Aaron

Swiss National Day

August 1 is Swiss National Day, and a holiday for most companies (except some construction workers – they were out in force near the Postplatz). I had received a postcard in the mail the week prior, outlining the activities. While I figured there would be plenty of wurst of all types, beer and fireworks, I didn’t expect a really long walk bracketed by a spectrum of Alphorn music.

I began the day with the Konzert der Alphorwerkstatt Zug, a free outdoor concert at the Reform Church in downtown Zug. From there, I strolled along the lake and up to the Burg (central castle, complete with a moat), where I found Swiss folk music in full swing.

By then, the temperature had climbed a bit, so I walked the rest of the way up to our apartment for a lunch break and some time with Didger – and a change into cooler clothes. After lunch I went down to the lakeshore to catch some jazz and to saunter around a little, enjoying the smell of wurst and pastries – and beer, lots of beer.

Upon exiting the Landsgemeindeplatz in the Altstadt, a bus was there – teasing me to get out and about, so I hopped on. It was the bus with regular routes to and from Walchwill, a good distance down the lake from Zug. I rode down to Walchwil and caught another bus to Arth – the lakeshore town at the opposite end of the lake from Zug. I fully expected to walk around a little and see what Swiss National Day was like on the other end of the lake, then catch a bus back up the shoreline. I was surprised to find that the buses weren’t running as regularly as usual and I missed a bus by 2 minutes. Instead of waiting an hour for the next bus, I started walking … and I kept walking … and walking. Eventually, I figured out that I was out of step with the bus schedule, so I decided to spend the afternoon walking from Arth up to Oberwil, which is just South of Zug. It was a great way to see how the Swiss celebrate further away from a big city center – and it was exhausting.

I finished up the day – after feeding Didger supper and drinking about a gallon of water – at the lakefront enjoying a really interesting Alphorn/jazz/reggae/fusion kind of concert. Watch the video and you’ll hear a few of the tunes. Eliana Burki is a sort of Pop Alphorn icon (yes, that is possible) and certainly talented. However, if I’m honest, I’m still much, much more impressed by Zach’s Alphorn teacher – Roland Dahinden. I really shouldn’t even compare the two as Herr Dahinden’s technique and sound is impeccable.

Finally, it was a hike back up to the apartment in the dusk, then sunset, then fireworks – until around 2AM.

A full, tiring, varied day in Switzerland.




  1. Jamison
    Posted August 12, 2011 at 6:07 pm | #

    Awesome! Great photos and video!

    Interestingly, I grew up near a small, rural southeastern MN hamlet called Berne. Which celebrates its own annual Swiss celebration called “Swissfest”. Intended to “preserve the Swiss heritage of the Swiss pioneers who settled the Berne area”. Very festive and I’ll never forget how different (and good!) the Swiss chocolate was!

    Here is a link: http://www.swissfest.org/

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