January 17, 2015
It had much too long since Dan and I left the apartment for anything more than work. So despite the cold and wet weather, we bundled ourselves up, caught a train and made our way to Laufenburg, Switzerland. I had ridden through this town a couple of times and each time I was intrigued by the ancient towers and city walls. This time we’d stop specifically to check it out.
The town is wedged between a hill and the Rhine River. We circled our way up the hill to see what was at the top. There was a large parish church and a stone tower. The church was locked but the tower was open. We climbed the stairs into the tower but the low clouds kept us from enjoying the view from the top of the parapet.
Bear carving along the path
The tower at the top of the hill
The view of the town from the top of the hill. Germany is on the other bank of the river.
What surprised us the most was the complete lack of people in the streets. I felt sorry for the businesses that must be suffering from a lack of customers, but then we noticed the many empty store fronts.
It was really sad to see such a beautiful town not living up to its potential. And with the recent drop of the Swiss Franc, it was unlikely that an economic boon would happen any time soon.
Seeing as there wasn’t much going on in Laufenburg, Switzerland, we decided to walk across the bridge to Laufenburg, Germany and explore some more. The two towns used to be one and part of Austrian territory. In the early 19th century, Napoleon divided the city, leaving a town split by the rolling river. We crossed the ancient pedestrian bridge in search of more activity.
View across the Rhine to Germany
Laufenberg (DE) from the opposite bank
Historical view of the bridge building
Looking back at Laufenberg (CH) with the parish steeple and the stone tower in the background
The streets and shops were just as empty on this side of the river. The old section was much smaller than in Switzerland, so any empty stores weren’t as obvious. In fact, I did find one interesting store that sold mostly hand-made wooden furniture, sculptures and toys, as well as a huge array antique items.
Empty streets on the north side of the Rhine, too
Sculpture in Germany
We had run out of interesting things to look at, the air was cold and damp and it was well after lunch. We followed the path we were on as it paralleled the the Rhine and crossed back into Switzerland. It was a peaceful time and we saw only two other walkers enjoying the day.
Looking back at Germany
Both towns facing the Rhine
Gun turret on the Rhine
We picked up a loaf of bread from the bakery (as well as a nice apple pastry) and took the train home to our warm and dry apartment. The bread went perfectly with our fondue.