Sunday, June 16, 2024
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TRIP TO RHINE FALLS, SWITZERLAND

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Rhine Falls is an out-of-the-world experience. It has unforgettable sights at the largest waterfall in Europe. It’s a treat to one’s eyes and mind with its exquisite views. From the Cuckoo Clock factory in Germany at 3 in the afternoon, we left for the Rhine Falls in Switzerland located in the municipality of Neuhausen-Am-Rheinfall. On the way, while negotiating the scenic mountain windings in the Bavarian Alps, I nostalgically kept recollecting my bygone life in the thick of those absorbing instrumentals, of my all-time favourites streaming in a sequence on my mobile in hands free mode. I was reminded of my favourite scene in the Hollywood flick ‘Dr Zhivago’ when Omar Sharif runs up the staircase and breaks the glass pane to have one last glimpse of Julie Christie from the window as the image of the sledge pulled by horses carting her starts diminishing in the snowy surroundings. This is when the melody of Lara’s theme fills the ambience in the hall. This tune is followed by the ‘Love theme’ from Romeo and Juliet, by the Dutch violinist Andre Rieu, and then comes the famous Scarborough Fair (some even call it a hymn) by British flautist Adrian Bret … Oh wow! The combo of the scenic beauty and on-the-spot music all belonging to the European continent was just mesmerising. What followed were the lasting memories of the great Richard Burton and his famous Alistair Maclean movie ‘Where Eagles Dare’, which had so much to do with the Bavarian Alps standing tall in Germany and Austria. And while all this was happening I dwindled off to forty winks.

    We were at the Rhine Falls by 5 in the evening. It is the most powerful waterfall by flow rate in Europe. Earlier there were only rocks and stones there but when the water arrived it turned into a horizontal waterfall. The falls are located on the High Rhine, which is the border between the cantons of Schaffhausen and Zurich, between the municipalities of Neuhausen am Rheinfall and Laufen-Uhwiesen/Dachsen, next to the town of Schaffhausen in northern Switzerland. The falls cannot be climbed by fish, except by eels that can worm their way up over the rocks. At 5.40 PM we boarded a forty-seater yellow boat. It took us to the rock island located at the centre of the fall where we alighted. We then climbed the steep stairs to reach the top of the rock island to have the amazing three-sixty-degree view. One felt fresh when the water droplets rose from the plunge pool and landed on the face.

    The nearest town to Rhine Falls is Neuhausen-am-Rheinfall, which is situated on the north of the falls, where tourists can view the Worth Castle, and the Laufen Castle overlooking the waterfall. Access to the other side of the river is possible through boat services or via a sidewalk on the railway bridge upstream of the waterfall.

     Apart from boat trips to the Rhine Falls’ rock (Rheinfallfelsen), there are also other viewing platforms with views of the waterfall built on both sides of the Rhine. These are reached via steep and narrow stairs. The view is very exciting. Even elevators exist in some places. Guided tours of various lengths starting from Laufen Castle on the Zurich side of the falls are also there. A youth hostel is also located in Schloss Laufen. Various restaurants are located in Schloss Laufen, Schlössli Wörth and the Rheinfall Park.

    The Rhine Falls were formed in the last ice age, approximately 14,000 to 17,000 years ago. About 132,000 years ago the course of the river changed southwards at Schaffhausen and formed a new channel, which also filled up with gravel. Part of the Rhine today includes this ancient riverbed. There is a long history of Rhinefall that cannot be told in this short column. The formation of the Rhine Falls is on display in a permanent exhibition at the Museum-zu-Allerheiligen (a former Benedictine monastery) in Schaffhausen.

    After having a clear all-around view we returned to the boarding station from where we had boarded the same forty-seater yellow boat. The river water was crystal clear and blue. We could see several shoals and many of them were quite colourful. Upon reaching the boarding station we were in for a pleasant surprise as we were served Indian Masala Tea and Mumbai’s famous Vada-Pav right at the heart of the Rhine Falls in Switzerland. After the spectacular views at the Rhine Falls, we travelled for two hours to reach our hotel Seddam Plaza in Seddam Centre in Pfäffikon, Switzerland. With that, the long journey across the Black Forest in Germany and the Rhine Falls in Switzerland came to an end.

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