Day five of the Sandoz family reunion involved a bus tour where our final destination was to Creux-du-van. Breathtaking.

I’ve not been to many places that makes me gasp and say aloud, “Oh my God!” Someone on the tour commented that it probably wasn’t a good plan to drink absinthe before making the trek up the incline and stand on the edge of what is described as the Switzerland’s version of the Grand Canyon.

Creux-du-van052515According to wikipedia: “The Creux du Van is a natural rocky cirque approximately 1,400 metres wide and 150 metres deep, on the north side of Le Soliat. It is located in the Val de Travers district, in the Swiss canton of Neuchâtel. A very well known, amphitheatre-shaped natural attraction of the area, it is located at the heart of a nature reservation area of 15.5 km².”

Perhaps it was the absinthe, but on our way up to the spectacular view, I decided to bebull052515 Dr. Doolittle and talk to the cows. Perhaps it was the bright red head phones wrapped around my neck, but I almost got bulled over by a very large bull. Good thing that I’m still rather quick on my feet and fled from the charging Bovinae. It’s also possible that he was protecting the young calves that trailed calves052515the herd. For some reason, I always thought that bulls were kept from the cows, but my experience in this field is so  limited, I have nothing to base my thought on.

I have always been fascinated with stone walls. It’s the New Englander in me. I know that the stone walls of New England do not shake a stick compared to those of Europe, but a true stone wall that is made up of nothing but stone, is a work of art. My ex-brother-in-law, Mark Lange, built an exquisite stone wall one summer; I enjoyed watching the creation; it was like a gigantic jigsaw puzzle. Today’s stonewall052515.2stone wall was unlike no other that I’ve seen with the vertical rock on top.

And what was on the other side of this wall was also unlike nothing that I had seen.

More information from Wikipedia: “It was created by natural water erosion from a
Creux du van052515local glacier that was linked to the Rhone glacier, causing land slides of a semi-circular shape.”

“This giant cirque of cliff gets its name “Creux” from an old Celtic word that means a deep valley or a hollow depression. The word “Van” is also of Celtic origins, and refers to a rocky valley.” (

If I had known that I was about to be fed a humongous meal of pork steak and veal sausage along with potatoes au gratin and salad, I may have walked the path twice, but I was already breathing walk along path in creux du van052515hard only half the way. At least it leveled out and the path was on the other side of the cow pasture, which meant I didn’t need to keep my head down as I walked.

Along the way, I came upon an old grave marker. Written in French, I could only understand the universal R.I.P. According gravemarkerincreux du van052515to the internet, Ici est tombé means, here fell. Even with the translation, I can’t be certain if his name was Jean Pilloud and was from Ch,tel-St-Denis Frieburg. This 23-year-old was ready to fight the Germans during World War II, but fell to his death. No one knows why he was so close to the edge. How appropriate that I pay my respects to a fallen soldier on Jean Pilloudmemorial day.

We were told that Creux du van was a wildlife refuge. I suspected that the odds were slim in seeing a lynx or a hare, but I had hoped that I would see an Ibex. The Alpine ibex, “after being extirpated from most areas by the 19th century, was alpine ibexreintroduced to parts of its historical range.” I wonder where they were hiding?

I did my best to capture a picture of a swooping and swerving bird, but I didn’t have the right lens. I asked one of the Sandoz folks and was told it was a Bern, or something like that, but I didn’t find anything. Since my image is so far away, Milvus_migrans_2005-new

bird052515I can’t be sure, but it may be a Kite. My picture is on the left. What do you think?


1 Comment

  1. I cannot identify birds very well. Looks like some kind of hawk but then I just don’t know. I can remember traveling in the UK and around every corner we uttered those same words of awe… OMG! Especially in Yorkshire and in the Lake District. Never saw Europe but Paul went to Switz. when he was a young lad with his best friend and his family and he loved it there.

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