1698. The Cable Car

Rhazuns Travel Blog

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No majestic gorge this time separating the Thusis Valley from the rest of the world, just a narrowing of the valley. Here the Traveler finds a quiet spot by the river to clean himself up a bit. In the Italian Alps, taking a bath in a frigid stream along the way was one of the highlights of every day. But here in Switzerland the weather has been a bit too chilly to enjoy that experience. Hopefully there will be other options up the road for staying clean.

He follows a couple of kilometers of rough mountain biking trail, enjoying another of Switzerland's many types of trails. Then... another valley. But this one runs east and west. Here, instead of seeing villages scattered across the mountains slopes, they are packed tightly together in the valley. It's going to be nice to be able to explore lots of villages and towns in one day.

.. but it's a bit bittersweet to the Traveler knowing that the inspiring solitude of the Hinterrhein River valleys and gorges is now a thing of the past.

In fact, as he soon later, this is a significant spot in the history of industrialization. Here, the Hinterrhein and Vorderrhein Rivers merge together... and the Rhine River is born... one of the most important rivers in human history. If the Nile and Euphrates were the Cradles of Ancient Civilization, then the Rhine was one of the Cradles of Industrialization.

When the Traveler realizes this, his mind immediately goes back to the amazing things he saw and learned farther downstream on the Rhine, as it flows through Germany and the Netherlands. There, the Rhine has been an important factor in helping make Germany an industrial powerhouse for the last 150 years or so—and often a symbol of nationalism and conflict, particularly where the river separates Germany and France.

The Rhine was one of the main arteries of Europe for centuries for moving raw material and manufactured goods in and out of the continent, helping propel it towards the Modern Era.

But here at its official starting point, it's just a regular rushing mountain river, lined with pleasant Swiss towns and villages. Today the Traveler will explore six of these towns.

First Villages of the Rhine

Rhazuns is the first. The first thing that catches the Traveler's attention here a cable car that starts here, and carries passengers high up the mountain side. But this is not just an attraction for tourists and skiers—this is a practical means of transportation for the village of Feldis, high up in the mountain.

This is the quickest way for folks there to connect with the outside world. Thanks, I imagine, in part to this lift, the village has actually grown in population, and enjoys an unemployment rate of 0.6% (that would probably be, like, 1 person).

Again, can't help but notice the contrast between how the Swiss approach their geographical obstacles and much of the rest of the world...

As the Traveler pauses in the park or Rhazuns to do his solitary Parkbench Concert, he notices the mailman zipping back and forth several times. Strangely, he doesn't seem to be going from house to house, but instead just going randomly from one place to another.

... He probably has a logical system going—I just can't see it, the Traveler muses.

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photo by: nathanphil