I am writing this looking out on another few inches of white stuff that fell last night. This is the second morning, in a row, that we have gotten up to snow on the ground. Winter does not want to go away this year. We have had some glimpses of spring, but they have been few and far between. I do not remember if I have told you this before, but snow tires are a law here during the winter months. There is no such thing as all season tires. Every time you buy a car, you have to buy a second set of tires. Since our car is a company car for Julie, we do not have to worry about storing the tires, but I did get an email last week telling me I need to get in and have the tires changed. I think I am going to wait until the last possible moment. It isn’t even that I drive that much. I simply like the idea that if I have to get out on the hills around the apartment and there is snow on the ground, I have every advantage!
I am able to feel productive this week. I have kept my membership in CoSN (Consortium for School Networking) while I am over here. It helps me stay informed with what is going on in regards to Education Technology, and every once in a while it gives me something to do. A couple of weeks ago, there was a request for some assistance with some Cyber Security Training that CoSN is providing for the Florida Department of Education. The benefit to me, is that I get to record some volunteer time for my certifications, and I get to attend the training for free! It is not the same as working, but does it make me a bad Hausmann to say I prefer spending my afternoons helping vs mopping the floor or doing laundry? The floors do need mopped pretty badly, though, so tomorrow I will be doing that all day! 🙂
We were able to get away for a second weekend in a row. Thanks to the swiss holiday schedule. Even though Switzerland is not particularly religious, they still keep a lot of the traditional religious holidays. Easter is a four day weekend for us. We have actually been through Schaffhausen a couple of different times, but we never left the train station; so it was good to see some of the town. The coat of arms is a ram, but look at the picture of the flag, and I think you will agree with me, that it looks more like a dancing poodle.
You just have to ignore the cloven hooves. I am not exactly sure why the symbol of Schaffhausen is a sheep (schaf). I did a little research, and there are a couple of theories. One is that it came from one of the founding families. One of them may have had a ram on their coat of arms. Another theory is that it comes from a wrong translation, that somehow got passed down through the years. This one does have historical context to it, however.
Before there were any bridges or trains. The town was critical for the transport of goods up and down the Rhine. About two miles below Schaffhausen sit the Rhine Falls, and there are some small falls and rapids in between; so goods were offloaded and then carted to the other side, where they were loaded in a “scapfa” or skiff to continue their journey. Back in 1045 Schaffhausen first appears in history as Villa Scafhusun. This theory actually makes a lot of sense to me. The dialect of german spoken in this area tells me that it could be just the way the word was pronounced, and some influential traveler heard the word spoken more like the word sheep, and it simply stuck.
I made the comment with some friends via Snapchat, that you know you are visiting a town with a lot of history when the “New Tower” in the town was built in 1321.
One thing that never fails to amaze me, is how so much of the history in these old towns has been preserved. There are many examples in Schaffhausen where the old city walls have been integrated into the architecture of the town. Quite a few of the towers that used to make up part of the city wall are still in existence. It is not quite as fascinating of some of the old Roman and Greek ruins, but it is pretty close to me! One last bit of historical relevance, is that Schaffhausen holds the distinction of being one of 70 Swiss cities attacked by the Americans in World War II.
Attacked is honestly a little bit of poetic license. The Americans did bomb the town, but it was because the navigators were lost. They thought they were bombing a German city. An article I read while we were visiting, was that the air raid sirens had gone off so frequently the citizens ignored them. About 40 people were killed, and the US paid $40 million in apologies.
One of the more interesting examples of architecture in town is Munot. (Another interesting tidbit, I have not ever seen it referred to as The Munot. I am not sure why.). Munot is a circular fortification built on one of the hills above the city. Standing at the wall, and you get a beautiful view of the Rhine, and of downtown. Julie and I actually made the trek up the hill a couple of times.
Munot was built in the mid 1500’s. The town leaders decided Schaffhausen needed more protection so they built the fort. Interesting enough even before it was finished the town realized it really wasn’t strong enough to handle the “modern” artillery. It was only used in battle once in 1799. The French had been chased out of Austria, and tried to hole up in Munot. After a very short battle, the French forces realized it was not going to hold so they abandoned the fort and escaped across the river. The tower on Munot is occupied. The Watchman lives there, and every evening at 9:00 PM rings the bell signifying that everything is secure. This bell ringing has gone on almost every night since 1589.
There used to be a moat around the fortress. The water has been drained for many years now, and it is a park for a small herd of deer. The one male deer is always named after the current mayor. I joked with Julie, that this would cause some issue if there is ever a woman mayor!
Another thing that seems to set Schaffhausen apart from other Swiss towns are the number of Bay Windows all through the town. At some point this became a competition to the wealthy people that lived in town, to have the most opulent bay window. I did not take pictures of all of them, but I did take some of my favorites.
Below is a short video of Munot. I started recording from the roof, as Julie and I were walking out. The “stairway” is striking, and you will see a little of the gathering space in the center of the fortress. The video ends with some of the views from the top.
I will have one more post this week. Easter Sunday Julie and I took a hike from Schaffhausen to the Rhine Falls. It was a gorgeous hike along the river!
See you soon, and enjoy the pictures. The first of the pictures were taken Friday morning in Zürich. Each spring the city fills some of the larger fountains with roses. So before we went away for the weekend, we made a fast trip into the city to see the fountains.