Ballenberg, the Swiss open air museum

The Bernese Oberland sports two faire sized lakes, the one of Thun separated at Interlaken from the one of Brienz. We did some railroadin’ to get there and, alas, could not fit a steam train trip to the Brienzer Rothorn in a fully charged day of visitin. The park containing historical houses from all over switzerland is shy of a kilometer wide and about two km long. Youd do need days to see it all!

We took the first train in Oberdiessbach, squeezed our tall shadows onto benches, slept, changed in Thun, slept some more when there was a lap available, passed Thunersee, changed in Interlaken to Zentralbahn (1m narrow gauge with rack & pinnion sections over Brünig Pass to Lucern) and stepped of in Brienz at the upper end of Lake of Brienz. Once our Postauto had arrived we piled in along with quite a few other Ballenberg visitors and headed to the west gate of the park.

The old museum administration was in a wealthy merchant’s super-sized wooden chalet and stood in Burgdorf. It shows aside from the fine carpentry displays for Swiss popular music and costumes. Every building in Ballenberg has a brief, multilingual summary description plus some details on weatherproof display boards.

Note the ceramic bowl with the 5 Frank piece! One hast to start by swaying it in a circular motion, then the 5 Frank piece is tossed in having been released with it’s own circular motion. Depending where the coin roles on the sloping sidewall it will make the basin ring with a higher or a lower pitch …bankers music, eh?

Moving on to the old village pub Alter Bären we met Dorothée, Didier and Wiwi and visited one of the large Bernese farmsteads complete with a woman spinning wool. Behold the baroque kitchen, the cart model of bygone cenuties and a lot of happy chickens. Earlier days certainly saw a nicely fed hen tastily prepared on the sunday dinner table.

There are dozens of old buildings and all with their attraction be looks, be it activities in side, be it displays. We must keep it necessarily selective. So, how about visiting an old drugstore and some history on homeopathic medicines? We used to live in Zizers where Kräuterpfarrer Künzle had his last base and just days before his death Lotti obtained some comphrey ointment to help tiny little Dorothée over a bad cold.

And lastly a grab bag of Ballenbergiana and details from shingle roofs to milking stools and skipping girls on country lanes.


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