2013-08-01 47 8
Some Rhineside woods at Zweidlen.
- Catch train leaving Zurich from rail 18 at 10.40am to Bülach.
- Catch S4 leaving from rail 6 at 11.07.
- Reach the hashpoint
11.30 or earlier.
- Check the remains of Valentinian's tower.
- Wander into Germany, maybe.
Just about every country has a national holiday. Often it is on the anniversary of the betrayal or treason that enabled it to wage war on the country that had created and nurtured it, or on the anniversary the head of state's inauguration or birth. This leads to a minor problem in Switzerland, which has neither a documented founding act (having shifted into existence gradually) nor a head of state (being an actual democracy). For long, this wasn't a problem, but with the arrival of right-wing nationalists, a significant group of citizens demanded a national holiday in Switzerland, which the people granted them in 1889. As a date, the first of August was chosen for convenience reasons. Over time, this date has erroneously been associated with an oath on Rütli meadow in 1291, a defense treaty and a man called William Tell shooting apples with his crossbow. The holiday was declared a work-free day later in 1993, but is still mostly celebrated by patriots and neo-nazis, yet has found some popularity among other people, since it is an excuse for lighting fireworks.
Calamus wasn't particularly fond of fireworks nor nationalism, so he went geohashing instead. Today's hashpoint was, ironically, next to the German border, near the river Rhine. The only nearby train station had been closed some time ago due to lack of usage, but luckily reopened after some heavy protests. The first of August has a reduced train schedule akin to Sundays, but this didn't make a difference so far out, so there was at least the basic two-trains-an-hour connection.
The hashpoint's distance from the path was a little greater than expected, as was the share of brambles and stinging nettle in the undergrowth, making the shorts Calamus wore a suboptimal choice of attire. Also, the satellite signal shifted even more here than usual, so when Calamus emerged from the undergrowth after some long time of homing, his legs felt somewhat uncomfortable (being a serious understatement). In fact, Calamus later discovered that the location had been called the "accursed place" for centuries, ever since the first embarassing attempt to get rid of the rampant undergrowth.
Calamus proceeded to check on the remains of a watchtower emperor Valentinian built in the fourth century as a part of a continuous Rhine fortification between Stein am Rhein and Basle (quite a distance, actually). Today, only the foundations are left, and the place has lost any significance, even to archeologists.
While Calamus had considered simply walking into Germany, he had exactly five cents of European money (which he knew even in foreign economies not to be enough for a decent beer) and a lot of work to do, so he returned to Zurich.
| Calamus earned the Consecutive geohash achievement