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The Sea of Fog

November is almost here and fall is slowly but surely giving way to more wintery days. Clocks have been set on winter standard time and the leaves that are still on the trees are definitely more brown than colorful by now. The fog has arrived in Switzerland and it is foggy almost every morning. Sometimes the sun doesn't come out till noon if it does at all.

Fog has been part of Swiss falls and winters for as long as I can remember. Especially in the flat part of Switzerland - an area that is also called 'Unterland' which literally means 'Underland' - the fog is known to appear almost daily.

Two Types of Fog

There are basically two kinds of fog here in Switzerland:
  1. Regular fog, that "sits" on the ground and bothers you while driving because you can't see far anymore
  2. 'High fog' or 'Hochnebel' in German. This fog is more a like a solid cloud sitting a few hundred meters above the ground, preventing the sun from shining in the areas below it. 
Obviously, high fog still lets through some light but it tends to turn a nice day with relatively warm temperatures into a gray disaster. Most people here totally dislike this high fog and it received the very appropriate nickname 'fog soup' ('Nebelsuppe' in Swiss German).

However, fog can be interesting as well. It can turn forests into mysterious places and a ride across country into an adventure. Yet, the nicest way to experience fog is from above it. In Switzerland we call fog when seen from above the 'Nebelmeer' which literally means 'sea of fog'.

Sea of Fog at Mount Rigi - Joujou  /
I am sure most of you had the chance to see clouds from an airplane and know how nice and fuzzy they look. Fog is quite similar. Here in Switzerland you don't even need an airplane to get above it, you can simply climb a mountain or take a cable car up to the top and escape the gray wet day as you travel into sunny weather.

It is quite an experience to start the cable car ride under the fog in the gray city and then move through the fog only to emerge in a sunny world with blue skies and an amazing view: the sea of fog with the mountain tops as islands.

I can only recommend that you take some time off during one of those foggy days and drive to central Switzerland (or any other part of the Alps that is closer to where you live) and ride the cable car up the Rigi or Pilatus. Don't forget to take your camera!



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