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Tuesday, 22 April 2008

St. Blaise of Switzerland. Travel destinations

From Neuchátel to St. Blaise is as easy as finding your destination in the dark, if you are driving, following the white line on the road. By the time you have your morning fill of the Jura mountains, you go down the slope and turn left to the huge parking space and the lake.

St. Blaise, Biagio or San Blas (as he is known) was the physician Bishop of Sebaste in Armenia who lived in a cave on Mount Argeus. He was the healer of men and animals and according to legend, sick animals would come on their own to his cave, to be cured.

Armenians are Christians and were persecuted even in the Roman times. There is still a huge controversory in Turkey about the Ottomans' genocide of Armenian christians before and after the First World War. Gnaueus Julius agricola, the Roman General and politician, who was the governor of Cappadocia, came to Sebasste to persecute Christians.

Bishop Blaise was arrested and Agricola tried to force him to renouce his faith and accept Roman Gods. On his refusal, Bishop Blaise was thrown into a lake to drown but he survived, standing upon the surface of the water and challanged his Roman persecuters to do the same, to prove that their Gods wereas powerful as his own. Naturally they drowned. So when he returned to the solid ground, he was arrested, tortured and his flesh beaten and torn with wool brushes, then beheaded. For this reason he is worshipped by the Wool Merchants in Italy and Dalmatia (Croatia) and there are churches to his name in many countries. His memorial is celebrated on 3rd of February. The wool trade in Italy was centered in Florence (Fiorenza!the City of Flowers) which was the capital of Tuscany) and employed thousands of workers. Although other industries like making of wine etc developed later, wool trade was the main industry. Merino sheep was imported from scotland and Merino wool even today is world famous for its purity.

St.Blaise in switzerland, named in honour of martyred Bishop, has a special charm.For me it is a Travel Destination of immense charm. We parked our car in the almost empty area, there were three or four caravans standing on their parking lot and when I went to use the toilet, a man standing outside kindly told me that I could drink the water from the tap. Water was cool and refreshing.

Thus refreshed, we turned towards the lake, on our right a small semi-circle of a sandy beach, the beautiful mountains hovering overhead, beautiful houses perched on its slopes. The place had an atmosphere of complete calm and romance, which immediately put an spell on us. The morning was hot and we took off our clothes and dipped in the water with total abandon. Although we stayed on the beach for quite some time, only one solitary woman came to swim. No other bathers.

Straight ahead is the landing for boats and as we were gazing at the lake,a big boat/ferry came to the pier and some passangers got off. It was apparent that you could travel by boat to other destinations around the lake. Go visiting your friends and relatives, do some shopping.

On our left was a small harbour for boats, there were many boats berthed and people on board, some having breakfast. Every body greeted us and we returned their greetings. As if we were not visitors but well known acquintances. Where ever we went in switzerland, people in a friendly manner. Another nice and surprising thing was that we saw no nudity on the beaches, no scanty clad youngsters on any camp sites. In fact we saw no girls with a short short top or a mini skirt.

We were so enchanted with the beach, the lake and the mountains that we stayed there until late in the afternoon, and missed going up to the town center. So later we took to the road again. We would have liked so much to linger in this Travel Destination of cool calm and soothing charm but we wanted to see other enchanting places of Switzerland, so we had to go on.

But even now when I am writing about st. Blaise and remeber the mismerising effect of Bernese mountain range and the perfect soothing calm of St. Blaise, right now, I would rather be there than here in Germany.
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