6. Bukten – Aarburg – Army movements

We were satisfied with the hospitality of the “Halbmond”. The breakfast was particularly plentiful. It consisted of two large earthenware vessels containing milk and coffee, each of which could hold nearly a measure, and butter and honey, as well as raspberry juice, which is always present at breakfast in Switzerland. Although the milk and coffee containers mentioned were of such a large size that one could almost have hidden behind them, their contents were so excellent that we almost emptied them to the bottom. Anne-Mari, the waitress at the Crescent, had scarcely noticed this when she hastily tried to fill it out again, and it took half a Demosthenese eloquence to dissuade her from her well-intentioned resolution. This time we could also be satisfied with the bill, and after we had paid it and saddled the horses, we began our second day’s journey.

                The Hauenstein rises right behind Bukten, a considerable height that we had to climb. We didn’t need a guide, since the same road we were on led over the mountain. And the telegraph, which goes from Basel to Como, always accompanied us and made it easy for us to see the right path when the road forked. At last, we had reached the top, and a magnificent view was worth our trouble. We kept walking. On the highest peak of the mountain was a peg with the inscription: “Twelve hours to Lucerne”. It meant Swiss hours, which we should soon get to know better.

                The road now leads over the lower Hauenstein, which rises a little over 2000 feet above the sea level and from which one also enjoys a wonderful view. Curving around the mountain, the road descends gradually into the valley, while a side path leads down there more rapidly. I took this one to save the detour.

First winding through steep, partly overhanging rocks, the path suddenly descended vertically. Moreover, it was completely covered with boulders and small sharp stones, so that sometimes I slid down ten feet and had to crawl almost on all fours, not thinking what my boots endured. At the time, I made a resolution to never cut off again.

When I finally reached the valley on the road, I saw my companion riding far above me at a considerable height. I leisurely sat down on a stone on the path and had time and leisure to take a closer look at the beautiful area. As already mentioned, I found myself in a narrow valley, like a ravine, which was surrounded on all sides by mighty mountains. In front of me on a significant hill lay the once mighty Frohburg in mighty ruins, and to my right on a mountain slope lay the pretty chapel of the little village of Isenthal. I was still meditating when my companion suddenly approached, and we resumed our march. Soon after that we arrived in Olten. This is the second town in the canton of Solothurn, situated on the Aar, to the right bank of which a covered wooden bridge, such as one often finds in Switzerland, led us. For a while the road stays on the bank of the aforementioned river, then it turns left and you reach the town of Aarburg in the canton of Aargau, which was completely rebuilt after a fire in 1840. There we decided to rest.

                We stopped at one of the first inns. We had hardly eaten lunch when the sky overcast and it began to rain heavily. The landlord, whom we consulted about it, of course explained that it was going to be a very persistent rain, and at the same time asked if he could give us a room. As we had nothing else to do under the circumstances, we accepted his offer. We had scarcely settled into our rooms when we heard a great thump or bang, which gave a glorious echo round about the mountains and valleys. “If that was thunder,” said Henninger, “we won’t get a bad thunderstorm!” He hadn’t finished speaking when the roar was heard again, several times in a row, so that we recognized it as distant shots from a gun. We asked the landlord what it meant. He told us that the army corps of the canton of Aargau was holding big manoeuvres. As it had pretty much stopped raining, and he would have liked to put us up for the night, he described with admirable eloquence how wonderful and interesting it was to see such a manoeuvre. But we didn’t let ourselves be caught, paid our bill and went on.

Zofingen – Roman Mosaic floor

                <<Post nubila Phoebus>> (after clouds the sun), says the proverb, and it proved itself at the time. It was a glorious evening, and admiring the beauties of nature that surrounded me, I forgot the weariness caused by the sharp stones of the Hauenstein. So, we came to Zofingen, a fairly important little town with a strangely built church and a gate tower of the same kind, which is adorned with various coats of arms and shields. The most notable thing, however, is a nearby, well-preserved Roman bath with its mosaic floor. The sun was already sinking behind the mountains and dusk was falling in the valleys as we approached the village of Reiden. We had heard repeated shooting from afar and took it for echoes of the Aargau Army Corps manoeuvres. But when we came closer, we saw shooting ranges and tents erected on a large meadow in front of the place, whose peaks and peaks, adorned with ribbons and flags, were picturesquely illuminated by the last rays of the setting sun; but the rejoicing unfortunately came to an end because of the oncoming darkness; the prizes were distributed to the best shooters.