Lauterbrunnen: The Valley of 72 Waterfalls

Tucked away in the Bernese Oberland of the Swiss Alps, about 70km southeast of Bern, lies the valley of Lauterbrunnen, regarded as one of the most beautiful valleys in Europe. The valley is about a kilometer in width, and lies between gigantic rock faces and mountain peaks that rises almost perpendicularly to heights of 300 meters from the floor of the valley. At the bottom, nestled between towering limestone precipices, lies the village of Lauterbrunnen, surrounded on three sides by the Eiger, Monch and Jungfrau Mountains. The valley, carved by receding glaciers, extends south and then turns south-westwards from the village to form a U shape.

Lauterbrunnen means “many springs”. The name is derived from the 72 waterfalls that gush down into the valley from the vertical cliff faces, some of which are several hundred meters high. The most famous of these are the Staubbach Falls that plunges almost 300 meters, making it one of the highest in Europe formed of a single unbroken fall.

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Another spectacular natural phenomenon are the Trümmelbach Falls hidden behind a mountain, and consisting of a series of ten glacier-fed waterfalls that carries 20,000 litres of water per second. It drops a total of 200 meters. These thunderous falls have carved corkscrew-shaped gorges inside the limestone mountain. The waterfalls were invisible until 1877, when a tunnel was chiseled into the mountain. Today, you can ride an underground funicular and hike the walkways to see it. In winter, however, the falls are reduced to a trickle.

Lauterbrunnen’s dramatic cliffs and falls have inspired many musicians and writers, such as Johann Goethe’s poem, “Song of the Spirit of the Waterfalls,” which Franz Schubert set to music. J.R.R. Tolkien’s Misty Mountains of “The Hobbit” is also based on Lauterbrunnen.

Lauterbrunnen became a UNESCO World Natural Heritage Site in 2001.

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Amusingplanet.com

Wind Sends Porta-Potties Flying at Denver Park

Picnickers had nowhere to run when a freak windstorm descended on a Colorado park, wreaking havoc on a nearby canopy tent and sending two Porta-Potties flying high into the air. The fierce winds pushed the portable toilets out of their enclosure, slamming them into parked cars before lifting off into the sky. No one appears to have been injured by the flying lavatories, though some may have been sprayed by their contents as they took flight.

Chinese city gets ‘smartphone zombie’ walkway

BBC

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A city in northern China has introduced a special pedestrian lane on one of its roads, exclusively for slow-walking smartphone users, it’s reported.

According to the Shaanxi Online News, the pavement along the Yanta Road in Xi’an has now got itself a special lane for “phubbers” – people who stare at their phones and ignore everything else around them.

The lane is painted red, green and blue, and is 80cm wide and 100m long. Pictures of smartphones along the route distinguish it from an ordinary pedestrian lane.

Shaanxi Online says that a large shopping mall, which looks onto the street, had been pushing to have the lane for a month.

It says that cars often come onto the pavement, which is a busy channel for pedestrians who might not be paying attention to their surroundings.

News website The Paper interviewed locals, who welcomed the introduction of the lane.

Wei Xiaowei said it was the first time he had seen such a thing and said he thought it was “pretty good”.

“Everybody walking along here thinks that it’s very safe; at the side of the road, there are cars, and the vehicles also come onto here, and sometimes only just avoid you.”

Another local, Hu Shuya, says: “Young people’s lives nowadays are fast, and they’re always looking at their phones. This puts our minds at rest – those of us who are often looking at our phones – as it’s a form of protection.”

However, users of the popular Sina Weibo microblog view the lane largely with bemusement. One user says that young people’s fascination with mobile phones nowadays “is as rife as smoking opium during the Qing Dynasty”.

Another says that smartphone users have become like “blind people”, and another user points out that phubbers using the lane may still risk bumping into each other.

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