Friday, August 19, 2016

St. Beatus Caves

While we were in Switzerland, I saw an advertisement for the St. Beatus-Hoehlen,
which is a series of caves above Lake Thun.

We decided to go see them!

As we left, there were groups of people walking towards the church.
Some with instruments.

Young girls were in all white long dresses:

Men were in uniforms: 

We discovered that the town of Moerel was celebrating Corpus Christi!

While it was difficult not to get sucked into the festivities,
we decided to carry on to see the saves.

Here I am at the train station: 

While we were waiting for our train, all the bells in town rang and
then this procession with instruments and flags went down the street.

Yep, we got to go through Bitsch again!
And yes, it was funny every time. 

Our train went through the valley to Interlaken. 

And then we transferred to a bus that traveled right along Lake Thun.
Of course, I wanted to look at everything out the side windows and it was warm in the bus, so I got slight touch of motion sickness.

The bus had advertisements and little bits of news playing on the the screens in front.
We even got to hear about upcoming expected weather! 

When we reached our stop (Beatushoehlen),
here's what we saw!
The entrance to the caves themselves are hidden behind that building up there. 

The caves are full of water rushing everywhere and carving the rocks 
into wonderful shapes.
The water rushes out of the cave and cascades down the mountain into Lake Thun. 

The name of the caves stems from the history/mythology about a monk, Beatus, came to the Interlake region to spread the Good News.  Legend states that this happened in the 2nd century after Christ's death (years 1-100 after Christ's death).  He is said to have been baptized by Barnabus and ordained by Peter!  

The story says that Beatus arrived in the region of Lake Thun and wanted to serve the people living there in order to be an example of Christ to them.  He asked them how he could help them.  The townspeople told him there was a dragon that lived in the caves above the lake, and that this dragon came out and ate their animals and crops.  It would be very convenient if Beatus could get rid of the dragon.

Beatus bravely climbed up the mountain into the caves, where he discovered the dragon, with red burning eyes.
He commanded it in the name of the Father, the Son, and the Holy Spirit to begone!
The dragon flew out of the cave and crashed into the lake, causing the water to bubble and boil where it landed.  There are still searches in the lake for the body of the dragon, but it has never been found.

There he is: St. Beatus himself! 

There was a long winding path/staircase up to the caves. 

At each turn, there were wonderful views of the waterfall. 

Turning back the way we came, there were beautiful views of 
Lake Thun. 

Near the top there was a Dragon Playground for kids. 

I found a little treasure: a snail! 


We peeked into the caves as we were ordering Greg's lunch and
saw this fearsome dragon peering out at us . . .  

These stiles are the end of the cave tour. 

Greg had fries and a burger. 

We decided to take the tour rather than just going in by ourselves because
we wanted to hear the history of the caves and of St. Beatus.

The spot with the cross is where the bones of St. Beatus lie.
Although it might be someone else; after all these years, no one knows for sure.
They are treated as a holy relic.

 There was a little display of how prehistoric people in the region may have lived
as a reminder that people were living in these caves long before St. Beatus ever arrived.

Perhaps they had some sort of agreement with local dragons? 

There was also a display of how St. Beatus may have lived during his lifetime. 

This sign states that St. Beatus came to Switzerland in the 6th century.
As you can see, no one is really sure because it was before written histories were common in the area,
and the oral history is thought to be mixed with stories about other monks named Beatus. 

Here's the stile to get in.
It was supposed to be easy to go in (with a COIN), but we weren't given coins, so I stuck my ticket in the wrong place and broke the stile.  Oops! 

There's the courtyard where we had lunch! 

We took LOTS of photos in the caves, but as light is low, many of them were blurry.
Here are some of the better ones.

None of the plants would be growing if there weren't artificial light introduced into the caves so we could walk safely. 

With the water everywhere and the wet chill, it was cold in there
and my hair was actually damp when we left the caves, even though I didn't get wet.

I think my favorite part was this little "lake,"
because the mountains that you see are under the water.
There's an underwater topography, and it's easy to see it because the water is perfectly clear!

I imagined little towns hidden in the shadows of these underwater mountains.

These look scary to me . . . like big monster boogers or something. 

Or maybe monster teeth or gills.

Another part I really liked a LOT was this!
It's rock, but it obviously was dripped down as liquid and hardened later.
It looks like caramel. 

Such pretty designs! 

After more than an hour in the caves, we emerged back into the cafe.

The water was rushing out, all ready to JUMP over the cliff into the lake! 

At one of our bus stops on the way back to Moerel,
the bus driver took his lock box and walked out of the bus!

There was another bus driver waiting at the stop, who got in, locked his box into the slot,
and then we drove away again.
I've never seen that happen before!

I saw this clock along the way and thought the sign was adorable:
"We have time for you".

Greg was able to track the route of the bus online. 

In Interlaken, we got on our train for Moerel. 

The Swiss were just about to take a vote on genetically modified ingredients (GMOs).
People are pushing back strongly against GMOs and this sign indicated that there's a movement against genetically modifying people, too.  Perhaps they're thinking of cloning and other such procedures?

This sign says:
"Will genetically-modified corn
create genetically-modified people?

NO to unlimited reproductive medicine."

Then we were on our way back to our little apartment . . .  

where I ate this for dinner!

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