Einsiedeln, Switzerland 7/13
Following side roads, which we prefer to the more hectic autobahns, with their white-knuckle 250 km/h (155 mph) Audi A8s, (420 hp/0-100 in 5.8 sec), practicing for the Le Mans 24 Hour Race and the screaming bugs–in-their-teeth fat-tire Ducati crotch-rockets, we visited the town of Einsiedeln to see the beautiful Barock style church and monastery, one of the most famous pilgrimages sites in Switzerland. As history has it, a Benedictine monk from Reichenau Island in Lake Constance on the German/Swiss border came to the region in 835 seeking seclusion. He established his hermitage on the slopes of Mt. Etzel. When he arrived in the area, he had with him a wonder-working statue of the Virgin Mary that he had been given by the Abbess Hildegarde of Zurich. Near his hermitage, he established a small shrine to house the statue, which became a small pilgrimage site.
According to legend he died in 861 at the hands of two robbers who coveted the treasures offered at the shrine by pilgrims. The robbers were then followed by two ravens into the village and drew attention to them with loud squawking. This is the reason, for the two ravens on the town flag.
One of the hermits named Eberhard, previously Provost of Strassburg, erected a monastery and church there, of which he became first abbot. Work on the monastery is said to have begun in 934. Following a miraculous vision by Eberhard, the new church was dedicated to the Virgin Mary. The ornate rose-collared paintings and delicate porcelain figurines are truly magnificent, even if you are not a churchy person.
A short 5-mile drive away we found a nice wild camp in the Euthal Valley, a well-visited resort located on Lake Sihl. In the morning, a farmer and his family stopped by, wondering what this strange truck was all about. Our world map on the side was becoming useful and his eyes lit up when we started the engine.