Today’s blog post is coming from a very special lady. Linda has been running The Friends of Major Dick Winters Facebook Page for years and she is incredibly devoted to real-life WWII heroes. She regularly attends the reunions held on the anniversary of D-Day in Normandy with Band of Brothers actors and WWII veterans. Damian knows Linda well and appreciates her hard work honoring Major Dick Winters and all WWII veterans. You can read Linda’s wonderful story about how she became a Damian Lewis fan here!
In the summer of 2018, Linda had the pleasure of visiting some important Band of Brothers filming locations in Switzerland. I kindly asked her if she would consider writing about her trip for us and she said YES! And we are extremely thrilled that we are sharing Linda’s travels in the footsteps of Steven Spielberg filming Band of Brothers in our week-long BoB 18th Anniversary celebration!
Linda, we cannot thank you enough for your support and friendship, and for this very special contribution to Fan Fun. Currahee!
When my husband suggested we spend this year’s summer vacation in beautiful Switzerland, mainly because he wanted to revisit some places where he had been in his youth, the idea whether this could be combined with a few visits to ‘Band of Brothers’ related places came to my mind. This was not really a surprise for my husband, he endures and lives with my BoB fascination for about 16 years now….
Now I know very well that the real Easy Company has never been in Switzerland, but the beautiful mountain scenery and picturesque towns we see in Episode 10 “Points” of the mini-series which depict Zell Am See in Austria and surroundings are actually landscapes in Switzerland! Spielberg took the liberty to cheat a little… that’s film.
To keep a long story short, we finally booked 5 days near Zermatt (no BoB locations there, but the brilliant mini-series “The Night Manager” was shot there, so that was a treat too!) and 5 days near the Brienzersee at THE hotel where many scenes of the last episode were filmed: The Grand Hotel Giessbach in Giessbach which Spielberg makes us believe it’s The Grand Hotel in Zell Am See.
Need I tell that when I arrived in Giessbach I immediately felt “at home”? First thing you see when you arrive at the spot is the majestic entrance with the famous stairs, beautiful blue lake view in the background… a vision of Winters, Nixon and Welsh sitting there, popped up!
Then I entered our room (with lake view) and saw the large double window with the typical curtains….oh man, for any BoB fan: heaven!
The large terrace (belonging to an expensive suite) was right next to our room…
Another recognizable spot in the garden…
I couldn’t get into the actual suite where this well known scene was filmed, but other suites, open for public look alike…
I also heard reports about a “red headed eskimo” and went looking for him along the lake.
Don’t know if I’ve actually been successful at that. There are many walking paths along the lake and the landscape may have changed after 18 years. Unfortunately I didn’t find a path between such big trees as in the series. I suspect though the lovely scenes with Winters and Nixon were filmed near the hotel, so I took a few pictures there, having the gut feeling it was somewhere here Spielberg filmed…
Another difficult task was to find the stone jetty where Major Winters made a splash into the beautiful lake, later followed by Nixon. Have I found it? I’m not 100 % sure, but I’ve found only one and I didn’t see any others during a 3-hour boat trip along the lake. If you compare the photos, keep in mind there was less water in the lake because of the weeks of drought. This jetty was situated in Schwanden bei Brienz, a few kilometres away from the hotels. I knew about this place because I had stumbled across a Swiss newspaper article from 2000, announcing the arrival of Spielberg and his crew to the area.
The same article was also very useful to find the nearby little town of Unterseen where a spectacular military parade was filmed. At home I had already found info on that on a Japanese blog, but this article confirmed Unterseen as the place! As you can see, even the tree is still there! Don’t know if the building is new since 2000 or if Spielberg used a little magic to make it disappear in the series.
Standing on the same steps as ‘Speirs’. Unfortunately one cannot pose an amateur camera in the exact same positions as a pro does.
So, that’s it. Hope you enjoyed my photos and babblings about my Swiss adventure!