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Video: The Cows Come Home

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Every guide dreams of having his or her group enjoy the happy moment when the farmers bring their cows down from the high meadow. They don't announce the event, and even locals are taken by surprise when it happens. The Swiss will empty out of their shops and homes to smile at the farmers and their cows -- all decked out in flowers and clanging bells -- as they lumber by. You can't plan it, but you can jump into the streets when you hear that bovine parade approaching. I was just settling into my room after a long and demanding day's hike when I heard the cowbells in the distance. My first thought: "It must be something different." But they got closer and closer and suddenly I realized, "This is it!" Grabbing my shoes and sweater and camera, I ran out to enjoy this ancient Swiss ritual. So did most of our tour group. Here's the clip of a moment that capped a wonderful day in the Alps.

(Follow along on my travel blog and on Facebook as I guide the Rick Steves Europe Tours Best of Europe in 21 Days Tour.)

(This post originally appeared at blog.ricksteves.com/blog/switzerland-cows.)