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When the River Calls – Rafting at Vorderrhein near Flims

When the River Calls - Rafting at Vorderrhein near Flims

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When the River Calls –

Rafting at Vorderrhein near Flims

 

river rafting in switzerland

Sometimes, when the streets are hot, busy and crowded, and walking feels too much like plodding, the river calls. Cool and flowing, full of twists and turns and ups and downs, rafting down a river can be a quasi-spiritual experience that lingers for days afterwards. Or, sometimes, it’s just time to pull the kids off WiFi and find something to do. Whatever prompting is needed to get to a river, be it for rafting, canyoning, kayaking, canoeing, geocaching, etc., Switzerland offers many possibilities.

Swiss River Adventures Vorderrhein Rafting

After a week of hot, sultry weather in the city we decided to call Swiss River Adventures, one of the largest and closest-to-Zurich outfits that runs trips on the Vorderrhein near Flims. Founders Katrin Blumberg from Germany and Neil Knight from New Zealand met as river raft guides in Switzerland and went on to get married and start their own company in 2004. In the Summer season, which runs from May 1 to mid October, they run three trips a day, including Saturday and Sunday, through the stunning Ruinaulta or “Rhine gorge” in Romansch.

A full day trip includes lunch, and the others are morning and afternoon half-day excursions that each last about three hours. They provide the kit (rafting wetsuit, helmet, booties and life jacket), and, at no extra charge, the whole-hearted river-crazed enthusiasm of their multi-culti team.

Getting There

To get to the starting point for the afternoon trip, we drove to the Reichenbau train station, (about 80 minutes from Zurich) parked in the Swiss River Adventures lot and caught the 2:05 to Ilanz. Greeted heartily by the staff, all of whom speak English, German and Swiss-German, we were quickly suited and booted and placed with Simon, who would be our guide.

At the riverbank, Simon showed us basic strokes (“forward paddle” and “backward paddle”) and safety measures should we find ourselves outside the friendly confines of the raft. (“Face downriver,” “keep legs up,” “grab the rescue cord not the bag”).

Within a few minutes, plastic paddles in hand and water already sloshing through our booties, nine of us were neatly braced on the inside edge of our raft (butts would cramp later) and heading down the Vorderrhein. One of two tributaries that source the Rhine, the Vorderrhein is a milky-green class II-III river that has several sets of fun rapids.

“We call it scenic rafting because it’s the kind of rafting that is easy and fun and you could do with a group or your family,” says Blumberg.

rafting in Vorderrhein

Although heavy rains earlier in the season had the Vorderrhein outputting at a rate of 200,000 cubic feet per second, the day we went it had resumed its normal pace of 77,000 cubic feet per second, Simon told us.

Tackling The Rapids

Nonetheless, the rapids could still throw us out of the boat if we were not careful, so Simon taught us a few interesting ways to prepare for them. He came to Switzerland from the Himalayas three years previously and taught us what the Himalayans do. Their ritual, which involves slapping paddles against helmets and chanting who-ha who-ha in unison, focused us, got us ready for each rapid, and frightened away any Himalayan enemies in the area.

After an hour of rapids, the river calmed and widened, and we took turns paddling in front of the other boats to splash them and gazing in awe at the 200-metre-high limestone walls of the gorge. Before we knew it, we were pulling the raft out in Ilanz, casting off our river-proof gear and sharing some biscuits with the other rafters in our group.

rafting near Flims Switzerland

All photos courtesy of Swiss River Adventures Ltd

For more Information:

Swiss River Adventures Website 

Tel: +41 81 936 0104

The outfit has three main focus areas: Scenic rafting on the Vorderrhein, canyoning in Boggera (Ticino) and flat water trips (which can include rafting, kayaking and canoeing) on the Reuss river. Individuals, families and large groups up to 150 people can be accommodated. For canyoning, they can handle groups of up to 30 people.

For those seeking more intense technical rapids, trips can be booked on the Inn river in Scuol, Switzerland near Austria.

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Article written by Jennifer Lisle. Jennifer is a  Zurich-based freelance journalist who has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Elle, among many others.

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Top Tips on Ticks in Switzerland

A hike to Hirzli

 

Top Tips on Ticks in Switzerland

A hike in Hirzli

In Spring and Summer, outdoor activities abound (see here for some ideas). But after that flower-picking walk through a meadow or hike up the Tobel, it’s important to remember that warmer temps bring ticks. Hikers, runners, dog-walkers and anyone who spends time in woodsy areas should watch for tick bites, which can cause tick-borne encephalitis (TBE) and Lyme disease.

In Switzerland, tick vaccinations are highly recommended and can be started at any time. But the vaccination only prevents tick-borne encephalitis; there is currently no vaccination for Lyme disease. Thus, even those with tick vaccinations need to take precautions before going out and then thoroughly check themselves, their children and pets for bites afterwards.

“Ticks are very clever,” says Dr. Angela Caddick, a UK-trained family doctor (GP) who runs a private practice in Zurich. “They jump off the deer they’re attached to and drop into the tall grass. Then they wait, and they can wait a long time, for someone to come along.”

Adult deer Tick Photo by Scott Bauer.

Adult Deer Tick. Photo by Scott Bauer for Agricultural Research Service

Many times their presence and their bites fly under the radar because they release an anesthetic when they bite that numbs the skin.

“People commonly think that it will be like a mosquito, where they will see or feel something biting them, but quite often the ticks drops off and people never see them,” says Caddick.

If they do stay on board a body, Caddick says, ticks migrate to the warm moist areas, so it’s important to thoroughly check the head, groin and underarms. If a tick is found on the skin, Caddick recommends using a tick-remover, a credit card-like device that makes it easier to reach under the tick’s head and get it out without compressing the tick’s body. Tick removers can generally be found in chemists and Apothekes in Switzerland.

Once the tick is out, the area should be well cleaned and sprayed with antiseptic. Tick bites can infect people with TBE immediately, but if ticks carrying Lyme disease are removed within 36-48 hours, there is a possibility they will not infect their host. In fact, there is only a 1 in 200 chance that the tick carries a disease. But it’s still important to closely monitor the area because signs of infection can show up anywhere between three and 30 days later. (Seven days later is the average.)

The most common warning sign is a target or “bull’s eye” shaped rash, but rashes can take many other forms and can cover large areas. An infection can also cause flu-like symptoms such as fever, chills, and muscle and joint aches.

Lymes Disease bulls eye ting

Photo credit James Gathany

The above photo is a “classic” bull’s-eye rash. However a rash caused by Lyme doesn’t always look this way. Approximately 25% of people infected with Lyme disease do not have any rash.

Finding a tick should not be cause for alarm, but any suspicious rashes or symptoms that occur should be followed up immediately with a call and/or visit to the physician, says Caddick. Treatment for the early stages of Lyme disease infection is a relatively short two-week anti-biotic course, while treatment for later stages of the disease can be much more intensive and possibly ineffective.

You can’t avoid the ticks altogether, but please see Dr. Caddick’s precautionary list below to guard against bites and infection:

Things To Do:

  1. Vaccination is recommended (a course of 3 vaccinations gives up to 10 years immunity)
  2. When going into wooded areas, wear long pants tucked into socks.
  3. Use tick spray.
  4. Stay on paths and avoid walking through long grass.
  5. Make sure to check pets after hikes before letting them on beds.

Hiking In the Toggenburg Region of Switzerland

Common and Misconceptions / Urban myths about ticks debunked by Dr. Caddick:

  1. Tick vaccinations protect against all tick-borne diseases. (In Switzerland, the tick vaccination only protects against tick-borne encephalitis.)
  2. Lyme disease can spread from person to person or from pet to person. (Lyme disease can only be contracted via tick bites.)
  3. You’re more likely to get bitten by a tick if you have the vaccination. (Not true, having the vaccination does not attract ticks.)
  4. Ticks look alike. (In fact, they vary in size, shape and color. Females tend to be much bigger than males.)
  5. Ticks should be burned off. (Using heat on the tick is not recommended as it could incite the tick to infect its host.)

With thanks to Dr. Angela Caddick:

www.drangelacaddick.com/

Address: Praxis D29, Dufourstrasse 29, 8008 Zurich

Tel: 044 262 27 13

Useful Websites:

http://www.bada-uk.org/lyme-disease-borreliosis#2

http://www.livescience.com/46117-ticks-lyme-disease.html

Article written and researched by Jennifer Lisle. Jennifer is a  Zurich-based freelance journalist who has written for The Los Angeles Times, The Wall Street Journal and Elle, among many others.

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A Trip to The Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

A trip to the maison caller chocolate factory in Broc

Photo © Sally Humphrey-Evans

A Trip to The Maison Cailler

Chocolate Factory in Broc

 

A great trip outside Zurich which is ideal for a rainy day, is to visit the Cailler Factory in Broc. It takes abound 3 hours or so from Zurich by train (make sure you catch the train that takes you directly to Broc Fabrik – as this is the most direct and convenient route) or about 2 and a quarter hours by car. There is also plenty of parking when you arrive. It’s a day trip which will appeal to young and old alike, and of course any chocolate fan!

A trip to the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

Photo © Sally Humphrey-Evans

It’s an impressive building from the outside and when you go inside to buy your ticket you’re asked which language group you would like your tour to be in. The tours are self guided and you’re given a very aptly packaged audio guide shaped like a chocolate bar, for use when you’ve gone through the first part of the tour, and want to learn more about each of the stand-alone exhibits.

Swiss chocolates

We opted for the English language tour which began with the history of chocolate, how cocoa first arrived in Europe and an explanation of the Cailler history.

History of Swiss chocolate

After the tour which took us on a multimedia journey through a number of rooms we were taken to a hall where there were exhibits of cocoa beans, cocoa butter and lots of information on how chocolate is made.

A trip to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

A trip to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory at Broc

You were free to touch, sniff and feel all of the products and there were plenty of facts and figures relating to the making of chocolate so it was very educational too.

A trip to the Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory at Broc

You also go past the real production plant and take a peak into where they actually make the chocolate and see the huge vats which contain the chocolate. At the end of the tour you get to the really exciting stuff – where they have a small machine actually making and wrapping chocolate – “branches” in front of your eyes:

A trip to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

 

At the end of the machine is a giant bowl full of the colourfully wrapped chocolates to taste.

A trip to Maison Cailler Chocolate Factory in Broc

You then go through to the final room, the tasting room, where you can taste all the different ranges of chocolate that Cailler produce. Chocolate heaven!

Cailler chocolate factory

On your way out you pass the “chocolate atelier” where you can sign up for a chocolate course. When we went past there were a number of children enjoying the course – and of course it makes a great birthday party idea!

choc courses at the caller factory switzerland

The tour is really well done and we all had a wonderful time. It’s a great afternoon or morning’s entertainment and children especially really enjoy seeing chocolate being made first hand. The second part of the tour is self paced and you can go through it as slowly or as quickly as you want. Afterwards there is a Cailler chocolate shop where you can buy more chocolate and there is a café where you can buy drinks, snacks, sandwiches and salads.

Swiss Chocolates

You could also do as we did, and combine the trip with a visit to the Gruyère cheese factory which is very close by. Maison Cailler is open every day of the year apart from Chistmas Day and New Year’s Day – so an ideal trip for a rainy Sunday when most things in Switzerland are closed.

Opening Times

From 1st April to to 31st October they are open:   10 am to 5 pm
From 1st November to  to 31st March they are open:   10 am to 4 pm

Maison Cailler closes one hour after the last guided tour (after the start of the last visit)

Tickets 

Adults – CHF 12

Children under 16 – Free (when accompanied by a paying adult)

Students / Pensioners – CHF 9

There is also a Chocolate train which you can book in advance which goes from Montreux to Broc. For more information see here.

For more information please visit the Maison Cailler website.

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What’s On in Zurich End of November Early December 2015

What’s On in Zurich End of November Early December 2015

What’s On in Zurich

End of November Early December 2015

 

The temperatures have dropped and we’ve had our first sprinkling of snow. With the sparkling lights and Christmas Markets, the whole of Zurich is turning into a Winter Wonderland. See what’s on this weekend and in the coming weeks. For those celebrating Thanksgiving have a wonderful time. Have fun!

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The Whisky Ships in Zurich 26th – 29th November

if you like whisky you’ll be pleased to know that the whisky ships are now in Bürkliplatz! Visiting for only 4 days they offer whisky lovers a unique experience. See here for more details.

Whisky Ships in Zurich – Zurich’s Whisky Fair on the Water

 

NAMA Design Fair at Gutav Restaurant 25th – 28th November

a small design fair with lots of gift ideas and interesting ideas. Taking place at Gustav Restaurant in Zurich from 10am – 7.30pm each day. More information here.

Photo Exhibition by David Yarrow at Villa Bührle till 30th Nov

a photographic exhibition featuring wildlife photographs by David Yarrow at Villa Bührle near Tiefenbrunnen 26th till 30th November 11am – 8pm. More information here.

ETH Polyball Saturday 28th November

the Polyball takes place on Saturday 28th and promises to be a lot of fun. For the full program of events including music and food please visit the website.

Samichlaus Parade – Santa Claus parade in Zurich 29th November 5pm

specially for children this Santa Claus parade is free of charge and starts at 5pm at Werdmühleplatz just off Bahnhofstrasse. For more information visit the website.

Lost In Blues Concert Sunday 29th November

jazz by “Lost In Blues” on Sunday 29th November at 4pm at the Restaurant Commihalle Zurich. For more information see here.

Piano Concert in Witikon 29th November “Klangwelt der Farben und Naturelemente”

by pianist Tatjana Ruckstuhl-Nikic, taking place at the GZ Witikon, Witikonerstrasse 405, 8053 Zürich at 4pm. Doors open 3.45. Entrance free. There will be a collection.

christmas shop sundays zurich 2015

Shopping Sunday this Sunday November 29th

the shops in Zurich will be open on Sunday this week. There are two other shopping Sundays as well and some of the out of town centres have other dates. More details of the Shopping Sundays are contained in our Christmas Market Guide too. Details here.

The Zurich and Swiss Christmas Markets

the Christmas Markets are beginning to open their doors this week in Zurich and throughout Switzerland on various dates. Read our guide to all the dates and times of the Christmas markets. See our Guide to the Christmas Markets in Zurich here.

Charles Gitnik Exhibition at the Inadederer Art Gallery Zurich 25th November – 16th Jan

the impact of gun crime is examined in this exhibition of a 13 year old Los Angeles boy’s exhibition in Zurich. Taking place at the Inadederer Gallery from 25th November – 16th January. For more information please visit the website.

Food Market EWZ Selnau Zurich 26th November & 12th December

There’s a food market featuring at EWZ Selnau on Thursday 26th November and 12th December from 5pm to 11pm. Food, drink and entertainment.  See here for more information.

The Märlitram Christmas Tram for Children from 30th November

if you’re between 4 and 10 you can go on a special tram round Zurich with Santa Claus and his angels. It’s a real treat for children – but adults are not allowed! For more information read here.

The Märlitram Zurich

BSCC Quiz Night with Diccon Bewes 1st December

Diccon Bewes, best selling British author and Swiss resident, will be quiz master at the annual BSCC Quiz Night. It begins at 6pm and takes place at the Fork and Bottle Restaurant in Zurich. For more information and tickets please see the website.

Luxe4Education Cashmere for a Good Cause 3rd, 4th & 5th December

the next sale of luxury cashmere for a good cause takes place on December 3rd, 4th and 5th from 11am until 5pm at Weid 13, Zumikon. This 100% non-profit organisation supports the education of orphans in China through sales of beautiful high-end cashmere. Read all about it here or visit the website.

Cashmere scarves in Zurich

Samichlaus-Schwimmen – Swimming in the Limmat 6th December

yes really! You can swim across the Limmat in Zurich as part of this organised swim with profits going to the Swiss Association for the Deaf. Only limited spaces available as tickets are selling out fast. See here for full details.

Andy Warhol The Life Years 4th November  – 23rd December & 4th – 17th January

the ETH in Zurich is showing an exhibition entitled “Andy Warhol The Life Years 1949-1959”. It features impressive drawings from Warhol’s early creative phase. Open Monday – Sunday 10am – 4.45pm (but check website for exceptions). For more information please see here.

The Silvesterlauf 13th December

This fun run takes place on 13th December through the streets of Zurich – but you need to register soon. Our friends at The Marathon Pack have got handy kits available with support and tips in English – more information hereSilvesterlauf website 2015.

silvesterlauf zurich

Sylvia Day’s Christmas at the Cabaret 5th & 12th December 

Sylvia Day’s holiday comedy show “Christmas at the Cabaret” will be taking place at the Cabaret Voltaire in Zurich’s old town on Saturday 5th & 12th December. Performances start at 7pm. For information and tickets please see here.

Lichterschwimmen 17th December 5pm
Watch the little candles float along the Limmat River while you enjoy a hot punch or Glühwein at Weinplatz. It all happens at the Rathausbrücke on 17th December from 5 pm.

Globus Zurich Bahnhofstrasse *** delicatessa Pop Up Dinner Sunday 20th December 

Ristorante Accademia del Gusto will be cooking a four-course meal with from tips and tricks from chefs Stefano and Mariana Piscopo at Globus Bahnhofstrasse on 20th December. From 7pm – 11pm, it costs CHF 190 for the 4 course menu including, wine, water and coffee or tea. Book online or phone 058 578 1111 for more information.

Conelli Circus until 3rd January
The traditional Conelli Circus in the red tent at Bauschänzli can be seen from afar and is a real Zurich tradition. The programme continues until 3rd January. For more information see here.
What's on in Zurich mid to end november 2015

The Art of the Brick On Now

a fabulous which will appeal to all ages – what you can make with a lego brick. For more information see here.

The Tallest Building in Switzerland

since September Prime Tower no longer holds the honour of being the tallest building in Switzerland. The new tallest building is in fact 52m taller. Read here all about Building 1.

The Museum Rietberg and “Akbar’s Golden Legacy”

is holding an exhibition entitled “Akbar’s Golden Legacy” about paintings for the Emperors of India which has been recommended to us. Check out the details on the Rietberg Museum website here.

Nespresso Gourmet Weeks Lunch at the Dolder Grand

if you’re looking for a special treat the Restaurant at the Dolder Grand with chef Heiko Nieder won’t disappoint. We were lucky enough to visit during the Nespresso Gourmet Weeks promotion. See here for details.

What’s On in Zurich End of November Early December 2015

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Autumn / Winter Recipes:

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Swarovski Christmas Tree Zurich

Photo © Kieran Joshi

Please note that it’s worth checking back on this page as we may update it during the week

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Luxe4Education Cashmere Sales for Charity 2015

Luxe4Education

Cashmere Sales for Charity 2015

 

cashmere for chinese orphans

 

Marie Longin unveiled her second collection of beautiful cashmere items in Autumn and is holding another sale on 3rd, 4th and 5th December 2015 from 11am to 5pm at Weid 13 in Zumikon. Last year she launched Luxe4Education, an innovative idea to generate funds through the sale of luxury cashmere to help Chinese orphans obtain an education. Marie tells us about the success of last season and the new projects she has planned.

Cashmere for Chinese orphans

NIZ : What was the reaction of Zurich to your project ?

Marie : I did not know what to expect last year when I started this project and launched the first cashmere collection. I had just arrived from Shanghai, with very little idea of how people would react to a charitable commercial enterprise. I was looking for a way to continue supporting the foster home for blind orphans I was involved with while in China, and had good connections with a luxury cashmere manufacturer.

Cashmere for chinese orphans

The response was really amazing, not just in terms of how much I sold, but also the interest of the people I met through this project, and the deep interactions with my “clients”. I think people are touched by the aim of the business, which is of course to generate profit, but to distribute 100% of it to organizations that are involved with educating orphans. We hear a lot these days about new consumption models; by indulging in a piece of luxury cashmere, my clients are also donating to a charitable organisation. It’s a nice way to give to charity.

NIZ : Tell us about the projects you funded last year.

Marie : Through our Verein “4Education of Orphans in China”, we were able to make signficant donations to three organizations in China.

Shining Star is a residential home for blind orphans in Shanghai. Children are taught independent living skills, orientation and mobility, fine and gross motor skills. The funds donated will be used to establish a Braille and sensory library: equipment to familiarise the children with Braille reading and writing, sensory and oversized items to introduce the Braille 6-dot system and to develop fine motor skills.

Cashmere for Chinese orphans in Zumikon

In Beijing, Bethel is home to over 80 blind and visually impaired orphans. Started over 12 years ago, it is now a reference site for the high quality of its foster care, education and therapy. The donations will allow Bethel to hire and train specialized teachers.

Braille Without Borders in Lhassa is a school for blind children, and a vocational training centre promoting the self integration of blind people in Tibetan society. The funds from the Verein will cover living and educational expenses for the orphans staying at the centre.

Luxe4Education Cashmere

NIZ : How about this year’s cashmere collection ?

Marie : Fabulous ! I think I have a good understanding this season of what people like in Zurich, and am very excited with this new collection. There will be of course timeless classic pieces like beautifully cut V-necks and round necks, in seven different colors.

However, I also have more comtemporary items, such as hoodies, for both men and women and long cardigans that can almost be worn as a light coat. Additionally I also have elegant dresses, two-tone ponchos, capes, woven scarfs and shawls and lots of accessories.

Marie is holding the next sale of luxury cashmere on December 3rd, 4th & 5th at Weid 13 in Zumikon, from 11am to 5pm. If you would like more information, please visit www.luxe4education.com.  So this Christmas why not treat yourself and an orphan in China?

If you can’t make the sale in Zumikon, there is a selection of items selling at a new concept store, Eureka Galore, Rietholzstarsse 18, Zollikerberg (Tuesday till Friday, 10.30am to 12:30 and 2.30pm to 6.30pm, Saturday 2.30pm to 5.30pm).

For other sale locations, or if you are interested in hosting a cashmere sale please email Marie here.

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Photos of the Duck Race Zurich

Duck Race Zurich for the Krebsliga

 

Photos of the Duck Race Zurich

 

The annual Duck Race Zurich took place for for the 4th time today. It’s a great event in aid of a really good cause and helps raise money for the Krebsliga, for children with cancer.

 

Photos of Duck Race Zurich

The event started at Rathausbrücke in the centre of Zurich and once the container was opened and the ducks  dropped into the Limmat  the race began. See the video showing the ducks begin their journey!

Ducks of all descriptions set sail towards the finish line which was just beyond the Landesmuseum.

Duck race Zurich

There were bright ones, beautiful ones, scary ones and plain ones – each one had a special number with which it could be identified with its owner.

duck race zurich

As they floated down the river from a distance they looked like white ping pong balls.

Photos of the Duck Race Zurich

One of the great things about this race is that you can choose to decorate your duck however you wish (or not at all) – so it’s a great outlet for creativity too.

Duck race zurich

The key thing is taking part, enjoying the fun and helping a great cause.

Duck race Zurich

The finish line was just past the Landesmuseum along the Limmat:

Photos of Duck Race Zurich

We’ve included some of the birds which caught our eye, but there were too many fabulous works of art to be able to capture them all.

Duck Race Zurich 2015

At the end of the race there were dedicated canoeists on hand to scoop the “slower ducks” who had taken a little longer to reach the finishing line.

Duck Race Zurich for the Krebsliga

If you missed this year’s event, don’t worry it will be back in Zurich next Summer. In fact 2016 will be very special as it will the Duck Race will be celebrating it’s 5th anniversary. For more information please see the Duck Race website.

The weather in Zurich was forecast to be perfect “weather for ducks” but in fact after the race the clouds lifted and the sun came out:

The Duck Race in Zurich 2015

 

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