Switzerland Blog

by courtneyanddaniel


So while I Switzerland, I didn’t sit down and use the internet because who uses the internet when they’re in a new country for less than 72 hours?  Instead, I took my Pukka Pad and wrote down everything at the end of the day while it was still fresh on my mind.

Tuesday, October 6

Personally, I still can’t believe I’m on a plane to Zurich.  It’s a mostly empty flight.  I’m quickly figuring out what we’re going to do.  I show Daniel things and he says “yes”, “no”, or “that’s dumb”.

Anyways, I kind of like this whole not-planning business.  It’s kind of a lot of fun!

***

There was a cart of tax-free shopping (the flight attendants were pushing it).  It had a stuffed hedgehog for sale on it.  It was kind of hilarious (especially being in between lots of liquor).

On a side note, I’m really excited to purchase something in Switzerland.  Not a sweatshirt that screams SWITZERLAND across my chest.  Maybe something a little more cultured.  Of course, I could always chip off a chunk of the Alps for everyone’s stocking.

Whoop, the captain is speaking.  Apparently we’re 30 minutes out.

Daniel is sitting next to me practicing his sitting Alexander Technique.  Reading a book on it too.

He’s also been pestering me about listening to Alpine Symphony whilst in the Alps.  Nothing wrong with that.  I think that was what he was most excited about.

In other news, we have theory homework to do.  Daniel brought his with him after he said he wasn’t going to.  He worked on it on the 45 minute Tube ride to the airport.  So now, my theory is in London and his is in Zurich.  Not that we were going to sit down and work on theory while in Zurich.  Guess I’ll be doing my homework this weekend.  I was only going to look at it on the plane anyways because why would anyone do theory homework in Switzerland? In the Alps?  Yep, no one logical.

Thank goodness Daniel doesn’t want to museum and building watch, too.  I wasn’t really concerned.  Yes, it would have been cool to visit Geneva, but the Alps trump politics and treaties and other important documents when you’re only in Switzerland for a day and a half.

Right now the plan of action is to 1) get picked up from the airport by our hotel 2) arrive at the hotel, see room, discuss with hotel staff where we will train trip on Wednesday.  Wednesday: go somewhere in the Alps.  Thursday: piddle in Zurich, fly back at 7 PM.

Oh, I also forgot to mention I’m a sea of pink.  Pink pen, pink folder, pink dress, pink cheeks.

Wednesday, October 7

I have 2 entries, one from the end of the day and the other from going to Luzern.

On the train to Luzern: We’re on a train to Luzern!  We just made our first stop in Thavil.  It’s so beautiful here!  Though I was rather concerned when we were in a tunnel the entire way to Thavil….

Wait… another tunnel… Back to looking at Daniel.  We got up at 6:15 this morning and were on tram 11 by 7:05.  The tram moved efficiently and we had time to pick up an amazing ham croissant thing and some other kind of smooth, shiny bread.  They were yummy.

End of day wrap up:  This morning we woke up bright and early…6:15 (that’s 5:15 London time).  We were out the door with 24 hour tram passes in hand by 7 AM.  We hopped on tram 11 and headed toward Zurich Bahnhof, Zurich’s train station.  We planned time to get lost, struggle with breakfast foods lingo, and eat before boarding our 8:35 train to Luzern via Thavil (pronounced “ta – veal”) and Zugg (pronounced “tsoog”).

We went to the ticket counter and told the lady we wanted to go to Pilatus.  Turns out, you buy your ticket for the train to Luzern, the tram in Luzern to Kriens, the steep hike from the bottom of the hill to the top, the little red cable cars, the big white cable cars, and down the other side by tram.  When you break it down by purchasing it by each leg, we got a steal.  Plus it included a 10 CHF lunch voucher each for the top of Pilatus.  So freaking about the expensive tickets turned out to be convenient and a great value.

Breakfast was an amazing ham croissant-wich thinger and some sort of smooth shiny twisty bread.

After lots of tunnels, we were out in the beautiful foothills of the Alps.  There were streams with crystal clear water, valley with huge green trees, farmlands, and mountains in the distance.  I took lots of pictures, but the sun was at the perfect angle to cause lots of window glares, so none of them are really wonderful.  It only took about an hour to get to Luzern.

At Luzern, we realized how much not-German we know.  We ran around, trying to match pictures, but that didn’t work.  We ended up going to the tourist information booth (how embarrassing!) and got directions.

And with that I must say, everyone here I’ve interacted with is very friendly and helpful.  Many people know English, which is very helpful, but I wish I knew German.  At least a working vocabulary of the language.  At least I’m a tourist and not an illegal immigrant.  Maybe illegal immigrants are really just permanent tourists.  Who work and expect benefits.  Riight.

Anyways, our Postbus 1 weaved steadily uphill through Luzern and dumped us off at the bottom of the steep hill.  We climbed the steep hill and found a long line waiting for tickets for the cable car.  Although we had already purchased tickets, we had to get a Pilatus ticket by showing them are rail pass.

The ride up to the peak of Pilatus was almost magical.  Daniel was kind of flaky at first when we passed over the wheels on the cable that give the car its oomph.  He got over it when we checked out the view.  Luzern seemed minuscule behind us.  however, my favorite part was definitely the sound of bells rising from below.  At first we thought it was a cheesy soundtrack they were piping in the car, but then we found the cows with their bells on!  It took us a while to find them since they project so well!  They were so peaceful!

When we reached the end of our small cable car ride (the cars held 4 but it was only us), we were bombarded by a guy recruiting for toboggan riding and zip-line/ropes course.  The course took about 3 hours, so we opted for the toboggan ride.  I was apprehensive at first, but then again, how often do I get the chance to toboggan in the Alps?

We both had our toboggan-like thing.  Something more like a heavy skateboard with brakes and a joystick.  Anyways, it was lots of fun!  But it didn’t go fast enough.  There were curves and straights.  When you reached the bottom, they used a pulley system and pulled us up to the start backwards.  Tons of fun!  And the views were spectacular!

We then took the large cable car that held about 25 people each, including a dog and a woman with unnaturally red-orange-flame hair.  It was exactly noon (we know this because the Swiss love their clocks) so we explored the restaurants.  Daniel had pork schnitzel, veggies, and fries with great tomaten ketchup.  I had Alpen mac & cheese with potatoes and crunchy onions.  And the best apple sauce ever.

I was sunburned on the right side of my face.  Daniel his left.  We also enjoyed feeding the Alpen black birds.  They had bright orange legs and bright yellow beaks.

Halfway through eating, we heard Alphorns.  Daniel quickly finished and tracked it down.  He really wanted to play it but was too shy.  Some guy from Australia walked up and told the Alphornist he played dijeridoo (of course the Alphornist only speaks German) and the Alphorn guy offered to let him play it but he said no.  So Daniel walked up and told the guy he played French horn and the guy let Daniel play!  I think Daniel that completed Daniel’s trip, playing Alphorn in the Alps.

We had some guy take our picture in front of some Alps and then we hiked to the top of a peak and looked around for a big.  They were so beautiful!  We took the cog train (world’s steepest!) down the other side.

At the bottom, we took a few pictures with Lake Luzern and then took the train into Luzern to the train station.  We puttered around in the area around (which included a market selling lots of stuff from South America), got some food, and walked back to the station.  As it turned out, a train was about to leave.  We literally ran on the train and stood for the first 15 minutes because they were no seats.  Once seated, we slept through the tunnels.

We enjoyed pastries and coffee once back and planned tomorrow’s advenure in Zurich.  Not too much to do here, but I think we can get it all done before our 7:05 PM departure tomorrow evening.

Thursday, October 8

Right now, we’re sitting at gate E62 of the Zurich Airport.  Our flight has been delayed 30 minutes, due to late arrival of the plane.  So now I have time to tell you about our day.

Wake up: 8 AM.  Zurich doesn’t open before 9:30 so there was no use rushing out.  We checked out of the hotel with all of our stuff and were thrilled at the thought of carrying it all day (containing all of our worldly possessions in 100g or less in a ziptop bag).  The lady at the front desk told us it was supposed to rain all day.  Also thrilling.

Making the best of it, we took tram 11 to Bahnhofstrasse and walked there a bit, as our book on Zurich told us to.  It was a bunch of expensive clothing stores, so we headed to the River Limmatt after picking up some form of croissant with a bratwurst (maybe nachtwurst, it was pale), and one with ham chunks.  Yum.

As we were walking along, we realized Zurich wasn’t going to take us long to cover as the map was blown up very large.  We saw Grossmunster Kirsche and Fraumunster Kirsche.  We also saw the largest clock face in Europe on St. Paul’s church.  We also puttered through the cobblestone streets and shops.  Oh, by thew way, did I mention it was raining?  Oh, and a toy store.  They had lots of fun toys and an 8000 CHF rocking horse with real horse hair.

At about 11:30, we set out to find the fondue restaurant hotel concierge recommended: Le Dezaley.  Turns out, Rommerstrasse is a hard street to find.  But we eventually found it.

They served us amazing French bread when we got there, but little did we realize that one dips bread into cheese fondue.  We had a basket of bread cubes and he brought our fondue pot of amazing.  It was so rich.  We didn’t finish the pot, but we sure tried.

After lunch, it was still raining.  We looked at a few souvenir shops (they all have cows, bells, and chocolate) and wandered through more streets before heading to Zurichsee (in the rain).  There were about 50 swans plus other ducks.  They all swim up to you when you arrive but quickly leave when they realize you don’t have food to share.

Daniel decided to start up a conversation with one of the swans.  I’m not sure what he said but I think he angered it as it made a hiss and puffed up all his feathers and raised his wings.  We stood back for a few minutes until he left.  Mean swan.  Do any cultures eat swan?  Is it dark meat?

Before heading to the airport, we watched the minute hand on the St Paul clock.  It was fun to watch because it didn’t gradually move with the seconds.  It made one big motion on each minute and with a clock that large, it was a big movement.

And here are some thoughts on minimalist design: it’s only acceptable if your city is ridiculously clean and the natural landscape will always trump human design.  Anywhere in Switzerland is appropriate.  Many of the newer buildings are minimalist and the trams are definitely minimalist.

I’d say that between Luzern and Zurich, I liked Luzern better.  Zurich was too urban for my liking and not near enough to the mountains.  The people are nice in both places.  Luzern is cheaper.

-Wait, boarding the plane…so soon?-

Okay, now we’re on a chicken.  The swans on Lake Zurich were bigger.  Daniel is now going to read my writing and inform me of things I’ve forgotten.

Forgotten thing #1: Boarding at Heathrow.  So when we were boarding at Heathrow, they sent us down an emergency exit, down a random set of escape stairs, and onto the tarmac.  At one point, we didn’t even know which direction to go.  Then we went up a set of stairs that connected to the plane.  I wanted to wave when I reached the top but mean Daniel wouldn’t let me.  He said I had no one to wave to or to take my picture.

We’re currently riding our chicken.  Sipping coke and rum.  I’m writing and Daniel’s still reading about Alexander Technique.  I think I’ll take a nap.

I can’t wait to look at all my pictures when we get back.  That’ll be a while from now as we’re flying into London City airport, out past Canary Wharf.  Canary Wharf is where all the suits work.  There are a lot of suits on this plane.

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