Europe 2016 Day 15-16…Zurich

We got up to head to the train station and it was pouring rain, so pulled out the rain ponchos for the walk. Bought a dozen mini croissants to eat on the train.  Never thought we would say that we were getting tired of croissants, but they are inexpensive and a quick on the go snack.

Our train went to Innsbruck, Austria.   We enjoyed the scenery on the way there.

We had about 20 minutes to find and catch our next train in Innsbruck. Cindy was a bit worried about that, but it was not a problem as it was a small station.  In the far distance we could just make out the Olympic ski jump area.  The clouds made it hard to see the mountains and the train trip from Innsbruck to Zürich was very curvy and the train wheels sounded like a dragon.  Jim pipes up and says, : Mum take a picture and show it to me later”.  Lol…he will never forget that from Disneyland Paris.

On the train, Jerie looked at our reservation and it said we had to notify the company 24 hours in advance as this is a short-term apartment and there will not be anyone there to meet us, so they have to give instructions to obtain the key. Oops!!  We looked at their website, but it was NOT in English.  We sent an email and crossed our fingers.  The train had to make a quick stop in Buchs.  We were not sure at the time what country that was in; Austria, Switzerland, or Lichtenstein perhaps.  We did notice that there were several Hilti factories in the area. This was exciting as those are the tools that we use in our construction business.  This train line had very good information signs on the train. At Buchs the train started to go backwards, if the sign had not said that the next stop was Zürich, we maybe would have been concerned.  Note to self…for a future trip maybe get off in Buchs and look around.  It looks like a quaint little village. From Buchs to Zürich is was very scenic. We passed several lakes and arrived at the Zurich station around 1:20pm.

Once in Zürich, we first exchanged American dollars for Swiss Francs.  Then we headed to the information desk and told her we needed to make a phone call.  She told us to go down one level in the train station and use the pay phone.  She exchanged some of the Francs for coins.  Found the pay phone, but it wouldn’t accept the number we had, maybe because it was an international number.  Went back to information office  and asked if they could make the phone call.  She was very patient and was able to get the code to the key drop box.  They told us that we would need a train ticket as it was quite a walk to our room.  So we bought a one way ticket for 2.60 Francs each.   Two short train stops and we were at our street. We had 3 tours sscheduled for Zurich and the tour departure was very close to the train station.we could still see the tour office.   Glad we didn’t buy a train pass and only bought the one way.   We found our “apartment”.  It is located in the Indian section of Zurich, so the smell of curry and spice was in the air.  There is a box that you put in your code and your key fab drops out.  It is a nice apt, with a small kitchenette.  We dropped our bags and decided to find something to eat.  All the food is very expensive, even a meal at McDonald is 18 Franc.  We found a very nice grocery store and stocked up as we are going to be in Zurich for 3 days. We bought microwave popcorn, Macaroni, tomato juice, “budget” muffins, apple juice and a loaf of baguette.  It came to a grand total of 16.90Francs..woohoo.  Cooked the macaroni and had it with the tomato juice.  We needed a bit of comfort food, as we really hadn’t had much time to just sit and enjoy.

It had been over 2 weeks since we did laundry.  We had been washing our clothes in the hotel sinks and hanging them to dry.  So we loaded all the dirty clothes in a backpack. Jerie looked up the closest laundromat (wash center) and she led the way.  It was quite a walk, don’t know if we would have found it without the GPS.  At the wash center, the washer prices were based on the temperature of the water you would use.  20160524_174059

We chose the cold setting so washer was 6.20 Francs and 3 Francs for 10 minutes of dryer time. We didn’t want to break the bank drying the clothes, so Jim set up a clothes line in the apartment bathroom to finish drying the socks.  Our apartment, even though it was in an older section of the city, we had electric blinds on the outside that closed with a push of a button…cool, we opened and closed them numerous times.   Tried to pop some popcorn in the microwave but didn’t set the wattage correctly, so that was a fail.  Next thought, we will try something simple.  Walked to McDonalds and asked for mini sundaes as they were only 2 Francs.  The clerk did not speak English, so ended up with 4 Sundaes.  We do not have Wifi as you must have a code and we felt lucky enough to just get the key code, so we are off the grid for a few days.  It had been a full day and we had fresh laundry, life was good.  The next morning, our tour wasn’t until 11:50 so it was going to be a sleep-in day. Yeah….

After a breakfast of bananas and muffins, and for being budget muffins, they were really good, we walked back to the train station and found our tour trolley.

We travelled around the city and saw several sites.  This tour was full of information.  The hills in Zürich are formed from glacial morans.  There are 300,000 residents divided into 12 districts.  Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland with 80% of the jobs being service.  1/5 of Swiss income comes finance.  The financial district used to be a cattle market.  In 1820s, it was decided to be more modern.  Moats were filled in, ramparts removed, and lake front filled for land reclamation.  The city had 20,000 citizens at that time.

Zürich Central Park houses the culinary school…they waved at us as we drove by.  The Swiss do not take risks so they have lots of insurance, for house, vehicle, life, health, etc… Switzerland is home to the world’s largest insurance reinsurer (the company that insures the insurance companies).

We stopped at the small marina on Lake Zürich. There were severval water taxis to bring you to the marina resturants.  The lake was formed from glacier melt and is 40km x 4 km.  The Limmat River flows out of the lake (quite swiftly).  There are 1200 fountains in the city, one of them being at the marina.  The lion is the symbol of Zurich.

We stopped at the Fraumunster Church next to the Limmat River.  You can enter the church but can not take pictures.  It is not as ornate as the French churches, but it had a speaking post about 1/3 of the way back in the church.  The priest stands there and gives his sermon.  There are 5 stain glass windows designed by Marc Chagall who was in his 80s when the work was done. The windows are in  2 Blue, 1 red, 1 yellow, and 1 green.  They depict…Angels, Moses, 3 prophets(Elijah’s ascent to heaven), Jesus’ life, and Jacob’s ladder.  They are what we would described as abstract but interesting.

More pictures of the river and a swan.

30,000 people go or work at the university, making it a major employer for the city.  It sits up on a hill, overlooking the city.  There is  small tram you can ride to avoid walking to the top.

We got off the bus and walked through the shopping area.  Shops of all kinds and lots of beer gardens. Found a corner vendor and bought a brat and a Doner box.  The brat came with mustard and a small loaf of bread.  Doner box was like a deconstructed then layered Gyro without the pita and fries on top.  We split the bread and made 2 gyros.  Thought it was different that the lettuce and tomato were on the bottom of the box.








We walked back to the train station and the lower level is much like an American mall.  We figured since we had tried Belgium chocolates, we better try Swiss chocolates.  The swirled hazelnut was excellent.  We decided we like the Swiss better than the Belgium.  It was 6 Francs for 5 chocolate balls.

On this particular day, it was Farmer’s market on the top level of the train station.  They had huge blocks of nougat, that they would carve off a sample.  Also cherries, cheese, and pastries.  It smelled marvelous.  (we got back to our apartment and realized that we were so intrigued with the market that no one took pictures)

On the way back to our apartment we stopped at the grocery store as it was much less expensive to buy and cook since we had a kitchenette.  The one brat at lunch had us yearning for more, so bought brats, chips, more budget muffins, and MILK…we have been carving milk, as at home we drink it every day.  We wanted to have grilled onions with the brat, but when we got up to the check out, you had to weigh it in the produce section.  Luckily we found a corner store on the walk “home” that had onions.

At the apartment, we finally figured out the microwave, so had popcorn and pop, while we watched a movie in German on the TV.  It is funny how you devise your own storyline, when you don’t know what they are saying.  The only think on TV in English in any of the countries so far was the coverage of the Brexit debates, it was very interesting to watch as well.

Tomorrow, we have a 10 hour tour to the cog train on “top of the World”….

Categories: Europe, Switzerland, travel

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