Friday, November 16, 2012

Europe 1.10 - Zurich, Switzerland

Actual date of this event: 2-4 November

We woke up on Friday morning in Vienna around 3:30am to catch a cab to the airport to go to Zurich. Our cab ride was a pretty scary one!
1.) this "cab" was actually a car service... there were no markings on the vehicle saying it was a taxi
2.) there was no meter in the vehicle keeping track of distance, time and cost
3.) it was super foggy that morning (Jen: It's like a video game!)
4.) the ride was supposed to take 40min and took us 15min because...
5.) the driver drove at 180km/hr on the interstate... I'll do the math for you, thats 111.8mph!!!!
Anyway, we get to the airport with lots of time to spare, but we are all very sleepy since it was super early and none of us had breakfast or coffee. The flight was short, about an hour, and we got to nap most of the time.

The Zurich airport is NICE! Its super shiny and there is tons of shopping. The train station is right in the airport (outside of security of course) so you don't even have to go outside to get to it. Trains arrive and leave every 10 min at the airport to take people to and from the city which was super convenient. And the trains are double-deckers so we got to sit on the top :-)

Left: This was one of many giant candies at the airport
Right: Each train stop was decorated differently

We got to the city around 8:30, and we had a while (9.5 hours) until we could pick up the keys to our apartment. We a found locker in the train station to store our rucksacks, so we could go explore the city without carry them around. Good thing we did because we did quite a bit of walking that day! The sun was out, and it was warmer than we had been experiencing. So far, Zurich was toward the top of the favorite city list!

Sheets of swiss chocolate

 Right: Luke drinking out of a public water fountain

Working garden clock

 More chocolate shops!

Common scene on our trip
Around noon, Dave had heard of a cool store called Freitag that produces bags from old truck tarps... a Green thing. So we headed way across town to go take a look. Very cool store!

Freitag is built from shipping crates... 7 stacks
 Left: All of the bags were different, so you could really pick exactly what you wanted

You can climb to the top crate of the store to see the city from above
The top deck got really crowded and you could feel it moving!
Behind Freitag is a bunch of unique shops and a bar. Again, all similar Green style. So we sat and had a drink. We were all feeling the pains of waking up so early at this point.

We had to keep moving though because we still had about 3.5 hours before we could get the keys. We were near the Prime Tower which is a skyscraper with a restaurant at the top. We attempted that but it was packed and they weren't even letting people up the elevator. Jen and I were hoping for snack, but it seemed that no where was serving food. Seriously, it felt like Salzburg all over again. We wandered back toward the train station, walking through the red light district, stopping in a grocery store for a snack, and we decided to pick up our bags. We walked about 45 min in the direction of the apartment to find a place to hang out in before we needed to get the keys...

We found our apartment on AirBnB. The problem was that everything in Zurich was super expensive! We could not find a place cheaper than $100 a night... and we were only being picky by location. It was even more expensive if we tried to get a place for 4 people instead of 2. We found this apartment and it was $150 cheaper to say only 2 people were staying in it. With that being said, when the keys got picked up only 2 people could go. So Dave and Jen left for the apartment while Luke and I stayed back. Sounds like a hassle, but so worth it to save $150. The apartment was located on Morgartenstrasse. It was on the fourth level and had two bedrooms and one bathroom. It was a VERY old place. The hot water ran on gas and the boiler was located in the shower - really, a flame was right there while you showered, and it made a ton of noise. The floors were extremely creaky, so it was impossible to not make noise in the middle of the night. The lady that lived here was a total hippie! She had an antique typewriter sitting on the couch... as decoration. She had an old polaroid camera... as decoration. She had yoga books everywhere. She did not have any pepper in the house. She did not have a hair dryer. She had a huge amount of tea bags and tea leaves in her kitchen. And there was no TV. Total hippie. It did the job for the two nights we stayed, and we got a great deal (by us cheating), so I am not complaining at all. Especially since, the beds, although on the floor, were quite comfortable. :-)

After we got the keys, Dave cooked up a yummy dinner of burgers, broccoli and potatoes. We hit the sack not long after.

On Saturday morning, the sun was still out and it was even warmer than the day before. How is it possible that Bavaria has colder weather than a town next door to the Swiss Alps?! We decided that we would take a train to the top of a hill since it had been something we wanted to do since the beginning of the trip. It was the perfect day to do so! We walked the mile to the station and took a 20 minute train to the top of Uetliberg Hill/Mountain.

Apparently, the mountain has an 8 mile hike that displays the solar system to scale as your walk. We saw a few of the planets and it was cool to see the size of Mercury (grain of salt) compared to the sun (ab ball). We found some look out points before making our way to the main area.

We climbed the 178 step tower for FREE and saw the most amazing scenery. The Swiss Alps, folks!

178 stairs to the top!
And here is Luke and me trying to take a pic together...

Even though we could have looked at the views around us for ages, we knew we had to leave at some point. We thought it would be fun to walk down the hill rather than take the train back. After deciding which route to take, we began our descent.

After a few minutes, the descent became steeper and steeper.

It was so difficult to not fall flat on your face going down this hill it was so steep. So steep, that they made stairs on the side of the trail because it would be easier to take the stairs. We kept passing all of these people going uphill, and we were glad we were not them! We even saw people running, although they were mostly bouncing in place.

After 1.5 miles going down, we reached the bottom... where there was a sign telling your stretches to do before going up the hill! We saw a little shopping area, so we stopped for lunch and a drink. And then we kept walking. I'm telling ya, we walked about 10 miles this day. Anyway, we headed back toward the lake. It was such a beautiful day! I was even able to wear only my short sleeve shirt that day! Such a change from Bavaria!

We walked back toward Old Town to have a few beers before attempting an early dinner. We had heard of an Ethiopian Restaurant that was supposed to be one of the best. It was a pretty good walk to a nice-so-great area of town. When we finally got there, the place was closed. Closed for good! We were soooo disappointed! We had no idea what to do next then.

Left: Two pitchers of beer = 40CHF ($42.38)
Right: This tunnel was about half a mile long

We took a break for a minute and used Trip Advisor to find us a place for dinner. We ended up at Five Spice which was a very yummy Thai place. Since Luke and I had another early morning the next day, we went back to the apartment for the night. We had a few drinks, and we packed up our things to avoid the morning rush.

Swiss Ice Cream - Coffee flavor
On Sunday morning, Luke and I got up around 5am, walked to the train, and flew out at 8am. We arrived back in Aberdeen around noon. It was strange coming back after a trip in a few foreign countries. We spent 16 days in places where English was not the primary language. And when we got back to Scotland, English still didn't sound right... because of the accent. But it was nice to have a full conversation with our cab driver and not have to worry about a major language barrier. We hadn't really talked with someone for a good amount of time since we left - other than our traveling crew. It was a super fun trip, but it was LONG. We learned a lot, we experienced a lot and we have a better understanding of how to travel. I still have so much that I would love to say about our trip!

This concludes the blogs on each city, but look for a few more blogs such as the backpacking experience, the hostel experience and my favorites of the trip.

Why do I love Zurich? Mountain views, lake views, cobblestone streets and alleys, and its clean!

What surprised me about Zurich? The cost of living! Prices are jacked up. For instance, picture a tall coffee from Starbucks... the same size cup of regular drip coffee in Zurich costs 6CHF (Swiss Franc) which is $6.35. Madness!!!

Public transportation in Zurich is HUGE. The trams run back to back, so you never have to wait more than a minute for the next tram to arrive. Also, trains take you to the outskirts of the city as well.


1 comment:

Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...