Sunday, July 16, 2006

Jono, Liam and Zurich

Jonathan was on the Switzerland leg of his European trip. The previous weekend Kelly and I went over to western France with him for two stages of the Tour de France. This weekend I flew over to Switzerland to meet him in Zurich.

Flights into Zurich were exorbitant - well over £350 return - so I took a cheaper option and flew into Basel-Mulhouse, which is in northern Switzerland, on the border intersection with France and Germany. I landed early Saturday morning and took a one hour train south-east to Zurich. The train trip was amazing. There were little Swiss villages and houses all through the valleys. Jonathan was catching a train up from Interlarken and we met at the Zurich Hauptbanhof that morning.

First thing was to get to the 'hotel' to drop off Jonathan's gear. I use the term hotel loosely. Hostel accommodation was not very cheap in Zurich and not very available. So instead we got a room in an ETap. ETap is part of the Accor chain, but it is bargain basement prices. Kelly and I had previously stayed in one in Germany over Easter. It is a room and it is clean, but it is basic. For all my griping though, I think Jonathan found it to be a step up from some of the hostels he found himself in over the previous week!

Armed with our 24 hour tram pass, we set off for the 2 hour walk around the main sights of Zurich. We walked around the old and new towns, along the river and the lake. Zurich is a compact and very welcoming city. Once we got down to the lake we found some lunch. We just had to have Bratwurst and bread - partly because nothing else was readily available. With Zurich being set on Zurichsee (Lake Zurich), we did a one hour cruise around the northern part of it. Recreation seems to be a big thing - the lake had numerous beaches and parks where people stretched out in bathers and swam on the edge of the lake. It looked so tempting.

One of the great things about just walking around a city is that you sometimes stumble across great surprises. We walked up the east side of the town and found a little square that was having some sort of party. It was a fund-raising BBQ for the local fire brigade. They were selling (yes) Bratwurst and other sausages, beers and wine. Providing the entertainment was a local accordian player. This was a fantastic place to stop and soak up the atmosphere. People just continually came and went, stopping for a beer or two and a chat. It was amazing.

That evening we bought a few snacks and sat down on the shore of the lake. The drinks we bought were Oettingers - only 80 centimes (about 80 AU cents or 35pence) for a 440ml can - bargain! We caught a tram up to the lookout, but there isn't much to see. At 11pm we find some dinner in the main street and then head back to the hotel.

Sunday

On Sunday we hired a couple of bikes. The bike hire is free, but they take your passport as deposit - cringe. Bikes are a great way to get around and see lots in European cities. We catch a gondola up into the state forest on the mountains on the east side of the town. This is a recreational area that we cycle around and climb the lookout tower. We got a little lost riding back into town, but it was downhill! The brakes were burning (don't worry, they were hire bikes), and we had no idea where we were going, so we just headed downhill until we found the river again.

It was a warm day, so we rode down to the lake and found a beach where we sat around and had a swim. The water is so clean, since it is snow melt runoff. We ride back into town, have a coffee and return the bikes. I have to catch a train back to Basel to catch my flight. My train ticket isn't valid for the return journey, but I sweet talk the woman into reissuing it (saving 35 CHF). Jonathan was heading south out of Switzerland to Milan in Italy that night, so we parted ways at the train station.

I just make it back to the airport with 5 minutes before checkin - it was really touch and go. However, as usual the plane has been delayed for 90 minutes. Once I do get on the plane the captain's first words are "Ladies and gentlemen, please take the nearest seat, abandon all loved ones. We need to take off in the next 10 minutes otherwise we all stay here until the morning." He wasn't joking - there is an 11:15pm curfew on the runway. We endup taking off in time after the quickest of safety demonstrations and I'm back home in London by 2:30am.

Jonathan and I had a fantastic time in Zurich. I don't think that it would have mattered which city we went to, we just had a great time doing stuff. Makes you want to travel around for a living....

Click on the photo to see more.

Jono and Liam in Zurich
Jul 16, 2006 - 24 Photos

2 comments:

Anonymous said...

Very, very, very good memories. One of the highlights of my trip, on the edge of Lake Zurich. JONO

Liam said...

Yeah it sure was. Good times.