July 10, 2014

The Official Wrap Up #1

Well, we've been home a few days now and I'm ready to think about the trip as a whole.
Coming home went very smoothly. We were ready early to check out of the Marriott and made our 10 minute walk to the train station. We bought our tickets and had 2 minutes to spare before the next train to the airport left. I got this quick shot of the lovely angel of the Zurich train station:

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The process of finding Delta and where to check in was hectic. We couldn't check in at any automated kiosk because we had "paper tickets." This seemed to throw everyone since the machine in Atlanta had spit them out when we rebooked our departure. Finally we found the right desk, dropped our luggage and made our way to the Sky Team lounge. We had some coffee and breakfast there; the place was nearly empty. I went to the duty free shop to spend my last Swiss Francs on a bottle of Swiss gin. Better than chocolate!

After another long walk to the gate, we boarded. The first flight attendant had a Southern accent and I have to admit, I loved it!

The flight was fine. I watched 2 movies, read, napped and ate everything they put in front of me. Business class helps.

Atlanta airport was a complete zoo. As soon as we got off the plane people started yelling about which line to go into. Not a very nice welcome for foreigners, especially.

The Delta lounges were packed but we found a spot to make some phone calls and before we knew it we were home.

The house is fine but it's like a big bubble of empty space is following us around where Luigi should be. We'll get used to it but it's still very strange.

I have some random photos that never quite fit into a blog post that I will put up in the next day or two.

Right now, we're glad to be home. My wisdom about travel is this:

Trips are kind of like kids. They're all very different but you love them all. We totally loved this one!

July 6, 2014

Discovering Zurich

We woke to light rain. Hung out in the lobby for a while, had some coffee and talked to concierge Markus about our day. We headed across the bridge (we are starting to feel more at home in this off-the-beaten-path part of the city) towards the Migros Museum, a contemporary art museum. Here’s the bench and sign in front:

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We enjoyed the show but it didn’t blow us away. My favorite part was a gallery of work by a woman who makes forms, like heads or boxes, out of needlepoint.
We asked at the museum about a lunch place and were directed to the Viadukt area. Approaching it you see the stone arches of the old Roman(?) viaduct and inside you see they’ve build this market using it a walls.

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There are lots of stalls inside representing different countries and an upscale restaurant in the back. Ken got to have his last Italian salami sandwich:

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And I had bread from the bakery and delicious cheddar cheese from the British booth. We also drank Brewdog 5 a.m. Saint Ale which we loved. I asked the Scottish guy threre if the people were mostly tourist or residents and he said we were probably the only tourists there!

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After lunch we came back to get fully organized for going home. We took a short stroll in the park just below the hotel and watched the early soccer match. For dinner we went back to La Contrada. Ken had a wonderful big salad and I had a veal steak with morel mushroom sauce. We shared a wonderful home made tiramisu and were given sweet wine for dessert. Over the years we have been unlucky with last meals but this was really good!

Walking home, I took this of our hotel from across the river Sihl:

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Second soccer match and to bed.
We’ll be up early to go to the airport in the morning.

July 5, 2014

The Last Leg

All packed up, we made the easy walk to the train station and got our tickets for Zurich HB. We bought a couple of rolls to eat on the train. People were very helpful to us except for one guy who slammed into my trailing suitcase with his shopping bag full of some kind of labels, maybe they were business cards, don’t know. He never looked back—it was weird. Anyway a bunch of them spilled all over the ground and Ken started picking them up. Another woman began to help and handed them to Ken and then she realized they weren’t ours and she became our friend for 5 minutes. It was a nice travel moment.

On the train, we were lucky it wasn’t crowded because Ken’s suitcase would only fit on the floor space between the 2 seats next to us. I listened to my music and watch the Switzerland show out the window. The ride was 46 minutes. We left at exactly 10:10 and arrived at 10:57. Swiss trains living up to their reputation.

We had walking directions to the hotel and after a moment and needing to ask someone where the starting street was, we found it easily. The Zurich Marriott is not particularly well located. It’s full of men in dark suits with a few tourists sprinkled in. We found out it would be an additional $50 to get internet in our room so we will just go down to the lobby to use it. They did, at least, upgrade our room for being silver elite Marriott members and so we have a really nice, “executive” room with a fantastic view toward Zurich.

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The whole day was totally overcast and flat—hard to get any nice pictures. It kind of echoed our moods about being here.

We walked about 10 minutes from here to the Old Town area.

It’s a jumble of streets with over priced restaurants all over the place. And a bunch of franchises. It’s Switzerland’s mall. To be fair, there were some cute shops and many interesting fountains. But this city feels a lot grittier than lovely Lucerne. We saw a bunch of homeless people outside the train station and there’s more graffiti and it’s dirtier. A real city.

We decided to try this place for lunch and it was really good—down home Chinese food.

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I was planning to use our credit card for the most part for the rest of the trip so I wouldn’t have to come home with any Swiss Francs but they don’t take cards at Lee’s Takeaway. I asked him about it right away and them about where was an ATM. he said there’s on about 2 blocks away. “You eat first and then I’ll show you where it is” and that’s how it went. Really nice guy. Really tasty food. But—we spent about $50 on 2 plates of chicken stir fry with rice and one bottle of water. Crazy!

We walked across the river to the big wide shopping street with all the designer shops

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And then headed home. I took a nap; Ken read. We went back out for a short explore right before the soccer game at 6:00 was to start. There’s a park just across the river from the hotel.
I liked this view from the park:

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We saw some people swimming in the river and this amazing guy tightrope walking diagonally from the bridge to the shore.

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We also slaw some obvious drug deals—straight out of Breaking Bad.

I went back to the room and Ken followed me with 2 cans of cold beer which we drank as Germany beat France. We went downstairs after the game and a very nice guy at the desk showed us another neighborhood, on the map, a short walk away so we went over there and found an Italian restaurant for dinner. It wasn’t bad at all. I had a pretty plate of fried zucchini flowers with scallops and Ken had a pasta with merguez and vegetables.

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We enjoyed sitting on the street watching the authentic action. Lots of people with Germany flags and shirts and big smiles. The Tunisian owner seemed to know everyone in the place as well as everyone who passed by, except us.

We walked back home just in time to catch the Brazil match.

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I’d say it was a pretty good day!

July 4, 2014

Lovely Lucerne and the Lion

We awoke to a beauty of a day--clear, sunny skies and a real cool breeze. After our make-shift breakfast in the room we walked to the Lion Monument.

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Carved into the side of a cliff, just a few blocks outside of the downtown, the Lion is a memorial to Swiss soldiers who died in the French Revolution. It was carved by one of the survivors in 1820. So poignant and touching, the dying lion is a really worthwhile sight. We hung out there for a while as tour groups came and went.

From there we walked down to The Church of St. Leodegar which is full of beautiful carved wood features.

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The double spires of this church are a well known landmark.

From there we walked along the north side of the lake, passing beautiful formal gardens, hotels with their covered dining areas, sculptures, people and dogs, and wild flowers.

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We came back and went into the Migros for a quick lunch. Yes, we have stooped so low to be eating lunch in a grocery store. We were not the only ones. the place is packed with local workers and tourists. They have a large seating area and a good number of choices.

Back at the hotel for a while, we ate a ton of candy. I finally got my gelatines.

In the late afternoon we went for another walk to the park just a block away. Ken loves watching the men (I have yet to see a woman) play chess there. I watched the kids playing in the playground and checked out the public toys.

Then we walked back toward the lake and the "civic center" was crowded with dressed up people--mostly gathered, standing, around small high tables with wine. I finally asked someone what was happening and he told me it was graduation.

We went back to David and Dean for dinner. No comment.

I am starting to get excited about going home!

July 3, 2014

Rainy Day--Lucerne

We woke up to rain. No big deal. We had our in-room coffee and some fruit and yogurt we'd bought and decided to go over to the art gallery in the KKL, a big modern conference center next to the train station. On our way there we stopped into one of the myriad bakeries and each got a roll. I love mine--like a French brioche but lighter. They had almost exclusively landscape paintings, in rooms based on time progression and styles. There was a printed guide which was quite expressive in a literary fashion. The curation of the show really made you see how painting styles evolved through realism, impressionism, surrealism etc. Very enjoyable. In addition they have contemporary art workshop going. The artist is Roland Roos--very interesting guy, here with some charming staff, making cloth books with his wordless stories. Visitors are encouraged to go into the workshop and interact with the artists. Loved it!

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You can see the artist here. He's the bald guy:

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As we were leaving the woman at the ticket desk told us not to miss the balcony so we went up. This is a really cool building all around. The large balcony has beautiful views of the lake and a low, subtly reflective ceiling:

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From there, we walked in the rain, still to a small street market set up on this side of the river. And that's when we saw it--our favorite place in Lucerne so far: The Nespresso store!

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I really wanted to buy the machine like we have in our hotel room but it is not practical at all--doesn't even have the right plug. And they sell them at Amazon, Macys and Sur la Table anyway. We hung out there and got some free coffee to taste. It was fun!

We had had enough of the rain so we went back to have some lunch at Dean and David which I discovered is a German franchise. I had a chicken curry bowl and Ken had a wrap. Satisfying. We came back to the room and did the usual rainy day stuff.

Around 6:30 the rain stopped. Off we went. We walked across the river and up to the Musegg wall and castle. The views going up there were stunning:

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And finally we climbed a tower.

Dinner. We went to Da Tomasso which had been recommended by the Italian couple from the day before. While the prosecco was fresh and bubbly, Ken, eating his dish, said "This is probably the worst pasta I've ever eaten!" I had to laugh. It was all pretty bad.
We've decided the the food scene is really an obstacle to our pleasure here. Spoiled by Italy, I guess and bratty as that sounds, it's true for us.

We walked home over the old bridge and that was that.

About Me

I am a woman living a wonderful life in Tallahassee, Florida. I love my family, my community, my work and traveling to Italy. Gardening, cooking, reading, and hanging out with friends take up most of my free time. Oh yes, and Slow Travel, too!

July 2014

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