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Fall 2000 - Switzerland and Italy

Two Nights in Zurich

Friday, September 29

We left Albuquerque on Thursday, September 28 in the morning and arrived in Zurich the next morning. This is the third time in a year that we have flown to Europe and, even though we always get upgraded to Delta's Business Elite (first class) with incredible amounts of legroom, food and entertainment, I am starting to hate these flights. I don't know how people with second homes in Italy can do these flights on a regular basis. It is probably a lot easier if you are starting from the east coast; we spend the whole day getting from Albuquerque to the east coast and then we have the overnight flight to Europe. Coming home is even worse. We may have to start flying from Europe to New York City, spend a few days there, and then fly home.

Arrived in Zurich to sunshine and warm weather (the next day it was overcast and we did not have a sunny day again for several days). Again one of our bags didn't show up, so we waited in line, filled out a form, and they delivered it to the hotel that afternoon. We are not traveling light on this trip (do we ever?): hiking gear for Switzerland (knapsacks, rain jackets, boots, polartec jackets, water bottles), warm clothes for Switzerland, lighter clothes in case we get good weather in Italy, guide books for Switzerland, northern Italy, Umbria, Tuscany, Rome, Amalfi coast. Two 24" rolling suitcases, a medium duffle with the hiking gear, a medium suitcase with the things we need for the first several days of hotel (that way we can leave most stuff in the car when we check into a hotel, and just bring the one bag). A small computer bag, a bag full of magazines that we bought at JFK, a small carryon bag with sandwiches in case they forget our vegetarian meals.

Checked into our hotel (Hotel Glockenhof, where we always stay) and collapsed. I did not feel well after the flight. Slept from noon to 6pm. I have been reading countless trip reports from the AOL Italy Travel board and I cannot believe this, but most people fly to Italy and do a full day of travel or sightseeing on that first day. All we ever do is sleep. I recommend giving yourself at the very least 2 nights on arrival to recover. 3 nights is even better. Had dinner at what used to be our favorite vegetarian restaurant in Zurich (Gleich), but it wasn't as good as it used to be. Still pretty good. The next day we did some shopping in Zurich and had both lunch and dinner at the Restaurant Hiltl - which is now our favorite vegetarian restaurant in Zurich. And it is right across the street from the hotel.

Went to the Thomas Mann museum, which is only open Wednesdays and Saturdays for 2 hours. We have never been in Zurich before at the times it is open, so this was our chance. It was immensely boring, but you did get to see a re-creation of his study (with all his original things). I really like his books, so it was worth it for me. Next time we will go to his grave outside of Zurich. I had planned to do big shopping in Zurich, but all the stores closed at 4pm! It turns out that this is normal for Germany and Switzerland - in smaller towns they close even earlier.

One Night in Balingen, Germany

Sunday, October 1

Took a taxi from the hotel to the Europcar office (booked through AutoEurope) and got a new, totally black, automatic, VW Golf hatchback. A wonderful car. Drove a couple of hours north into Germany, to Balingen to visit our friends Ursula and Lionel. Went out for a good dinner at a country restaurant. We hadn't see Ursula and Lionel since our 1996 trip, so it was good to get this chance.

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