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Arrival in Zurich, Switzerland
Wednesday, August 21
We left Santa Fe on Wednesday and arrived in Zurich around noon on Thursday. All my careful route planning was thrown out because there was a security violation in Dallas where our plane from Albuquerque to Atlanta was originating. So everything was late. Instead of Albuquerque to Atlanta to Zurich, we got to spend a few hours waiting in Albuquerque, then went Albuquerque to Atlanta to Paris to Zurich. By some stroke of luck, we still got our first class upgrades the whole way. I really dislike flying and the resulting jetlag and was not looking forward to the flight, but it all went well and we both slept on the flight to Paris. (We used those No Jetlag homeopathic pills, but I am not convinced they do anything - homeopathy is too weird even for me.)
Thursday, August 22
Warm and sunny in Zurich.
We arrived at CDG in Paris in the early morning. There was construction going on at the airport so we had to take a bus from the plane to the terminal and then another bus to the plane for our flight to Zurich.
Changing planes in Paris was strange - the boards said gate 21, but gate 22 said Zurich, so we lined up. Turned out this was to Zurich with Swiss Air, but gate 22 was to Zurich with Air France (the one we were booked on) and we almost missed our flight. It is a small plane from Paris to Zurich and we got first class upgrades - but it was just a row of three seats with the middle seat turned into a table.
No luggage for us in Zurich. Last time flying into Zurich, we lost one bag. One time flying into Florence, after changing planes in Brussels, we lost all our luggage. Seems to happen one time in three for us. I always take a carry on (my under-the-seater case that I use to carry olive oil back) with a toilet kit and a change of clothes. They were really strict about the number of bags you carry on this time - but it was just the young person at security in Albuquerque who made the fuss. I was trying to bring an extra shoulder bag with sandwiches it. Turned out you are allowed an extra bag for food, but it has to be smaller, so I carried the sandwiches in their ziploc bag and put my computer bag into the other shoulder bag - and voila! I had the correct number of bags for the person at security.
We carried on a computer bag each (yes, two computers), my purse and the under-the-seater.
Taxi from Zurich airport to the hotel (51CHF - 60 with tip). This was our first stay at Hotel Tiefenau (4 stars) and we really liked it. It is in a beautiful old manor, built in 1835 (35 rooms), located a few blocks from the Art Gallery just past Old Town. You can walk to Bahnhofstrasse in 15 minutes. The restaurants and shops of Old Town and Seefeldstrasse are closer. The hotel is on a quiet side street of a residential area.
The arrival day was pretty typical. Checked in, went out for lunch, slept the rest of the afternoon, out for dinner (good Chinese food - see Restaurant Notes below). Sitting at the restaurant that evening, I was listening to two Swiss women at the next table talking to each other. I couldn't understand anything, but then I heard the words "Big Fat Greek Wedding" amongst the Swizter-Deutch. They must have been talking about movies. Back to the hotel and slept all night (usually I wake up from jetlag).
Friday, August 23
Started off overcast, but changed to warm and sunny in the afternoon.
Started the day with a fabulous breakfast in the room. I love arriving in a city, staying in a good hotel and having breakfast in the room (what's not to love about that?). Especially the Swiss breakfast - good coffee, pot of hot milk, rolls, croissants, really good bread, butter, honey and boiled eggs.
We made the mistake of not getting dressed before breakfast and then thought we might just take a nap and then slept till noon. My theory is to sleep your jetlag away - so this was just putting that into practice, I guess. Usually we go out in the morning and then nap in the afternoon.
Out for a lovely lunch at the downtown Hiltl - a real Swiss vegetarian dish - a plate of cooked spinach with a fried egg on top, served with a bowl of boiled small potatoes. Excellent. The Hiltl is the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe - from 1898.
Dropped into the bookstore that we like - Fussli. It is just down the street from the Hiltl. They have a good selection of books in English. Bought a couple of Donna Leons that are not out in the US yet and a Minette Walters in paperback that is still in hard cover in the US. Good light reading for the trip.
I talked Steve in to spending the afternoon in the big department store Globus. I planned to have an afternoon of shopping there on our Fall 2000 trip, but arrived late afternoon on Saturday just as they were closing (5pm closing on Saturday). So I was owed this shopping trip! We walked around every single floor - home furnishings (really nice towels), kitchen supplies (a great selection of bread boxes - but all we got was the flame tamer I forgot to pack - essential on Italian stoves for cooking rice), men's clothes (all US brands - so no point getting Steve new t-shirts), women's clothes (got some Hanro camisoles for me), main floor (got the smallest possible umbrellas - half the size of the travel umbrellas we brought with us - these would fit in your pocket).
Stopped at the famous old cafe Sprungli for coffee and cake. There were no seats outside and it didn't look like there was any way to really wait for one, so we sat inside, upstairs. This cafe has a very "old world" feeling to it, like some of the cafes in Vienna. You know they have been there for decades. It is a lovely experience to sit with coffee and cake and watch everyone.
After over 24 hours away from the computer, I used the Internet point at the hotel to make sure the web site and message board were still there - they were. Out for dinner to a good Thai restaurant in Old Town.
This was a good hotel for our entry into Europe. Very comfortable and in a nice quiet area. It also forced us to walk a bit each day when going out for shopping or meals. We will stay here again. Also, it is nice to start our trip in Zurich. It is a charming town with good restaurants and good hotels - a nice place to land after an overseas flight. Tomorrow we pick up the car and head off to the mountain town of Engelberg.
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