The last stretch of Switzerland
29.07.2008 - 30.07.2008 32 °C
It was time to return the rental car to Zurich, which had been great for making our way through Switzerland, and it was going to be all trains from here on in. Thankfully the Eurail passes we’d won would start to come in very useful, and we thought we would definitely have struggled to go as far as we planned to without them. After a quick trip to Konstanz to book tickets for our future trip from Salzburg to Munich (reserving tickets can take a bloody long time in a queue…), we were on the road to Zurich. We were staying that night with a couchsurfing couple, Urs and Rahel, but not meeting them until after 8pm, and so we arrived at 2pm and dropped our bags off at the station lockers, passing some great wee clothing and design shops we decided we had to go back to.
We walked from the station towards the river on the old side of the city, and stopped in a platz for coffee (and a beer for Josh which later killed all of his energy). Zurich was yet another great biking city, although we saw a few bikes that had been taken advantage of and tossed into the river. Another very hot day, and we were slightly tempted by Movenpick until we saw the prices (although apparently EVERYTHING is expensive in Zurich). The place is filled with tonnes of great shops, restaurants and bars on the old side. We then crossed to the new side, and walked the Bahnhofstrasse (the rich street of the city, lined with fancy pants shopping and designer stores), but did a loop around the river back to the old town for a cold drink before dinner.
Sitting down at a quirky old bar with an old rocker-type host with long grey hair and John Lennon glasses, we ordered some drinks (for once in my life, the beers were much better than the wine to me, note to self not to order a glass of rose in Switzerland) before searching for a dinner spot. We were in the mood for something simple and quick, since we didn’t want to arrive at our hosts too late, and ended up at the spaghetti factory for a bottle of wine and some easy pasta, which was reliably tasty.
We caught a tram to Oerlikon, where our hosts lived 10-15mins out of the centre, after having to change a note for some ticket coins and spending it on the most expensive Sprite we’d ever had to buy. Our hosts Urs and Rahel lived in a beautiful new apartment, and were extremely welcoming, sitting down with us and chatting for a few hours before we all retreated for the night.
The next morning we had a bit of a late start, once again (we must stop sleeping in, but we had started to get tired on the odd occasion…), and Andy got called into a work meeting for three hours or so, so we sadly had to leave him back at the apartment and venture into the city, where he planned to join us later. Stocking ourselves up with yummy breads and supplies for a picnic in the park, Josh and I caught a tram into the city and rediscovered all the wee design stores we’d passed the day before. Although there was some great stuff, nothing completely took our fancy.
We then tried to hire some bikes from the station but they’d run out, and a rude teller sent us on a bit of a wild goose chase (we think…) to find some, but after fruitless searching we ended up catching a tram to Zuirchhorn Park. Locals basked in the sun while we enjoyed a relaxing picnic beneath the trees. People had set up bbqs, were playing games of soccer, and lazing around by the lake. We walked towards the Chinese Gardens, but weren’t compelled to pay to enter them, but thought the Chinese Takeaway out front was a funny wee addition. I also got my first experience of the bizarre ‘funnel’ toilets the boys had experienced in Bern, which is a huge stainless steel funnel toilet bowl that also becomes the sink you wash your hands over? Odd.
Andy had finished his meeting by now and was on his way to meet us. The boys decided to jump into the lake while I read my book on the grass, which they said was a lovely wee dip in very warm water. It seems like I do this a bit, but I had had a chest cold for the past few days, and didn’t think swimming was the best thing for it. We then walked the river route back to the centre, on our way to organise things for dinner. A swan-filled lake with pedal boats (some with great slides off the back of them), and bar-lined lake banks. We also decided since it was our last day in Switzerland we had to make the most of Swiss chocolate, and found the famous Sprüngli chocolate shop on Bahnhofstrasse to taste some delights. Delights they were indeed – mouthwatering dark nougats, truffles, and strange burger-shaped delicate meringue things.
Off to pick up some bbq supplies (via yet another beautiful church), and then it was back to Urs and Rahel’s for dinner. Finally a real bbq with the familiar smoky smell… Andy had made some delicious homemade burger patties, we whipped up a few yummy salads, and Urs cooked up a great bbq while we all enjoyed a few beers in the sun on the balcony. Some of the dinner conversation was centred around the question of what New Zealand cuisine is like, and we were again finding it hard to explain that apart from the hangi, what else is there… We seem to be a mixture of little bits from everyone else (but we do cook a damn good bbq).
It was our last night, and we decided to go into the city for a drink. Taking a detour through their neighbourhood, which is a new development, they took us to a new ‘three-dimensional garden’, which was in essence a giant metal frame covered with vines intended to completely cover the structure within five to ten years. Quite an incredible space, yet in an odd location, surrounded by apartments. Back on track to find a bar, we caught a train and then wandered the smaller of the two rivers to a bar that is a male-only Swiss bath by day, but an outdoor bar by night. Bodies were propped on landings above pools, with drinks in hand, lit by multicoloured lamps within the surrounding trees. We sat around low tables on giant cushions with a few drinks, and met one of Urs and Rahel’s previous couchsurfers Christine, and her friend Tom, who were living in Zurich. Christine was from Dresden in Germany, which was on our list of travel destinations for further down the line. She offered us a place to stay when we got there, which we will have to take her up on if it works out! We left the bar to catch a train before midnight and travelled home to the sounds of Josh trying to recite German from the free newspaper.