Montag- last full day in Zurich

Today we mostly took it easy. We went out shopping and walked around the Bahnhofstrasse and a little bit of old town, and bought a few things- A toy bus for Wesley (he is kind of obsessed with buses lately) and a really super hat for Max, who deserves all the funny hats for saving me and picking Trevor up from the airport in Buffalo a little over a week ago.

Hooray for crazy hats.

Anyway, after we’d pretty much walked our feet off, we hung out in the hotel room for a bit, and then went out to a nearby Mexican restaurant for dinner. It was pretty good, but not great- though I didn’t really expect Switzerland to be a great place for Mexican food.

Yesterday I tried Rivella, which is a local soft drink made with whey or something? It is pretty weird. I’m glad I tried it, but I wasn’t about to go drinking the whole bottle. It’s like that other soft drink I tried in Berlin, Lift. They don’t taste alike or anything, but I didn’t quite get the appeal of that one either.

We grabbed some snacks from the nearby grocery and came back, and now we’re mostly packed up and ready to head off to Lucerne in the morning.


Today, we went up the Uetliberg, and then hiked down. We took an S-bahn train up to where it was only a 10 minute walk to the top, so we made the hike up easy on ourselves. It was really foggy and cloudy, so there wasn’t much of a view, but it was still nice to be up there, even if we couldn’t see anything.

Foggy Uetliberg

We stopped at a restaurant near the top for lunch, called Uto Staffel. We split a pretty big charcuterie board and that was really good.

Then, we hiked down. Holy COW that trail is steep. My legs were jelly just keeping me from rolling right down the hill. Only a couple of kilometers, but the grade made it tough. Still, we were done early in the afternoon, so we decided to go ahead and take the trip to Lichtenstein today. We got our train tickets and headed out, and got there just after 5pm.

LIchtenstein government building

I mostly just wanted to go so we could get a passport stamp, and so I could grab some souvenirs. We accomplished the souvenirs part, but the tourist office that actually stamps passports was closed when we got there, alas. Oh well.

Tomorrow we’re just going to hang around the town, do some shopping. Nothing too strenuous! We’re headed to Lucerne on Tuesday.

Saturday in Zürich

Today, we slept in a little (sorely needed!) and then headed out to the Swiss National Museum. That museum was way more than I expected! The collections were really amazing.

I liked the Swiss Furnishings collection, with cool exhibits of 20th century (and earlier) furniture!


There was also the big wing of Swiss history. I was kind of surprised to learn that Switzerland didn’t join the UN until 2002! I was less of a fan of the arms and armor exhibit. There was also a big exhibit on Charlemagne- lots of stuff about writing reforms and religious reforms that went on during his reign. Some really amazing pieces there, including a couple of really cool manuscripts on purple vellum.

I thought we’d be able to spend 3 or so hours and see the museum, but we were there for nearly 5 and still didn’t see everything! After we finished up there, we looked around the train station a bit, then headed back to the hotel for a little rest before dinner.

Tonight we had McDonalds for dinner, because we like to try it in every different country we go to to see what the differences are there. Here, they have computer kiosks you can order on, and something called “barbecue fries” that were pretty good. Like spicy steak fries. Alas, I can’t find a picture of them on the Swiss McDonalds website. After that we wandered around the streets a bit and window-shopped some closed shops. Planning to do some proper shopping on Monday.

Tomorrow, we’re going to head up the mountain nearby (the Ãœetliberg) and maybe a boat tour. Should be fun! Am trying to get more photos uploaded, but it looks like I can only really upload on photo at a time on the hotel wifi. View this gallery for a couple more photos, and hopefully more to come!

Zürich Day Two!

Today, we went to the Zürich Zoo! Zoos are kind of my thing, I like to go to them anywhere I go. We saw some chameleons!


Anyway, the zoo here is pretty wonderful, actually. It has a huge indoor rainforest with tons of species from Madagascar, and a bunch of other animals I’ve never gotten to see even in zoos before: a toucan, an anaconda, a shoebill, a bactrian camel, an anteater, and lots of other cool stuff! The zoo does a ton of conservation work too, especially with regard to tropical rainforests in Madagascar, so that was neat.

We spent a good chunk of the day there. It was a nice time to walk around and see all the animals. At one point, one of the giant tortoises was right up against the viewing are and a ton of little kids were patting it! I don’t know if that’s good for the tortoise, but those kids were nearly flipping out with delight.

Walking in Zürich

After that, we went to wander around the old town. Lots of churches and things to see, The opera house, and the river Limmat and Lake Zürich, and lots of nice stuff on the water. It was a nice walk!

Opera House

After that, we popped back to the hotel room for a bit, and then came back out for dinner at a restaurant called Zum Kropf, which was pretty good! I had a great wienerschnitzel, but Trevor had this chicken that was way way way more delicious than either of us expected. It was so good.

Now, back in the hotel room, watching enjoyable British television and so on. Planning a trip out to some museums tomorrow, the National Museum and maybe an art museum. Sunday, we’re planning to head up to Lichtenstein, just to say we’ve been.

Arrived in Zurich!

We’re here!

We traveled through the night and got here around noon today. Our flight from Toronto to London was on a 787, which I was excited about, and the plane was nice! Though, the seat I was in was definitely not the best in terms of comfort. Very close to the seat in front of it, and when that person reclined, it was extremely tight. There wasn’t much space under the seat in front of me either, leaving not much room for my carryon baggage or my feet. But we managed.

My first time flying through Heathrow, which I mostly liked, though the security process left something to be desired. They have a requirement there that all liquids have to be in their particular plastic bags, so everyone who was carrying liquids had to swap them over, and this caused all sorts of pain and consternation. Not for us, as we checked our liquids, but we got to be a near party to a bunch of complaints from others in the line.

Overall though, the trip was pretty smooth.

When we arrived in Zürich, we decided to take transit to get to our hotel instead of taking a taxi. The airport didn’t make it very clear how to get the S-bahn, so we went to grab a tram, but man, the ticket machine was a pretty tough experience. We were using it in German, which was fine, Trevor and I both have enough German to operate most kiosks with no trouble. But with this machine, in order to actually purchase the tickets, there were two big clunky spots.

One: it wasn’t very obvious how to add a second ticket at all, and once you had, there wasn’t much confirmation that you had done so. Thankfully you could see the total purchase price go up.

Two: to actually complete the transaction and purchase the tickets, there wasn’t an obvious “finish” or “complete” or “confirm”- basically whenever you had added the number of tickets and zones you wanted, you just shoved your credit card into the machine. And the thing to take cash didn’t make sense either- it was smaller than any Swiss Francs, so either you’re supposed to somehow fold your cash to put it in, or it doesn’t take paper Francs? It took us at least 5 minutes to figure this out, we thought we had to do SOMETHING to finalize our order before paying.

After we got that sorted and had a long tram ride down, we got to our hotel. Our room wasn’t ready yet, so we headed across the street to an Italian restaurant for a late lunch. The kitchen was closed, but they made up some amazing pizza for us so that was awesome.

We got into our room after that and got settled/showered and had a nap before heading out to grab some snacks for the room. Our room, sadly, doesn’t have a fridge or an honor bar, so nowhere to keep cold drinks, but we have plenty of salty snacks.

Our hotel is near a football stadium, and there’s a game on tonight and we can vaguely hear the cheers floating in through the window, which is kinda nice actually.

What everyone says about Switzerland being expensive is definitely true. But so far, enjoying!

Good few weeks, but eyes on the vacation prize!

Things have been a little chaotic the past few weeks, but my vacation is coming and I’m excited! Before I talk about that though, a recap.

The Friday before last, I went to an outing of friends, wherein we all dressed up just for the fun of it and went to Imbibe. It was a good time, for sure- with one friend setting up an impromptu portrait studio so he could capture us all in our dress-up gear. It was ridiculous and awesome. Ran into a choir friend of mine there as well, so that was really fun. The image below links to the whole set of photos. Fun times!

CPLP exam is coming up soon. Worried about it, of course, but I don’t think I could have fit in more prep time. Like any standardised, proctored exam, there’s an element of the unknown going into your first take and you can’t fully prepare that away. If I need to retest, at least I’ll go into that with experience in how the test is written and run. I’ve done fine on the practice exam and other practice questions, but there are some things that stump me still.

But I’m not going to dwell too much!

I didn’t have much time to prep this weekend because I was volunteering and soaking up awesomeness at an amazing conference called Fluxible. I’ll write up some more details in another post hopefully when I’ve fully digested, but suffice it to say it was a really well-done conference, and an amazing experience.

This past Friday, I had to drive to Fort Erie, because I needed to do an interview to renew my NEXUS card. If you’re not familiar, the NEXUS card is basically an identification card for a trusted-traveler system between the US and Canada. You have to renew every five years, and the renewal requires an interview (though just by the US, it seems). It links to some other programs as well and is awesome, and means quick customs lines for cardholders. So Friday was pretty busy with driving down there for my interview and back, and then setup for the conference.

Meanwhile, I didn’t get to see Wesley much, but this week, it’s just he and I, as Trevor is traveling. So that will make things a bit less smooth, but I think it’ll be okay.

But then… on the 25th, sweet sweet vacation- and boy, do we need it! We’re traveling to Switzerland and Italy- Zurich, Lucerne, Interlaken, and Milan. It’s going to be amazing. Wesley is going to stay home, and his grandparents have kindly offered to watch him while we’re away. It’ll be so nice to recharge and to see the Alps! No doubt I will have lots of photos to share here.

Anyone else have travel coming up soon, or am I the only one who schedules all vacations for the fall? 🙂