Friday, June 26, 2015

Lydia Makes Friends With a Swiss Pigeon


We began the day with just about the only free thing to do in Zurich - a free tour.

Along the way we stopped at a fancy macaron shop known as Sprungli Luxemurgerli. We oogled over the fancy treats, but after our recent overindulgence in Zagreb, we decided not to buy anything.

The tour began near Bahnhofstrasse, one of the fanciest streets in the world. In fact, I believe our tour guide said it was the most expensive strip of real estate in Europe. I also learned that Switzerland has no official capital, women didn’t gain the right to vote until 1971, and the Zurich trams are nicknamed cobras because they are quiet and dangerous.

The first stop on the tour was Fraum√ľnster, a former nunnery turned Protestant church. On the way in the tour guide suggested we all walk through a narrow passageway for good luck. She later explained that the passageway was formerly used to ensure that the lady parishioners weren’t dressed too fancy; if their dresses were too big, they wouldn’t fit through the passageway. Boring ole’ Protestants.

[The tour group walked along the river's edge for a bit and I was startled when I saw multiple swan butts in the river but no heads. I guess they were using their exceptionally long necks to eat plants on the river bottom.]

We then took a peek at another Protestant church, St. Peter. This one is known for having a clock tower with the largest clock face in Europe (yes, even bigger than Big Ben.) Another interesting fact is that until 1911 the steeple was used as a fire watch by Zurich citizens.

Next the guide led us up a hill to a view of the river and the city below. While snapping some pictures, I overheard some other people tell a good Switzerland story about Oprah. A few years ago, when she was in Zurich for Tina Turner’s wedding, she went purse shopping. She asked the clerk to show her some insanely expensive purse, and the clerk refused saying she wouldn’t be able to afford it anyway. Clearly she didn’t know who she was talking to.

Anyway, the guide started talking again, and all of a sudden I felt something fall on my head. I looked at John and he said, “Uh, I think a bird just took a big poop on your back.” And it turns out I had chunky bird poop in my hair and all over my shirt. Ugh, it was so gross.

On the bright side, if there is a bright side to getting pooped on, there was a fountain very near where were we standing, and it even had spouts kind of like a sink. Also, the water from the fountains in Switzerland comes from springs or something, so it’s clean enough to drink. Well I ended up washing my hair and shirt in the fountain. Meanwhile John stood by laughing and making poop jokes [I prefer the term "fecal repartee". Makes it sound classy]. Awesome.

[Nothing gets me thirstier than repartee.]

Well by the time I was somewhat clean and dry, the tour had already moved on, so we decided to explore on our own. We strolled through town, passed some more fancy stores, and eventually decided it was time for lunch. We found a restaurant suggested in our Lonely Planet guide that only had two euro signs next to its name indicating that it would be moderately priced. Well moderately priced in Switzerland actually means unfortunately priced. The pasta on the lunch menu was 40 francs. No thanks. We decided to just eat at good ole’ McDonald's, but along the way we found something even better!

We didn't have a map and the only place we could find free WiFi was outside the Louis Vuitton store so we made a couple of trips there.

We wandered into Coop, a Switzerland grocery and retail store, and saw that they had a restaurant. It was similar to an Ikea restaurant. There were lots of choices and it was relatively cheap. The best part was the cheesecake we had for dessert. It was honestly the best cheesecake I’ve ever eaten. We ended up with two entrees, two desserts, and two drinks for only 40 francs. Winner, winner chicken dinner.

[The cheesecake even had tiny little pieces of chocolate in it!]

Our next goal was to visit the National Museum Zurich.

On the way we passed by a Coca-Cola truck giving out free sodas. Yes, please! John doesn’t want anyone to know, but he drank one too, and it was not caffeine free.

Anyway, the museum had some interesting parts. I liked learning about how “witches,” Anabaptists, and Jews were treated back in the day. There was one baptist guy that they burned on the stake after he was already dead [just to make sure].

[Jews had to wear these funny hats.]

[Witches bringing bad weather with their witchcraft.]

They had this really awesome diorama of an important battle.

After the museum we decided that we’d earned a chocolate break. We decided the grocery store would probably be the cheapest place to buy chocolate. Well, even the grocery store wasn’t cheap enough! A bar of Lindt chocolate was like 5 francs. Turns out Swiss chocolate is more expensive in Switzerland than anywhere else in the world. John made us get grocery store brand chocolate, and it still tasted pretty good.

[Lydia is pretty brand conscious, and I used to work at a store brand food producer, so this happens like once a week.]

Our final goal in Zurich was to find the lake. Our guide had told us earlier in the day, to many people’s surprise, that the river flows out of the lake. So we followed the river past the boats, swans, and church steeples, until we reached the lake.

After taking a few selfies, we took the tram to the hotel, picked up our bags, and headed to the airport. We landed in Milan just in time to catch the last train to the city center.

[If I ever got to ride a real life rave camel I might be tempted to try a cigarette. Those are my terms.]


[I was pretty excited to see some Milan EXPO advertising at the airport.]

[Looks like some people are less excited about the EXPO. Screw those people.]

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