Sunday, March 28, 2010

White Christmas: Zurich

The weather turned chilly and damp as we arrived in Zurich. Undeterred, we checked into our hotel and headed out on a walking tour of the city centre. This took us past all of the main sights of the city, including a shop which sold "recycled" items. Leah bought a new handbag made out of a Vietnamese rice bag.


The two main sights of Zurich are its two churches, the Fraumünster and the Grossmünster (which Leah insists on translating as the "Fat Church"). Both churches are quite understated; the Fraumünster contains some nice looking stained glass windows that were installed fairly recently. The Grossmünster has smaller windows with what look like slices of translucent rock (agate). Both churches looked more functional than ornate.

In the afternoon we went up another funicular, the Polybahn. It doesn't go very far -- just up to the University -- so we went up, had a brief look, and then went back down.

Chinese LanternThat night was New Year's Eve. Zurich had a decent night planned for us -- there was a big party down by the waterfront, with lots of stalls of food and some live music. There were people lighting Chinese lanterns, and as the night was dark and fairly still, you could see a long chain of them stretching into the distance up in the sky. We sampled some of the food, including wurst, crepes and waffles.

The main event was the fireworks, which went on for approximately forever. There were so many that eventually the smoke obscured them, and all you could see was coloured smoke every so often as they exploded. Every time we thought we'd seen the finale, another lot would start up. Eventually they finished with a very large bang, and we joined the crowds heading back home on the trams before the night services kicked in.

Late on the first day of the year, we took a bus to another funicular. This one went up Dolder Hill. Once there, we had a walk around the hill, where we discovered an ice skating rink in the middle of nowhere. The views were fairly non-existent, and we managed to find our way to the nearest bus stop (it was at the zoo) and get back home again. We had to have an early night, as unfortunately we had to be up at 4am.

Ice skating

Overall, our Swiss holiday was a lot of fun. We saw mountains and lakes, and went on lots of trains and other varied forms of transport. We tried the cheese and the chocolate, and managed not to freeze to death. Even if we didn't get a White Christmas.

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