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Sunday, June 2, 2013

Travel – May 29, 30 & 31 – Zurich, Switzerland
Zurich…the question is, where do we begin?  I’ve been here before and John hasn't.  There is so much outside the town I would love for John to see. Lucerne is a lovely place and Mount Titlis is also beautiful. I’d previously come with Brian, my youngest son, about fifteen years ago, and those are some of the places we saw.  We had such a wonderful time here.  Brian and I had explored some of the old town of Zurich, but not much else.

John was really tired of taking tours; thus, we decided to just stay put and explore Zurich.  As it turned out, it was a very wise thing.  This town has a lot to offer, and the time we have will not be enough to do it justice.  We have barely scratched the surface. Zurich is a town I could live in.  Of course that is why it is regarded as one of the top rated cities in the world.  All it takes is money.  Both John and I would have to go back to work.  Boo…I think I’ll stay put.

The weather and environment are very similar to Seattle’s.  The city is surrounded by rolling hills that transition to high mountains; there is water all around and it rains.  Sounds really familiar. It has been raining on and off since we arrived.  Good thing we brought our umbrellas!     

Zurich (GermanZürich, German pronunciation: [ˈtsyːrɪç]Swiss GermanZüri) is the largest city in Switzerland and the capital of the canton of Zurich. It is located in north-central Switzerland at the northwestern tip of Lake Zurich. The municipality has approximately 390,000 inhabitants, and the Zurich metropolitan area 1.83 million.  Zurich is a hub for railways, roads, and air traffic. Both Zurich Airport and railway station are the largest and busiest in the country.

Permanently settled for around 2000 years, the history of Zurich goes back to its founding by the Romans, who, in 15 BC, called it Turicum. However, early settlements have been found dating back more than 6400 years ago. During the Middle Ages, Zurich gained the independent and privileged status of imperial immediacy and, in 1519, was the place of origin and center of the Protestant Reformation in German-speaking Switzerland, led by Ulrich Zwingli.

Zurich is a leading global city and among the world's largest financial centers. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Also, most of the research and development centers are concentrated in Zurich, and the low rate (relatively) of tax attracts overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.

Monocle's 2012 "Quality of Life Survey" ranked Zurich first on a list of the top 25 cities in the world "to make a base within.” According to several surveys from 2006 to 2008, Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe.Many museums and art galleries can be found in the city, including the Swiss National Museum and the Kunsthaus. Zurich also hosts one of the most important theatres in the German-speaking world.

John and I spent the first day or two taking the walking and boating tours around the city.  Most of the pictures shown on this blog are from those adventures.  The city is beautiful and showcases a mixture of European and Swiss architecture.   There are multiple clock towers, and when they all go off at once they are deafening.  At times they ring for ten minutes or more.  We had to close our window to close out the noise.  Sure glad we don’t have any bell towers where we live! 

A boat ride on Lake Zurich is a must do activity if you visit here.  They have a short and a long ride.  You can buy your tickets at the dock without arranging for any formal tour.  We took the short tour and it took about an hour and a half.  The boat makes about eight stops around the lake.  Each stop is different and quite quaint.  The further you go up the lake (south-southeast) the closer you get to the Alps.  We were lucky the day we took the boat trip and actually had some sun; people were sitting outside on the deck.  The cost of the ride was about eighteen Swiss Francs each or about $24.  Probably a bit expensive, but this is a tourist town.  Locals were riding the boat, but I’d hate to pay this price on a daily basis.  I took a picture of the menu showing some prices.  The price of French fries was $13 dollars, but that did include catsup.  What a deal!  We had a drink and left it at that.

Going back to Venice and my suitcase for a minute, all that pulling up and down those great steps took its toll on my poor old suitcase wheels.  I knew something was going to give before the trip was over.  As we arrived at the Zurich train station, half of one wheel fell off on the station platform.  John struggled to pull it to the taxi cab.  By the time we arrived at the hotel the other side of the wheel fell off.  We knew something was going to have to be done.

Our challenge was to find a reasonably priced suitcase in one of the most expensive towns in the world; and not everyone speaks English.  Where is a Costco when you need one???  We are so glad we have an internet connection at the hotel.  John googled “Where to find a suitcase in Zurich.”  We looked up the places on the map and found that they were within walking distance.  AMAZING!! Traveling even ten years ago this would not have been possible.   Here is a picture of my new suitcase.  It is Swiss made and has a five year guarantee.  If something goes wrong I’m bringing it back for repair!!!!  

Now, getting rid of the old suitcase is a problem.  The hotel indicated that there would be a charge for large pieces of trash.  John has now started to scope out every dumpster we go by to see if it is big enough for my suitcase.  If we don’t arrive home on time you will know it is because we have been picked up for planting a suitcase bomb in a public area.  They will have it all on tape.

Only a few days left in Zurich.  I think we are going to visit some museums.  It’s a good bet when it’s raining.  See you soon, the adventure continues.  Good night!

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