Hello From Zurich, Switzerland

It’s New Year’s Even here in Zurich, and we’re hanging out for a few hours before heading out to sample street food, drink beer, and watch a fireworks spectacular (paid for by the Zurich Hotellier’s association, of course). Here are a few thoughts on Switzerland:

  • Flight over was mediocre to poor.  Flying Delta this time, but the plane was an ancient 767 with peeling upholstery on the seats, and no personal video screens.  On the way over we got to watch movies with bad sound, which were interrupted constantly by the chattiest flight crew we’ve ever heard.  Despite only being able to watch 82% of The Social Network (due to interrupting first officers) we managed to agree that it completely sucked.  Aaron Sorkin, WTF?  It’s like we hardly know you anymore.
  • Trip in from the airport was easy, but felt completely out of control.  The train/tram system in didn’t seem to have a lot of route maps (as far as we could tell on our tram, there weren’t any), so we defaulted to our standard MO when we’re in this situation: John just asks everyone he sees hundreds of times where we are and how to get where we’re going.   We made it to our hotel just off the lake and jumped on the courtesy wifi while we waited for our room and ate some breakfast.
  • Hotel is nice.  We got upgraded to a suite for having to wait an hour while we tried to check in at 10AM.  We have free internet and national flag channels in Russian, Italian, German, English, Chinese, Japanese, Farsi, and Arabic.  We also have “ESPN America” who advertised on channel listings and on their website that NC State – West Virginia would be on, and then screwed the pooch on hour 38 of staying awake and showed a “March to the Capital One Bowl” instead.  Fail.
  • Food here is expensive.  Like, insanely expensive.  Rather than have a strong currency compared to the US dollar, the Swiss strategy seems to be just double the price on everything.
  • Everyone seems to think we’re French.  “Merci” seems to be the common way people thank us.
  • The Swiss National Museum was great, and included a really cool exhibit, movie, and hands-on “build your own Swiss Army Knife” exhibit.   John didn’t get to build one as he was 3 kids back in the line.  We’re ordering one from Amazon and we’re just going to fib on that one.
  • Weather has been hazy so far, but we got about 3-4 inches of snow our first night here.
  • American Idol singers still sound bad even if they’re dubbed in German.
  • We have eaten at a few really good (expensive) restaurants, but John’s favorite so far was the Zeughauskeller Beer Hall.  This place was nuts.  A huge room in what used to be an old armory with massive tables, where you just get seated in with another 4-5 couples as the table.  We had some aloof Swiss, and some semi-communicative Russians (only the girl could speak English), and we dove in to huge plates of Sausage, potato salad, and fresh halved tomatos.  And beer.  One of the most unusual dark beers I’ve had was the Falken Draft “Dark” beer that tasted almost like vanilla.  It was cheap, too – relatively speaking of course.
  • We also ate at the Odeon Cafe which is apparently famous as being one of the favorite hangouts for Einstein and Lenin.  Very good breakfast options.
  • We were tired our first day here, so we decided to watch a movie, the only real choice available in English being the Tourist.  Decent movie, and we loved the classic Swiss twist of the intermission that’s apparently always done here:  lights come up after the first hour (right in the middle of wherever you are in the film), everyone stands up, and the screen says “Lets all eat ice-cream!”  So everyone does.
  • Even though I’d been here before, he realized he couldn’t remember almost anything about the trip.
  • We kept turning on the TV to see this weird creepy loaf of bread with arms talking…and talking…and talking.  After much Googling and Google-translating, it’s apparently “Bernd das Brot” or “Bernd the Bread” which is this weird half-show played after a kids station goes off the air here.  This is probably the same reaction European tourists get when they turn on the TV and Wipeout or WWF is on.

We’re having a good time enjoying the cold, and we’ll see you next year.