Monday, December 26, 2011

Chocolate, clocks and neutrality

France had been truly lovely.

I really had not expected to have such an enjoyable and relaxing time there.  Places that receive hype normally disappoint, but in this situation I had been lucky enough to get what seemed to be the best of both the hype and the hidden.

Sadly, nothing lasts forever and I was soon on the road again.  First by train through to Stuttgart (which turned out to be a horrifically boring city), then on a plane through to Switzerland.

It was a strange twist of fate that I found myself in Zurich at this time.  Over the course of the last year, I had become acquainted with numerous Swiss people  from Zurich through my masters.  It had been a great experience knowing them as they had provided me a far better insight into a country that I frankly knew little of beyond the stereotypes of chocolate, clocks and neutrality.  As is always the case in such situations, I now unsurprisingly found myself in Zurich with none of my Swiss friends within 5,000km of me.  It seemed to be some kind of infernal joke that my time here would be only guided by the proxy of my friends.
This minor glitch was not going to stop me from enjoying myself or exploring the city though.

What I found was similar to Oslo.  Though even more organised.  It was the German/Scandinavian style of precision and cleanliness that made life appear to run as clockwork.  Much like Oslo, this was another expensive city and within a day of walking it was clear that I had seen the majority of the sights that were on offer.  The buildings in the old city were a beautiful reflection of the past (though they had all been clearly updated with the benefits of restoration).
This was a city where the trams came on time as did the trains.

At one point, I even found myself laughing to myself when I looked at my watch and noted that in 30 seconds the train I was waiting for would be late, only to look up again and see that the train was arriving on time to the minute.
I did my usual thing of climbing the tall things to try and get a better view and I even found myself on a boat in the middle of Lake Zurich.  It was calm and peaceful.  My trip around the world was coming to an end and it was fitting that I was able to move it to conclusion with some quiet.
As I walked through the old city, I wandered past what looked to me to be the classiest cafe I had ever laid eyes on.
I had to enter of course.

I strode through the floors of the cafe and into the back room with the elegant couches and ordered myself some Darjeeling tea and strudel.  Both were of the finest quality.  As I lingered over the tea, I had thoughts of how nice it would be to spend my days drifting away surrounded by the finery.  This was a short lived thought once the bill arrived.  A pot of tea and a strudel had set me back the princely sum of Swiss ₣18.  It was clearly time to leave.  
The more I wandered around Zurich, the more I realised that this was not the type of place suited to a tourist like myself.  There simply was not enough to do.

This was the type of place to be lived in.  It was the type of place that I should have brought myself to on the way to skiing, or for the purposes of visiting people.  To merely be one of the sight seeing throng, this place was not entirely suited to the task.
The evening was approaching, so I went to find myself a feed.

I contemplated getting some fondue, but quickly realised how horribly pathetic it would be to order a communal dish such as fondue to eat by myself.  I settled for the rosti and the Zurich style veal instead.  The buttery warmth of the sauce more than made up for the lack of a melted cheese.
Wandering around Zurich had tired me out completely.

It was a relief when I arrived back at the hotel.  The Mondrian inspired motiff of the rooms made me laugh a bit, but it was still a clear winner compared to the bland and uninspired hotel rooms I had often found myself in for work.
Switzerland had been a nice relaxed location to visit, but I won't be returning until I can ensure I am met by my friends with local knowledge.

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