Monday, July 4, 2011

Eurotrip 2011 - Day 16 (7/2/2011) - Zürich

I got a decent amount of sleep despite the heavy snoring of one of the other two guests in our room.  And my cold had mostly cleared out, though I still had a lingering cough.  We didn't need to be anywhere at any certain time, so I slept until about 9.  After we got dressed and ready to go, we went looking for some cheap breakfast (Zürich is a very expensive city). We ended up getting some bread, fruit, and pastries at an outdoor market that we ran across.  Then we headed to the Grossmünster church, and climbed up the tower to get a look at the city.  I should add that Zürich is a beautiful city - the river (which leads to a huge lake) is clean, the buildings have a classic feel, and you can see the beginning of the Alps in the distance.  Too bad there is not that much to do there, especially if you're on a budget.

After the church tower we found a Starbucks so Galen and Matt could get a coffee (which Galen hated), and I got some mango and passion fruit frozen drink.  We then ran into a bike rental stand, and Galen and Matt rented a couple of bikes to ride down toward the end of the lake.  I bid them goodbye and headed toward the Landesmuseum (a.k.a. the Swiss National Museum).  On the way I stopped at a couple more churches - the Fraumünster and St. Peter Church (which has the largest church clock face in Europe).  I eventually made it to the museum and spent the rest of the afternoon there until it closed at 5.  I was actually not terribly impressed with the museum, though I wasn't terribly disappointed either - the permanent exhibits are dedicated to all of Swiss history, and some of it was interesting. My favorite part, though, was probably a temporary exhibit of the best Swiss press photos of 2010.  I also would have liked to check out the tower of arms, but the museum closed before I got a chance to do so.  On the walk back to the hostel I stopped at a grocery store to get a sandwich (I couldn't hold out until the 6:30 meet-up time) and some still water (I had earlier accidentally bought some carbonated water).  I was back at the hostel a little before 6.  I typed up some more of the travelogue on my phone while waiting for the other 2 to show up, which they did around 7.

We overhead some people in the hostel common area talking about a Latin festival, so we decided to go check it out.  It had overtaken several blocks in the western part of the city, and was pretty packed.  There was lots of music being played, many tents selling goods, and lots of food (both Latin and otherwise) being sold.  We walked around for a while before finally settling on a couple of tents to get food.  I got a decent beef empanada from one place and a so-called "fajita" from a tent entitled "Mexican Food" (it didn't taste very Mexican).  One of the nearby tents was bumping some decent club tunes, both Latin-inspired and otherwise, so we settled there for a bit.  We then left the festival briefly so Galen and Matt could each buy a couple of cans of cheap beer (instead of paying the exorbitant festival prices) before heading back in towards our previous spot.  After becoming sufficiently creeped out by how much younger than us most of the festival-goers were, we decided to walk back to the hostel.  As we approached the river we overhead an opera-like singer in another direction.  The others wanted to check it out, but I wanted to get some sleep before my early flight the next morning, so we said our goodbyes and parted ways. I returned to the hostel and went to bed a little after 11.

There's not much to the next day, so I'll just finish up here. I got up at 5:30, got ready, and headed out to the main train station by 6:15.  I caught the 6:39 train to the airport and checked in a couple of hours before my 9:05 flight to Düsseldorf. I had some issues boarding the plane, as my electronic ticket number had been messed up (I suspected this would happen when Orbitz/Continental/United changed my flight details, and screwed up my Newark-Amsterdam connection, a couple of months before), but the guys at the Swiss International Air Lines counter eventually resolved it (at least up to Toronto, they said) and I was able to board with a couple of late arrivers.  The flight lasted about an hour, then I had about 2 hours before my 8 hour flight to Toronto.  While going through document control I was told that I needed a new boarding pass with a proper ticket number.  The women at the Lufthansa counter printed me a new boarding pass for the trans-Atlantic flight, though one just signed the empty space where the ticket number would normally go, and they were also able to print me a Toronto boarding pass.  I was able to nap a bit on the flight to Toronto, though I spent most of the time watching a couple of movies and a soccer documentary - Lufthansa has a decent personal entertainment system on their A330s.  They also served lunch and a warm snack.  In Toronto, I had another couple of hours to go though US customs (you get to skip Canadian customs if you're connecting to the US) and then go though the security checkpoint (again).  I spent some more time at the Air Canada gate desk while they tried to resolve the ticket number issue - this caused the plane to board late, but I don't feel so bad because we had to wait for 8 missing passengers anyway (and only 2 showed up).  The flight to St. Louis took a couple of hours, and I sat next to a nice young lady named Cassandra who was from Toronto and went to SLU's medical school.  After making it back to St. Louis my wonderful mother welcomed me back at the airport.

Some pictures from the whole trip:

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