One day in Switzerland is just not enough...

Zurich Travel Blog

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The Swiss Alps
Right now I am completely exhausted, after spending all of today trying to make the most out of the little time we were allotted in Switzerland…which I guess is a good thing. Today, like just about every other day this trip, has been awesome, and I regret that we will be leaving for France in the morning. But here’s to the good time I had while I was here: 

When we left our hotel in Venice, little did we know that what was supposed to be a seven or eight hour bus ride would turn out to last nearly twelve. Our pace from Italy to the Swiss border was normal, with the obligatory longer-than-necessary pit stop.

Downtown Zurich
After a 30 minute layover at the border patrol station, we soon met thick traffic at the foot of the Alps. Turns out that a boulder had fallen and blocked the road that we were supposed to travel, so we (and every other vehicle headed that direction) were sent on a detour that added at least 2 hours to the trip. As you can imagine, the single-lane roads that wind up through the mountains were not able to handle the increased flow of traffic, so we drove stop-and-go for nearly an hour leading up to the climb and continued our way at an average speed of around 20 mph. Once we cleared the pass, it was smooth sailing until Zurich. If this had been any other leg of the trip, I probably would have been a bit more frustrated, but the fact that we were practically parked at the base of the most breathtaking mountains I’ve ever seen made the experience quite enjoyable.
Chad chasing a swan in the Zurichsee

We rolled into Zurich at 20:30, just in time to grab a quick dinner and settle in to watch the USA/Italy World Cup match. I, along with all the other folks on the trip, was disappointed with the outcome, but I’m still riding on the outside chance we have of advancing to the next round. After the game was over, we all headed out for a club called the AlpenRock House, which turned out to be an awesome time. The whole while we were there, the DJ played a mix of popular European techno and American hip-hop and rap, so I pretty much danced nonstop from when we got there to when we left.

And now for today’s events: we had to wake up early for music and art history lecture, which I had a hard time staying awake through.

Me captaining a paddle boat
After that, we took the bus into downtown Zurich (about a 10 minute ride) to grab lunch before we hit the Kunsthaus. We decided to mix it up a little bit for lunch by grabbing some kebabs. Unfortunately, Swiss kebabs have nothing on Venetian kebabs. The Kunsthaus museum, which is known for its collection of 19th century paintings and modern and conceptual art, was another solid visit. I particularly enjoyed the many Monet, Cezanne, and van Gogh paintings inside, as well as a temporary exhibit they were hosting on optical illusions. Just outside of the museum, right in the center of the sidewalk, is a reportedly famous public restroom housed inside walls made of one-sided mirrors. From the outside, it is fully reflective, but when you go inside, you feel as though you are sitting inside a glass box, which can be a bit unnerving while you use the bathroom.
The London Philharmonic
I thought it was a very creative and unique attraction, and it fit right in next to the Kunsthaus.

After leaving the museum, Dan and I walked down towards Zurichsee, the lake that lies in the center of the city. Despite most of the stores being closed for the day, the city was much alive. Perhaps most interesting was seeing the Inline World Cup, a Tour de France-esque rollerblading race through the streets of Zurich. Everywhere we turned, there were people in colorful spandex suits and helmets…it was certainly a spectacle. By chance, we ran into a few of the other guys from the group who were swimming in the lake. I’ll spare the details for now, but basically, a bet was made that one of the guys couldn’t swim across the lake and back in less than an hour (it appeared to be about a three-quarter mile swim each way).

Brian and I at AlpenRock
Money was put down, and next thing you know, three of the guys were off and swimming in their boxers. Dan and I started walking around the lake to meet them on the other side, just to make sure they really went the whole distance. About halfway around the lake, we spotted a paddleboat rental station and immediately decided to go for it. It cost 12 Swiss Francs (about $10) for a half-hour, so at $5 a person, it was quite a deal. We took the boats out to the middle of the lake to check in on our fearless swimmers. Though fatigued, they all continued strong and made it to the other shore; however, since none of them even dared to swim back to the other side, they lost the bet while winning the satisfaction of conquering the alpine lake. After that episode, we met up with the group for our fourth concert of the trip, a performance by the London Philharmonic Orchestra. The first piece they did was a piano concerto of Mozart’s, followed by a symphony by some Russian composer whose name is 15 letters long and utterly unpronounceable. I was really impressed by not only the massive and full sound they produced, but also by the technical accuracy they showed. With over 100 performers on stage, it’s easy to see why I had goosebumps most of the time. It still comes in second behind the Vivaldi concert in Venice, but I’ll never forget seeing such a talented ensemble for their great performance.

Speaking of that, I am starting to create a list of “best of’s,” listing the best meals, museums, concerts, clubs, and attractions throughout the trip. I am hoping that this will allow me to remember all the places we visit and, more importantly, the ones I really enjoyed visiting. Tomorrow, we set off for Paris and our final stop on the European tour. Although I am sad to be ending the traveling portion, it will be really nice to settle down in Oxford for an extended period and not have to live out of my suitcase. Don’t expect many updates in the next 4 or 5 days, since I will be spending most of my free time studying and working on my research paper (bleh). As I promised before, when I get to Oxford, I will be able to go back and post all of my pictures and fill in some of the gaps between entries. I hope you all have enjoyed reading along with my travels, and I will drop another line sometime in Paris!

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The Swiss Alps
The Swiss Alps
Downtown Zurich
Downtown Zurich
Chad chasing a swan in the Zurichs…
Chad chasing a swan in the Zurich…
Me captaining a paddle boat
Me captaining a paddle boat
The London Philharmonic
The London Philharmonic
Brian and I at AlpenRock
Brian and I at AlpenRock
Zurich
photo by: Sweetski