Wednesday, February 17, 2010

Buses, Cable Cars (the aerial kind), and a Really Big Ferry

One of the things I like to do in a completely unfamiliar place (particularly where I don’t read or speak the language) is to take a city tour.  Yes, I know, it’s touristy, and I’m not a fan of being herded on and off buses and other forms of transport.  But to get a sense of where I am, nothing beats a tour.

The Best of Switzerland 4-hour Zurich and Surroundings tour was okay.  Not exceptional; the tour guide didn’t point out much other than the tour book highlights – I’m pretty sure I could have identified the Grossmünster and the Fraumünster all on my own – but it did show me the layout of the city, and as a bonus, got me up to the top of Felsenegg, a nearby mountain.

Okay, at 800m, it’s a stretch to call it a mountain, especially while practically sitting in the shadow of the Matterhorn.  Not that I could see the Alps in the distance because of a fog that refused to go away.  The tour death march was at its worst here; we had 20 minutes total to hike down to a plateau to a chateau, use the toilet or purchase a coffee or hot chocolate in a take-away cup – not both, mind you – then back to the top of the mountain and catch the cable car back to the foot of the mountain.  I am NOT in shape.  Most emphatically not in shape – maybe that should be emFATically – and I really thought I was going to stroke out by the time I made it back up, even though I set out 2 or 3 minutes ahead of the group, knowing I was going to struggle.  The view was worth it, overall, even if my photos won’t show it.  It would have been nice to spend some time there, but in typical tour fashion, there was no time.

Digression:  I love the phrase “take away”.  You can so tell that the English translations here are dictated by UK English.  In the US, it’s “carry out” or “to go”.  It’s the little things that amuse me
After Felsenegg, our bus wound its way down to the shore of the Zürichsee.  Being from Michigan, I wasn’t impressed by their lake.  But it was a lot of fun to ride the bus onto a really big car ferry and ride across to the other shore.  You can do that when your lake is only 4km wide. ;)

Our tour ended precisely where it had begun, and I eagerly headed out to begin exploring Zurich on my own.

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