Saturday 22 October 2011

WT - Zurich

Switzerland is one of the cleanest countries that we have visited and rates alongside the Canadian parks of British Columbia. For those who are curious, Paris followed closely by Rome are by far the dirtiest cities, with the greatest volume of the most inane graffiti going to Rome in spades. Ronnie and I would revisit Rome in the distant future but there is nothing on this earth that could entice us back to Paris short of all the French leaving. because it does have some very attractive places which can be visited comfortably on Google Earth, without the rude insults.

Anyway enough about the other countries, they had their chance and we are now talking about Switzerland, birthplace of the Red Cross, Human Rights Commission and the famous Geneva Convention (articles of war). It is however one of the most expensive places to live on the planet and I can vouch for that having paid the equivalent of AU$20.00 for 2 tiny cups of coffee and 2 small croissants (about $2.00 a mouthful). Home ownership is only 6% - Most housing is owned by commerce and the financial institutions then rented at huge rates back to the general public. This is one of the strongest economy's if not the strongest economy today.

Public transport is similar in cost to the rest of Europe with the exception of the UK, which is approximately 20 times more expensive than anywhere else. Switzerland doesn't belong to the EU either for those of you who were curious and so they prefer their own currency, the Swiss Frank over the Euro but are far too polite to refuse payment, much like the Canadians with US dollars and the Scott's with English pounds in that respect. I was amazed that the US does not reciprocate the Canadians tolerance, particularly in border towns and in fact the Americans are even worse than the English who don't reciprocate well with the Scott's - funny old world!

Ronnie's birthday fell on our excursion day (wish I had booked a little more time at some of the nicer places) and so I had planned to take her to the Swiss Alps (Neither of us have ever seen or touched snow - ice yes, snow no!) Switzerland is so small you can almost drive across it twice in a day so I had allowed 12 hours for this adventure including 2 hours for shopping. (Ronnie had lost her Gold Swiss watch which was a gift that I had bought for her while we were dating to replace a very sentimental 18th birthday present gold Swiss watch) I had promised that she could choose a watch to replace the second time lost Gold Swiss Watch.

The day started out very foggy and overcast which was a real concern as I had booked us to go to Mount Pilatus which is just over 3000 ft in height and also allowed for Gondola rides, the worlds steepest cog railway and a steam ship cruise not to mention the breathtaking views of lakes and mountain peaks. Fortunately when we arrived at our pick up point we were to share a bus with a bunch of people who had opted for the Titlis Tour (Mount Titlis). I know ... I had never heard of them before either!

The countryside was gorgeous on our way to the Alps. It just so happened that the Pilatus Tour was to be dropped off first and in the meantime I had learned a little more about this Titlis tour so at drop off I asked our guide if I could upgrade to the Titlis tour and he agreed that this was a wise move since the weather had not improved and about all we were likely to see was a nice white blanket, if lucky.

Mt Titlis was a 10,000 ft climb via 3 gondola rides - the last third of the ride in the worlds first rotating gondola (fair dinkum, this thing does a full 360 degree rotation during the ride both up and down).  Oh man! so what if the temperature dropped .9 degrees for every 1000 ft, the ride alone was outstanding. What an absolutely amazing, awesome day we had, Ronnie was laughing and giggling like a little school girl, went A over T had a short slide on her rear shrieking hysterically and laughed till she cried. I made snow balls and threw them at her (gently of course).

On our way back to Zurich later that day we stopped at a little town called Lucerne/Luzern. Acording to the travel guide:- Lucerne is ideally situated in the historic and scenic heart of what many believe to be the 'true' Switzerland - picture mountains, lakes, cowbells, alpine villages and meadows full of edelweiss. Once a simple fishermen's village, this charming town straddles the Reuss River on the western edge of Lake Lucerne and makes an excellent base for many excursions in Switzerland. One of the main attractions is crossing the Reuss River on the famous Chapel Bridge. All true and although we didn't have time to cross the bridge, we did have time to photograph it.

We had an hour for site seeing and shopping, needless to say 45 minutes was taken with the shopping (Ronnie's half of the time allocation) and 15 minutes for siteseeing (my half of the time allocation). As you can see we share everything equally, the secret of our 40 year give and take relationship.



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