Becky Runs Boston

My adventures running in Boston, searching for that runner's chai.

Switzerland!

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I’ve been a naughty blogger and haven’t posted anything in ages, but it’s not my fault – I was in Switzerland! I’m back from an amazing week in Europe with Eric that included amazing views, trains that traveled on time, delicious food and beer, and lots of laughs.

We are incredibly lucky and have been able to travel out of the country every year for the last 3 years. This trip was to visit our friends Sal and Katie who have been living in Zurich for the last 2 years. Thanks to our previous trips to Cancun and Ireland, we had LOTS of frequent flyer miles and were able to purchase our round-trip tickets for less than $200 each. Not bad! Thanks to super cheap flights and free lodging, we got to splurge on train tickets/food/beer/and a 24 hour jaunt to Como, Italy.

If you don’t feel like reading the day-by-day review of our trip, here are a few fun facts:

1. Grutzi (hello in Swiss-German) and Grazie (thank you in Italian) are fairly similar and confusing and will lead to you saying “hello” instead of “thank you” all the time.

2. Drinking in public is allowed in Switzerland, so finishing your beer on the train ride to dinner is completely acceptable.

3. Passport control is incredibly lax. Our passports were checked during our layover in Frankfurt, Germany and the only other time we took them out during our trip was for our hotel in Italy. Switzerland didn’t bother to look, and neither did Italy when we originally arrived in the country.

4. Playground slides are more slippery in Switzerland and will cause you to go shooting out of them like a cannon.

 

Wednesday:

After a red-eye flight from Boston to Frankfurt, and a connecting flight to Zurich, we arrived in Switzerland at around 9am. Katie was nice enough to pick us up from the airport (which was SUPER nice since we probably weren’t coherent enough to figure out how to get to their apartment by ourselves). After a quick nap and shower, Eric and I walked around Zurich’s lake, had a lovely lunch (described as an Italian fajita by our waiter, but it was really just a delicious, warm wrap), explored the historic part of Zurich, and walked along the Bahnhofstrasse (aka Zurich’s version of Boston’s Newbury Street). We also bumped into the Zurich Classic Car Show and watched them announce the winners. For dinner, we went to Katie and Sal’s favorite spot where you’re given a lightly browned piece of steak and a scalding hot stone… and then proceed to cook your meat to your own liking. Served with fries and special dipping sauces, it was pretty amazing.

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Italian fajitas... aka a wrap.

Italian fajitas… aka a wrap.

Eric was super excited about the cars.

Eric was super excited about the cars.

This picture comes nowhere close to doing this meal justice. Mmmmm meat.

This picture comes nowhere close to doing this meal justice. Mmmmm meat.

Thursday:

We caught an early train to Como, Italy and spent the three hour ride staring out the window, taking pictures, of the beautiful landscapes, mountains, lakes, and small villages. After a stop in Chiasso, Switzerland to purchase tickets to Como and a bizarre walk through the most lax customs experience, we arrived in Italy right in time for lunch. The walk towards Lake Como from the train was easy, we found our hotel without even looking at a map, and I had the most delicious lasagna of my life for lunch. We took the funicular up to Bruncate for amazing views of Italy and Lake Como. We walked around the older part of the city, ate gelato, and stumbled upon the gallery of Mr. Savethewall, a Banksy-like contemporary artist who was very friendly and happily sold me one of his works of art. For dinner, we enjoyed a three-course meal overlooking the water at our hotel’s sister hotel. We ate octopus, beef carpaccio, perch risotto, and veal cutlets. Our waiter Michelangelo took wonderful care of us (even correcting our pronunciation of “Grazie,” helping us pick the most local/regional food options, and giving us free cookies for dessert). Even though I was SO full from food and wine, I still got some gelato for dessert.

The view from the train. Come on, MBTA, why can't you be this pretty?

The view from the train. Come on, MBTA, why can’t you be this pretty?

Best.Lasagna.Ever

Best.Lasagna.Ever

View from our hotel room.

View from our hotel room.

The view from Bruncate. We were so lucky it was a pretty and clear day.

The view from Bruncate. We were so lucky it was a pretty and clear day.

The view without our faces.

The view without our faces.

Mr. Savethewall's gallery. I wanted to buy all the things.

Mr. Savethewall’s gallery. I wanted to buy all the things.

Friday:

The beautiful weather of Thursday disappeared and turned into a cloudy/rainy mess so we enjoyed the hotel’s breakfast and left Como early in the morning. On our way back towards Zurich, we stopped in Luzern. My handy Switzerland guidebook gave us a great recommendation for lunch (the Rathaus Brauerei) and we did the book’s self-guided walking tour with stops at the Crying Lion monument and Chapel Bridge. After more gelato, we headed back to Zurich where we ate everything in Katie and Sal’s apartment (since they were getting ready to move and needed to get rid of everything, not because we’re jerks) and had lots of laughs with them and their friends.

Chapel Bridge

Chapel Bridge

Pretzels are my new favorite way to eat sandwiches.

Pretzels are my new favorite way to eat sandwiches.

The Crying Lion monument in Luzern.

The Crying Lion monument in Luzern.

Saturday:

A friend made the very strong suggestion that we go to Gimmelwald in the mountains above the Lauterbrunnen Valley and stay in the Mountain Hostel. Katie and Sal had not yet been to the area, and joined us. On our way, we stopped in Interlocken where we had a bizarre conversation with the Tourist Information representative.

Us: “Hi! We’re headed to Gimmelwald but wanted to check out Interlocken first. Is there anything in particular that you suggest we do here?”

Him: “No.”

Us: “Oh… so we should just go straight to Gimmelwald?”

Him: “Yes.”

Us: “Can we at least have lunch here?”

Him: “Yes”

We found an authentic-looking Swiss restaurant for lunch where Eric and I shared the appetizer combo plate and I had my favorite Swedish Rekorderlig strawberry-lime cider. After lunch, we took a train to Lauterbrunnen, a bus to Stechelberg, and a cable-car up to Gimmelwald. We walked around the village, took a pre-dinner hike up the steep mountain to a great waterfall, ate delicious pizza in the hostel’s restaurant, and went to bed in our “Lovers” bunkbeds after a game of pool. (Note: For those traveling in pairs, the hostel offered 2-person sized bunkbeds so that you could sleep with your partner. A nice touch, even if awkwardly named.)

The Swiss version of a Pu Pu Platter for two.

The Swiss version of a Pu Pu Platter for two.

Hanging out in Interloken, despite the TI rep's suggestions.

Hanging out in Interloken, despite the TI rep’s suggestions.

 

Hiking in the Alps. No big deal.

Hiking in the Alps. No big deal.

We made it to the waterfall! And I'm wearing way fewer layers then when we started the hike.

We made it to the waterfall! And I’m wearing way fewer layers then when we started the hike.

Sunday:

Rather than hike down to Stechelberg as we had originally planned, the ominous clouds and fog and light rain inspired us to take the cable-car back down instead. On our way back north to Zurich, we stopped in Bern to see the bear pits, eat lunch in a brewery, and walk (hike) up a (very steep) hill to the rose garden for beautiful views of Switzerland’s capital. Back in Zurich, we relaxed and ate leftovers before taking the train just outside of Zurich to Uetliberg for panoramic views of the city and lake on top of a (very scary) tower… and then some Crema Catalana for dessert.

A clocktower in Bern

A clocktower in Bern

One of the bears in the Bern bear pits.

One of the bears in the Bern bear pits.

The view from the Bern rose garden.

The view from the Bern rose garden.

My friends thought it would be fun to climb up this. I was clearly scared to death of the wind picking me up and carrying me away.

My friends thought it would be fun to climb up this. I was clearly scared to death of the wind picking me up and carrying me away.

The view was pretty amazing though...

The view was pretty amazing though…

Monday:

After a 4-mile run, Eric and I ventured to Ebenalp, the northernmost summit of the Appenzell Alps (thanks Wikipedia for that fun fact). We took a cable-car up to the summit, and then hiked down, enjoying the views, visiting the Wildkirchli cave system where monks used to live and pray, and eating a delicious lunch on the side of the mountain in an awesomely placed hotel and restaurant. During lunch, we got to watch a number of people paragliding around us. We also got to interact with the wildlife (including some frisky sheep and lazy cows) and listen to women yodel as they leisurely rowed their boat on the Seealpsee lake. Back in Zurich, we went out for great Asian food with Sal and Katie and were disappointed that they had run out of zimt (cinnamon) ice cream.

 

Another view from the top.

Another view from the top.

A lovely spot to have some lunch and enjoy the views.

A lovely spot to have some lunch and enjoy the views.

A turnstile in the middle of our hike...

A turnstile in the middle of our hike…

Seealpsee Lake

Seealpsee Lake

 

Taking selfies with cows.

Taking selfies with cows.

 

I desperately wanted to pet the cow, but Eric convinced me it wasn't a great idea.

I desperately wanted to pet the cow, but Eric convinced me it wasn’t a great idea.

Tuesday:

For our last day, we traveled about an hour away to Basel, right on the border of both Germany and France. Before heading to the train station, we stopped at Conditorei Schober for chocolate croissants and coffee – a top 25 bakery in the world according to Buzzfeed. In Basel, our first stop was the Basel Synagogue, a massive domed synagogue built in 1868 featuring beautiful stained glass windows. Guarding the synagogue was a dachshund named Alphonso. We then walked a couple blocks over to the Jewish Museum, which was closed. (Note to the Jewish Museum: Why would you be open on Monday – the day ALL other museums are closed – and be closed on Tuesday? Poor planning). We then walked to the Kunstmuseum, passing by an outdoor sculpture by Richard Serra and water fountain by Jean Tinguely. The art museum itself had a pretty good collection of modern and contemporary art, including works by Van Gogh, Monet, Renoir, Pissarro, Giacommetti, Picasso, Klee, and Chagall. By the time we finished walking around the museum, we were so exhausted that we headed straight to the train station – and completely forgot to go look at the Rheine River. Whoops. For our final night in Zurich, we had dinner across the street from Katie and Sal’s apartment at a Mexican restaurant called Tres Kilos where the food was great and the waiters were… greater (thanks again for those free tequila shots!).

 

One of the top 25 bakeries in the world according to Buzzfeed.

One of the top 25 bakeries in the world according to Buzzfeed.

 

Basel Synagogue

Basel Synagogue

Inside the Basel Synagogue

Inside the Basel Synagogue

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Final Swiss sunset

Final Swiss sunset

Sad faces back in Boston. We miss you, Europe!!

Sad faces back in Boston. We miss you, Europe!!

So, if you’ve actually read this whole thing… wow. The trip was everything we hoped for and I can’t wait to go back. Now, time time to start planning the next trip!

Where should we go next? We’ve done Europe the last two years, so South America? I’d love your tips!

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7 thoughts on “Switzerland!

  1. Becky, what a fabulous description w/photos of your trip! Loved every line and will go back to it later!! (those meat pix tho, eek).

  2. Wow! What an amazing trip! Such joyful and awesome photos.

  3. Ohhhh the Swiss alps!!! That’s my dream location, a house in the alps overlooking a lake ha! Amazing pictures. I’m glad you were able to experience it

  4. Pingback: A Recap of 2014 | Runners Chai

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