Sunday, January 04, 2009

SWITZERLAND. Final stop: Zurich

After an amazing 6hr train journey through the Austrian & Swiss alps, we arrived pretty much on time into Zurich. Considering that it had snowed overnight, we are still amazed at the lack of impact it has on public transport. In London, any change of weather brings transport to a halt.

In Zurich we realised that we were a little 'museumed' and 'art gallaried' out so went looking for other things to see. Firstly we arrived on New Year's Day - a public holiday, not unexpected, but we didn't think that it would extend to the 2nd of January as well. So shopping in all the fancy shops: Nope. One thing we didn't realise about Zurich is that it is nearly always hazy (well according to the local snow-boarders we met on the train trip). So the plans to take the train up the mountain for a picnic didn't seem logical in the low cloud.

One of the streets in the Old Town
One of the drinking fountains in the main shopping street. One of 1,200!
Bear in mind it was around zero degrees, this guy obviously doesn't feel the cold.

The people we met on the train were telling us about the Zoo that had made an artificial African Plain so the animals could have more space and live more naturally (even in near freezing conditions). We have to admit that seeing an elephant in the snow made us curious, so off we went. Here is a small selection of our favourites. Needless to say, all warm animals were indoors, although it looked like the Lions had one heated rock to sit on!

The tram to the Zoo

Mongolian wolf

Yes, it is a Penguin Parade! We were sneaky and ran around (okay, slid around) to get in front of the crowd. Amazing to be so close, and the penguins choose where they wander on their daily walk.

Just an afternoon snack for this Snow Leopard

Lion on a (warm) rock
After the Zoo, we went off to see our first game of Ice Hockey. It was a real highlight of our trip. The local team ZSC Lions were playing HC Lugano (who had brought along some very vocal supporters). Since the Lions were leading the competition we thought we'd support the locals, especially since it was a sell-out. Wrong decision! Final Score, ZSC Lions 2 - HC Lugano 5. The game was exciting to watch even though we didn't know any of the rules. We think they used 4 pucks (and Claire convinced the ice-cleaner to give her the last one) and broke around 10 sticks. Expensive sport this!
The Zurich team is in red, at the far end

We don't understand why anyone would be a ref in this sport

I wouldn't stand in between these two.

Half time entertainment. A couple of people from the crowd hit a puck aiming for the hole under the car. This 10yr old kid made it, and won €1,000. I'm not sure who was happier, him or his mum..

Back to the game
The one museum that we had decided to go and see was the clock and watch museum. Sadly it was closed so the next best thing was checking out the biggest clock face in Europe at St Peterskirche. The clock itself was pretty boring but this one on the Fraumunster even tells you whether it is day or night.
When in Switzerland, one must sample chocolate. Which we did. In addition to this, again on advice from the train people, we went to Luxemburgerli. These are little tiny intensely flavoured meringues with cream in the middle. Very tasty. We liked the lemon ones the best.
Claire did well to show restraint and only bought 4. The box does say "To enjoy as soon as possible"
2009 has begun. Where can we go next....