On our last full day in Europe David and I got up early to take a train from Montreux to Zurich, Switzerland.
On the walk to the station we saw this:
Is it just me, or is the presence of bright and fresh fruits and vegetables on a city sidewalk just adorable and precious?!!
Ahem. The train ride to Zurich was a few hours, during which time we 1) listened to two women gossiping in French, and 2) stared at an older Italian gentleman while he read the newspaper. Once we got to Zurich we did the usual: check into our hotel, relax and check email, and then set out on the town to check things out.
Zurich did not disappoint, and it didn't hurt that we toured around while the sun was just about to set.
I think I posted these pictures already, but because of the dying light I don't have any other shots of the city itself:-( But let me just say that Zurich is beautiful. The Limmat River runs right through the city, and on either side of the river there are beautiful church spires and relatively short buildings, which makes for a more picturesque scene, as you can see.
Zurich is also pleasant because on each side of the river there are networks of streets just filled with shops. Apparently they like to shop in Zurich, because we walked on both sides of the river through a great deal of streets and shops.
Culturally, Zurich is also interesting because they speak Swiss-German and German more than French. In addition, David and I found the people generally more friendly, and also more willing to speak English if we asked. By contrast, in France they were clearly reluctant to speak English. We asked a girl at the airport the next day about this and she said that the French are notoriously unwilling to speak anything other than French. According to her they are also supposed to learn German in school but "they don't do it," she says.
After walking around town for awhile we happened upon _another_ Christmas festival! What are the odds?!! This one wasn't too big, but it was a chance for us to witness how much they love their sausages in Zurich and, I'd guess, in Germany.
People were walking along the river with friends, just munching on sausages plain, with a side of baguette. I'd like to see what kind of looks I'd get in Boulder, CO if I did this. People would probably stage some kind of intervention and assume I'd gone crazy--wheat and sausage??!! OMG.
For dinner in Zurich we had done some research and headed to Hiltl, which claims to be the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe. After a week of bread, cheese, and chocolate this was definitely calling us, and once we got there we saw why it was so popular. Hiltl is actually three different establishments: one is a fine dining veg restaurant, another is a bar/nightclub replete with a disco ball and after-hours dancing, and the other is a kind of deluxe hot bar for people to take from and eat there or takeaway.
We opted for the hot bar option in the hopes that it would be less expensive, but unfortunately, not so much. That plate above, with a single glass of sparkling water, cost about $30. I know. I nearly cried too.
But, it _was_ really good. Not good enough for $30, but still really good (definitely better than Whole Foods hot bar). Clockwise from the top is tofu cutlets, some kind of vinegar cabbage/sauerkraut, a bit of spaetzle, a really good pretend caprese salad with flavorful tofu instead of mozzarella, some Indian-inspired rice, and a hunk of wheat bread. Also, there are quite a few brussels sprouts in the middle. Yum. We could never afford to eat here if we lived in Zurich, but as a treat--and a fun shock at the cash register--it was good. It was also totally packed with people at six-thirty, which goes to show the extreme difference between Zurich and the French cities that we visited. Vegetarian food? Eating at six-thirty? Crazy!
Dinner was followed by a long walk, after which we decided to get to bed early since we had to be up for the airport at four a.m. I would've liked to spend more time in Zurich, if only to go visit another cemetery, this once with James Joyce's body. Perhaps we'll go again after Popsockets makes us rich, right?
In the meantime, I won't forget how pretty it was:
This view from my iPhone camera was even better the next morning, when we flew along the Alps and I could see how far they stretched and how high they are. It was impressive, people.
And with that, our vacation was over. Aside from a ten-hour flight from Frankfurt, Germany to Denver, CO, during which I was squished between two gentlemen in a middle seat. Yah. And one of them had the worst breath I've ever smelled.
It was probably still worth it, though:-)
*Do you ever eat sausage plain, on a stick-like?