September 21, 2010
Another sunny day today!
After breakfast we headed off towards the city. Just up the shore from us there was a succulents collection (that’s cactus, not tasty food). It was free, and open, so we stopped in for a look. There were six greenhouses full of cactuses and their relatives. The plants from Madagascar were the most bizarre. There was also a collection of “frost hardy” succulents outside. We had a look at them, hoping to find something for our garden. They might survive in Zurich but they probably aren’t “rain hardy” enough to survive in Vancouver.
After that we continued into the city, where we went to the tourist information office in the main station to buy our Zurich Cards. They cost us 19 francs each and gave us free access to public transit for 24 hours, plus free entry to a whole range of museums. One of the public transit options was the train up the Uetliberg, the mountain on the west side of Zurich. It normally costs 16 francs to ride this train to the top so we were getting good value for our money.
Uetliberg is a long ridge which just has one trail running along it. There are trails going up and down it from various villages and towns but not really any walking options except the one trail. However it had a scale model of the solar system, which made it a little bit interesting. The Sun was represented by a big yellow ball about a metre in diameter. Which was fine, but that meant that Mercury and Venus and Earth and Mars were represented by tiny little balls much smaller than your little fingernail. That was kind of disappointing, but it’s what happens when you have a scale model.
We walked along past Jupiter and Saturn, then decided that was enough astronomy for now. On the way back we made the climb to the very top of the mountain where there was an observation tower and a luxury hotel. We didn’t climb the tower because it wouldn’t have made any difference to the view we already had. All in all we decided that the Zugerberg was a much better destination than the Uetliberg.
We arrived just as the train was about to leave and rode it back to the main station. We got some pretzels from a kiosk there and had them for lunch. Here’s the results of our jelly doughnut survey:
“Krof” at the Ljubljana train station: 0.49 euros, which is about 0.65 Swiss francs at the moment.
“Berliner” at the Zurich train station: 2.60 Swiss francs.
We didn’t sample the Berliner but there probably wasn’t any quality difference between it and the Slovenian krof, which we ate quite a few of.
In the old town we tracked down the travel book shop and went in. They didn’t have any English-language books about hiking in Switzerland. Not surprising really, that would be a very big book. We’re going to have to some research before we do more hiking in Switzerland. We had also seen an ad for an haute couture fabric shop, but it turned out that they would make an outfit for you from fabric which you selected. Not quite what we had in mind!
It wasn’t even five o’clock yet, so we decided to take a boat trip on the lake. The “short round trip” took an hour and a half and visited a lot of landings at the Zurich end of the lake. It was quite relaxing to just sit there and watch the shore go by, and best of all it was paid for by the Zurich Card.
Our “lake cruise” boat
One of the little gulls which are all over the lake
Finally we walked back to the hostel where we had their 17-franc dinner. Tomorrow we leave for the long, long flight back home.