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Zuerich - The Cursed City


  02:47:23 am, by Nimble   , 1452 words  
Categories: Journal

Zuerich - The Cursed City

Arguably, and inexplicably, the worst destination of the lot. It had a good side, but as you will be able to tell through my tale, behind this fair city lies a strange, brooding chaos... the mirror image of "having all one's ducks in a row"...

We were a little disappointed to find out that our hotel, nice though it was on the inside, was in an astoundingly industrial-looking area. It took a little longer than indicated on the map to get there, but we were looking forward to unwinding, and enjoying this last little bit of the trip before we went home. We both agreed that two weeks is just right in terms of vacations of this sort - you start feeling a little like a hotel-hopping Littlest Hobo, and laundromats are starting to seem like a pretty good idea as clothing starts becoming resistant to the soak-and-hang-to-dry treatment.

It took a little bit of doing to find things in the surrounding area. Since Zuerich is a very expensive place (can you imagine spending $4.50 on a bottle of soft drink?), we were very happy to discover a couple of places close by. The folks at the New Wave treated us very nicely, and had some good, decently-priced meals of lasagna, fish subs and falafel wraps.

We passed by some very weird-looking eating places, which looked like some old school gym or someone's house had spilled out onto the sidewalk... almost like you had to be a student or art community member in the know to figure out what to expect or how to dine there.

There were some cool modern statues and things to place with out in the square. We were located by the "Techno Park" which had things like metal abaci made out of human figurines and metal angel-and-devil dragons.

The relatively nearby Co-Op gas station made us happy. Just like in Canada, it had goodies and drinks for sale when everything else was closed. It was warm practically everywhere we went in Europe - finding a good source of cheap drinks is a must in this season.

We made plans to visit two things on the trip, Zuerichs' Zoo, and a Gray Line city tour.

We went to the Zoo on Saturday. We expected a little bit of crowding, but nothing like what we encountered. Near as I could tell, they decided to have a Free-admission-with-coupon-from-the-paper Day or somesuch - people turned up with these free coupons (which we did not have, of course) in droves, freaking droves. What kind of insane people would do such a thing?

Fighting through the crowds, we did discover some extremely nifty things. The Exotarium has all sorts of animals, birds, plants and the like. The anteaters were particularly cute - the WWF made a sale of a stuffed anteater that day :) What was very nifty, though, was the Regenwald, or rain forest, display. They let people into the display only in discrete groups at any given time, making the wall of humanity less crushing so we could enjoy ourselves. It's a giant place in these, with some bizarre vegetation, and animals and birds running around. We got to see this one bird with giant, spindly feet relative to its body size step slightly over the water hyacinth on the ponds. With a sharp eye, we also managed to see its babies - cute little fluffballs with huge feet.

Then we left through the gift shop, picking up a couple of things. We go out through the exit, to find a sign saying "you're now leaving the zoo - you can come back in through the main entrance if you show your tickets". It was actually a pretty solid hike back to the entrance of the zoo. What... the... hell?

When we'd finally had enough, the weather decided to suddenly come in and soak us, as well. Dena was going to take an appropriate picture of me next to a poster of a bedraggled monkey, but we were foiled by oblivious parental units :)

The entire Zoo is way up the hillside. Tramming it up there is highly recommended. Once you get up there, everything is still on hills. Prepare to gain walking altitude. It's a good zoo, oddities aside.

On Sunday, we went to go for a city tour. Everything is closed in Zuerich on Sunday, everything except for a small handful of restaurants, and as we found out much later, the three-layer deep mall in the train station is exempt from this utter stillness over the entire city. If you want to get in to see many things in Zuerich, and you're staying over a Sunday... I'd say add a day.

We had booked the prior evening, so when we got to the Gray Line meeting point 10-15 minutes before departure, we were surprised to find out... that they had no room. They overbooked? A day tour?? To add insult to injury, even though they said they would get us on another (slightly less expensive) tour, while we waited, utterly everything and its dog seemed to be more important than getting us sorted out.

When we got on the tour, we found out that the Iron Man competition was actually running through town, right through some main pieces of our tour route. We saw a few cool things around the city, but the two stops the bus made were in some pretty spectacularly uninteresting spots for far too little time even to peek around corners. We were dropped off for the boat ride around Zuerich's lake, which was pretty nice. We decided to relax by ordering food and sitting at a table on the top floor of the boat. Ahhhh, better.

As we found out, as well, the traffic system, especially from a pedestrian's point of view, was designed by a lunatic. There are crosswalks, but they're not always connected to one another, or safe to cross on, or in logical places. Trams can come at any time, and cars come out of seemingly nowhere.

There were a great number of fiberglass bears around. Many, many, many more than the number of fiberglass cows we had here, and they were in front of practically every major store and building. The bear realistically painted like a tiger by the train station was the most disturbing. Most amusing: a bear in a Sherlock outfit looking next to it for clues. It looked like it had been vandalized, until you realized that was part of the display (the 'vandalized' feet had 'blood' on them) - I guess folks were reporting it or something, because there was a sign to the effect that "it's MEANT to be like this" taped on it.

The underground mall at the train station was a fantastic find, and the only place actually open for business on a Sunday. I finally got my couple of Learning Swiss German books I wanted, too. Yay! Beware the places that sell cheese. There can't be any regulation on cheese odour, I swear. Just hold your nose and get past it, or... you'll be sorrry :)

We relaxed that evening with a swim in the pool (the first one we had on the trip!), though with an eye roll and the thought "Typical Zuerich..." we found out that they were actually out of swimming pool area keys and had to let us in themselves.

The toilets were fantastically wimpy in the city and the hotel, too. Not for lack of water use, just... didn't do their job properly. I... I won't go into details.

We woke up really, really early to check out and find out that the hotel had not actually been paid for. Pretty sure it was a miscommunication when L'Oreal corrected the hotel to be before the flight out instead of being right after the Geneva hotel, but we were feeling pretty abused by Zuerich in general by this point (it's a lot of the little things that counted).

We booked in very, very early to get good seats, but they wouldn't get us seat reservations all the way through. To top it off, we were one of the three groups of people on the entire flight asked (right before boarding) whether we'd consider giving up our seats and taking a later flight. Would have meant 75 euros apiece, but we wouldn't have our seats on the also overbooked Frankfurt-to-Calgary leg, and at this point, we really, really just wanted out of there.

To anyone else considering Zuerich, I hope your stay ends up better than ours. On reflection, though, the entire holiday was good, and we did see some nice things in Zuerich. Recounting everything we've done to interesting parties over the next little while will put everything into perspective again :)

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