Tag Archive | Zurich

The Big 100th Post

Isn’t it amazingly fitting (and completely coincidental) that my 100th post is my leaving Oxford to return home to the States? This was never my intention; I didn’t plan out all of my blog posts for my entire year to make sure that I ended on the 100th post. I can’t even really believe that I’ve had 100 posts!

In fact, this post is truly the last part of me in England at the moment. In case no one noticed, the time stamp on this one is 4:15 pm, GMT, which means that as this is being blasted into cyberspace, my plane towards Los Angeles has just taken off and I am now in the air, eleven and a half hours of a plane ride ahead of me. Let’s hope there are no screaming children!

So as this is my 100th milestone, in typical blogosphere fashion, I thought I would do a little fun listing, an almost sum-up of my incredible time abroad. Nothing is in any particular order. Enjoy!

25 Great/Funny Experiences

  1. Meeting my amazing dance partner, Dan, is probably the best thing that happened to me here!
  2. Being pelted with snowballs outside the Sheffield competition. First time in the snow!
  3. Disneyland Paris
  4. Harry Potter Studio Tours in Leavesden
  5. Seeing Les Mis on the West End…twice
  6. Dan running into a bollard at Blackpool. This was mostly funny because of the email his dad sent him afterwards, but it’s a favorite inside joke with the two of us now.
  7. Blackpool IVDA!
  8. Thinking that Iguanadons were the same thing as Iguanas (you’ll understand this one later)
  9. Baking parties in the Acland kitchen
  10. Dan’s birthday BBQ
  11. Days spent at the Missing Bean
  12. Keble Ball
  13. Meeting up with Dale in Paris
  14. The Port Meadow Photo Challenge
  15. My family visiting!
  16. Driving in Ireland
  17. Finding Charles Brandon’s grave in St. George’s Chapel, Windsor Castle
  18. Becoming friends with all the people on the dance team
  19. Dancing on a table in Wahoo with Ania ­čśë and nearly getting kicked out
  20. Flying off to Zurich alone, completely random! Sidenote: Awesome zoo
  21. Seeing the town that  my family has lived in for hundreds of years (Harlech, Wales)
  22. Walking through horse pastures in the Cotswolds
  23. Varsity Match for OUDC
  24. Going to tutorials in a room that is older than any of the original 13 colonies
  25. Stonehenge in the pouring rain with my brother

25 Things I’ve Learned

  1. The Rose has the best cream tea in Oxford
  2. Custard, cream, and mayo might as well be their own food groups here
  3. Pants=underwear, not trousers
  4. Pimms is awesome. There is always an excuse to drink Pimms.
  5. The instant the sun comes out, expect the streets to get very, very crowded.
  6. Blackwells is the most deadly store in the world.
  7. Sometimes it is cheaper to take a train to a foreign country than to Cornwall.
  8. You can get to Brussels or Paris from Oxford faster than you can get from Oxford to Cambridge (they must have planned it like that!).
  9. Awesome words like keen, overkeen, and knackered should be incorporated into our everyday vocabulary.
  10. British people think that all Americans are gun-toting, obese rednecks.
  11. Cobblestones do not mix well with high heels.
  12. Punting is not just a type of kick in football.
  13. At a BBQ, Brits bring their own meat. Americans bring desserts and sides. Plan accordingly.
  14. Stand mixers are necessary to avoid baking catastrophes.
  15. 14lbs=1 stone. This is how they measure weight. But then they use kg? Wth?
  16. Fancy dress means costumes, not cocktail attire.
  17. Stealing ties and bow ties makes night clubs into a game.
  18. You never wait for a cross walk to cross the street.
  19. Buses will run you over and they get really close to the curbs.
  20. Salad means assorted vegetables that you can have put on your baguette at lunch or lettuce with delicious toppings. However, salads are rarely meals.
  21. You need a television license just to stream a show online.
  22. Everyone, and I mean everyone, watches and loves Downton Abbey.
  23. I know more British history than a lot of British people.
  24. Waffles are dessert, not breakfast. And for that matter, pancakes are basically crepes, not the fluffy goodness we get in the States.
  25. If you forget an umbrella, you’ve guaranteed that it will rain. If you brought an umbrella, it will still probably rain but at least you will be dry.

25 Things I’ll Miss

  1. Nightly tea parties with my dance partner
  2. My friends on the dance team
  3. Olives (the sandwich shop not the food item)
  4. Cream teas
  5. Being able to walk everywhere
  6. Saying Cheers instead of Thanks
  7. Spur of the moment day trips into London
  8. West End shows for cheap!
  9. Being surrounded by history everywhere I go
  10. My bay window
  11. How happy everyone is when its sunny
  12. Oxfordshire Public Library
  13. Free entry to museums and galleries
  14. Everyone in the Keble MCR/Acland
  15. The collective understanding when someone mentions Jamals or Park End
  16. My scouts (aka the women who clean my room every week and empty my bins. They were the nicest people!)
  17. The accents
  18. Ease of travel, unless you want to go horizontally across the country. Good luck with that.
  19. Baking for Dan’s friends and Keble events. Love easy taste testers
  20. Laughing as Dan and I attempt to Quickstep/Waltz/Jive/Cha/Foxtrot/Viennese Waltz
  21. Hearing everyone’s opinions on LA
  22. Dirty Chais
  23. All the literature and film links in the city
  24. Feeling like I’m constantly at Hogwarts
  25. My coworkers

25 Places that I Didn’t Get a Chance to Visit, But That I Definitely Will Someday

  1. York
  2. Cornwall
  3. Dover
  4. Calais
  5. Norfolk
  6. Budapest
  7. Prague
  8. Vienna
  9. Pompeii/Rome/Venice/Naples/Italy
  10. Warsaw/Other Places in Poland
  11. Berlin/all over Germany
  12. Geneva
  13. Istanbul
  14. Marrakech
  15. North Carolina
  16. Athens, basically all of Greece
  17. Slovenia
  18. The Netherlands
  19. Northern Ireland
  20. Brighton
  21. Denmark
  22. Russia
  23. Bruges/Antwerp
  24. The Caribbean
  25. Portugal

Yeah, it’s a long list, but hopefully I’ll have a long life in which to fulfill it, with wonderful friends and family by my side. Now don’t think that because I’m back in the US that this blog is ending. I’m still going to be traveling and I’m working on finding my way back to England for a bit longer of a term. So stay tuned!

And thank you to everyone and everything in England that made this the most amazing year of my life.

Indulging the Child Within (Zurich, part 3)

My advice to any of my friends who plan on visiting Zurich in the future: one full day is plenty to see all of the city. Especially if you are traveling alone, you can really get a lot done in a day and then you won’t need to resort to arriving at the airport 5 hours early for the sole reason of you have run out of things to do.

Because that is what I ended up doing yesterday. Don’t get me wrong, I had an absolutely lovely trip and am so glad I went, but I would have been just as happy leaving at 6 pm instead of 9:25 pm. Alas, my flight was not changeable and I had to wait around.

Of course that gave me plenty of time to handwrite my blog posts intended for publication today.

A definite advantage to solo travel that came in handy yesterday was that you really get to do whatever you want and for as much time as you want because there is no other person’s whims to cater to, no alternative agenda to accommodate. So there was no one stopping me from going to the zoo in the morning. I haven’t been to a zoo in years and with a discount from the ZurichCard and a beautiful day of sunshine ahead of me, I decided to satisfy my inner child with a stroll around looking at animals.

Nemo!

Completely worth it! It may have been one of the nicest zoos that I have ever been to, and I got some amazing pictures of the animals.

You lookin' at me?

It was clean, well-signed, easily navigable, and you felt like you were barely separated from the animals instead of looking at them in cages. Of course I’m sure that there were safety measures in place to prevent innocents guests such as myself from being mauled by a white rhino, but they weren’t so apparently obvious that you felt like you were enabling animal mockery.

Awww baby deer

There was a school group there from an international school so I got to see a bunch of adorable and excited little children. Made me wish my cousin Emily was with me! I quickly put away my map and decided to wander and rely on signposts to get me to all the animals (which was a complete success and I saw all of them). I also realized a few things about myself on this stroll.

1) I am afraid of birds much in the same way that I am afraid of bugs, but not as extreme. I can handle looking at them (which I can’t do with bugs) as long as they are in an enclosure with no way of getting to me, or in nature. But as soon as the tops of their habitats are open and the birds have the ability to get to me, I am freaked out. I booked it out of that section of the zoo. Maybe I just don’t like things flying at me.

2) I really think that lions and tigers are crazy cuddly and I would love to curl up with them, provided they wouldn’t bite or try to eat me. Okay so this isn’t really a new realization, but the lionesses did look an awful lot like Brinkley…

Come on! So cuddly right???

A main selling point of the Zurich zoo is that it has the only indoor rainforest. I kind of rushed through it. By this time I was getting a little bored (zoo info plaques only written in German do take some of the fun out of learning about the animals) but I will say that at 35 degrees Celsius and 80% humidity, being inside the rainforest was the first time I’d felt properly warm in months! My glasses and camera lens fogged up the instant I walked in and I couldn’t see for about 10 minutes.

Couldn't see anything!

After that, I left the zoo; I’d seen everything. But it wasn’t even noon (zoos go faster when you aren’t a child and all the signs are in a foreign language) so I took a detour to the FIFA headquarters.

FIFA Headquarters

Honestly, I don’t care a bit about soccer, but I have some friends who are absolutely obsessed and will be impressed, and I had the time so I figured that I might as well. Thoroughly unimpressive in my opinion, but I took my pictures and caught the next tram back into town.

Next stop was the Swiss National Museum.

Swiss National Museum's cool layouts

The layout had some pretty cool architecture and design, but sometimes museums begin to blend together and you stop caring about all the pointless reading and captions (again in German, though with a notebook with them in English made available). I got tired of the museum really quickly and stopped paying attention to what I was reading or seeing so I figured it was time to call it a day. I walked back through the train station and wandered around their farmer’s market before deciding that I’d had enough of Zurich and that the airport sounded much more appealing.

Did I mention that they give you free chocolate EVERYWHERE you go? ­čÖé

Overall, so unbelievably glad I went, and in hindsight glad I went alone (though I would have loved to travel with Dan) because it gave me a lot of time to reflect and just absorb everything that has gone on this term, something I didn’t afford myself last term. And I got to see an amazing city and experience traveling alone for the first time.

Now, to clean my room because Mom’s flight just landed!!!!!!!!!

All By Myself (Zurich, part 2)

On the glorious second morning (glorious because I was well rested for the first time in what feels like a week) I got dressed and ready for the day and went to breakfast in the bar of the hostel. The included breakfast was soooo much better than that of the hostel I stayed at in Paris. It wasn’t that much more extensive (bread, various jams and Nutella, cereal, yogurt, tea, and coffee) but the bread was fresh and the coffee made to order. As it was free (well, included in the price) I was not going to sneer at it. Plus the employee was helpful and pointed me in the direction of the bus to the train station.

On my way there, I realized that all the clocks said almost 9 am, but my iPhone said almost 8. Took me a few minutes to catch on that Zurich is on a┬átime zone┬á1 hour ahead of London. Thank goodness I noticed or else I would have been an hour late for everything! I just barely caught the 9:05 train to the Uetliberg, Zurich’s mountain.

It is 869 meters above sea level, towering 450 meters over the city, affording some breathtaking panoramic of not only Zurich, but of all these other little villages and valleys between more forested mountains. I love nature but am apparently known in our family as not liking hiking, so Mom and Dad will be shocked when I tell them that I hiked to the top of the mountain alone! There was a lookout tower at the peak so I got some more incredible panoramic shots which almost didn’t happen as my memory card became full and I had to frantically delete pointless photos from my camera to make room.

Zurich Lake from the lookout tower

Once back in the city, I had to buy another card, but thank goodness I deleted those other ones because I can’t even describe the experience; words just simply cannot do it justice. I need pictures!

Back in the main thoroughfare and away from the icy peace of the mountain, I rewalked Bahnhofstrasse, but at a much more leisurely pace than yesterday’s mad rush towards lunch. It looked completely different this time, I suppose because the sun was out despite it still being cold. I took some more detours down those addictingly quaint streets, but always brought myself back to Bahnhofstrasse. I may have ended up popping into another famous chocolate shop (Spungli) but I limited myself to only one piece!

Rows and rows of chocolate!

I also found some souvenirs for Dad and Kevin. And I took a picture of the Jimmy Choo store for Mom ­čśë

I couldn’t find the museum I was looking for so I found myself with an hour to kill before my boat tour of Zurich Lake. I wished I’d brought my Kindle but I didn’t want to carry it around all day and I couldn’t bring a purse because of the airline restrictions. So I spend 45 minutes sitting on the dock listening to music while watching the ducks and swans (they have wild ones here) battle over a few pieces of bread a kid was tossing into the lake. It struck me though how weird it already felt speaking and hearing others speak English. The official language of Zurich is German and I was already used to hearing it everywhere. Granted I didn’t understand a word of it, but even hearing English come out of my own mouth seemed strange.

I took a boat tour of the lake that was really just a round trip ride around the lake, but as I had a ZurichCard it was free so I’m not one to complain. Again I got some amazing pictures of the colorful houses and little neighborhoods surrounded by forests and snow capped mountains in the distance. There wasn’t any snow in Zurich but other areas had it a few days ago. After 90 minutes of complete silence (I didn’t even listed to music!) I walked back along the lake to the anti-climatic Museum Bellevire, with a snore-worthy exhibition on perfume. I really didn’t care so I ended up just tracing the remainder of yesterday’s walk and heading back to the hostel. Then I showered, finished my book while eating another pizza, and journaled.

And the night set on my second day. Once again, to be continued….

It’s a Small World After All (Zurich, part 1)

I figured that as I spent three days in Zurich, it would be more feasible to post each day as it’s own blog. This way you don’t have to read 3000 words about my trip in one fell swoop, and can better peruse at your own pace. So I shall begin with the first day, hence the title part 1, because I am nothing if not a stater of the obvious.

A few things amazed me about the city right off the bat. One, it is so unbelievably pedestrian friendly. Like really, you barely get to a crosswalk when it switches to WALK–or more accurately the symbol equivalent–and cars instantly stop. Or mostly the buses and trams as a lot of the heart of the city is a car free zone. Also, they have an obsession with clocks. Nearly every corner has a clock. Which really came in handy as I wasn’t carrying my phones around (no point since they didn’t work) and all the clocks kept me aware of the time. But┬áevery┬ásingle corner? I like punctuality more than the next person, but this seemed overkill. Oh well, onto the actual trip.

I was so completely exhausted. I have a hunch that this may have been due to my sleeping over the previous 72 hours occurring in random stolen one hour bursts in unconventional locations, such as a restaurant booth in Gatwick airport. But again, just a hunch. At the airport I bought a ZurichCard for 3 days which allows me to use unlimited public transportation, free museum entries, and some discounts, all for the price of just 40 Swiss Francs! Trust me, that’s a bargain in Zurich. Zurich is apparently one of the most expensive cities in the world. Smart decision to choose here! Anyways, after asking the Tourist Office for help, I safely arrived at Langstars Hostel and used their computer to send an “I’m Safe” email to Mom. Turns out that my timing was perfect.

The famous Zurich transportation, more punctual than human beings

The only other guy in the bar at the time was American. Even cooler–from California, and Los Angeles at that! In fact, Alex (this guy) is from Ventura! And went to uni at the same school Jordan’s dad is a professor at! But Alex didn’t have him. Thankfully he and two other guys from Brazil were about to head out into town to explore, so I went with them. They all turned out to be really chill guys (though I was obviously partial to Alex) and knew their way around the city so I never even needed to bust out a map.

We started off walking down Bahnhofstrasse, the mile long shopping street that is home to every single designer and watchmaker that you could possibly imagine. And banks, lots and lots of banks. We ended up wandering around some picturesque little side streets because I am a menace with a camera. But it all worked out for the best as I unintentionally led us to St. Peter’s Church, famous for its four 9-meter clock faces (shocking!) that are the biggest in Europe, reportedly. It was also Zurich’s first Protestant church.

St. Peter Church

The next inadvertently stumbled upon landmark was another church, Fraum├╝nster, which has three stained glass windows created by the artist Marc Chagall. They are unlike any stained glass windows I’ve ever seen, almost Impressionist, but certainly not the Renaissance windows that I’m used to seeing in churches and cathedrals. Actually the churches here are completely bare, products of the Protestant Reformation. Next we walked down to the docks of Lake Zurich before deciding to check if the Chinese Garden was open (it wasn’t).

The long journey down the banks of the lake was the perfect time for Alex to fill me in on all his awesome travels and what he has seen in Zurich thus far. He saw a man balancing a bunch of rocks along the path we were on, a yodeler, and a bunch of accordion players. And some prostitutes, but that’s not as surprising as it sounds because our hostel is in the former red light district. At the end of our walk was a park and it had a pond with a bunch of stepping stones across it so Alex took the only picture of me that I’ll get on this trip of me on the stones. Inner child was definitely happy.

It was freezing cold on the banks of the lake so we headed back to town to another famous Zurich church, Grossm├╝nster. You can climb 187 steps to the tope of the two towers (insert Lord of the Rings pun) but I was still so knackered from Blackpool that I chose to wander the church and warm up while the two Brazilians made the climb. According to legend, Felix and Regula, the patron saints of Zurich, walked up to this site holding their heads after they were beheaded. Charlemagne later had this church built in their honor.

As soon as we left the church, I could literally feel the heat I had finally accumulated being leeched out of me. It was also well past lunch time so we decided to take the scenic route through Old Town Zurich–an area chock full of those adorably distracting side streets. Eventually we made it back to Bahnhofstrasse and up to the restaurant Manora on the fifth floor of the Manor department store. It was an amazing restaurant and supposedly super cheap for Zurich (still cost me SFr 11.40). And of course no visit to Switzerland would be complete without chocolate, so I took the boys to Honolds on Rennweg. Oh my god, the chocolate was incredible and deadly though all three guys thanked me profusely for finding the place. Besides the amazing chocolate, the woman was overly generous with the samples. I’m pretty sure she would have let us try everything in the shop! As it was, I tried “Lotti’s Best” and Dark Chocolate with Strawberry and Rose Pepper before buying a whole bunch to take with me and to give as gifts back home.

Lotti's Best

Alex led us back to the hostel so that he could get his bags (he was flying to Dublin). I was really sad to see him go. Such a cool guy and so helpful. With him gone, I went up to the 12 person co-ed dorm and took a nap. The rest of my night was super uneventful. I planned the rest of my trip with help from the hostel owner, ate a pizza I bought in the hostel (because it was convenient and only SFr 8.50 and the boys have me paranoid about money) and then I read and went to bed in an actual bed with more than two hours to spare, finally!

So ends Day One. To be continued….