Mar052013

Zurich is for the birds (in a good sense)

The American Airlines flight 64 JFK-ZRH was lightly loaded. Most rows had only three passengers in economy meaning each passenger had a section of seats to stretch out in the 2-3-2 seat configuration of the 767 plane. I could have grabbed the middle section if I had been thinking quickly. I managed to twist and position myself semi-comfortably in the two seats for about 4 hours of rest and probably 2.5 hours of sleep.

Good eyeshades and earplugs made the rest so much easier to come by. That and the fact the movies sucked. They did not even show any of the films listed in the inflight magazine. Breakfast was served at 6:45am about one hour before landing.

The Eagles played in my head all night. Saturday I vegetated in front of the TV on my day at home between the Chicago Carslon Rezidor Hotel Conference and leaving for San Francisco to catch a Monday morning flight to JFK.  I watched the three hour Eagles rockumentary and relived memories from my 1970s.

“Peaceful Easy Feeling” has played in my head at least a hundred times since Saturday. A few times I looked out the window as we flew over the dark Atlantic Ocean to see “a billion stars all around”. The extraordinary beauty of flying transoceanic at night is the perception of seeing stars while looking down at the horizon and curvature of the earth.

Goal in Zurich was to get out of airport quickly and into town. I calculated I had to be back on the train by 12:45pm for my 2:50pm flight to Berlin.

Initially it seemed like we might land in Zurich 30 minutes early. Instead the pilot announced the plane was put in a holding pattern by air traffic control. No problem. We circled around the Alps and valleys with great views of deep snow pack.

The Zurich Airport was one of the only areas around without snow. I guess that is why they built an airport and big city there.

Passport security was a breeze and I caught the 8:40am train to Zurich. A roundtrip train ticket was 13.20 CHF Swiss francs or $14.46 in US currency.

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This is the second class rail car from Zurich Airport to the city.

Stepping into the streets of Zurich at 9am on a Tuesday morning was refreshing. The pilot had said it was –5 C. when we landed, but it certainly was much warmer than 23 F. by the time I got off the train in central Zurich. I did not even wear my gloves all morning.

There was no snow on the ground in the city.

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In my typical fashion I just walked right out of the train station onto the streets of Zurich with no destination in mind and more importantly, no map. After about 45 minutes I was feeling like I needed some directions. I was trying to get to the lake, but vandals had screwed up the metal signs on the street and three consecutive signs I saw were pointing different directions to walk to the lake. Amazingly they actually had signage showing how many minutes to walk to the lake. My problem was not knowing which of the three signs, if any, actually pointed the correct direction  to the lake.

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There are numerous public water fountains around Zurich. I assumed the water is safe in this higher echelon society and I refilled my water bottle from the airplane repeatedly as I walked around the city.

Finally I stopped to ask directions. Typical for the situation, I was about 100 yards from Lake Zurich when I asked for directions.

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Lake Zurich on a late winter’s day

My plan was to take a lake cruise, but it turns out that the boats only run Friday through Sunday until the end of March when daily cruises start.

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Lake Zurich is a large body of water. It actually occurred to me the lake might be frozen when the pilot announced the temperature outside was 23 degrees F.

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Lake Zurich was for the birds today. There were so many different species and the numerous white swans on the water are the mental association I now have with Zurich, Switzerland.

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Another association I made to Zurich was the abundance of nude women. Sounds great for a single married guy (oops – hope my wife does not read that slip) walking around on his own – right?

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Statue by Lake Zurich.

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Statue at a Zurich café.

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Statues in what I thought was a government building.

One of the most beautiful pieces of art I saw was inside the Fraumunster Abbey where there are a series of stained glass pieces by Marc Chagall. That is a mental memory. No photography allowed. Thank God for Google.

The statues of women at Fraumunster wear clothing.

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Fraumunster, Zurich

More churches, more water fountains and a quick look inside a couple of hotels and I was headed back to the airport.

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Water fountain at the dog park. I don’t know if this is officially called the dog park. I saw Hund on a sign and there were a couple of dogs in the park.

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Police boat driving by in downtown Zurich.

My favorite hotel of the day was Hotel Storchen. The website says the hotel has been there for 650 years.

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You can even arrive by boat.

I was back in Zurich Airport and the OneWorld Lounge by 1:00pm. I had a bit of a hassle getting inside since I do not have my American Airlines Platinum member card with me. After about five minutes I was let in and I grabbed lunch and a few beers.

A Radisson Blu hotel is connected to Zurich Airport.

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Wine Tower at Radisson Blu Zurich Airport.

One of the features is a wine tower with wine angels performing periodically. I have seen a similar performance at Mandalay Bay where a person is attached to cables and moves up and down the tower to retrieve wine bottles.

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Time for sleep after 34 hours without a bed since leaving San Francisco.

Walking Zurich today for three hours was one of the best values I ever had spending $15.

ITB Berlin is on the agenda for tomorrow.

About Ric Garrido

Ric Garrido of Monterey, California started Loyalty Traveler in 2006 for traveler education on hotel and air travel, primarily using frequent flyer and frequent guest loyalty programs for bargain travel. Loyalty Traveler joined BoardingArea.com in 2008.

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Comments

  1. Oh wish I knew, I was in ZRH on business today and also had few hours free when plane arrived 10.30 am.
    woulda bought u a beer.

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