Tuesday, October 23, 2007


I think that's how they say hello here, we know such little German as it is, the Swiss-German factor just makes it all the more confusing. I haven't heard a single "Guten tag." It's Tuesday morning, we had another night of sleep that was cut short by waking up at 4am. I'm not sure if I woke up because of lingering jet-lag or if it was CF trying to use his iPod to lull him back to sleep. This time we did manage to sleep a bit more before going back downstairs for another delicious breakfast.

Yesterday started out so great, seeing CF off at his tram stop, wandering around with all the shivering people hurrying off to work... seeing the city wake up quietly, it actually seems pretty quiet here no matter where you are and what time of day it is. Not that I haven't seen any crowds, but I think the temperature being so low right now has kept people inside. Yesterday I found only construction workers up at the Lindenhof, a nice open square/park that is a bit higher than most of the city and is a great place to look back down and across the lake.

I didn't wait at all during my first visit to Sprüngli, a well known bakery and chocolate shop. I had heard of their Luxemburgerli cookies from my guidebook, it said they require immediate eating. I'm still not sure if that really means you must eat them fresh or if it's just because they're delicious so you want to eat them all right away. Right now their window displays are fun little piles of these little bite sized cookies. And upon closer inspection I realized they looked an awful lot like the French macaroons I am looking forward to having in Paris. So even though it was something like 9:30 in the morning, I decided to sample a few flavors. "What is this flavor?" I asked, pointed at one of the piles marked as a seasonal offering. The girl behind the counter said, "Feige, it's ummmm... it's a seasonal flavor." She didn't know how to explain it to me, but since I had heard it pronounced I realized I was being stupid and it was simply what I know as "Fig." "I'd like to try it, thank you." I also tried "Zimt" (cinnamon), and of course I got hazelnut. Three little cookies, 2chf (Swiss Franks, I think one is about 85 cents right now?). But so worth it, to my delight, they were indeed very similar to the macaroons I am anxiously awaiting. I sat on a bench outside, not minding last of the commuters giving me slightly odd looks. The meringue crumbled as I gave the first one a little squeeze. They were delicious. I will certainly be having some more of those before the week is over!

Zurich is a beautiful city. I wasn't expecting it not to be, but I guess people just think of all the banking done here and forget about the history and architecture. I decided to have lunch in Old Town, somewhere with some atmosphere. I ended up seeing the doorway to Zeughauskeller, and the windows revealed a bustling, and warm looking, crowd. So I went inside. I was seated at a large round table with other small parties. A Sicilian woman was just finishing her meal and conversation with a woman from Georgia, while an older German couple lingered over what appeared to be an enormous wine glass of beer. I didn't get to meet the Sicilian but the tail end of her conversation allowed me to slip in to chatting with my other fellow American. She was headed to Florence in the evening! Her daughter works for Coke and just moved her with her husband and 2 year old! What an adventure! I told her a little bit about visiting Florence, she asked me a little about California. It was nice to have some one to talk to! I wasn't too hungry so I just ordered the goulash, a roll with butter and a sparkling water. I'd later find out that this small meal cost me nearly $15, but that's just the way it goes in Zurich. The German couple moved on, and the Southern lady finally got to tell me that their drink was apparently brought to the table, on fire! I guess it wasn't just a beer but had some other alcohol involved as well. That is one serious drink for lunchtime! My soup was just perfect, the roll had a thick, chewy crust but was great for dipping (I hope that's not rude here). Eventually it was time to head back into the cold.

I wandered for another 2 or 3 hours, looking for a scarf for my poor husband's cold neck. The shops between Bahnhofstrasse (the "most expensive street in the world") and the river are rather high end, boutiques. I found no scarf for less than 80chf! I did manage to find a very sweet part of town with some small shops I would have liked to visit but Monday seemed to be an agreed upon closing day for them. I'll go back there before the week is up. I saw the shop that Samantha Brown visited on Passport to Europe, with the glass jugs of oils and liqueurs. Eventually I wandered back to Bahnhofstrasse and found Jelmoli, which was pretty much a Macy's-like department store (full of many of the same brands). I finally found some scarves in a price range I could stomach. But I had pushed my luck and my tired body was crashing and burning. I couldn't make a decision right then and I was pretty sure I could make it back before they closed at 8pm, I headed back to the hotel for a rest.

Okay, so first I stopped back in a Sprüngli for some truffles... but then I went back to the hotel. I got online and asked CF about what kind of scarf he wanted. He suggested going back and sending him a picture from my phone. I really did mean to go back out and do just that. But the next thing I knew it was an hour or two later and he was knocking at our room door. Poor guy was locked out since there is only one key! I was incredibly groggy and barely remembered laying down. He laid down with me for a little bit, then we pulled ourselves together and set back out to the department store. He found the perfect scarf (one I hadn't even noticed during my first visit) and chuckled a bit when he got back out on the street and felt the difference it made. We went to what my guidebook called Bierhalle Kropf, but the sign said Kropf Restaurant (maybe they've had a recent classy makeover?). We had a good, if overpriced meal, CF got his first beer(s) of the trip, I finally got to eat some Spätzli (little gnocchi-like dumplings) and got to listen in on a little bit of Zurich banker schmoozing at a large party of business people seated near us. We shivered all the way home and linked arm in arm we just sort of laughed. Even Zurich won't be this cold next week. I guess we finally broke our habit of visiting countries during heat waves!

So that was our first day, and it was followed by the second not so great night of sleep, but it's getting better. It's almost 9am, yesterday I would have been wandered around for an hour now and almost been ready for cookies. But today I'm just getting ready to hit the shower. I think I'll head back to Neumarkt, the street where I saw those sweet, but closed, little shops. And maybe visit a museum or two. The forecast is cloudy, high of 44 degrees. I am just now noticing that the temperature is supposed to climb a little bit as the week goes on, but so does the chance of rain... maybe I'll save those museums, we'll see.

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