Thursday, December 22, 2011

New Year's Eve in Zurich

The last day of 2010!  To start the day off, I figured I'd give Uetliberg, a mountain near Zurich, a try to get a panoramic view of the city and of Lake Zurich. There is a train that takes you almost to the peak and takes about half an hour.  That day, the train was pretty empty as I'm sure most people had better things to do on New Year's Eve. This is a picture of the station with some Christmas decorations.

The instant my foot stepped off the train and onto the train platform, I knew it was a bad idea.  The entire train platform was entirely iced over, so I had to slip and slide all the way to the start of........a hiking trail. It appeared that the platform from which to see the panoramic view of Zurich required a short hike. What would usually have been a short 10-15 minute hike turned into a labored 40-45 minute affair as the entire trail up was also iced. The trail had some rather interesting markers in the form of planets in our solar system:

I pretty much knew before that hike up that it would be a disappointment since there was a huge fog, but since I had already made it all the way here, I gave it a shot anyway. As you can see, the view was a tad disappointing. :(

After the laboured trek down, I made my way back to the train station which just happened to be next to the Swiss National Museum. Having bought the Zurich card (which allowed for access to the trams, museums and boat tour), I figured I'd pop in to see what they had to offer:

There were actually a surprisingly rich collection of various artifacts, art pieces, statues and other odds and ends.

It was unfortunate that panels like these are removed from their original locations inside churches and displayed in museums. It certainly makes sense from a curator's perspective in order to preserve these precious works of art, but it also takes away from the experience inside the various churches and cathedrals from which these were taken.

Here are some large models of some quintessential Swiss army knives.

I dropped in for a visit to the Grossm√ľnster, one of the more famous churches in the Zurich area, but the church was more or less stripped down, devoid of most religious artifacts, such as the one I mentioned above in the Swiss National Museum. That was why I particularly treasured my visit to the Strasbourg Cathedral where a number of beautiful items are still kept within the cathedral itself.

Here, I took the Polybahn, a funicular railway, up the hillside to a university campus platform to get a better view of the city, after the failed attempt from the top of Mt Uetliberg.

This was clearly more successful although the fog was still pretty heavy.

Lunch, being the next and generally my favourite order of business, was at the Rheinfelder Bierhalle, where I got some sausages, potatoes, sauerkraut and some schnitzel.

After lunch, I continued the leisurely stroll down to Lake Zurich to wander around a little bit before boarding the Lake Zurich cruise included in the Zurich card.

The cruise actually held a decent number of people (at least 50) and it essentially does a big loop around Lake Zurich near both the western and eastern side of the lake before making its way back to the pier.  Unfortunately, the weather wasn't too cooperative, being dark and grey, otherwise the scenery would have been very nice.

With that, my wintry trip to Europe ended =( as I took the tram back to the hotel to pack and prepare for departure from Zurich Airport the next morning. All in all, a very memorable trip indeed!

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