Tuesday, June 21, 2011

My first overseas trip: a year on- Zurich

21/06/2010  Zurich
Zurich… wow…not only is it expensive, but they don't use the euro... instead they use Swiss franc. I found out when I arrived and tried to pay at a bar with Euro’s… because there was a minimum credit card spend I stayed and had dinner.... Again I am ahead of myself….

Lets begin where we left off- Munich. For some unknown reason, as I left Munich’s main train station, I decided to listen to a just purchased, 'best of Bach' cd. The grandness of 'Gloria in excelsis deo' sent me off and onwards to Zurich. It was as if Germany itself had organised this farewell gesture. A smile filled me from within and beamed out for all to see, for I had loved Germany and was grateful for the kindness and hospitality the Germans had shown me. Bach’s trumpets which heralded my departure from Munich soon gave way to subtly played strings as the residences along the side of the train tracks gave way to agricultural fields. Blankets of green floated by, almost in time to the violins and cellos. I saw a few wild flowers and poppies. And the rain which had been heavy, thinned to a drizzle.

I dreamily gazed out of my window taking in the countryside. An hour passed and the train was now passing older looking townships and the rain became heavier. The clouds seemed to be almost touching the ground and for some reason I was reminded of what I thought Scotland would be like- grey skies, green fields and rain. I was now inspired to play Belle and Sebastian’s LP 'Tigermilk'. For no other reason except that they are from Glasgow, Scotland. Their fey pop somehow makes the day seem brighter. Stuart Murdoch sings  'do something pretty while you can'. I love this line, but can't help but think... forget the superficiality of pretty... instead let life be a series of beautiful moments.... do something beautiful while you can… something beautiful, something done out of love and without expectation.

I keep thinking about how I have relied on the kindness of strangers and the innate goodness within people. I have been blessed on my trip and unlike Blanch from ‘a street car named desire’, I have not been led off to an institution for the unwell... but instead led onward to life and beauty....When I have felt alone, music has been my companion...Ah music…. Two Aussie muso's were played next on my 4 hour trip to Zurich. Bob Evan's 'Goodnight Bull Creek!'  and then Lisa Mitchell's LP 'Wonder'. Lisa’s shimmering track 'Clean white love' plays out over Swiss fields filled with cows and a few deer- yes, I have arrived in Switzerland.

It was 11 degrees and the rain was bucketing down when I arrived at the main station in Zurich. Though my hotel wasn’t far, I was drenched when I arrived there. I think the rain may have ruined my favorite Campers! (Hmm a good reason to buy more shoes!) I quickly discovered that I am staying in gay part of the old town. So after the rain ceased. I changed and went out, visiting 5 bars in one evening. Suffice to say I had way too much to drink! At one bar I met a gay male hustler from Manchester –U.K. He was a very angry young man. We chatted and he told me his story and how he is searching for his purpose in life. I do wish him well. As I made to leave the bar he did cheekily ask me to get him a beer, which I didn't. I think my reply was an annoyed 'Mate, I'm on holidays!' I have no idea what that meant or why I said ‘mate’!

The next bar I went to was tiny (most of the bars were the size of a small-medium sized room back home. I shyly wrote some thoughts down in a book at the bar. The campy and friendly barman made fun of me in a language I didn’t understand. The others in the bar laughed and it was infectious, I quickly found myself laughing along with them. Very surreal! As I put my book away a Swiss man struck up a conversation His name was Stephen. He is an amazing man, 40, has a Phd in biology, has been unemployed for a year and is looking for associate professor, or professor work. We chatted for ages about so many things from Indigenous rights (where we both felt that ‘we’ as a culture have a responsibility to work towards self determination for indigenous groups), we talked of politics, banking, globalisation and capitalism (we both shared the view that ‘we’ all have a responsibility to ensure that all people have a certain and decent standard of living and the opportunity to fulfill their potential if they choose to do so).. we went to a few other bars...chatted more and I left him at some bar at about 2am… I needed to go back to the hotel and get some sleep!!!! Tomorrow I had plans oh, and I wanted to make the most of my ‘included buffet breakfast’, which operated from 7am-10am !!!  One less meal to buy in this expensive city!

 Sundays in Zurich… well.. I soon realized that there isn’t much to do because most of the shops are closed. Walking was going to be limited because of the weather- grey, overcast and intermittent rain. I decided to brave it and set off for lake Zurich.. Ummm except I headed off in the opposite direction... walked for a very long while and when I asked for directions, I was so far away from the lake that the person laughed. I smiled...lost again !!!  LOL. I had walked through some really interesting suburban areas.. and walked back..albeit a slightly different way.  I then found the lake. It was just around the bend from when my hotel was. I went on a 4 hour boat trip (2 hours to Rapperswil and then the 2 hour return trip). I had dinner onboard and brought a ticket for first class, which meant sitting upstairs with a better view... it was lovely.... if we had clear skies I would imagine one would see the alps.. but I saw hills, sketches of mountains and clouds that reached down and dragged themselves along the ground.. Still, it was lovely...

I had purchased a couple of German cd's from a shop in Zurich. ‘Die Artze’ had accompanied me along the streets of Zurich. The German punk rock was energetic and the perfect antidote to the quiet and empty streets. While I was on the cruise, the more indie/pop/rock of Toctronic's lp- 'Schall and Wahn' filled my ears- lovely stuff which reminded me a little of British sea power!!

What a day.. I am exhausted. I decide to have an early-ish night, after the soccer of course! After all, it is the world cup!  LOL. Again I exchanged SMS’s with my brother as he watched the games live in South Africa…

This morning I awaken feeling that I am more than ready to leave Zurich ....Next Como!!

The trip in and out of Zurich, as seen from the train :

 Writing down my thoughts:

Some rough planning:

 How high up are we?
 A lot of steep streets on my side of the river:

Todays exchange rate suggets that these cassettes cost around $18 each (Aussie dollars). Who even buys cassettes these days?

The water fountains ran continuously, unlike the ones back home.

In case your dog needs a drink:

Getting lost in the streets of Zurich:

Along the river:

Layers or levels of housing?:

On the cruise- the views along the lake:

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