Tue 7 Jan - Sydney, Australia - HOME

Home sweet home... And the last blog entry for this trip.

We arrived not in a sparkling Sydney but a grey and overcast and almost a bit chilly Sydney at perhaps 17 degrees. At 6.15am we were off the plane and the passport, luggage collection and clearance was a breeze this morning. Time for a selfie while waiting for our bags at the carousel...

Of course, the early timeslot and not having a car at the moment was no match for Di's mum Audrey and husband Alan to turn up. Yes, there they were waiting for us to formally enter Australia again.

After hugs and kisses and a few tears from the female contingent, we said goodbye to them as they were taking the train in one direction and us traveling in the other direction to Circular Quay...

...for the Manly ferry across Sydney Harbour and home. A final shot from this blog onboard the ferry with a certain landmark in the background.

That's all folks. For this trip and for this time. Of course, plans for future trips are already in progress and new blogs will be developed as a result of those. For now though, 364 days after we left Australia, we clock off for the last time. So long...


Mon 6 Jan - Somewhere between Bangkok and Sydney

One hour in Bangkok...

Not much to report from our transit in Bangkok. Given that our plane from Zürich was approximately 30 minutes late, we had only 1 hour and 15 minutes of time in Bangkok, to get boarding passes to Sydney which at that time we had none and to get to the departure gate which of course was at the other end of the airport.

Time of one photo from Bangkok's airport, from the entry to the men's toilets... Hmm... Happy indeed.

The plane left Bangkok on the dot but here we were flying Qantas to Sydney, I.e. "good" old Boeing 747. Yep, they have been around a while which was very noticeable when di's headrest got loose.

Slower but surely we were getting closer to Sydney and after having a very short day in between, we say good night yet again.


Sun 5 Jan - Somewhere between Zürich and Bangkok

Leaving Europe... Going home.

We awoke to rain so took our time...plus being our last day we've sort of lost our mojo for tourism so we were in no hurry and went to breakfast around 9am and then packed up for an 11am room departure.

This was a view similar to what we had from our room - ie: not much and not inspiring.

One thing that made sense was to check in online for our flights, tonight with Swiss Air to Bangkok and from Bangkok to Sydney with Qantas tomorrow.

Problems problems problems. Two of them...

  • Yep, we could check in with Swiss Air but we were seated apart, both of us in a packed plane seated in the middle of 4 but several rows apart.
  • Secondly, no chance of online check in with Qantas even when we were within 24 hours. Nope. Not allowed for code share booked flights. What can we say but "Qantas s..cks".

With no other plans we thought we might as well do a little trip to Zürich airport to try and at least sort out the Swiss Air boarding passes. Financially it made sense to buy a day ticket to cover this trip, returning again tonight and some tram touring for today. Off we went.

Success at the Flughafen with Swiss Air. A sympathetic supervisor understood our unhappiness and pulled a rabbit from his hat. At least we are now together with one of us on the aisle. No luck with Qantas still...Swiss Air was confident we would be OK with getting boarding passes issued at the gate in Bangkok as there is no local Qantas representation. We will see how that goes tomorrow. At least they can send our bags all the way from Zürich to Sydney.

OK...time for something more interesting - and you know we love trams...so time for some exploring.

First to the zoo, not to see animals but to visit the nearby Friedhof (another cemetery) and find James Joyce. This was the tram and our final stop.

But wait...what does that sign on the right say? FIFA? Here? We had to investigate.

Wow - the international headquarters of FIFA are here and they even have a street named FIFA Straße, see sign to the right.

Hans was very excited but disappointed that he could not get closer...

But that generally only limits us a little...and we balanced on top of a barricade to get a closer look and photo of this statue.

Just up the road was the cemetery. It was only a small place and the Swiss being so organised they had a list of prominent citizens buried here. James Joyce included and a Nobel prize winning author called Elias Canetti (which we are embarressed to say we had not heard of).

When you get in to the cemetery you have to "park your dog".

Up the top of the cemetery is the grave of James Joyce, and we think his wife and at least one or two children. The statue is just him. Apparently he lived in Zurich for quite a while and then came back here when he was old and ill and quietly passed away.

The Swiss are so neat and so compliant. They even have these nice chairs for resting in the cemetery. Not bolted down, all clean and with a nice perspective. Nobody would dare damage or remove them.

And like the Germans and Austrians the Swiss here seem to encourage individuality in grave stones. We liked these two. The one on the right has bunnies, carved mountains, a sun and the valley.

Time for a return trip on the tram. We thought of catching tram 5 instead of 6 buy as per Murphy's Law the tram pulled away when we were within 10 metres of it. We laughed hard.

The delay did give us time to check out the vending machines and this made us laugh too. You can buy snacks, condoms and if all goes too far you can also get a Maybe Baby pregnancy test kit.

Our tram 6 was very modern and handled the steep hills of Zürich no trouble.

On the way down we had the beat seats - the very back. Great views...and Di.

Of course there are lots of rules of things you can't do but we've never seen someone turn up with a saw to remove seats...maybe the locals can be a little bent...

We had been snacking a bit in the morning so missed lunch and opted instead for coffee and cake as a final European farewell and where better than a confectioner who has been in business for 175 years - Sprüngli - you might know their name from the upmarket Lindt chocolate which credits them.

To us Sprüngli seemed to be a Sunday afternoon institution for the locals. It was very busy and when we arrived a window seat freed up. Bonus.

Ahhhhhhhh the patisserie counter looked lovely.

...but we couldn't go past Kaffee Gourmand, something we had tried in Paris, where you get coffee with a section of mini pastries and treats.

At CHF14 per head (about $16) it was a serious splurge but delicious with a truffle chocolate, 2 macaroons (here called Luxemburgerli) and 2 mini pastries. Tasty tasty but perhaps a bit too much sugar in one hit.

Di was rubbing her tummy afterwards with a big smile.

These are 2 of the 4 Luxemburgerli we tried - tiny, delicate, light and expensive (CHF120 per kilogram).

More exploring was needed as we knew we would soon be sitting for a long time so we jumped on another tram but got off about 10 minutes later as the suburbs it was passing were boring.

Back on the tram to town as we got off at OpernHaus. Much nicer and the sun was setting after a surprisingly nice day - so a selfie was required.

Shame we missed this, a Fondue Tram, it looked like fun...it does move and tour the city for about 90 minutes while you eat fondue onboard, and we assume drinks plenty.

Strolling home along the river, we took a few photos of places we visited yesterday that just looked great in this soft light. The light was kind to Hans too. For a change...

Lindenhof was empty when we visited in the rain but now had some people sitting at the top. Probably very romantic with the sun setting.

We kept going a little further past the Hauptbahnhof and the river edge had a nice park and path. Again very pretty. Note that this tree is propped up by a pole in the water.

It might be hard to see but you eventually get to a spot where the river and a canal meet (part of downtown Zürich is on an island) and the river suddenly drops a few metres.

But all was calm looking back towards old town and the alps. A good way way to remember our time here.

Back to our hotel around 5pm for a few hours of blogging and watching sport on TV in the lobby before grabbing our stored luggage and heading back to Zürich Flughafen.

We arrived at Zürich Airport at perhaps 7pm, took off our LL Bean jackets and packed them before checking in our bags (heck, we are unlikely to need those jackets for some time now).

The airport got into the Christmas spirit...

We had seen this ad a few times already and laughed but this time we just had to take a pic of it.

A crap meal for dinner at McDonalds where we got rid of our last Swiss franc note, but had to supplement with a 5€ to get what we wanted (chook and chips) before wandering around the airport looking for anything vaguely interesting. No, shops only.

After loitering around for a little while, we found a Starbucks with nice seating and since Zürich airport provided us with 1 hour free wifi, we plonked ourselves down there.

Our plane left Zurich airport some 30 minutes past scheduled departure time of 10.45pm. Perhaps the ludicrous fact that 2 planes were scheduled for a 10.40pm while 4 more were scheduled for 10.45pm had something to do with it. Anyway, we were on our way... Good night... Sort of.


Sat 4 Jan - Zürich, Switzerland

Walking in Zürich... And cruising...

We were down for our complimentary breakfast on level 1 around 8am and gosh, wasn't Di hungry...?

Well, the weather forecast for Zürich during our 48 hours or so stay is for rain, rain and more... Heck, we had to make the best out of it and quite often we have found that the Weather Channel gets it wrong.

So after breakfast, we got our wet weather gear on and hit the streets of Zürich and this was how we wandered...

Trams at Central Plaza, in fact we counted and found that 2 sets of tracks spawned into 6 tracks just to the left of here. Looked messy.

The local signage is always fun to capture. Note how hospital is spelt here, no "Ho" in front. Also, beware of those silent trams.

Looking down the Limmat river towards Zurichsee.

And a selfie a bit further south... And yes, it was raining.

Then we wandered up some stone steps to arrive at an old square called Lindenhof. This fierce character of a soldier is actually a woman. Zürich was for two centuries "ruled" by an Abess (female head of a convent) on behalf of the Pope around the 1300's. Di was pleased.

Great views from Lindenhof including this one of Great Minster Church and the alps in the background.

Another view also from Lindenhof but northeast towards where we are staying and old town.

The cobblestone looked beautfully uneven and shiny in the wet weather, but they were not too slippery.

Not even here and anyway, stairs were provided on the left hand side.

Female leader figures featured on many walls in Zuerich. Hans thought that it was just like home.

Now, Harry Lime in "The Third Man" movie got it wrong when he said "Like the fella says, in Italy for 30 years under the Borgias they had warfare, terror, murder, and bloodshed, but they produced Michelangelo, Leonardo da Vinci, and the Renaissance. In Switzerland they had brotherly love - they had 500 years of democracy and peace, and what did that produce? The cuckoo clock".

The cuckoo clock was invented in the Schwartzwald region in Germany and not in Switzerland, but hey, this guy qualified when he spruiked "the only genuine Swiss cuckoo clock in the world" for a brand called Lötscher.

Now, where are we...? We were actually following a free self guided walking tour map but in the rain it was hard to keep track of directions.

Well, we are next to a church with the biggest clock face relative to the church that we had ever seen, St Peter Church.

False advertising!!! No beer is served in this bookshop. Instead, Beer & Co is the name of the bookshop.

We stumbled onto some highly decorative house facades including this one of a restaurant.

Swiss precision. Somebody first put the sticker of "They call me an artist" which was later supplemented with another sticker "citation needed". Who said that the Swiss did not have a sense of humour?

Di was absolutely absorbed by this chocolate shop, one of many in Zuerich. This one had also added a very impressive Christmas display.

Pulling fingers...

The building here is the Rathaus. We reckoned that in the olden days, the tunnels underneath were used to "capture" all boat traffic and collect Zoll (toll).

As Zürich (and Switzerland) was not bombed to pieces as many other European cities were during WWII, there are some interesting old art and sculpture around. These guys were definitely... different.

We passed Voltaire cabaret theatre honoring the dada movement and on its side side street you could get a glimpse inside. Looked very arty to us. There was a stage immediately to the right of this picture, a stage which also doubled as an elevator, a way to get drinks up from the basement as the stage could be lifted even further.

Wurst, a story with two ends. Two thumbs up for that.

Zürich would probably be buzzing with water activity during the warmer months, there is certainly money around here, but today the boats were mostly moored and covered.

A selfie with Zurichsee in the background.

We had earlier passed this cafe cum coffee roaster cum delicatessen and decided later to come back to Schwarzenbach for a... Hot chocolate as they seemed to be famous for that too. Pretty good drinks and a cozy place where we chatted to an Australian girl who worked in Zürich for... PWC. It just had to be banking or similar.

Große Münster Kirche or Great Minster Church in the background, same as we saw from the Lindenhof lookout.

Around this time all the church bells in the city rang out. Must have been noon, but the competing noise was incredible.

Yes, the rain had momentarily stopped and a glimmer of light appeared on the horizon which provided great light for photography. Again, Zurichsee is behind the bridge with the tram which is called Quaibrücke.

As we reached the northern shoreline of Zurichsee, we noticed people waiting for something and a small vessel approaching. A quick read of various noticeboards advised us that in 10 minutes, this commuter ferry would also do a 1.5 hours round trip and that the cost was 2 local tickets per person at 4.20€ each, i.e. 8.40€ per person.

So we quickly bought tickets and joined the queue to get onboard.

And the ferry departed... Downtown Zürich fades on the horizon...

The vessel turned out to be a combined commuter ferry and cruiser for tourists, we suppose a bit like the Manly ferry in Sydney. It was certainly equipped to deal with tourists both inside and outside and served meals and drinks including beer.

Two levels with the glass roof / windows providing light for the lower deck.

And how it looked from the inside. Note that famous passenger inside on the left at the far end...

Now, this gave us a giggle. We didn't deal with the smartest ticket inspector ever when he approached Hans - Di was downstairs getting a drink. Hans showed the inspector his 2 tickets as we understood was the price from ashore. No, the inspector appeared confused and told Hans that he needed one more of these, I.e. 3 tickets. Di then arrived and she was told the same thing.

Oh well, you could buy tickets onboard as well and we did just so and supplemented our ticket stash with 2 more, i.e now 6 tickets.

Then the good ol' ticket inspector returned and realised that we were only 2 people, not 3 (as the other lady sitting at our table explained she was not with us). Now we had too many tickets so he took back our additional tickets, disappeared and returned with the money we had paid for the 2 extra tickets. Of course, that still didn't make sense for why would Hans need 1 and not 2 extra tickets if he would have paid for the lady...

We don't think he was too sharp. He assumed...and you know what happens then...here were our 4 original tickets.

Romance on the cruise...

A few pics from our vessel. Yes, the surroundings were beautiful and peaceful, even on a gloomy day like today.


According to Wikipedia, Zürich is 30 km north of the Alps and as we cruised along, they came into view, so yes, of course here follows a couple of long distance pics.



Hans was looking for that boathouse that some stupid burnt to the ground, but then he realised that we were not at Lake Geneva but at Lake Zurich and the boathouse is still there (with apologies to Deep Purple and their song "Smoke on the water".)

At around 2pm we were back on shore and wandered Bahnhofstraße towards Hauptbahnhof looking for a quick bite to eat.

Unfortunately it was pouring with rain so we walked quickly. We eventually went into the train station itself where we found a NordSee chain store and decided on a shared prawn platter. At over 15€ for 15 precooked prawns it is possibly twice as expensive as Germany was for the same thing. OK but nothing special. What can you do, you got to eat and drink and Zürich is perhaps the most expensive city we've been to. It even beats Stockholm except for alcohol of course.

After a refreshment break in our hotel room, we were out on the road again around 5.30pm to look for a drink and a bite to eat. Rain was coming down as predicted and as we wandered down the pedestrian walkway through the middle of the Altestadt, we made a snap decision and decided on a tapas dinner as a Spanish restaurant looked good and had good karma.

Here is Hans with a glass of Rioja red wine.

The tapas menu was quite extensive and although not all was available it was enough for us to order a few things.

But before that, Di went up to have a look at what was on offer as many of the dishes were a la Spanish tapas or pinchos restaurants that we had seen in Spain in 2006.

And this were our first servings... The flaming chorizos were seriously good and we think drenched in Brandy. Yep, we ordered a second serving of those.

The Spanish waiter serving us was a real charmer. He came from a small place close to the northern Portugese border and had only been here for a few months. He admitted that while his English was OK (hmm, we were not so sure about that), his Swiss German was not very good and he was taking classes. Good on him.

Anyway, we got fed very nicely, had a good time and left feeling very content. To get the food out of the system, we decided on a little walk around the river before going home, after all, the rain had (momentarily) stopped.

A few night pics along the way...


Right!? Well, it is Switzerland after all...

Down by the Limmat River...

There were several of these covered walkways along the western side of Limmat river.

These were the steps we walked earlier today to get up to Lindenhof. Looked good in the dark and wet.

We stopped at a Coop supermarket to get some treats and a small bottle of Rioja red for Hans (hey, he was in the Spanish spirit) before going back to the hotel Bristol around 8.30pm or so calling it a day.

Lazy last night on our trip, but hey, we have done a fair bit the last year so why not? So this is our blog entry this time from Europe and Switzerland. Tomorrow night will sort of disappear as we will be in the air somewhere between Zürich and Bangkok. For now it is buenos nochos from us.