Fri 3 Jan - Zürich, Switzerland

Our last stop before home... Zürich.

The alarm went off at 6am and of course, we were way too organised as our Zürich train wasn't leaving Wien's Hauptbahnhof until 9.30am, and we were ready by 8am. So we said goodbye to Rudolfsplatz one last time and headed to the nearest U bahn station to reach Hauptbahnhof.

We were organised but...we did forget our bottles of Vienna Tap water in the fridge. Oh well...

Getting to Hauptbahnhof from Rudolfsplatz required one change of train (and unfortunately no trams went there that we could take).

Here is Di at our nearest U-bahn station, Schottenring, waiting for the train on line number 2 to arrive. A very fresh clean station. These Austrians...

The Vienna train seemed to us to be also new, fresh and well lit, although Di did struggle with why they let McDonalds colour coordinate their train?

At Volksteater station we had to change to U-bahn line 3 and while waiting for the train we took the opportunity to admire this Schmuck exhibition.

We love the term Schmuck. Here it means costume jewellery which we think is highly appropriate.

After another 3 stops we arrived at Hauptbahnhof and yes, we had an hour to kill there before Zürich train's departure so we had a cup of tea each at Starbucks (which incidentally is far more expensive in Austria than in Germany, perhaps due to taxes or Vienna tourism?).

At 9.15am we were settled on the train, and dear readers, we have to admit our first major error when we booked the tickets online...

We had accidently booked 4 tickets instead of 2...and since the terms and conditions were "Non exchangeable, non refundable" we had to cop the extra cost. However, that meant was that we had 2 reserved seats each for the 8 hour trip from Vienna to Zürich so that was at least something. Well, at least in theory... Initially, Di looked pretty relaxed...

Location shot...

However the trip did not remain relaxing...the train got busier from Salzburg onwards and then started to be packed from Innsbruck. You can imagine how many times we were asked if our extra seat was "Frei". We said no and stayed tough for most of the trip (hey we paid an extra 100€ for that "free" seat) until about 90 minutes from Zürich when the train was overloaded with heaps of skiers and boarders who of course had not reserved a seat. They were standing in doorways and aisles. Then Di caved in and moved to sit with Hans.

The initial views from the window in mid Austria were a bit ordinary as we passed Linz and a few other towns, but around Innsbruck they improved considerably as we hit the alps. A few shots out from the moving train and through a window.

The mountains in these photos are nothing compared to the alps between Switzerland and Austria - passing through small towns dedicated to skiers like St Antoine Am Ahlburg the alps were so steep on either side of the valley you had to press your face to the glass to see the tops. Sorry, no photos.

We arrived in Zürich almost on the dot at 5.20pm despite losing time earlier due to a malfunctioning door.

The weather was rainy but our Hotel Bristol was less than 10 minutes walk from the Hauptbahnhof so we were soon there.

We got a room on the top 5th floor looking out at the back but also with angled ceilings due to the roofline of the hotel. Hans has to do a bit of "ducking".

It was pretty quiet though and although basically, furnished modern and comfortable.

A short rest and then we hit the streets looking for cash (they use Swiss francs here - CHF) and bier. We tried to limit our ATM withdrawal so as to not have CHF spare when we leave Sunday night but the plan sort of backfired...

The Altstadt was clear in our minds as a good place to find a Bier Keller for drinks and dinner and we walked there (about 5 minutes from our hotel). Di had noticed this place in TripAdvisor and from outside we could tell it was packed and looked very informal so in we went.

Rheinfelder Bierhalle was perfect! Big communal tables and we were allocated 2 seats jammed in with the locals - in fact the 3 older guys around us were all quite drunk (we think they had been there a few hours / few beers already) and they seemed to all know each other. Or course that did not stop them talking to Di who could understand about 1 word in 3 due to the dialect.

We laughed a lot. The crowd were all in a good mood.

The kitchen was downstairs and we looked into this "bar" area. They were seriously busy, hauling meals out of the kitchen elevator, pouring beers and other drinks.

We both ordered the local bier, and it was good. We can't pronounce the name, it was long and started with something like "tschloss" and Hans' version had extra words added like "hopfen... We said Prost only to find out later that here they say "Zum Wohl".

A selfie taken at a quieter time when our drunk locals had all wandered off and were no longer trying to talk to Di.

The dinner menu was very simple and what caught our eye is the Waltis Jumbo Jumbo Cordon Bleu that half the people were ordering. Given the size and price we decided to share one - it's basically a pork fillet stuffed with ham and cheese and then turned into a schnitzel.

Thank god! This is it, on a very large round plate, with a salad bowl too. Cut in half it was just the right amount for 2 and was delicious. However, we were amazed at how many people finish this meal - pretty much all plates going back to the kitchen were empty.

Time for another bier each. Same again please. Then we caught a glimpse of something familiar and got a bit homesick. Cheers to Coopers Pale Ale on the far right...

Back to our ATM the Bierhalle everyone paid their bills with cash. So we did too and now need more cash tomorrow. It seems the Swiss like cash...

Walking back to our hotel around 8.30pm, full and feeling fond of Zürich after such a fun night, we passed a model train shop and were astounded by the prices.

The large scale set on the top shelf was more than 2,300CHF, that's about 2,000€ or more than A$3,000. The tiny engines and carriages on the shelf below were all about 200CHF. There must be some serious train enthusiasts with money here.

Back in our room, we were both tired as the train trip today was not relaxing and after 10 hours on the move, and with contented stomachs, we soon fell asleep. Good night.


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