January 1, 2017 – Zurich to Frankfurt…to Calgary?

Switzerland, Travel

January 1, 2017 – Zurich to Frankfurt…to Calgary?

The day started out as planned! When we woke up it was 7:30 our time, which meant it was still 2016 in Calgary! Because we never make it to midnight, I thought it was pretty fun to be able to call Kendra at 11:45 and wish her a happy new year! So, as it turns out we did make it to Midnight….in our home timezone! Lol.

We headed off to the train station and had no issues getting our ticket and getting on the train to take us to the airport. We got there nice and early, so there was no stress when the silly digital check in machines didn’t work and we had to wait in line in order to check in. Fortunately, the check in lady for Luftansa was in a good mood and let us combine our luggage weights so that even though mine was overweight it was okay because Shawn’s was underweight. They don’t always let you do that, so we were really grateful.

Getting to the gate was easy…until we found out our flight was delayed by 15 minutes. And then 15 minutes more. And then another 15 minutes. So by the time we boarded we knew we would not be able to make our connecting flight from Frankfurt to Calgary. I was not impressed.

What made me the most unimpressed was not listening to myself when I said “okay, no matter what happens, when we land we are going to go to the gate to see if we can get on the plane”. Nope, instead we listened to the stupid guys when we landed, who pretended to be helpful…and lead us to an area to rebook our flights for tomorrow. There was one guy who was on our same flight who never followed the ground crew’s instructions and I am pretty sure he is above Greenland right now. I know better than that. I think that even though we were late we would have made our flight if we just ran to the next gate. I was pretty peeved off that we now have an extra day to get home and an extra stop in Amsterdam. So much for our holiday Monday. Uggg.

There are worse things that can happen, however. Like the girl next to me at the rebooking counter; her European Visa expires at midnight tonight and because there were no flights out of the country today, she will have to spend the night in the “in transit” area behind security as she is no longer allowed to be in the country. So, at least we are allowed to be comfortable in a hotel tonight.

Despite the snow and fog here today, hopefully we get home tomorrow so we can start 2017 off on the right foot!

Until next time!

-Allison

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December 31 – Zurich and New Years Eve

Switzerland, Travel

December 31 – Zurich and New Years Eve

We slept in today. It was kind of nice for a change. When we went out, we hit up the grocery store where we found some great chocolates that were on sale last night and then discovered that they were amazing!! So we had to pick up a few more packages this morning! It was awesome. But the best part was going into the awesome outdoor store. It was bad news because there were some great deals!20161231_111135

After trying to check in for our flight tomorrow we headed back to the awesome outdoor store as it was right by our hotel. I think we spent about an hour there because they had an amazing deal on cycling shoes and sandals. We ended up spending not even $150 Canadian and bought 2 pairs of cycling shoes, a pair of Keen sandals, a super dog harnesses, and a backpacking camera case. And the great thing was that it all fit in our suitcases. Yeah!

Soooo…after our crazy shopping expedition we walked downtown to explore the old town and to see what the plan was for New Years. Zurich does New Years Eve in a big way. Down by the lake there were many tents and booths set up where they were making tonnes of international foods and Gluhwine and champaign. We walked around and checked out all the stands before heading back to walk through the old town and check out the little shops. It was a bit colder than it had been in Switzerland thus far, so it was nice t have places to stop into.

We didn’t really have a destination in mind, so we simply strolled through the streets, looked at the many churches and paintings, and beautiful Christmas windows. It was a nice way to spend our last day on holidays.

By the time we got back to our hotel we were both pretty cold and our feet were tired. We have definitely done quite a bit of walking over the last week of holidays. I am not sure if our walking out-caloried our food consumption, however! Looking forward to getting back to the pool and the gym this week!

We decided that we didn’t really need to join the craziness of New Years Eve as we are not really NYE people normally. Instead, we made some homemade Gluhwine and cooked up some fondue in a box for dinner. We put on a few episodes of How I met Your Mother and totally stuffed ourselves silly eating cheese and bread and sausage. It was a pretty good NYE in Zurich. And by the time we went to bed just before 11 I think we were both okay with not hitting up the crazy busy, freezing cold party downtown!

Off to the plane and back home tomorrow!

What a great holiday. Happy 2017!

-Allison

December 30 – Interlaken and Grindelwald

Switzerland, Travel

December 30 – Interlaken and Grindelwald

We had such an amazing day today!! We woke up early…well early for this holiday…so we could make it to the train by 8am. After taking a train to Bern and making the 6 minute connection to the next train to Interlaken we raced then to get on the train to Grindelwald. However, as we raced to make this 6 minute connection, I noticed a small sign saying Eurorail passes not valid! We knew we would not make it to the ticket counter and back in the time left, so we stayed in Interlaken to explore for a while.20161230_101211

It was quite foggy out, which was sad because I know the views would have been amazing. However, it was great regardless. We walked down from the Interlaken East train station along the canals to the Interlaken West station and continued along the canals from there for a bit longer. It was a beautiful walk. Lots of swans, seagulls, and ducks swimming along the clear blue water. It was great. And we both came prepared for cold weather today, so were able to enjoy the walk with all of our layers on.20161230_105920

We walked back through town and poked into all the shops along the way. It was beautiful and sunny and great. Once we got back to the East train station, we bought our (rather pricy) train ticket to go up the mountain from Interlaken to Grindelwald.

20161230_131358  The train ride up was spectacular as the fog continued to lift the further up the mountain we went. By the time we got to Grindelwald it was clear and the mountains were spectacular. It was kind of like being in Banff, but in a more narrow valley. There were beautiful chalets spotted along the hillsides. It was kind of like being in a post card.

We decided to go for it and stop in a great restaurant with a wonderful view to have some authentic cheese fondue. We had a great bread with great cheese with amazing wine in a cute little place. It was amazing.

20161230_124715After our awesome meal, we walked through town a bit more to help digest. It was an amazing town and it was sad to leave. We did leave, however. We left around 3:30 to start our reverse train connections back to Zurich.

En route back to our hotel, we stopped at the grocery store to pick up some more wine, pasta, and cheese for a great dinner at home. It was amazing.

One more day here on holidays before we head home on January 1st, 2017.

Night,

-Allison

December 29 – Lucerne

Switzerland, Travel

December 29 – Lucerne

Before bed last night we decided since we have 2 extra days on our Eurorail pass that we should head off to Lucerne for the day. It was a quick train ride from Zurich down to Lucerne – Just under an hour. I think I had been there before when I visited Switzerland the summer after I finished Grade 10, but it has definitely been a while!           20161229_110618 It wasn’t as sunny or as warm as yesterday, but the city was still really beautiful. There are many painted buildings, church steeples, and clock towers around Lake Lucerne. The (very cold) looking water was crystal clear and there were even people canoeing and kayaking in it! Looked way too cold for me to be doing that today.

20161229_110329The old covered bridge was super cool to visit. It was built in 1333 and was part of the original ramparts for the city. The middle section burned down in 1993, which was a huge loss to the city due to the unique and original paintings on the roof support beams. Since then it has been reconstructed and replicas of the paintings have been reinstalled. It was pretty cool and gave a great view of the old houses and shops lining the streets on either side of the lake.

Without even trying we found Starbucks and were able to use the washrooms and wifi. Good trick Shawn discovered on this trip that no matter where in the world, Starbucks will offer free toilets and wifi apparently! So that was a nice spot to stop and warm up before starting to explore the beautiful and old shopping area.

20161229_124055We went into many shops. Some because they looked interesting and others to stay warm and others so I could try on clothes! Lol. We spent quite a long time climbing the 6 floors of the Bodum store and actually managed to get out of there without spending a penny. Although it does help when you know that the plugs and voltage is not the same at home so you can’t actually buy any of the cool appliances!

Shawn splurged on lunch at an English Pub on the water beside the lake and covered bridge. It was a warm and cute little place called Mr. Pickwick Pub. All the food was a ridiculous price. Most things, especially eating out, are quite expensive in Switzerland. It was a nice meal, however. If it wasn’t so cold, we would have totally been happy grabbing a sandwich and one of the many walk by sandwich places, but it was totally not appealing to eat outside in the cold. Oh well. It was fun.

I did a bit of damage in a French store I like. They had a bunch of things on sale, and Shawn was very patient with me as I tried on a million outfits! Needless to say I walked out of there with a couple of shirts only, but it was warm and fun and part of the experience.20161229_130248

There were two trains per hour heading back to Zurich and we pretty much timed things perfectly as we walked up to the train station and left about 2 minutes later. I slept the whole way back to Zurich. I love napping in the train. It makes me happy!

We know where the grocery stores are closest to our hotel now. So, on the way home, we stopped at the closest Coop and spent less than 10 CHF and bought ingredients to make soup as well as picked up an awesome pretzel bun for dinner. So, even though people think it is expensive here, we managed to buy food to make an amazing meal, including a bottle of wine for 15$. Not bad, really. It also made me appreciate even more the benefit of having a small kitchen in our hotel room! It makes cooking soup a bit easier when you have a stove!

We made vegetable soup, had some cheese on our pretzel bun, and some homemade Gluhwine for dinner. It was fantastic. And of course, we had our amazing chocolate for dessert. Not a bad ending to the day at all!

Now for some hands of crib to wrap up the evening!

Night!

-Allison

December 28 – Sondersdorf to Zurich

Switzerland, Travel

December 28 – Sondersdorf to Zurich

We had a quick breakfast before Sophie and Dani drove us to the Saint Louis train station. It was sad to go, but I am glad I had the chance to visit and see everyone again.

Eight minutes after getting on the train in Saint Louis, we got off in 20161228_113725Basel. Lol. Super short train ride to cross boarders into Switzerland from France.

We had a really nice and quiet train ride from Basel to Zurich. It was beautiful ride with gorgeous hilly towns. And it was pretty close together, which as nice after all of our crazy connections across Germany the other day.

Finding our hotel was so easy. I was really impressed. I booked online this place called Swiss Star Apartments with the idea it was close to the old town as well as to the train station. Sure enough, it was maybe a 15 minute walk from the train to the hotel. It is more like an apartment than a hotel. So we entered a code from our booking reservation into a lock box at the front door and the machine spat out a digital key fob. We clicked it to the main door and it opened. Took the elevator up to floor number 1 and the same fob opened up our room. I was super impressed with how well it worked!20161228_113738

Switzerland hotels are super expensive, but considering this one is like an apartment, it was a really good deal. It was just over $100/ night for 4 nights. It is maybe 200 square feet (so like super small!) but has a double bed, fridge, microwave, stove top, kettle, dishes, eating table, and a bathroom with shower. So it pretty much is an apartment. It was nice to be able to have some tea before we set out to explore the old town, which is pretty close, this afternoon.

It is the time for the sales in the stores right now. It was absolute craziness in the downtown shopping area today. We walked perpendicular to the train station to hit up the main retail area and I could not believe the crowds. People were practically pushing others out of the way to get a spot inside stores. It was bizarre.dsc_8843 We enjoyed the people watching and went in to quite a few stores to look and see what all the fuss was about. Lots of good discounts…on crazy original prices! The only thing we ended up buying was a small package of chocolate from a local company call Läderach. It is supposedly better and more locally handcrafted than Lindt. The price for the little bag of chocolate was absurd. But it was good chocolate.

It was overwhelming the crazy amount of insane shopping people…so we ran out of energy and decided to stop at a grocery store to find groceries for the next couple of days. We visited the Coop and stocked up on supplies. It was a fun visit. We found some cook at home fondue that we are planning to have for New Year’s Eve. We also found some great salad, cheese, bread, and other great dinner and lunch items. Yippee.

20161228_155329 We made our way back to our little place and made some awesome home made Gluhwine! We had some old white wine left over from the ship and Shawn mixed it with a package of hot apple cider and it was amazing! We had a little picnic in our awesome little room, watched a couple of shows…before Shawn flooded the entire place when he had a shower! I was busy and didn’t notice the water seeping out from under the door. So it was a little surprising when I went to step onto the floor! Oops. Thankfully the entire floor was all tile and mopping up took no time at all. It made for an interesting evening!

We’ll see what happens tomorrow!

-Allison