This is a blog about our holiday to Europe in 2014. We started off our travels in Venice, where we began a cruise of the Adriatic and Aegean seas, ending in Rome. We then travelled from Rome to the Netherlands by rail, stopping in various places along the way. We are: Me - Gill, my husband - Grant, my daughter - Paula; my father - Neil and his partner - Astrid. We are South Africans, from the lovely province of Kwa-Zulu Natal. Our friends Lisa and Trevor joined us from the UK for the cruise portion of our holiday.

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Friday, July 4, 2014

Zurich, Switzerland

3 July
We arrived in Zurich at shortly after 8pm.  I have to laugh, there is just something about Switzerland.... I don't even know how to explain it, Switzerland doesn't like me!  If we are on holiday and something can go wrong, it will go wrong in Switzerland.  On the other hand, maybe I am paranoid and I look out for issues in Switzerland?  I don't know.  But anyway, we arrived in Switzerland and as our hotel was nearby, we had decided to walk from the train station to the hotel.  Well, within moments, I had stepped in front of an on-coming car (looked the wrong way, I'm South African, what can I say?!)  We then got rigting-bevok confused walking to our hotel and what seemed a straightforward, short, walk turned out to be on these incredibly cobbled streets, so we walked for what seemed like miles dragging our suitcases (that got heavier by the second) over these enormous rocks cobbles.  Anyway, we got to our hotel.  I noticed (and I am seriously hoping none of the family did!) that I had booked us into a hotel that was verrrrry much on the border of the "red-light" district.  

Having checked in, we were starving and arranged to meet in the lobby in 5 minutes to go out and find something to eat.  We walked a short distance from the hotel and found a restaurant, parked ourselves at a table and ordered some drinks while we perused the menu.  By this point I was so hungry that the waiter was beginning to look succulent and juicy, so without further ado we placed our orders, ordered another round of drinks and tucked in.  I don't know what the story was, maybe none of us was compos mentis enough to look properly at the menu? but the 5 of us had VERY ordinary grub and the bill came to R2800!  Yoh!!  

So, feeling rather shaken, we made our way back to the hotel.  I jumped in the shower, leaving my clothes and towel lying in a heap on the floor, as you do.  Got out the shower and my clothes and towel were now floating towards the door..... Gotta love Switzerland!

Seriously thought, I don't think it's Switzerland.  Switzerland is beautiful. I don't blame Switzerland... It's me.

4 July
We had breakfast in the cute little breakfast room at the hotel.  Oh my word, the Birchers muesli... to die for!  We were all feeling a bit tired and slow, so the plan was to take it easy until our tour after lunch.

After I had had a major mini panic attack in the hotel room, debating how on earth I was going to make my luggage weigh little enough to be allowed on a plane, we took a stroll down the street and discovered that a whole bunch of the shops were having sales.  Suddenly the whole mood of the morning changed, Paula and I were on red-alert, antennae out, looking for bargains (bugger the luggage, we would make it light enough to be allowed on the plane, duh!)

So we bought a couple of things (me - 2 T-shirts, Paula - the cutest jeans ever!)  We wandered over to the station area to catch our afternoon tour, buying take-aways for lunch en-route.  Now I don't know whether I have been living under a rock or what (I'm South African, what can I say?!) but I had never eaten a doner kebab, and, quite frankly, had no intention of ever eating a doner kebab.. doner kebabs had never even made it onto my radar... BUT that was about to change!  Astrid bought a doner kebab and from the moment I set eyes on this thing and smelt this thing, I wanted that doner kebab.... I hoped she wouldn't finish it and I was pretty much walking alongside her, staring fixedly at this thing, salivating..  I don't know whether it had anything to do with me and my saliva, but eventually she said she had had enough and would anyone like to finish it, well I grabbed that doner kebab and made it mine in a flash.  I LIKE doner kebabs!  No, erase that, I looooove doner kebabs!

We had some time to kill in the station area (we are always early!) so we decided to do a quick geocache.  Paula and I nearly had a fit as Grant is not the most unobtrusive geocacher - he always manages to look like he is planting bombs! - and there was a lady nearby who was staring at him, worriedly.  I had visions of Grant being arrested by scary Swiss police and thrown in jail.  Thankfully he wasn't and we were able to make our way to our tour bus, unarrested.

Our bus tour was on a big bus.  We have come to realise that we don't generally enjoy "big bus" excursions, but this tour turned out to be quite pleasant.  We had a nice, friendly, informative guide.  We drove around various areas, getting off the bus at the lake, then at the Ladies Church, where we had a guided tour of the interior.  Really beautiful stain glass windows, but no photos allowed unfortunately! 

Back on the bus, we drove along the Gold coast of Lake Zurich, seeing Tina Turner's house, bound for the ferry.  We caught the ferry across the lake, which was fun.  

We then drove to the cable car, which we caught up to the top of Felsenegg.  

Once at the top, we made our way to the cute little restaurant.  We ordered hot chocolate and apple strudel... soooo good!  Grant and Paula walked quite a way down the mountain in search of a geocache, but unfortunately didn't find it before time ran out and we had to gather to catch the cable car back down.

Driving back to the station our tour guide invited us to ask her any questions we had about Zurich and Switzerland in general.  It was quite interesting to hear all about their educational systems, medical aid, high cost of living (we've noticed that!) unemployment insurance etc.

Having finished the tour we walked back to our hotel (no stepping in front of oncoming cars this time, I looked BOTH ways!) Grant, Paula and I spotted some people drinking these HUGE towers of beer, so we ran and caught Dad and Astrid (who had headed off on their own mission) and then found a table at a beer hall.  What fun!  

We managed to put away two of these enormous beer towers between the four of us.  

There was a traditional band playing inside and we had the BEST time sitting out there, enjoying the Swiss atmosphere.  We chomped on a couple of pretzels (my word, they are delicious!) before ordering a dinner of plates of spatzli, wurst and fondue which we shared.

Eventually Paula, Grant and I made our way back to the hotel, but then decided that we had not seen enough of Zurich, so back out we went.  We wandered up the road to try to find a geocache.  We found it, in a lovely square that had a group of buskers performing, they were really good.  (The video doesn't do them justice, the sound quality is not the greatest, but you will get the general idea)

We watched them for a while and then decided to sit at a nearby restaurant that opened out onto the square, where we happily drank a jug of sangria, before heading back to the hotel and calling it a night.  Such a lovely, lovely evening!

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