Wednesday, July 13th ~ Zurich, Switzerland
The flight on Swiss Air was uneventful and arrived on time. I actually thought that the food was better than most of the airplane meals we have had over the past few years. We got lucky and managed to get three seats for the two of us which allowed me to spread out a bit.
I had time to do some more reading about Switzerland on the flight and found out a few tidbits of trivia.
- There are four official languages here in Switzerland: German, French, Italian and Romansh
- The average Swiss person will consume approximately 18 pounds of chocolate in a year. That breaks down to 1.5 pounds per month.
- Switzerland covers 16,000 square miles which is half the size of South Carolina
- They have a square flag instead of the customary rectangular shape. The background is bright red with a white cross. The only other country with a square flag is Vatican City.
The airport in Zürich is large but with excellent signage which makes it easy to find your way around. After normal passport control, collecting our luggage and clearing customs, we followed the signs down to the lower level toward the trains. Stopping at the Tourist Information desk, we purchased our 15 day train pass, then a quick stop at the ATM to get some Swiss Franks (CHF), before hopping on the train to the center of town.
Today’s exchange rate is 1 CHF equals $1.017 USD. Close enough for me to consider that a 1 to 1 ratio.
By the way, we decided to treat ourselves to first class on the train. I know that we will see the same scenery, but the price difference was not that great for the 15 day pass which will allow us to reserve our seats and have a bit more room.
The 15 day pass for second class was $440 per person vs $704 for first class. This is a $264 dollar difference which averages out to under $18/per day to do the upgrade. We don’t splurge on first class often, but gave into the urge this time. 🙂
Inside the main train terminal is a site that has become a symbol for Zürich. The fat blue angel or “Guardian Angel” who protects passengers on the 2,000 trains a day that pass through this major hub. The angel was sculpted by French-American artist Niki de St. Phalle and was installed to celebrate the 150th anniversary of the Swiss rail system in 1997.
“The guardian angel was designed in the style of the colourful, voluminous “nana” figures for which the artist was world famous. They stand for joyful, liberated, self-confident women. Initially ridiculed by fellow artists, Niki de Saint Phalle’s works are now one of the most popular works of contemporary art. One of her most famous works is the Stravinsky Fountain in Paris in front of the Pompidou Centre which was started in 1982. It was designed by her and her husband Jean Tinguely.” ~ myswitzerland.com
The weather is not that great – intermittent rain, cool and dreary. According to the forecast, we may have a repeat tomorrow.
We have already booked our hotels for the itinerary that I shared in our last post. I chose hotels that would be close to the center of town and near the rail station whenever possible.
We are spending two nights in Zurich, staying at the Hotel Montana. The room is on the small side, but it was only a five-minute walk from the train terminal which is wonderful. The walking tour we plan on doing tomorrow starts at the train terminal so we are well situated.
Right now though the only thing calling my name is my bed. It is getting close to 8:00 pm here and I will soon be sound asleep. Tim has a head start. I can hear a gentle snore drifting my way…
GRATITUDE MOMENT: As always when we travel, I am grateful for a safe arrival. My first impressions of Switzerland is that they have their $#*t together. Things are well-marked and clean. I have seen very little litter. The train was punctual and comfortable. We are certainly off to a wonderful start of our 15 day Swiss Rail Adventure!