An American in Switzerland – Day One

No internet at the hotel, so I’m updating from a cool basement cafe called The Coal Mine for now.

We last left our intrepid wanderer in the Newark airport, chatting away right up to the point when my battery died. I wasn’t bored for very long at all; just a few minutes later they started boarding.

A very nice Swiss couple asked if I could switch seats with them because they were unable to get seats together for themselves and their two children. I gladly obliged. Unfortunately, I didn’t pay close enough attention and the seat I ended up in was not only against a wall (so I could only recline just a little bit), but a toilet was also right behind me. So, every time I started to doze off, the toilet would flush.

I spent most of the flight watching movies and feeling my lower back twist into a huge painful knot, and not really even sleeping at all. So, with the help of the coyotes the night before, and the toilet on the plane, I’d really had only a handful of scattered hours of sleep for the past, what, nearly 48 hours.

As the plane flew over the southern tip of Ireland, I had to let out a little whimper. I’ve dreamed of going there for many years, and here I was just a stone’s throw away.

We landed just fine, just as the sun was rising (there’s a lot less daylight than Texas because of the latitude). The tram that took us from the gate to the other part of the airport was an odd experience – there were sounds of birds, cowbells, and quiet mooing during the ride. Oh, and a Heidi-esque ad popped on to kiss us and welcome us to Switzerland.

Got through customs and the baggage area (which was exceedingly quiet despite being packed with people), and exited to the waiting area… where Heath was nowhere to be found. It was at this point that I discovered that not only did my phone not work, but I couldn’t remember the name of the hotel that we were staying at, nor did I have any dollars to change into francs, and I had no clue how to navigate the local train station to try to get to Winterthur (not that I knew were the hotel was). Exhaustion took over sense, and after about 15 minutes I almost started to panic and start crying, when Heath finally appeared – he’d gotten lost in the airport.

We took the train back to Winterthur, and I got to see some of the scenery. The airport is on the north side of the city of Zurich, so I didn’t get to see much of Zurich, just a lot of cows and farmhouses.

We came up out of the train station to a bustling small city with a mix of all kinds of architecture. We wandered through winding streets, under a building, and along a park to our hotel: Taverne Zum Kreuz. It is a beautiful old building with exposed beams and a unique sign that hangs away from the building. Inside the restaurant portion much of the original charm and décor remains. However the rooms are fairly modern for the most part. Our room has a wooden ceiling that slopes down towards the head of the bed.

We had a light breakfast before I took a nap. I had some yummy muesli that had chocolate bits in it and some bites of some excellent cheese. Heath had some cold meats and bread. After that, a desperately needed shower and nap.

Waking up after my two hour nap was the hardest thing I think I’ve done in a while. I was soooo groggy, especially considering that I’ve not slept hardly at all in the last 48 hours. Heath was determined to force me onto his time zone as quickly as possible. On the upside, while I was sleeping (totally dead to the world), he snuck out and bought me three red roses for my bedside. 🙂

When I finally got fully upright, we walked about the town center for a bit, looking in the shops, and settled on an Italian place for lunch. With my culinary background, I was able to decipher some of the things on the menu (which was written in a mix of German and Italian), and ordered some very good cheese ravioli in a marinara sauce. Heath had spaghetti with ham and marinara.

After that, Heath introduced me to the train system, and to keep me on my feet, bought us tickets to a town called Schaffhausen, which is the furthest north that you can get in Switzerland. The town was clean and busy, everyone doing their Saturday shopping. The shops were somewhat similar to Winterthur – a mix of chain stores and local businesses, but a large portion of the buildings were painted with gorgeous renaissance frescos! As tired as I was, I fell in love with the town.

We took a hike up steps on the side of a hill to a fortress in extremely good condition called the Munot. None of the signs on it said when it was built, the guidebook says the late 16th century. It was huge on the inside, with very high ceilings, and a spiral ramp going all the way up to the top. I got to peek out of long thin slots made for archers – I’d only ever seen them on television. We took a picture of us on the top at arms-length, with the Rhine river in the background.

on top of an ancient fortification

on top of an ancient fortification

We wandered some more, and did a tiny bit of shopping (most shops closed up at 4PM) and ended up having dinner at a local restaurant. The waiter was from Croatia, but spoke fluent Swiss German, and a fair amount of English. We both had a traditional Swiss dinner of wine, pork sausage, and rosti (shredded fried potato dish). I had a Riesling wine that was the best I’d ever had in my life. I’m going to try to find some bottles to take back with me.

After a very lovely dinner, Heath steered me back to the train station. I managed to stay awake until about 8PM before crashing.

The first half of this album is pictures that we took.

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