An American in Switzerland – Day Six

Got up when Heath did, and got directions to his workplace, where I was supposed to go later in the afternoon. I wanted a hot breakfast for once, and decided to get a quiche, and maybe a sweater or two if I could find them really cheaply (I didn’t quite pack enough clothes, and even with them being laundered, I’m still short for the rest of the week). And socks. Warm socks.

The quiche shop was just opening, and they didn’t have any quiches out yet when I walked by, so I decided to explore Winterthur some more, and see if I couldn’t find some warm clothes. I found a second-hand store, but there were no prices on anything, so I had no idea what ballpark range I was looking at, plus, their selection wasn’t that great. Oddly enough, however, they had a used hat just like the ones that all you folk who play gypsies at faire wear – mirrors, faded velvet, gold trim, etc. I almost took a picture of it (maybe I’ll go back later and do that).

I found another shop with super cheap (15 francs each, approximately, what, $13?) sweaters on a rack outside. I picked through them, found two decent ones, and ventured inside. They had some really nice stuff and some really poor quality stuff. I picked out another shirt and a sweater (both on sale), and had the lady ring them up. She, too, seemed put out that I didn’t know a lick of Swiss German. I feel bad, really, but there’s no call to be snotty about it. Oh well.

Took off for the quiche shop, and was so disappointed to find upon my arrival to the hotel that my quiche was fresh-from-the-fridge cold. It had obviously been made the night before and put in the fridge. And I had no way to heat it. 😛

Spent some time in the hotel room enjoying the view and getting caught up on my travel logs and letters to family. Took off for the train station when the innkeeper politely was tapping on the door to make up the beds. The plan? Go to Appenzell, where I could see traditional Swiss costumes, learn about their folklore, see some unusually shaped buildings, and even watch some cheese being made!

Unfortunately, I had spent too much time in Winterthur, and it took far longer to get to Appenzell than I assumed. I had a dinner date with Heath with some company execs, and I had to be back to the hotel, showered, and out the door by 5PM. It was 11AM when I got to the train station.

I opted instead for Zurich and more art at the Kunsthaus Zurich, which is Switzerland’s biggest art museum. I decided to skip the bus (scared of getting messed up again in an even bigger city), and walked to the museum. When I got to the Limmat river, it was freezing! But I stopped to snap a few photos for those of you who have asked for them. I walked the historic Münsterbrücke, which is famous for… well, I’m not exactly sure why, but there was a date from the 1700’s and a big statue of a guy on a horse at one end.

Decided that I needed lunch, and passed several tasty looking options, but thought I’d try for something close to the museum. There unfortunately wasn’t anything close to the museum except the museum’s restaurant. I knew that museum restaurants are more expensive, usually, but I thought I’d give it a try because it looked really nice. I had an unusual dish of pineapple curry risotto with lightly battered and fried (Chinese-style) broccoli florets. It was different, but not spectacular. The soup that came with it was nice and hearty, and I couldn’t tell you what was in it because the veggies were chopped into tiny julienne pieces. I also had a glass of some sort of Zurich white wine, and that was lovely. And a Pellegrino, well, because I’d never had one.

Lunch took longer than I thought it would, mostly because my waitress disappeared for a bit right before I wanted the check. Headed to the museum, rented a locker (I got my 2 franc piece back after I was finished! Way cool!). Plunked down the entrance fee, and got to looking. Sadly, all of the labels next to the paintings were in German. I’ve been to large city museums in the US where the labels are in several different languages. So, I think I missed out on a lot. And I was somewhat short on time (had to be back at the hotel in time to get ready and out the door for the dinner), so I didn’t really get to see much of the Expressionists and modern art.

But I did see a ton of gorgeous medieval and renaissance art, and even more paintings by Ferdinand Hodler. I really fell in love with his work at this museum. His women are fascinating, and his self portrait is so complex. I almost bought a book from the museum store, but it was quite expensive and also only written in German. I will have to try to find a book in English about him, and really wouldn’t mind having a framed print somewhere in the house.

I also came across a fascinating and utterly haunting self-portrait by a girl of 12 named Anna Waser dated 1691. The painting is in the highly-detailed late renaissance style. And I was curious to know how a young girl came to be allowed to paint (as I thought it wouldn’t be permitted in that era).

Headed out from the museum on schedule, and got started in the right direction. Despite clearing skies earlier, it had started to lightly snow again. But I wasn’t lost, and enjoyed my walk back up the river. I even stopped in a tourist shop where I was tempted to buy about five different do-dads, but didn’t, and I stopped in a wine shop, again looking for my beloved Riesling from Schaffhausen. The lady in the wine shop spoke very good English, and was extremely helpful. She said that she had a Riesling from Zurich that was far superior to the one I’d had in Schaffhausen, and it was reasonably priced, so I grabbed it. She also gave me a sample of a local Chardonnay that was just amazing! It wasn’t nearly as dry as most Chardonnays that I’d had, and I was tempted to buy it too, but it was fairly pricey. I also stopped in an olive oil shop and picked up something for Sharon.

Zurich is noisy and crowded, and reminds me of New York City, only with older and shorter buildings. There’s posh stores, tons of restaurants, and tons of very well dressed people. Lots of women in fur coats (most looked real). Everyone with their hair perfectly coiffed despite the wind. Men in expensive coats. I looked like a frumpy college kid, with my warm oversized wool coat from Peru that I bought from a vendor on our campus. My hair frizzy from taking my hood on and off, and a backpack filled with brochures, travel guides, and my camera.

Got back to the train station, and got a bit turned around trying to find my track number and ended up having to jog up and down some stairs before I got there. My god, my butt has got to be getting smaller from all the stairs and hills! Checked my watch as we arrived back in Winterthur, and realized I totally had to book it if I wanted to be showered and on time to meet Heath for the dinner. I half walked, half jogged back to the hotel, burst in the door… to find him napping on the bed. They’d gotten out of class early, and dinner wasn’t until 6:00 PM at a restaurant just around the corner. I had plenty of time. Grr…

Got cleaned up and relaxed, and then we headed out to dinner. It was a lot of fun. Heath was on my right, an Italian was on my left, the Taiwanese couple was across from me, and a Swede (not a Swiss, but a Swede) was across from Heath. Also at the table was the first French-speaking Swiss person I’d come across, a whole load of Swiss folks, a German, another Italian, and two Indians. It was an incredibly interesting dinner, and I had a blast listening to everyone and chatting with everyone. The Swede was hilarious – he talked at 90 miles an hour, and when he wanted to say a word that he didn’t know in English it was like a train crashing into a wall. Very cool guy, though. Heard about more differences in culture across the globe, and as we were the only Americans, we shared some experiences of our own.

I also made plans to meet up with Eva (the female half of the Taiwanese couple) to go to Appenzell for the next day.

The food was very traditional Italian, and the menu was half in Italian, half in German. This time, I had a very hard time translating it, for some reason. Both the UK coworker and I begged help from the Italian, and I also had to tap a local Swiss to figure out what I might want. Then, after I’d made my order, the waiter gave the Taiwanese couple a menu in English!! I got to take a closer look at the menu and changed my order. Heh. My shrimp wasn’t that fresh, but the pasta sauce was a good arrabiata sauce (spicy). I had chocolate mousse for dessert that was good, but not exceptional. All in all, a very good evening, though.

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