R. Craig Collins > Web Page Design > Portfolio > Zürich/Liechtenstein
Christmas 2010, Zürich/Liechtenstein © R. Craig Collins, 2010, 11
Saturday, December 25: Home to Dallas to Toronto to Overnight flight to Zürich
Sunday, December 26: Arrive Zürich, explore Hauptbahnhof, check into Hotel Bristol, walk the Limmat, visit Grossmünster
Monday, December 27: Tour; Lucerne, Engelberg, Mt. Titlis (10,000 ft)
Tuesday, December 28: Tour, Rapperswil, Werdenberg, Toggenburg, Vaduz (Liechtenstein), Heidiland (Maienfeld)
Wednesday, December 29: Landesmuseum (Swiss National Museum), Toy Museum, Clock Museum, St. Peterskirche
Thursday, December 30: Fraumünster, Old Town, Funicular railroad, University, Kunsthaus art museum, shopping
Friday, December 31: Zürich to Dulles to Dallas
Saturday, December 25
07:00 Head to Starbucks, then onto DFW
9:30 Arrive Park'NFly, near DFW
10:00 Fairly easy time getting through security
11:00 Lunch near gate D12 (Popeye's for Diane, and Einstein Bros. for the grown ups; purchased snacks)
11:45 Board CRJ, Row 15
Very nice small aircraft... on demand seat back entertainment /USB and universal power adapters
16:09, arrived Toronto; were escorted serpentine fashion to customs, where we started a 4 hour layover. Gracie slept.
Had dinner from Cactus Jack's (poor burgers) and dessert from Tim Horton (Donuts, of course)
20:35, board 767-300, row 29
VERY nice 2*3*2 aircraft, same great seat back entertainment /USB and universal power adapters
Good news: No one sat next to Diane; Bad news: rude attendant and no mapping for seat back entertainment, took off late
Chicken or Pasta for meal, watched How to train your Dragon, Takers, and Clash of the Titans
Sunday, December 26 Arrive Zürich, explore Hauptbahnhof, check into Hotel Bristol, walk the Limmat, visit Grossmünster
Had a pound cake like breakfast, and were notified that it was -10° C outside in Zürich as we flew over hillside and mountainside villages covered with snow.
11:00 Landed, and had a very easy time with customs... they noted we had arrived in Budapest exactly one year before. One the train from Terminal E into the main terminal, they flashed a little Heidi themed commercial on the wall as we flew by, playing the long Alpine horns as we went.
We found the tourist office to pick up our pre-purchased Zürich Cards, which gave us 72 hours of public transport, and free admission to all museums.
we planned to use them Tuesday-Thursday. Then we located the Checkin-allways hotel bus.(CHF 40.00)
CHF stands for Confoederatio Helvetica Franc, Confoederatio Helvetica being the official name of Switzerland.
12:30 Arrived at the Hotel Bristol, but our room was not ready. Constance let us store our luggage, and we were off on foot to the Hauptbahnhof.
We checked out the Tram station about 1 minutes walk to the west on Stamfenbachstrasse, then headed down to the Bahnhof Brücke (Bridge), and across to the beautiful old train station, the Hauptbahnhof, or HB. It had been snowing for days, and the sidewalks were very icy, but we made it in just minutes.
We explored the downstairs shopping area, scoped out places to eat, and went up to the main train area. Sadly, they were already taking down the Christmas market, and the huge tree covered with Swarovski crystal. The also had a giant angel (?) and a giant version of a Christmas Pyramid, so called because of their origin in a rigid frame shaped like a pyramid. Hot air rising from the 'candles' drives the propeller blades which in turn moves the little figurines around in a stately procession
Plan of the HB; trains and the great hall on top, then RailCity shopping and eateries below.
13:30, headed back to the hotel, and checked into room 209. It is the room with the small balcony on the right.
Next to the door was a thin cabinet and a hanging rod. The room had a small double bed on the left, a desk in the alcove that lead to the balcony, a wall mounted TV, and and two thin single beds on the right, by the other radiator and window. The bath, between the cabinet and the double bed, had a wall-less shower (curtain only), the usual fixtures, and of course a radiator/towel rack. Probably small by American terms, but perfect for us. We found the staff very helpful, the place was clean, and the location was so perfect... being so close to the Stamfenbachstrasse tram, the Central tram station, the HB tram stations and shops, etc. After unpacking, the girls took a short nap, and Susann tried to shake off what may have been food poisoning.
15:50, we walked down Limmat Quai, toward Grossmünster. (See map)
Even thought it was well below freezing, it was a sunny day, and we could see the mountains and we skated the sidewalks past Central, the Rathaus, with views of Fraumünster across the river.
Grossmünster is a Romanesque-style church that played an important role in the history of the Protestant Reformation.The core of the present building was constructed, according to legend, by Charlemagne. Construction of the present structure commenced around 1100 and it was inaugurated around 1220.
The Grossmünster was a monastery church, vying for precedence with the Fraumünster (right) across the Limmat throughout the Middle Ages. Huldrych Zwingli initiated the Swiss-German Reformation in Switzerland from his pastoral office at the Grossmünster, starting in 1520. The reforms initiated by Zwingli account for the plain interior of the church. Only one painting remains, but they have since redone the organ and stained glass.
We also climbed 187 steps, from narrow passages to seemingly unsupported open wood treads, into the tower on the right. (CHF 12.00)
Zürich Grossmünster Tower views
|Zürichsee (Lake Zürich)||the River Limmat||Fraumünster||St. Peterskirche||Rathaus|
We walked down Bahnhof Quai, then up to Bahnhofstrasse, the shopping area, as we headed toward the Hauptbahnhof. (See map)
Neat architecture, tons of swans and ducks in the river, frozen fountains, and we finally started finding Christmas markets.
We then investigated the Sihlquai bus station, on the west side of the Hauptbahnhof, and walked by the Landesmuseum... the Swiss National Museum.
17:30 We headed back into the station, and ate at Züri Bistro; we shared two donner teller/pommes (Lamb kebab with fries) and a couple of European Orange Fantas - the girls favorite. (I always had my Platypus collapsible water bottle in my backpack, no free water in Zürich.) CHF 38.00
18:15 In the HB is a Migros supermarket, where we found some cookies that we took back to the hotel. (CHF 2.80)
After enjoying a few cookies and TV, we crashed about 20:00.
Monday, December 27 Lucerne and Mt. Titlis
I got up about 2:30 (jet lag messed up my internal clock) but we all started getting up about 5:30.
7:30 Breakfast. They had coffee, hot milk and chocolate power, tea, plus cereal, breads, cheese, cold cuts, cold milk and OJ.
After breakfast, we had trouble getting back into our room, but we eventually mastered the locking system. (The door did not lock by itself, and on the inside required a twist of a separate knob... but the door needed to be tightly pulled before the lock would turn easily.) The key itself was on a 'doorknob' fob as Gracie called it, and the key never left the hotel... you dropped in on your way out, and got it from the receptionist when you returned.
At 9:00 we headed toward Sihlquai bus station, again passing Landesmuseum. Each time we passed there was a huge wading bird in the River Sihl, perhaps it was out of the wind under the bridge there. We exchanged our vouchers and had time to kill before our tour to Lucerne and Mt. Titlis, so Diane and Susann went to the Starbucks next to the station. (Diane and Susann are the only coffee drinkers, so future references to Starbucks mean those two got coffee... Gracie and I had water, if anything.) The grumpy driver Ernst would not let them drink coffee on the bus, so they enjoyed it outside.
The tour was by Best of Switzerland, and we passed beautiful country and idyllic Swiss homes and hotels on our way to Mt. Rigi, then around Lake Lucerne, as the gray sky set it. Did you know the post office uses yellow motorcycles, some with trailers, to deliver the mail?
(We would have lunch in Lucerne, then we would head on to Mt. Titlis; 10,000 ft.)
The first thing we did in Lucerne was visit the Lion Monument, which commemorates the Swiss Guard that were killed during the French Revolution.
Yes, the pond in front of the monument is frozen. Rose Mary our guide, took this excellent picture, using Gracie's camera. Mine died until it had a battery transplant back in the bus.
Lucerne (Luzerne in French; Switzerland has four national languages, German for the north and east, French in the west, Italian in the south, and Romanch in some limited mountain areas.)
Lucerne is known for the Chapel Bridge and Water Tower, and its iconic waterfront architecture.
The Chapel Bridge ("Kapellbrücke" in German) is a 670 ft long bridge crossing the Reuss River. It is the oldest wooden covered bridge in Europe, constructed in 1333, and was designed to help protect the city of Lucerne from attacks. Inside the bridge are a series of paintings from the 17th century, depicting events from Lucerne's history. The bridge was partially burned, but was reconstructed, and does still have original elements.
Adjoining the bridge is the 140 feet tall Wasserturm (Water Tower), an octagonal tower made from brick, which has served as a prison, torture chamber, watchtower and treasury.
11:50 We had an hour to eat, so we opted for the first place we saw... A Starbucks. Far left in picture above. We had ham and cheese croissants, and Susann and Diane had some coffees. (CHF 22.60)
We wandered the waterfront near the Jesuit church, and found souvenirs (CHF 15.00)
We then headed to Engelberg.
When got to Engelberg, we rode three different cable cars to get to the top... first a six person car, followed by an 80 person car, then the revolving Rotair.
The entire trip took about 45 minutes.
©Mt. Titlis Brochure
The station at the top of Mt. Titlis is very neat, and our refuge from the -30 ° C outside air temperature.
©Mt. Titlis Brochure 1) Glacier Station 2) Glacier Cave 3) Ice Flyer Chair lift
©Mt. Titlis Brochure 1) Engelberg Cable Car Station 2) Trübsee Cable Car Station 3) Stand Rotair Cable Car Station 4) Ice Flyer Chair lift
The Ice Flyer Chair lift took you right over the glacier, and my hands have never felt so cold. You could see some exposed glacier ice under the snow.
Shot from the outside top deck, top of Mt. Titlis of Diane (she wanted to Snowboard, but the fake picture is as close as she got.)
It is a shame it was so overcast... the pictures just don't do the views justice. It was like being on top of the world.
My hat wasn't off very often when outside...
14:50 After having some ice cream (Mövenpick Swiss Chocolate, CHF 3.80) , we wandered into the Ice Cavern, cut 900 ft. into the Glacier.
To add to the effect, lights changed color in the Ice Cavern.
On the walls the had some neat facts about the Ice Cavern, and the station itself.
15:50 We began to head back to Engelberg... it was very gray now, and the world looked grayscale. The picture on the right IS in color.
Back at the bus, we headed back to Lucerne, with the lights on the bridges now lit, then into Zürich
19:00 One block from the bus station was the HB, and we shared two calzones and water at Valentino's (CHF 18.30)
19:30, our now customary stop at Migros for cookies (CHF 2.60)
20:00 Watched the English Top Gear special on driving from Iraq to Bethlehem, ate cookies, and crashed about 22:00
Tuesday, December 28 City Tour, Rapperswil, Toggenburg, Werdenberg, Vaduz, and Heidiland (Maienfeld)
8:30, moved the desk to get a shot of the balcony, then headed down for our standard breakfast.
9:30, walked down the Limmat near the Central tram station (just inside the neatest part of town, Niederdorf (the lower town) and bought souvenirs (CHF 10.00)
10:30 Got to Sihlquai bus station, swapped voucher for our Liechtenstein/Heidiland tour... still no coffee allowed on the Hans Meier Gray Line bus.
The tour started with a Zürich city tour, around the financial center, Bahnhofstrasse, the Old Town (Altstadt, the Fraumünster side) and the Rathaus (Town Hall), near Niederdorf, up the hill near the Universities, Kunsthaus Art Museum, and Opernhaus.
We then headed to Zürichberg, a garden community on the south side of the Zürichsee. There were a lot of community gardens, with shed that people with no yard could play in.
From Zürichsee, we headed to Rapperswil, where we wandered medieval alleys, past the Rathaus, and up to the Schloss (Castle).
The castle dates back to the early 13th century (first mentioned in 1229). In 1350, it was destroyed and was rebuilt in 1352/54.
Deer inhabit lands surrounding the castle, and since 1870, the castle has been home to the Polish National Museum created by Polish émigrés.
12:30 Walked to the Rosenstædter for lunch. We share a quiche and a traditional cheese pie called Käsekuchen, plus some water and coffee (CHF 34.50)
We had some time until the bus left, and we wandered a bit around the main square, the frozen water fountain, and by the grand hotel.
We also went back thought the medieval alleys ...
... and saw how they move; the use a lift on the outside to get items through a 5th story window. Then it was off east, passing quaint villages and homes to Toggenburg, the home of a cog railway, many ski lifts, and to Olympic skiers.
It was now on to Werdenberg, near Grabs, in the Rhine Valley. Werdenberg is home to the oldest timber-frame settlement in Switzerland, and a medieval castle. Christino took us up to show off five houses that are listed as Swiss heritage sites of national significance, including the doctor's house, a mill, saw mill, wool washing station and hammer mill.
Then we went up the hill to get a view of the castle, and see the frozen lake.
We headed back down the hill, again past the doctor's house to the bus, to move on to Vaduz.
15:30 Crossing into Liechtenstein, and a view of the Prince's castle, Schloss Vaduz. There was a model of the castle at the Tourist center.
The Principality of Liechtenstein (German: Fürstentum Liechtenstein) is a doubly landlocked alpine country in Western Europe, bordered by Switzerland to the west and south and by Austria to the east. Its area is just over 61.7 square miles, and it has an estimated population of 35,000. Its capital is Vaduz, population 5,000. Liechtenstein has the highest gross domestic product per person in the world according to the CIA World Factbook, and is known for banking, as a tax haven, and postage.
Liechtenstein the only alpine country to lie entirely within the Alps, and is part of the European Economic Area (but not of the European Union.)
|Schloss (Castle) Vaduz,||Holzbrücke over the Rhine|
|Pfarrkirche, Kathedrale St. Florin||Landtagsgebäude (new parliament )|
About 4:30, after shopping, Gracie mailing her post cards (CHF 58.60), and getting our Passports stamped (open border, but you can reque$t the service), it started to snow.
17:00 From here, it was back into Switzerland, and a short visit at Heidiland (Maienfeld), the local of the Heidi books. And the now the snow was really falling for our drive back to Zürich. Again my batteries and backup batteries were spent, so Christino used Gracie's camera to get some shots in the snow shower. Gracie's camera also was prone to running out of batteries, but between us we got all the shots we wanted.
A stature of Heidi
18:00 Got to the HB, and bought more batteries. (CHF 8.95)
We walked to the Central station, just in the Niederdorf, and ate at New York Food... we each had toast (turkey and cheese), shared Fantas, and watched Ski jumping on TV. (CHF 24.00).
19:00 We walked back to the hotel, dumped our goods, and decided to explore.
19:50 We activated our Zürich cards, and caught the Tram to near our hotel on Stamfenbachstrasse down to the HB,
then caught a tram to see the Christmas shops by the Opernhaus ...
... but the shops were closed, so we walked to Bellevue, and caught a tram to the HB.
We found a little rolled chocolate cake at Migros (CHF 4.00) and enjoyed it at the hotel, with a little European poker on TV.
Wednesday, December 29 Zürich Landesmuseum, Toy Museum, Clock Museum, St. Peterskirche
8:30, standard breakfast.
10:00 Walk to the Landesmuseum built in the 1890s, it houses a history of Switzerland, including armor, religious items, banking items, political history, and room interiors from the 1400s to now.
The new exhibition "History of Switzerland" © The Swiss National Museums
© The Swiss National Museums
|A room from
Casa Pestalozzi, 1585
|A room from
Fraumünster convent, 1489
Special Exhibits on the Textile Archive of the Abraham design house called Soie Pirate (Silk Pirate), and the history of the Swiss Army Knife
© The Swiss National Museums
13:30 Lunch in the Landesmuseum Bistro, where we shared a Schinkengipgel (sausage croissant) and a Käsekuchen cheese pie. (CHF 23.00)
Cards from the Musee Swisse Shop (CHF 4.50)
14:30, took a tram to Rennwig, just off the Bahnhofstrasse, to the Zürcher Spielzeugmuseum (Toy Museum)
where we saw tons of 100 to 200 hundred year old toys, and a few 60 year old toys upstairs. We really liked the postcards that could be converted to Christmas ornaments.
We also had a great view of the 1907 Observatory.
We then walked to the Uhrenmuseum Beyer (Clock and Watch museum)
We then wandered the Bahnhofstrasse, with the Glockenspiel, and Christmas markets, then headed to the river, past one of the old Guild halls, and to
This Guild Hall now part of the National Museum. We wandered inside, but the display portion was closed.
St. Peterskirche, the oldest church, with a new (1700s) bell tower, and the largest clock face in Europe
16:00 back to the hotel, where the girls napped while the grownups researched a swiss dinner.
18:30, walk two blocks north to the Crazy Cow, for Hörnli soup (pasta and chicken consume) , Beef ("Cow") Raclette (melted cheese poured in small portions over steamed potatoes and in this case, with ground beef) & Rösti (roasted potatoes in this case with gravy, similar to spaetzle ), a variant on Älplermagronen Hörnli (macaroni with apples and beef), and Diane had ravioli (?). Wild decor, and a wilder price, though considered moderate in their economy. (CHF 95.00)
We caught a tram just outside, and rode to the the HB.
Then we changed to another tram to the Bahnhofstrasse, to see the lights.
A tram back to the HB, a stop a Migros for coffee and cookies (CHF 8.20 and 2.50)
Thursday, December 30 Zürich, Fraumünster, Old Town, Funicular railroad, University, Kunsthaus art museum, shopping
8:30 Standard breakfast, it looked to be getting close to being above freezing for the first time, so we moved the desk and opened up the door on the balcony. Still freezing, but I believe it did get above 0° later that day.
PS What you see is the ENTIRE balcony.
Hopped a tram, passing the frieze and statues on the building that was between the hotel and the river. Great trams, with TV indicating stops
We window shopped at the Sprüngli chocolate shop, then headed to Fraumünster, passing a neat fountain that was still frozen, and of all things, a Tesla electric sports car.
The Fraumünster abbey of Zurich was founded in 853 by Louis the German for his daughter Hildegard. In 1045, King Henry III granted the convent the right to hold markets, collect tolls, and mint coins, and thus effectively made the abbess the ruler of the city. However, the political power of the convent slowly waned in the fourteenth century, beginning with the establishment of the Zunftordnung (guild laws) in 1336. The current building with its Romanesque choir was built around 1250. The nave is gothic.
We approached from the back, and walked the exterior spaces before going in, under the spire, which was added in 1732.
The abbey was dissolved on 30 November 1524 because of the reformation of Huldrych Zwingli. As with Grossmünster across the river, the reformation stripped the church, leaving only remnants of paintings on the walls. But this austere look began to change, especially in the 20th century. And while once devoid of an organ, it now has the biggest organ in the canton with 5793 pipes. Some of the interior paintings from the 1300s have been reproduced, as well.
The main attraction of the Fraumünster is the set of five stained-glass windows designed by Marc Chagall in 1970, but also in the north transept is a large stained-glass window by Giacometti, done in the 1940s, all helping return more visual impact and color to the building.
It was our last day, and that meant shopping. Cards from the church, souvenirs, cards, bells, and candy were soon in tow. (CHF 24.70)
We went to explore the Niederdorf, the old city between the river and the hill with the Universities. Old guild halls are now restaurants, clubs, and cinemas. The pet store residents were wearing rabbit fur coats.
The Library has a bell tower, too. Great views of the observatory, and finally we were back at Central, where the funicular railroad (Polybahn) delivers people up the hill to the Universities. The Zurich card covered the ride, so off we went. The station at the top was very picturesque, too.
The view was beautiful. The closest tower is the Library, Grossmünster is to the left, Fraumünster and St. Peterskirche just to the right. To the far right is the observatory.
The ETH (Eidgenössische Technische Hochschule ), the technical university where Einstein taught, with the 'graffiti' honoring past University figures.
We walked past the University of Zürich, then grabbed a tram to the Kunsthaus, skipping the modern art and wandering the Old Masters. (We had already seen a lot of the Picasso work at other museums in the past.)
14:00 We grabbed a tram to Bellevue, but found no food, so got on a tram to near Rathaus, then cut up into Niederdorf, and to the 1001 restaurant to share donner teller kebab with pommes, pizza, and Orangina (no Fanta). (CHF 36.00) Then we walked back to the river, crossed the bridge, and headed up toward the Observatory.
|Niederdorf café famous for fondue.||Looking from Niederdorf to Altstadt|
Great view from Altstadt up to Bahnhofstrasse area
We found an interesting electric car, and a BMW 'convertible.'
We continued to explore the shopping areas, had some fun in the Franz Carl Weber toy store (CHF 11.65) and the Meng cutlery/souvenir shop (CHF 38.40)
We took the tram to the Hotel to dump our stuff, then took the tram to Bahnhofstrasse, and walked over to the food court in Manor department store, Manora. It took the entire 5th floor, and had stir fry stations, meat stations, pizza, and a dessert station. We shared quiche and pizza, then hit the dessert station, with the Apfelstrudel (Apple Strudel) and vanilla sauce we had been looking for, a regional favorite. Probably our biggest meal, and one of the cheapest. (CHF 33.60)
19:30 Starbucks for the girls coffee fix, (CHF 34.05) and then our last tram ride back to the hotel, to pack. (Sob)
Friday, December 31 Back home
8:30 Checkout and board Ben Bus to airport. (CHF 40.00)
The Aussie/American family we had seen at breakfasts before, with two young girls, and a baby boy got on the same bus... turns out they were on our flight to Dulles. They were then headed to California.
9:15 We could not check in at the United kiosk (wouldn't read Diane's Passport), but the counter people were efficient, and we got our boarding passes. We passed security fairly easily and took the train to our terminal, and enjoyed the Heidi flashing on the train tunnel walls again. They had our gate blocked off for a flight to New York so we wasted a few minutes, (spent CHF 10.40) then headed down. That's when we found out there were no services by our gate, and it looked like a pain to leave the 'sterile area.' So, we bought snacks from vending machines (CHF 9.00) like soup and coffee.
11:00 Gathered for boarding... had to wait for first class, frequent fliers, families with children, and random people who got to board before the folks like us who sit in the back, and should board first. We had 35 A and B, and 36 A and B, and an EXCELLENT attendant... but a poor little seat back set up was not even in the same league as Air Canada's 767. Small screen, arm control, and not an on demand system... choose from a few channels, but the map worked. Chicken lunch, and a ham and cheese sandwich for arrival snack. But the views of the Alps peaking above the clouds will last longer than the food.
We were scheduled to arrive about 3:00 pm Washington time, but got in an hour early. Good thing, it took us two hours plus to get through Passport, Immigration, and Security... we would have missed our connection if it had been on time.
PS, we waved to the Aussie family every time the snaking lines crossed.
Got to the gate about 4:00, sold our last CHF 20 for $15, and the girls got Starbucks for $9.50.
Got our gate check tags, as they told us no rolling bags in the main cabin of our very full, very small Canadair CR7.
4:25 pm Board, but take off was a bit late, at 4:55pm.
No entertainment on this 3 and 1/2 hour flight, aside from the turbulence that caused us to divert our flight.
7:30 pm, landed DFW, quickly got our shuttle to the car, and GPS got us to the the hotel in Dallas that we got for $18.
After checking in, off to Chili's for dinner, and crash after being up for almost 24 hours. $36.60
Set an alarm to see the new year in, and after breakfast in the morning, it was two hours to the house.
What a great trip!