Saturday, February 5, 2011


We arrived on a Saturday night, and walked down the river, had a typical Swiss meal at a nearby restaurant, and had a night cap at a bar in Alstadt (Old Town) called Zuri Bar.

Zurich at night, and the river on Sunday morning.

We had an outstanding brunch at a very nice place, Terrasse.

The people at the table next to us brought their pug, laid down a blanket and dish for it. This is the first sign that dogs are allowed everywhere in Switzerland.

Eat here!

After brunch, we walked around the Arboretum, which provided great views of lake Zurich... we decided to get a closer look......on a boat

Looking back, with Zurich in the distance. The seaside cottages were charming.

Lakeside living, and a view of the Alps.

Heading back toward Zurich...

... a city that boasts numerous intriguing passageways.

One of Zurich's two main churches: Grossmunster (large church--also translated as gross monster).

The church/monster has beautiful windows,

which we found out too late that visitors are forbidden to photograph. Contraband in the first blog post!

After climbing 179 steps, we are rewarded with panoramic views of Zurich.

This clock face is the largest in Europe, just over 30 feet across! The minute hand is 4 feet long!

After recharging, we walked the streets of Zurich before dinner.

Swiss architecture features elaborate windows.

The view toward Lake Zurich.

We had a great dinner at Restaurant Catherine, followed by another trip to the Zuri Bar. We learned you can't go home again. And that was just our first day in Zurich!

On Monday, Brian headed to ETH to build Robo-Earth, and I went set out for a day in Zurich. I walked to the Bahnhoffstrasse, which is said to be the most expensive shopping district in Europe. It was a fairly short walk across the river, to the street, which is closed to cars, but open to timely trains and many shoppers.

An over-sized and stylish cuckoo clock greeted me.

I wandered for hours up and down the side streets.

I did not stop for over-sized sushi...

but opted instead to eat at Hiltl, the world's first vegetarian restaurant (established 1898). I was so amazed by my lunch that I did not take a picture.

Instead, enjoy more evidence of Switzerland's love of dogs.

After lunch, I wandered to the Fraumunster, Zurich's other main church. This church has a statue of Charlemagne in its basement, and a fake version on the building's facade.

In Zurich, chess is over-sized.

I had the option of taking the Polybahn for 3 minutes up the hill to where I was to meet Brian...

... instead, I took this car:

Not really, but upon arriving at ETH, I found this puzzling sign.

Fortunately it was Brian, who emerged on ice skates.

Blinded by Brian's bedazzling routine on the ice, I took a moment to gaze out at Zurich at night.

We ate dinner in this castle; it was so dark, we almost couldn't find it.

The next day, we headed to Bern, where we stayed with Julia, Stefan, Linus, and Rufus.

We highly recommend the food and drink at haus Spyra-Weber.

You can see the Alps from their house!

We had a great lunch with a great view of the Swiss countryside.

And, of course the Alps.

So bucolic...

That afternoon, we toured around Bern, which also has a church, and a river.

Bern also has a pair of bears in an outdoor area near the river. As you can see, the bears are quite thrilled about it.

From Bern, we set off for a ski adventure. Having skied on the west coast of the US, we were excited to ski the Swiss Alps. We went to Grindelwald, a cute mountain town about an hour from Bern.

How did we get there? By train. It's Switzerland, after all. Walk out of your house, get on the streetcar, make a couple of exquisitely timed transfers, and step off into the snow, at the top of the mountain.

Conditions were....not great. It was a poor season, with very thin coverage. The bit of snow they had was man-made and icy.

But ski areas always have bars, and Swiss ski areas are littered with them. When the conditions aren't good, head to the bar. Here we're looking down from a mid-mountain bar on Kleine Scheidegg, a kind of transit hub on the mountain.

The big rock to the left in the background is the North Face of the Eiger, a famous climbing destination. Not to mention the setting for a classic 70s Clint Eastwood movie.

And when you can't get the bar, ski patrol brings the bar to you (assuming that the barrel actually contains brandy).

Scenery that's worth pointing at.

Still happy to be snowboarding, no matter the conditions.

Last run of the day, heading back to town. Note the road to be crossed on the way down.

And cows to be avoided.
Looking over the town of Grindelwald.

Back in Grindelwald, we had a great dinner at Alte Post. Started with shaved beef and cheese and salad with smoked trout. Good mains, too, but don't remember the details.

After-dinner drinks were had at the Avocado Bar, a friendly and rowdy spot. This picture is from the next day (all the better to see the carefully carved ice bench).

Breakfast on our last day in Grindelwald was speck and cheese at Challibar, the restaurant in the Hotel Kreuz & Post. While eating the delicious snacks, we wrote postcards to friends and family.

We followed up with a tasty croissant.
And finally, gumballs, kept warm against the chilly weather.

It was a great trip!