Wednesday, October 15, 2014

Zurich Zoo and on to Basel

We were downtown Zurich, no news here, we went downtown every day. Bruce bought me a locally made reversible coat. It is brilliant blue on one side and navy blue on the other side, almost a work of art and cost the bomb, but it is an early Birthday present, and probably Christmas too. The clerk filled out a tax free form for us to claim back the tax. Been to the train station twice, stand in line for at least 20 minutes both times to be rejected. First time, I didn’t bring my passport, second time a bit more complicated, needed a Custom’s stamp which you can’t get at rail stations. So we’ll try in Basel or Freiburg to find a Swiss Customs House, get the stamp and the monies back, not a lot but enough to try for.

We decided we've seen enough of Zurich and we would go to Basel, Switzerland. Bought our train tickets for Basel and Freiburg too while there, takes some time because we request help on and off the train for Bruce’s machine. Good agent, very thorough and he gave us options to choose from. Both Swiss and German agents we have found to give excellent at customer service.

Had a glass of wine at the wine shop where we’ve been once before, that fellow has a good memory and has a website I promised to post no English option but his English is excellent and he says he likes talking to foreigners, a couple were there from Washington. He beamed all over when I asked him for his business card and also asked if I could include him in the blog.

I went to see the Zurich Opera House but guess you aren’t allowed inside unless you purchase a ticket to the Opera. Disappointed! Almost attached myself to what looked like a tour group, but they probably paid a fee so didn’t, wouldn’t have been fair. 

Busts of two of the many composers that are featured in the Opera House

I will never forget my first, unexpected view of the Sydney Opera House! We rounded a corner and there it was in all its glory! Such a surprise although of course we expected to make it a destination while there, and there it was, sort of hard to miss really.

They are setting up for the 10th annual Zurich film festival in the Parade Plaza in front of the Opera House, a very large plaza made for large events.

Raining and cold the next morning, got a ride to the Station and went downtown to shop at the large Coop, there are many in the City, not the smaller one in the Station. As usual grocery shopping is a type of destination for us. By the time we finished the sun had come out and it was warmer, thankfully. Went back to Waldesruh which is closing for good today. Many locals in, we were the only tourists. Felt a bit like Copper Sky CafĂ© in Madeira Park only we were the tourists instead of being locals. Food was good as it has been the last two times and we were allowed to smoke inside because it was the last day. Chef was smoking so guess it was his ruling. I think the locals will really miss the place. They play cards there and greet each other familiarily. It is a large establishment, pub style in the front, dining in the back and lots of outside seating. Bet during the summer months it gets really busy, so if they are retiring I don’t know why they wouldn’t have sold it. Again, my curious mind, or perhaps I’m just nosy.

We finally got to the zoo! Up, up, up, on the tram, past the University, hospital and many very stately homes. Obviously once the richer area of Zurich, but many have been turned into flats now for University students. 

Elephant inside enclosure
Pools outside, very nice landscaping

Elephants were wonders! So big and interesting in their shape and form, large bodies, huge feet, trunks used as noses and feelers to carry hay from the holes in the feeding stations to their mouths. I haven’t seen elephants for a very long time so they fascinated me. They throw hay on their backs to avoid sunburn. They also will drink from one of the many pools and spew it over their body to cool off. 

Baby elephant
Larger elephants in their "house"

We basically walked past the penguin and baboon areas, both interesting, but to the elephants, the major attraction of this zoo. They are supposed to have a swimming area. They are in a supremely large enclosure with many pools of fresh water coming in and fields to roam when they aren’t “on display”. They are from Thailand, there was Thai food available and Thai written on all the signs along with German and English.

The animals are majestic and almost silly at the same time. There is a large building, mushroom shaped with lots of skylights that the elephants are in, (see above pictures) along side the outside space which is extremely large. They are well taken care of here I think. Bruce walked very well, we had debated on bringing the wheels but the hills, as everywhere were steep and it would have konked out. 

Jacqueline gave us a ride with all our stuff to the train station, train in, help boarding, help off in Basel, cab to the Aparthotel. As you can tell it’s an apartment with kitchen and provides hotel services such as breakfast and cleaning. Bright, roomy enough, plain, old furnishings but comfortable, smoking inside. WiFi in the lobby, cable connection to Internet, manager got us a converter but me being not too savvy with technology I could not get the network settings right. Probably computer went into shock, never been hooked up to anything but WiFi - what is this? Huh?

Free transit passes given to us – bonus! Paid over 300 CHF (Swiss Francs) for monthly passes in Zurich, and can’t remember how much in Lausanne. In Switzerland the reason is tied to whether you pay a nightly tax on the accommodation, if you do, free pass, if not, you pay. Haven’t done the math on that and too late now, so no point, but if we come back, will do. Another little detail to learn, alas, too late on this trip. 

Next blog will be from Basel, a city we really liked. We're actually back in Freiburg at our flat - yeah! Have to admit being a bit travel weary and glad to be home.

Cheers, Bx2 and Lexi Cat

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