Adelboden cont. - Completing the challenge
Once Giselle and Tee had finished their community service we set off for a walk to find a stream they could immerse their feet in for 5 seconds (this was optional and no doubt much more popular in the summer months). They also had to talk to a Swiss person and find out three facts about Switzerland. Both tasks completed, Tee went back to the chalet and Giselle and I continued walking, heading toward Adelboden. The walk was a bit fraught with black ice and general slipperiness, I slipped over on my backside a couple of times but no harm done. We got as far as a supermarket which wasn’t open and headed back. On the way saw people paragliding, a small ski run next door to an indoor bowling/curling/ice skating centre, and many people out with dogs. I got very hot on the walk back up the hill, amazingly so given the temperature hasn’t got above 1 all day, but it has been very still and sunny, actually perfect weather.
Dinner Christmas night was another good meal, more like our regular Christmas lunch with cold meats, salads, devilled eggs, also leftover beans from yesterday and some very yummy desserts, chocolate mousse cake and lemon tart amongst other things.
The hike to the magic tree was fun, a bit more challenging than I expected, mostly because of the icy conditions. It was great having a hiking pole, it made dealing with the slippery conditions much less fraught. Ashley and Corina who were leading the walk got a bit lost/unsure of the best route due to the snow and ice and had to call in back-up from Tanya, the Our Chalet manager. We may have walked a little further than we had to but it was all good fun. The magic tree is over 500 years old and is hollow inside, big enough for at least four people to get inside. Remarkably it is still alive. We lit candles and made wishes. Giselle and Tee were presented with their Our Chalet challenge badges.
A bus, two trains and a tram later we found our lodgings in Zurich. Pension Kafischnapps is above a cafe of the same name, the cafe would not be out of place in any trendy area of Melbourne and seems popular. The room is simple but nice, with toilet and shower shared with the other four rooms.
Giselle’s friend Anik came and met us at the cafe while we had lunch. She took us into the old town, to the church, GrossMunster, where we paid to climb the tower. Excellent views across Zurich and Anik was able to point out areas of interest. The church had some very interesting windows, some made of cross sections of gemstones, I bought a postcard of one, Giselle bought a booklet about all the windows.
We saw the Opera House, the river and top of the lake. There were many people out and about even though the shops were all shut. The Polybahn, a funicular railway, was also shut - a disappointment! We saw several Christmas markets that were in the process of being dismantled. In Germany I got the impression that the markets continue until early January, perhaps the 6th (12 days of Christmas) but not here.
We walked up some of the main shopping street, Bahnhoffstrasse, where there were many big name shops - Tiffany, Jimmy Choo, Versace etc. We diverted up to a small park with a good view over the lake and also into one of the better chocolate shops, extraordinary prices - 6.50 (about $9) for a 50g block for example.
Anik left us to catch our tram back to the hotel. After a bit of quiet time in the room we went back out and had pizza at a very small restaurant where the chef/waiter didn’t seem to speak any English although I could hear some Italian, French and German. It didn’t matter, we had a decent meal - two pizzas and one glass of wine for 41 francs. Cash only!
Today Giselle headed off a bit before 10am to catch two trams to meet Anik, I had a little trepidation about her going off on her own, crazy because I wouldn’t think twice about it at home.
I had arranged to meet up with a friend I'd only previously known online through my studies. Grethe and her husband, Colmar, picked me up at 10.30 as arranged, we started talking and didn’t stop all day! About our work, study, about Switzerland and Australia - it was lovely. They drove us out into the countryside but the weather wasn’t great, clouds were very low or perhaps were even fog most of the time so it was difficult to discern the mountains from the lakes. Apparently there is much less snow than is usual for this time of the year and we went past one lake that Grethe said is usually frozen over by now. I saw a couple of ski jump set-ups that had no snow.
We stopped in Einsiedeln, a small town known for its monastery, the Benedictine Einsiedeln Abbey, which was established in the 10th century. The abbey contains the Black Madonna which apparently is a particular attraction for people who like to pray to such things. There was a service going on so we weren’t able to look around much but it certainly was impressively decorative.
We then drove through the area from where William Tell is reputed to have come and saw his statue/monument in Altdorf.
We stopped there for lunch in a typical Swiss restaurant. I ordered what Grethe and Colmar assured me was the most typical of Swiss dishes - veal with mushrooms in a cream sauce and potato rosti, it was delicious.
I learnt a lot about the Swiss way: their direct democracy meaning they frequently vote on single issues; how their presidency rotates amongst the seven members of the cabinet so they more often than not don’t know who the president is; how the overriding philosophy is to build up the lowest rung of society as this will benefit everyone, and then let capitalism take care of the rest; how much government is very localised, including each city or canton having its own school system which perhaps isn’t for the best; how even very wealthy Swiss live unassuming lives (particularly compared to Germans and Italians who like to flaunt their wealth); how everyone looks down on or makes fun of the Swiss Italians - the Italians, the other Swiss...and much more.
All in all today was one of the highlights of the trip - wonderful to spend time with locals.
Giselle got back an hour or so after I did and we decided we should have fondue for dinner. Headed back into the older part of town that we first walked through with Anik yesterday to a restaurant that specialises in fondue - Raclette-Stube. We had a fairly standard mixed cheese fondue with bread and potatoes and added in some pickles. It’s nice but not something I’d regularly choose as my main meal. I think it would be great for around 6-8 people to share the amount that we were served for two, as a starter.
I'll finish with the view from the back of a Zurich tram.
What's happening here?
I'm off on an adventure to Europe, on my own for 12 days and the remaining 3 weeks with my 17 year old daughter. This is where I'm going to share my adventures.
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