10.09.2006

Crusing the Canal

Yes, I was cruising the canal after a morning of museum hunting in Amsterdam when I accidently left Kacey's camera aboard. Let's just say today is an adventure and I should have been paying more attention instead of goofing/flirting with the Canal driver. I so need a keeper on this trip...more to come later.

10.08.2006

Amsterdam

I've definitely gotten lost a lot in Amsterdam today. Kind of rough right now without Kacey (Coy broke his foot minutes before we were set to leave Zurich). Will fill in more details later.

10.07.2006

Luzern

For some reason when I woke up, I really wanted to go to Lisbon, Portugal but Kacey said "Rachel...that's a tad to far away for a day trip, please stay in Switzerland." So I followed instructions, enjoyed the sunrise view from their Apartment, planned out my day and fell back asleep for another hour or so.

So when I was fully awoke, dressed and made it to the HB (Zurich's Central Station) it was about 10am. And I was so ready to begin my journey into the heart of Switzerland. I trained my way to Luzern with Coy's cell phone in tow (they insisted I take it in case I got lost/easier to communicate with each other, etc.). Unfortunately what they didn't realize was my Ipod dying was a sign of the times. Electronics were not going to be my friend during this entire trip.

I trained over to Luzern writing some postcards when suddenly the phone started to ring. It was a call from one of Coy's Swiss co-workers who really likes to chat, even after I told him Coy was at the office. He peppered me with all sorts of questions about who I was, my travels and my connection to his American co-worker. After I hung up I some how tactfully locked the cell phone from my use. I'm guessing my one lame attempt at trying to crack the 4-digit code was way off and the added jostling in my pocket somehow pressed the right combination of digits that disabled the simcard. The phone started saying something scary in German that I couldn't read. So I assumed it said something like, "You Killed Me, Now Provide me with a special German code and I will live again for another chat!"

I was worried, but at the time didn't think it was unfixable. So when I got to Luzern I went straight away to the "i" or information stand to try and contact my friends. I tried to call Kacey and tell her the situation, but couldn't reach her. So I proceed to send out my distress message via e-mail at the "i" office to both Kacey and Coy (heck it was only 1 Swiss Franc for 15 minutes, which seemed like a bargain). And then I waited for a bit and checked again. No word...

20 minutes passed and still no word, so I decided it would be best to explore my surroundings. I got in the queue to chat about what to do and see in Luzern. I had already read about the The Lion Momument that morning which Mark Twain had found very somber, yet inspiring. So I knew that was one thing I definitely wanted to check out. And of course the famed chapel bridge was a must see. Plus the possibility of taking a tram up the side of the mountain would be priceless experience. So when it was finally my turn, I expressed all these desires and then some to the lady who spoke broken English sitting behind the desk.

She said no problem, handed me a map, circled a few items and promptly began talking to her co-worker in German. I just stood there looking stunned and confused by this lack of help, so I asked her "Can I walk to all these places or should I use public transport (tram, bus, etc.)?"

She said, "It's about a 10 minute walk to the Lion.” gestured to the circles on the map and again ignored me in favor on continuing her German conversation with her co-worker. Slightly confused about direction and taking it as a sure sign to move on, I left the office and headed towards what I assumed where the streets near the lion represented on the circled map. All the time thinking how difficult can this really be...

Ok, well that morning I did quite a bit of walking. I passed the Chapel Bridge in favor of finding - The Lion. And when I started to walk and continue walking straight uphill for what seemed like a long period of time, I didn't question a thing, since the street names matched the map. I thought to myself maybe her version of 10 minutes and mine were just different (maybe I was walking super slow uphill) as 20 minutes passed.

But I wouldn't quit searching; I was determined to find this lion embedded in a mountainside. 40 minutes later I was still looking and thinking to myself that I believed the lady said 10 minutes, right. I knew I must be way far off as I passed a school, which then turned into a residential park with a trail. But I keep following along, hoping since I was gaining altitude. I followed the trail a little longer up another hill before reaching a commercial area with office buildings. Ok, now I know I'VE GONE TO FAR. Time to turn around and head down these hills. I saw the Chapel Bridge before, it's very easy to spot and find again; So my dream of the lion is now officially over.

As I headed down the hill, only slightly dejected, I decided to stop off at a Post Office and mail some postcards that I had written on the train. After I paid for the postage and handed over the cards I asked the nice lady behind the counter just out of curiosity "where is the lion?" (ok, maybe in my mind I didn't official get the give-up notice). She simply said "Walk out the door and it's right behind us..." Are you freaking kidding me? I've been trekking up and down this street for an hour+ and this statue was hidden behind the post office the whole time. That's completely insane! I pin all blame the lady at "i" office slightly for the detour, but in retrospect the walk on the little trail was quite nice.

After spending some time sitting and reflecting at the lion I realized I was famished, so I headed back down the hill to see more of Luzern, the Chapel Bridge and grab some lunch.

After lunch I came across the strangest fair/bizarre I'd even encountered. It had everything from Hemp Clothes to Back Massagers to people trying to pitch infomercial style kitchenwares. It also had few rides that included a small coaster, ferris wheel and live ponies for kids to ride. It was very interesting to walk around and peek into all the booths with such random wares for sale.

I headed back toward the train station thinking I might leave, but I came across a glass building that caught my eye. There looked to be a museum inside, so I decided to venture in and also make use of their clean WC. It turned out to be a concert hall, bar and a museum that housed Modern Art shows. And the current exhibit was a show using photography and slides. I proceeded to pay, lock my bag up and venture in to see slides of hairs pulled from Freud's coach projected onto a white wall...needless to say it was quite disturbing. And further confirmation of the fact that maybe I'm really not into Modern Art.

Of course there were some actually interesting slides from a Swiss photographer who shot street scenes in NYC. Plus I was able to take a break, sit for a while enjoying the terrace that looked out upon the city with the backdrop of snowcapped mountains that took my breathe away.
After resting and checking my e-mail at the museum (it's true you can make friends everywhere with a flash of a smile) it was time to move on. I continued to walk around the quaint town before heading back to the station to catch the train back to Zurich.

On the ride back to Zurich I shared an area on a train with a woman and her two kids. They proceed to spend most of the entire trip back speaking to me in German, even after I said to them in German that I didn't speak the language. Never mind the language barrier they thought we became fast friends and continued to talk me. This was also about the time, I just decided to smile and nod every now and then to act like I was engaged in the conversation. But then I was sort of able to play along when they decided to play "I spy", but I still couldn’t answer in German so I merely pointed and laughed along with the kids. They left me a mere stop before we got back to Zurich's HB. Soon I was reunited with Kacey discussing my crazy day.

Nighttime Zurich was a lot of fun too. Kacey and Coy took me to a bar to meet many of their friends & co-workers. Two guys from Coy's office (I believe one Australian and one American) were playing covers of songs from Radiohead to Coldplay to Crowded House. I had a good time meeting new folks and listening to the music (heck it was like they borrowed my ipod to create the playlist). After the set we enjoyed some fabulous Thai food across the street before calling it a night...

10.05.2006

The Dead Ipod/Zurich

My IPOD could quite possibly be dead and I think I may have lost a little sliver of me in the process. I'm not sure there will be any way to revive my poor mp3 player, but I'm going to attempt to when Kacey returns home from school. The tragic accident occurred at 6:48pm CST 10.4.06 & 1:58am Zurich time on 10.5.06 wheb the click wheel refused to operate. And then the play/pause & menu button stopped responding. This was about the time we began crossing over the Atlantic Ocean, we had just finished dinner and I was trying to put myself to sleep on the airplane. Of course this was also the time that the baby seated in the center row next to my row began to wail in disgust for my IPod too (ok maybe he was pissed his parents were making him fly, but whatever). So needless to say I too wanted to cry myself into a tizzy. Normally I would drown out baby noise, seatmate talk, etc with my selectively placed tunes. Unfortunately that wasn't going to happen. So cooler heads prevailed and endured "The Breakup" with Jennifer & Vince, Delta Radio and desperately tried to sleep (oh why is Tylonel PM like a no-doze for me). Below is my last known shuffle mix before the Ipod went kaput:

1. African Ivory – The Samples
2. I Remember – Damien Rice
3. Chocolate – Snow Patrol
4. Punky’s Dilemma – Simon & Garfunkel
5. Another Lonely Day – Ben Harper & The Innocent Criminals
6. Three Of Us In A Boat – Jackopierce
7. 24 Hours – The Sundays
8. Set the Fire to the Third Bar – Snow Patrol & Martha Wainwright
9. Porch Song – Widespread Panic
10. I Don’t Need A Hero – Concrete Blonde
11. Water Is Wide – Indigo Girls, Jewel & Sarah McLachlan
12. I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do, I Do – Abba
13. King Of The Mountain – Midnight Oil
14. Bartender – Dave Matthews Band
15. Emit Remmus – Red Hot Chili Peppers

Things did get better on the flight though. The baby slept way more then me (I just couldn't seem to get settled). We arrived a few minutes early, where I was whisked through Swiss customs (really they didn't do anything, but look at my passport and wave me in) and was greeted by Kacey. We journeyed to her place in the city where we deposited my stuff and enjoyed a chocolate croissant (YUM, YUM, YUM). Kacey then left for work and I explored the city. First stop was a museum, but I didn't have any Swiss Francs and their credit card machine was down (just my luck no Ipod or Swiss Funny Money).

So I set out to find a bank to get cash. Well that turned into me walking all over this city of Zurich. I went into some very famous and beautiful churches. This included a trip to St. Peter's where I tried to join a group of elementary age kids who were climbing the clock tower. I think the German lady from the church was not pleased with me tagging along. After we climbed to the base I believe she said "Get Lost" or "You're not part of the tour, Go Home you silly southerner", but alas I have no clue what she said because I don't speak German. So we will all have to leave it up to our imagination.

Finally after I left my faux tour group I decided to get some Swiss Money and I realized I was famished. So I stopped off at this little cafe that sold sausage and rolls. Oh my gosh it was the best sausage I'd eaten!. Again, there might have been some confusion because I know NO German, but pointing and saying sausage does the trick. And following people who speak German isn't a bad idea either. After lunch I went to yet another church - Grossm√ľnster that has a very tall tower, which you are allowed to climb for a few Francs. This tower has an amazing view of the entire city. After walking all day, getting busted at St. Peters and a tower climb that was SO worth the wait, I finally decided to head back to find my friend.

I never ended up making it back to the museum. I guess I was caught up in the churches and the cobblestone streets. I could have gazed out of that tower for a while, but alas I decided to call it a day and meet Kacey back at her place. What an excellent way to explore the city. No plans, no worries, chalked full of adventures.

A Zurich night ended up being a lot of fun too. When Kacey got home we milled around the old city looking for some lollipops for her class. And I marveled at how well behaved dogs are in the city. They are allowed EVERYWHERE…fancy restaurants…trains...shops, you name it they can go with you. I was told that they go through strict training to be allowed in public.I quicky realized that Parker might not make it as a European dog.

Then we headed back home to meet coy and search for hotels (which we didn’t reserve –yes we like flying by the seat of our pants). Coy and Kacey entertained me at their house with dinner and wonderful chat about life and music. Coy even tried to revive my ipod, again unsuccessfully. But I so appreciated the effort and the hospitality.