10.08.2012 - 13.08.2012
Zurich, Switzerland is reported to be the most expensive city in the world, and also, the most livable. It is situated on a crystal blue lake with lush green rolling hills that are dotted with bell-adorned cows. It has all the mod cons for a city of only 350,000 people, with first rate public transport and many housing options, but livable? Hmmm, only if you are earning a Swiss salary!
Anyway, first up Dave...
Four Countries in Forty Minutes
After 12 days of tranquility and blissful 'no-need-to-worry-about-anything' security at the Diamond Way Buddhism Summer Course, we stepped out of our self imposed 'cocoon' and back into the real world. Getting back into the driver's seat was a challenge in itself as the realization dawned upon us that it was now time to aim the Peugeot down the highway towards Zurich. Before long however we were rapidly jolted back into real-world problem solving mode as Penny, our SatNav, spat the dummy. Only minutes out from Immenstadt heading over the alps towards the Austrian border, we found ourselves navigating by what little google maps coverage we could get towards the nearest Peugeot dealership - which we were to subsequently discover was closed for the week. A few more calls to the French roadside assistance number, followed by a lot of guessing and gut feel navigation as we crossed into Austria and lost all 3G data coverage, we finally found a second Peugeot dealer in a town called Hard (no pun intended). We felt less than confident as the manager, who couldn't speak or read English, fiddled with the SatNav controls:- open bonnet, pull fuse, reset SatNav, change SatNav to German, fiddle some more, hand back keys. With hand signals and the few words we could mutually understand, the manager explained that he had simply reinserted the SD memory card that had popped itself out - right underneath the SatNav buttons. Doh!
Back on the road again we cut straight across the corner of Austria, skipped down just inside the Swiss border and then crossed the river into Liechtenstein - four countries in about 40 minutes. Stopping in Vaduz, the capital, just long enough to get the obligatory Liechtenstien stamp in our passports and grab a quick $28 Macca's lunch, we were back in Switzerland with the feeling that Vaduz was possibly the most expensive city on the planet - but we were yet to experience Zurich prices.
Back to me...
It was not part of our initial itinerary to visit Switzerland however we discovered that Zurich hosts the largest street parade in Europe with over a half million people so what could we do but go! Renee and Joel were immediately convinced and our plan was set to meet up following the summer course and their own adventures in Munich and the Black Forrest.
Switzerland scenery did not disappoint. The huge granite peaks and never ending mountain ranges were dotted with barn houses. The lush green valleys were filled with crystal clear lakes and it was so much fun to travel through seemingly never ending tunnels. The longest was 16km long!
In Zurich we stayed in the only hotel we could afford, which was out of the historic center and above a pub. On our first night we considered washing our clothes at a laundromat but found this a challenge. The Swiss do not use laundromats and instead share a washing machine on a rotational roster in their apartment buildings. After finally locating one we decided that the price of $20 per load was too high for us 'tight-arse' Australians. It was time to turn the undies inside out
The street parade themed "Follow your Heart" was mammoth. For the first time on our shared journey with the big kids we made drinks by 11:12am and then hit the streets by around 2pm. We laughed, danced and made friends with many random people throughout the rest of the day. The photos really speak for themselves and there are more in the gallery.
The next day was a quieter affair as we left to a camping ground outside Zurich to a farm with lots of old school play equipment, a flying fox and cuddly animals. It was just the rest we needed before heading south to Verona, Italy.