On Thursday in preparation for their arrival, I visited the huge Glattzentrum mall and got some food and a nice bottle of spatlase riesling from a Zurich winery. Also, I had gone to a friend's place on Wednesday to pick up some air mattresses and a pillow so they could crash more comfortably in my little room here. I picked them up from the airport around 7PM, and they were much less sleepy than I expected. We enjoyed a dinner of pizza bread and riesling.
Friday morning they were a little slow to wake up, but we made it into Zurich center and took a wander down Bahnhofstrasse, the huge shopping street. Naturally we stopped in at all the big chocolatiers. At the lakeshore, they were just closing up the morning farmers market, but we found some nice Italian ladies with bread, and snagged a nice brown loaf before they packed up. They even threw in three little foccacias since they were done for the day. Pretty good deal, I'd say. We caught a bus down the lakeside to the Lindt and Sprungli chocolate factory, which according to various internet sites, was supposed to have a factory tour with free samples. But alas, the tour deal had been gone for a few years, so all we got was a huge Lindt shop. We did pick up a few 100g chocolate bars for a buck each (usually 2-3).
On deciding that a boat ride back to town would be more exciting than a bus ride, we picnicked at the lakeside and caught a boat back into town. We were a little tired by this point, so we stopped in at Cafe Schober in the old town so Jamie could try their fantabulously decadent hot chocolate. Wandered a little more, climbed the Grossmunster, and stopped at the Coop for dinner supplies. For dinner, we made homemade fondue with gruyere and bergkase. And we dipped sausages. It was pretty awesome.
The Wilts needed to find a hostel for Rome, and Jamie wanted Andrew to learn to pick one. It definitely took him/them about 3 hours to finally decide on one. It's so hard making decisions. . .
Saturday, we got up a little earlier and hopped a train into Bern, the national capital. The city
burned down in the 15th century,
so all the wood buildings were replaced with sandstone. As a result, the city is really beautiful with matching buildings and wide streets. There was a farmers market here too, which had good samples. There was also a lady from Globos handing out amazing pralines. We tried to ge
t in for a tour of the parliment building, but all the tour spots were gone for the day. :( We wandered down the main street which has cute statues on columns every 100m or so. The buildings all hung over the sidewalk, which made for a nice walk, and there were little cellars along the street. Some had shops, but many were bars, so it would have been fun to see the place at night.
Bern is named after this guys who shot a bear on the site, and bear
s are the city's special symbol. They have a bear pit with bears, but recently voted to make
a nicer bigger new one, so we didn't get to see the bears. We walked up a hill to a lovely rose garden and an expansive city view. Lunchtime was rolling around and our tummies were getting rolly too, so we walked back into town and stopped at the Markthalle, which has a lot of little food stalls, for lunch. Afterwards, we visited the Swiss Alpine and Mountaineering Museum. It was a little disappointing, but they had a model of the Val Roseg there, which was cool.
We took the train back to Zurich, and had dinner and beer in a place in the trainstation recommended by the lonely planet. It was not amazing, but the food was hearty, and the beer selection was vast.
Sunday looked rainy, but we took a boat ride on the lake anyway. It was a 2-hour ride to the other end of the lake, and we amused ourselves with 3-person pinochle. Not nearly as cool as 4-person, but we made do. On arriving at Rapperswil, we found a festival going on in the town with jazz and blues concerts and tons of food stands. Mostly Asian ones, oddly enough. The castle in the town was really pretty and the courtyard had a funny covering funnel thing. There were vinyards, and Jamie got a baby bottle of riesling from the next town over. The wander through the old town was quite charming. For lunch, they got a cervalat and a wurst and we had brought some picnic stuff. Andrew was really excited about the Miller beer (silly Americanisms) but they were out so had to settle with Heiniken. After lunch, we watched the birds and listened to the music until the next boat came.
They had a night train to catch at 8:30, so I made them some pasta (cleaning out the pantry already) and they packed up their things. I dropped them off at the station and said goodbye for now. Sounds like the rest of their trip will be a blast, and I'll even be gone and playing tourist in a few days.
This is the last week at work. Today the whole company has a soccer tournament in the afternoon, which should be quite amusing. Thursday I catch my night train to Amsterdam. I'm starting to pack and have a lot of chocolate to bring home.
My first macaroon experience. Chocolate wins.