Published: October 10th 2010September 11th 2010
September Swish swish. Europe the second time but now, it's mainland.
New project, new assignment, new adventures.
Everyone in the workplace was ecstatic when the ever precious work permits were granted. Although the originally planned L-permit wasn't given, we were still considered lucky being the D-permit holders. "Switzerland! Lindt! Nice! You are so lucky! Lots of money! Astig ka! Pasalubong! Chocolates! Eurotrip!" - are the words I kept on hearing as the day drew by.
Time really went fast - visas were supposed to be out on a Thursday, and we were schedule to leave Saturday a week after. A good one week to prepare. Nice. For a new family man like me, it is not easy. It won't be easy. But then the news came - client wants us a week earlier, so the planned 1 week preparation was cut down to a day. One day. One Friday. And thank God that Friday was a holiday. Nevertheless, define c-r-a-m-m-i-n-g.
Our flight is scheduled to depart at 6:55 at Sept 1 and would have few hours stopover at Changi airport. I have been to Singapore a few times but this is my first time to pass through
View from above
this terminal - it looks loads better than the budget terminal. Our very own terminal 3 would definitely be shy. After killing time abusing the free wifi, we heard the voice "Singapore Airlines flight SQ34 bound for Zürich is now ready for boarding…"
At the plane, I know I should start living the Swiss time, it's already 7AM there so I should be awake as well. Thanks to the in-flight entertainment (movies and games) and I achieved my goal (no jetlag).
After almost 12 hours of plane ride (and minutes of Swiss Alps viewing), we finally arrived in Zürich. It was a peaceful flight and a peaceul Sunday morning. We were welcomed by the some Pinoy GCP assignees there and did the essentials - (a) Money change 1PHP = 42CHF, (b) Buy a monthly fare card for our Zone. With this card, you dont have to worry about your fares within the month. You can take the trains, trams and buses and tour the city (within the zone) without shelling out money. Luckily, I'm still counted as a "Young Person" and was qualified for the discounts and (c) Buy a Swiss mobile phone. It can be as low as
View from above
19CHF with free 10CHF worth of loads. The SIM alone costs 10CHF, so better buy the phone as well. Unlike in Manila, you need to present identification upon buying SIM cards because it will be registered under your name (you can't do pranks!). After this we had our first tram ride to one of our collegue's apartment to have lunch and later checked in at our hotel. After settling down, we met later in the afternoon to visit a Sunday street fair in ---.
It is almost likely the same as the street fairs we have in Manila - lots of kids, people, carnival rides, balloons, street performers and street foods. We've got to try some of their most famous food - Bratwurst and Cervelat. It's kinda different from the ones they sell in Manila. There's also the smelly Raclette cheese and other kinds of cheeses,sweets and fruits dipped in chocolate. The rides are extreme - EK's Space shuttle would be a bit at par with these rides, think Eurostar when it visited Manila a few years ago. We explored the different offerings, walked around, watched some performances as I am becoming sleepy. Must fight it because it's still
Not that cold yet
early (around 5PM). We then decided to do some grocery to buy our necessities. We went back to the hotel, got online for a while (in the lobby it is free) to do some facebook status updates (eg. Live from Zürich!), tried watching TV, but most are in German, and then slowly dozed off… End of Day 1, Zurich.
That morning, I quickly and literally jumped out of bed even without knowing what time it is. I initially thought of taking a quick shower and getting dress quickly because i know I am already late. When I checked the time, it is just 3AM. 9AM in Manila. My body clock is still in Manila mode, i'm giving myself a few more days to a week to adapt to the time. When it is really time to get up, I got ready for work and took advantage of the buffett breakfast and headed off to work.
I thought the office is far from where we were staying, like in Manchester when it is 45minute drive without traffic. Here we just need to get out of the Hotel, wait for Bus 54 (travel time is less than 5 mins), walk
They are just everywhere
a little and ride another bus (89 or 95 with travel time of less than 5mins also) and we are already at work. The first week went well, we leave early at work (before 6:30pm) and we get a chance to stroll around and familiarize ourself with the environment. Upon observation, I think I know what Platz, Banhof, Strasse as well as other words are. Got to find out where to buy cheap items and food, what Aktion is, what stores offer affordable clothing and where to buy "pasalubongs" and gifts.
We were also lucky that we had the chance to join one of our office's outdoor events that includes raft-making and biking. (more details in a separate blog).
Our first weekend was to be spent outside, as they say we must take advantage of the sunny weather. That Saturday I decided to explore more, the hidden streets, the train station, the Filipino store, the old town, the parks and the riverside. I saw a lot of tourists and got a great view of the river and the city as well. The next day I was to join in fetching some of our teammates at the airport and
then off to Uetlibürg, otherwise known as the "Top of Zurich" where you can see the whole of Zürich. Unfortunately, I wasn't feeling well so I have to stay at home and wait for the new arrivals(we would have dinner later).
Another week of work came by, with work becoming heavier. At this week, we were reserved tickets to Frankfurt to attend a Financial Summit, bought our Half-tax fare card and tried Hooters and their 1-Franc wing night. Hooters here is just a simple usual restaurant with kids even around unlike in Manila that when you say Hooters, a different connotation comes into mind.
Another weekend came, a rainy and freezing weekend. We were looking for a cheap coat/suit for the summit so we went store-hopping. We first went to a local mall - Sihl City, not as big as Manila malls but you can see good finds here. Then we went to the famous Banhofstrasse, or the shopping district here, looked at Manor, Jelmoli, Vogelle and lastly, the ever dependable H&M who offered the cheapest option. It was still a chilly Sunday but we still decided to stroll the back streets pf Zurich until we came to
the river and saw a street fair again - they are advocates of the "Car-less" society. Like last week, there are street foods, balloons, kiddie games and performers on the street. We then again had Hooters (1 Franc wing night still) for dinner and went to our hotel and called the night off.
The next work week is filled with heavy work again and excitement, as we were to head to Frankfurt come Friday. We got to try an "Asian Night" in the bank's cafeteria where we got to eat the ever elusive rice, chao fan, different curries, dumplings and desserts. We got in touch with our Asian roots, for that night we forgot about cheeses, wursts and breads.
That pretty much sums up the September edition of my assignment. There are still lots of places that must be explored - especially the "39 museums of Zürich" and the Bellevue where you can have a good view of the Swiss Alps, well just wait for me and hopefully, my own camera.
There are more photos below