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Published: September 19th 2018
We packed up, had our normal hostel breakfast, and hit the road again, this time heading to Zurich, Switzerland. This time not only did we not have many tunnels, and no long ones, but about half the trip we beside the beautiful Lake Zurich. My wife was trying to take photos every few minutes! As usual, the roads were good and there was little traffic, so we arrived in Zurich by a little after 10am. Unlike the last two times, we had no problems with the route the car's navigation system came up with, but this time the hostel was on a back street with no apparent parking nearby. We ended up going back across the bridge to a place we'd passed with metered parking and a few open spots. We pulled into one, put 3 Euros in the meter for an hour's parking, figuring the hostel would have ideas where we could park, long term. We left all our luggage in the car and walked back across the bridge. We had to ask two different locals working at sidewalk cafes before we found one that said basically, oh yeah, this is the street and the hostel is right down there
about a block. Even then, we had some problem finding the place, since it starts on the second floor above a bar, and there was no sign sticking out, just one on the wall above the bar saying Hostel Otter. We entered through the bar (although we found out later there was a side door we could have used), went up one floor and found the reception room. The guy there was nice enough, but told us our room wasn't ready yet. We inquired about long-term parking and were given two options, neither of which were exciting or cheap. We could park a few blocks away in a parking garage for 45 Euros a day, or drive a couple kilometers into the residential area and find a parking spot somewhere in blue, and pay only 15 Euros a day. Well, we went for the cheap one, and almost wished we hadn't. We found the right area easily enough, using the car's navigation, but drove block after block without seeing a single open blue spot, even on the side roads. After a couple false turns down a side street where we had to back out or turn around because they dead-ended,
we finally turned down a street and found one spot open, that the car would barely fit in. I maneuvered the car so at least the front and rear wheels were within the marks, put the two parking permits we'd bought (one for each day) in the window, grab our bags, and headed back towards the hostel. I was dragging my big suitcase and carrying my fairly full backpack and Manoli was dragging her suitcase and carrying her smaller backpack. After about 3 or 4 kilometers and probably close to an hour, we made it back to the hostel. The hostel guy checked us in, gave us our room e-cards and keys for two lockers in room 31, on the third floor of course. Luckily they had a small elevator that runs between the 2nd and 6th floors, so I crammed our two suitcases in and rode it up while Manoli took the stairs.
Our room was nice enough, with 3 sets of bunk beds, only one of which was occupied, so we grabbed a pair, stowed our luggage in the nice big luggage and headed out. Besides the bunk beds, our room has lighting and outlets for each
bed, a small washstand, a table with 4 chairs, and a small refrigerator. On the floor below us they have a lounge room and a small kitchen with table, chairs, microwave, sink, stove, and two refrigerators; one with free stuff like milk for the coffee, and one where you can stow your stuff. There are also plenty of cups, plates and utensils you can use. This was more like the hostels we'd stayed in in the past, where people trying to save money buy there meals in supermarkets and fix and eat them in the hostel. We headed out, looking for the Tourist Information Center across the river and a nearby supermarket. The central part of Zurich, near the Limmat River that flows into Lake Zurich, is mostly older buildings, while just outside that area are plenty of modern buildings mixed in with some older buildings. We found the Tourist Information Center before we found a supermarket, but even then had trouble. The map showed it to be right near one end of the Hauptbahnhof railway station, but even seeing a sign above the door to the station, we had to wander around to find the actual place. It was
quite nice, with a number of souvenirs, lots of pamphlets, and a big service desk where you could take a number to be waited on. Fancy! We got a better map and a brochure on the Lake Zurich cruises and headed back out to find a supermarket. We finally found a nice big COOP market and when we realized they had a sort of mini cafeteria where you could pick your own variety of salad fixing and hot dishes, we each grabbed a carryout tray. Manoli filled hers up with salad fixings and I filled half of mine with an interesting looking noodle dish and the other half with rice and Chicken Marsala. My dish was just over 7 Euros and Manoli's was just under 5. We walked a block or two until we found a good place to sit down in a mini-park, and ate our lunch.
After eating lunch, we wandered around a bit, heading back towards the hostel, returning to the hostel around 5pm or so. Manoli settled into her bunk to watch something on NetFlix, while I got my computer stuff out and started working on this blog. By this time 4 of the 6
beds were occupied, the other two by a guy from Canada and another guy from Israel. About 6:30pm or so, Manoli told me she was hungry and said I should go looking for something, so after finding out on my PC that there was a COOP market just a few blocks away, I opted for that instead of something expensive nearby. I knew Zurich was considered to be a bit expensive, but I never imagined how expensive the food was. The average restaurant has entrees starting around 15 Euros (something like $18) and goes up from there. Even ice cream starts at 5 or 6 Euros! The supermarkets are cheaper, but still a lot more expensive than in the U.S. or even Germany. I ended up buying a chicken curry sandwich and a caramel dessert dish, along with a bottle of Coke and one of water for Manoli. The total there was 7.20 Swiss Francs. Oh I forgot to mention that Switzerland has there own currency, the Swiss Franc, but most places accept Euros, although I'm pretty sure the exchange rate isn't great.
Tomorrow we are thinking about buying a day pass for transport so we can travel around,
maybe going up to Uetliberg, a small nearby mountain with great views, and/or take short lake cruise on Lake Zurich. You and we will find out tomorrow.
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