April 29, 2011
So let’s start at the beginning. Our flight left the Salt Lake Airport at 5:18 pm on Wednesday, April 27. From there we flew to San Fransisco, and had about an hour from the time the plane landed til our next one took off. Luckily we did not have to go through security again because we were leaving from an adjoining terminal so we made it with time to spare and checked in at the gate.
By this time, Bryan was not feeling to well, something he attributed to the all-you-can-eat sushi bar he had went to for lunch. Once we got on the plane and the “fasten seatbelt” sign was turned off, Bryan was off like a rocket straight to the bathroom. I think he may have spent more time there then in his actual seat. The flight attendants were very nice though and gave him some medicine. Being sick on a flight that is over 11 hours longs is not good.
We arrived in Zurich, Switzerland at about 3:40 pm local time on Thursday, April 28. We then got our Eurail passes validated at the train station in the airport and hopped the next train to the Zurich main station which was only about 10 minutes away. When we got there, we wandered around a little bit and found the tourist information office. We talked to them about hostels and found out that it was going to cost us 43 Swiss franks per person to stay at a hostel (Right now $1=.81 Swiss franks). Bryan and I checked the train schedule and figured that it was only about an hour to a city called Basel which is where a Marriott hotel was located. We quickly went to an internet café to get the address and to make reservations. That done we hurried back to the train station and jumped on a train to Basel.
We got to Basel at round 7:30 and the tourist office there was already closed. We stopped at a bookstore on the way out of the station to look up where the hotel was before taking off. From that we were able to find it on the small map in our Lonely Planet guidebook. Well as soon as we got out of the train station we weren’t sure which way to go and a man saw us standing there looking at our book and offered to help us. He spoke English so we showed him the address and he pointed us in the right direction. We packed off in that direction and eventually found the address…or at least where the address should have been…that number didn’t even exist on that street. We tried asking some people who were passing by where it was and everyone was baffled at what to do. After a few minutes a man came by who spoke English and he called up the hotel on his phone to figure out where we needed to go. Well it turns out the Courtyard in Basel by Marriott isn’t in Basel. It’s 10 minutes by train outside of Basel in a town called Pratteln. The man helped us by tram tickets and we were once again on our way. Well we got off at the stop we were supposed to and nowhere did we see “a little bridge” that we were supposed to cross. We stopped some guy on his bike who spoke only German and French, and he said to go down the street and take the next left. We packed ourselves in that direction and discovered ourselves at the Pratteln train station. Thoroughly baffled, lost in the dark, tired of wandering for more than an hour and just wanted to take a shower and hop into bed, we again asked for directions. We stopped a really nice girl who spoke English who again called up the hotel and happy day we were only about 8-10 minutes away. We thanked her and again were on our way. We arrived without further incident, took hot showers, skyped some people crashed.
We both slept until about 8 and we up and away to the Pratteln train station to catch the next train for the 10 min ride to Basel. We had decided to stay another night at the Marriott because it was just so dang cheap (thanks to Justin and his discounts), and we were about an hour train ride from most places we wanted to visit. So because of that we left our big backpacks at the hotel making us much more mobile and free. In Basel we got on another train headed to Lucerne, which was only an hour away, and started some sightseeing.
Lucerne was really pretty. They had a couple of those old wooden covered bridges over the river that had cool super old paintings up hung on the rafters. We wandered around Lucerne for awhile, found a grocery store and bought some bread and salami which doubled as breakfast and lunch. After that we got lost haha and walked waaaay too far down a wrong turn. Turns out the funny looking tourists maps with animated-like drawings on them are to scale…..finally we got back on track and found what we had been looking for, a lion carved into the side of a cliff. That was cool. Next stop was the old city wall. We got to walk up inside of it, up a couple of the towers, and along the top of it. The view from that was beautiful. Everything is so green here, it really makes me miss Washington.
The city is built on both sides of a river right at the point where it flows into Lake Lucerne. There were some lake cruises going to different towns and cities around the lake and we decided that it would be really cool if we went out to a little town and walked around. Having decided that, we took a 45 minute boat ride to a little town called Hertenstein. Hertenstein is super small. Just a few houses basically. We took off down a narrow road and began hiking into the rolling green hills. Pretty soon we came across a hiking trail that crossed the road and we immediately veered off to explore. We hiked for a while through the forest and came to a point where there was a beautiful view of the lake through a gap in the trees. At that point we decided that we should head back to catch the next boat back to Lucerne.
Back in Lucerne we checked out a couple more places, but then decided that we were done and wanted to go somewhere else. We went to the train station and hopped on and off two trains before we decided to stay on the third train and ride into Zurich to have dinner. We got to Zurich at about 6 o’clock, took a little tour of the city, saw St. Peter’s church which is apparently the oldest church in Switzerland and snapped some classy photos. We visited another grocery store for dinner and I got a banana, orange, and yogurt. The yogurt was delicious. It might have had to do with how hungry I was but the rest of the evening I kept thinking about how good that yogurt was. We stayed in Zurich for a bit and then decided to head home and get some rest. We are now in our hotel and I’m lying in my soft, comfortable bed with several big fluffy pillows. J
All in all we’re having a great time and making full use of our unlimited Eurail train passes. We’ve used them for 9 trains and 2 boats since getting here yesterday evening. And guess what? I love riding these trains!! The countryside is so beautiful I could almost just ride trains around and never get out.