Monthly Archives: August 2009

Prague – Tourista capital of the world (for good reasons)

We just got back from Prague today and a few words of advice to anyone thinking of going for a visit – go in the fall after the tourists (meaning us) are gone. The low cost hotels, food and transportation make Prague a great vacation for Europeans and North Americans alike.  The main sites were crowded .  We’re talking Disney World crowded.  But amazingly, everyone was happy and civilized, and we managed to enjoy our stay regardless.

Prague is a city of mixed cultures and eras. There are castles and palaces from the 9th century and there are mid-Century Soviet-style buildings mixed in between. The older buildings are adorned with statues of Saints, cherubs or leaders from the past. The Soviet buildings are as expected – square and big with little to no decoration.

The visit to the Prague Castle alone was worth having to contend with throngs of fellow visitors.  It would take many visits to see and appreciate all eleven centuries of art, history and architecture. Here are just a few pictures that barely capture the spectacle of the ancient walled city and its centerpiece, St Vitus Cathedral.

Who knew that the Czech Republic was famous for its beer? We conducted our own small taste test and agree that the beer in Prague is very good. Budweiser is the original beer of Bohemia and shares little resemblance to the American beer of the same name.  Try as we might, the locals didn’t catch on to the

Random Czech Dude-> “er?”

game.  Even better than “original bud” was another local brew, Pilsner Urquell. Yum.

As a transition from low- to high-brow, our grand finale was a pair of box tickets for La Traviata at the State Opera House. No fat lady singing, but a cute one dying and a moving performance just the same. The two tickets to sit in the first tier loge were only $60. That was the deal of the day!  Either that or the 30kc (less than two dollars) gellato waffle cones.

It has already been a month!

Wow! A month! Here are a few of my general day-in-the-life observations after one short month in Zürich, Switzerland:

First of all, dogs are every where, including restaurants. They travel in planes, trains and trams.  We saw a cute one taking a cool bath in a water fountain just up the street from our home. Seeing all these dogs makes us miss Cosmo more than ever.

Speaking of water fountains- they too are every where. I will not bore you with the many, many pictures I have taken of them, here are just a few.  Some are beautiful and some are more utilitarian. Regardless, the water is clean and we never have to buy bottles of water except…

In restaurants- “gas or flat?” is the question asked by wait staff. Europeans do not serve tap at meals. Gas or flat, the water costs more than beer or wine… so I am drinking a lot more wine – kidding!

The US has an over abundance of of lawyers and in Switzerland it is hair salons. Within a four block radius of our house there are 15 hair salons. I am not exaggerating. I got my hair cut by Carmela from Firenza salon. Why did I pick that salon you ask…their door was open when Ethan and I walked by one day. I will go back before we leave, she did a great job if I don’t say so myself.

My final observation for now- I have yet to see a poor, homeless or “down-in-their-luck” person since we have been here. People seem to be doing well. They look healthy, dress nicely and obviously, most importantly, their hair looks fabulous!

I love it here. People have been great and it is so easy to get around to see all that there is to see- which is a lot!

It’s so big! (that’s what she said)

Last weekend, we travelled three hours via the “Glacier Express” train from Zurich to Zermatt, home of the famous Matterhorn. I know everyone alive has seen pictures of it but to see it in person is remarkable. We hiked, the long route to the base of the mountain. It was a beautiful, quiet, and a kick-your-ass hard hike up and up and up.  We rewarded ourselves with a traditional cheese fondue for dinner. Yum!

We stayed in a hotel that was quintessentially Swiss in every way possible- from furniture and decorations to the muesli we had for breakfast. It was so lovely and to cap it all off, we had a view of the Matterhorn from our balcony. We sat, drank some nice wine and watched the sun go down. Josh took photos every 10 minutes or so. Here are a few to give you a sense of how the mountain changes with the waning light.

It was another wonderful weekend to add to our “Swisstory”. Next weekend, Prague.

Baden- a little slice of heaven

Last week I took an easy 15 minute train ride to Baden where they have thermal baths. It was heavenly. Just me and the seniors hanging out in the pool until we were (more) prune-like.

The town is in a steep valley along the Limmat River. Like most Swiss towns it is decked out in all its summer regalia of colorful window boxes, umbrella filled outdoor cafes and of course ice-cream shops. The best ice cream I have ever had is here – Mövenpick.  My favorite flavor is Swiss Chocolate.  Josh likes everything else.

I hope to bring Josh to the Baden baths after a hard days work.


The weather forecast called for rain all weekend, so rather head all the way to the Alps and risk a whiteout, we visited Säntis, a spectacular mountain in the Appenzeller region.  We took the gondola to the top, and hiked around amid the sheep, the beautiful flowers, and the spectacular yet elusive scenery.

Rhine Falls

At 450′ wide and 75′ high, and flows around 1,000 m3 per second, the Rhile Falls are big.  We tried picking a route through the rocks and chaos, but it seemed pretty hard to fathom running the falls in either a raft or a kayak.  Of course some crazy fools have run it but that doesn’t mean we would.

Our visit to the falls was much less adventurous, but no less wet.  The rain held off for a bit, but once it started it was relentless.

Swimming the Limmat

One of the best ways to spend a hot summer day in Zurich is swimming in the Limmat river.  It flows out of Lake Zurich, right through downtown, so it couldn’t be easier to get to.  The water is cool but not freezing, deep enough that you never touch bottom, and clean enough that you don’t feel gross at the end of the day.  There are plenty of ladders to climb out of the river, and pathways on both banks so you can walk back up stream for more.  There’s no need to buy an endless pool, since the river flows at a perfect pace to allow a strong swimmer to get a workout without going anywhere.

Oh, and the best part is the foot bridge… a perfect platform for jumping & diving into the river!

The best attraction in Winterthur

We weren’t exactly thrilled with our trip to Winterthur, but we did snap this gem.  Not a total loss.

Americal Cuisine