we travelled by train down from frankfurt to zürich, the train was a ‘fast’ train – although not the sort of eyeball tearing fast that some european trains are, but in the finest german tradition it was very punctual! it was a 4 hour trip, and very pleasant really.
trains are so much more relaxing than planes. first of all you dont have to deal with the physics – large airplanes and bumble bees have a lot in common, theoretically neither shoud be able to fly – secondly you can get up and wander around whenever you feel like it, thirdly there are no sanctimonious stewards bossing you around, fourthly you can actually see stuff out the windows. fifthly, you can bring your bike or your dog with you in the carraige, other advantages surely exist, but i cant put my finger on them.
hold on, its coming back to me, you dont have to arrive at the train station 2 hours early, you dont get treated like a convicted terrorist, no one wants to do a cavity search and xray, and you arrive in the center of a city rather than 47.3km or an eleventy billion dollar taxi fare out of town.
two things made an impression on me since being back in europe, i had forgotten how much of it is farmland – most of it is either farms or forest, our misplaced view that australia is less urbanised than the rest of the world is quickly dispelled. secondly, every-bloody-one has a community garden plot, with a shed, where they grow amazing seasonal fruit and vege. otherwise its just lots of forest full of big trees and stuff like deer and ducks. every now and then there is a town, village or small city and then back to farms and forests.
this really blows my mind, how is it we are so backward in things that matter like growing our own food in communal plots? We imagine ourselves as outdoorsy types, stock of farmer peeps, self sufficient and enterprising – yet almost none of us have our own vege plot, WTF? the europeans have totally schooled us on this one.
there is another thing, melbourne and sydney are actually really big cities by world standards, sure we only have 2 cities in australia, and i am not too sure about melbourne actually, but in most of the rest of the world there are lots of smaller cities rather than 1 or 2 bigger ones. (sorry, but brisvegas and boralaide are not cities).
anyway, we arrived in zürich and christian was at the train station to meet us, we immediatley went shopping in the train station as the only shops open on a sunday in switzerland are in the train station and airport, (so working people can have a day off, what a novel idea!) having stocked up on something and beer, we caught the tram back to the som chateau.
the som family were heading off to seatlle a couple of days after we arrived so they were in that blind fugue of last minute packing for a long holiday, none the less they managed to impart all the essential info for a month living in zurich as well as treating us to a couple of lovely meals before buggering off to parts distant.
while they were still here, kai had a ball killing zombies with really big guns while playing xbox with andri and for the most part elena hid from the smelly boys in her room, although she was not averse to topping a few marchers from the apocolypse either! it was really cool seeing kai have someone older to hang out with and play totally inappropriate games with. all part of growing up and becoming a serial killer!
we have quickly discovered that to survive in zürich you need to either be earning a wage here, be a successful criminal, have inherited aunt betty’s diamonds or have recently won lotto. it has a reputation as the world’s 5 most expensive city – i think that is very wrong.
it must be in the top 3 at least, when you add the fact that the ozzie peso buys just 0.70CHF its plain scary. lunch cost us $70 the other day, 2 toasted ham and cheese sandwiches, a small salad to share and 2 beers. an espresso is $8, a day pass on the bus is $13, cherry tomatoes are $28 kilo, nothing is cheap, hell, i gave a zurich beggar some money yesterday and he tipped me, bought me a beer and shouted me lunch – then drove off in his bmw.
so zurich is expensive, but the standard of living is fantastic – for locals! the minimum wage in hospitality is about $50 hr.
what else can i tell you about zürich? its beautiful, being neutral in big wars means your really stunning and really old buildings dont get firebombed to dust by the brits, so they still survive today, many from the late middle ages. there is water everywhere, you are minutes from one of the rivers or the lake itself, it has a world class public transport system, it doesnt actually feel very touristy, no signs in english, no obvious hordes of fat, white skinned yobbos, its full of cafes and resturants, its totally bicycle friendy (yes, i am looking at you australia), so hordes of people actually use their bikes, everyone is better dressed than me, (ok, thats a given where ever we go!), it has lots of green space, parks and forests.
aside from the specifics of zürich, its an absolute joy staying in the som family’s apartment, its large and spacious, all the mod cons, (even a decent coffee machine!), 2 nice balconys and a large common area in the middle of the apartments where the families gather to socialise, play and cook their charcoal bbq’s – just my thing! the internet is super fast, (take note germany!), the tv has some english programs, and we have a forest of yidaki to remind us of home. we will just have to steal bread and milk from the neighbours once the money runs out!
breaking news, kai lost another baby tooth last night, in order to pay the tooth fairy i need to sell my slightly used and soiled soul, all offers in gold bullion please.