Apr. 1st, 2011

capricious_k: (fly away)
Oops, I forgot to post for a day. It's okay, not much happened on Thursday. Went to conference. They took us out to dinner again - a cool converted warehouse space called La Salle - really yummy lamb. :)

Friday, I decided to play hooky since the final day of the conference was for a group I'm not involved with and I had nothing to contribute/learn from them. Instead, I booked another tour online. Or, I thought I did. They didn't email me back, so I went to sleep Thursday night without setting my alarm. I slept through my roommate leaving and was woken up by a phone call from the tour company asking if I still wanted the tour. I said yes, they said gimme your credit card number, and I had just over an hour to shower, dress, breakfast, and get across town to the pick up point. I made it just barely. It turned out that only I and two other tourists had booked the specific tour to Rigi then on to Luzern - everyone else on the bus was just going to Luzern for the day with the guide. We got dropped off at the bottom of the cogwheel railway that went to the top of the mountain. Oh, and the other two tourists were from Argentina and only spoke Spanish. :) While on the train, we ended up in a very multi-lingual conversation with a guy from Canada and his Swiss friend. The Canadian was the real linguist - he conversed pretty well in Spanish, French, and English. I understood almost all the Spanish and French but didn't manage to speak either well. It was a nice international moment.

So, the mountain: Rigi "Queen of the Mountains" she earned this title not for being the tallest (she's not even part of the Alps) but because she has the best view of the Alps from the outside. Cool, huh? The little cogwheel train up to the top was neat - very steep grade. At the top, I discovered I was wearing almost the worst shoes ever because there was still a bit of snow here and there, and I had no traction whatsoever in my street boots. Sigh. Definitely should bring/wear my hiking boots on my next trip to Switzerland. So, I didn't get any hiking in, but the views were excellent if somewhat obscured by clouds. I sat for quite a while watching them float by and reveal different views every few minutes. Then came the quandary of lunch - I had left so quickly in the morning that I didn't get cash. So I had less than 5 Swiss Francs on me and there was no ATM at the top of the mountain. So I got some OJ from a vending machine and left the mountain an hour early to head down to the lake.

Vistnau was the tiny town on the lakeside. Not a lot was open, but the view was spectacular so I grabbed a picnic lunch from a small grocery store and a bench by the lake. It was awesome: small round of local cheese, roll, salmon sandwich, quarter bottle of local white wine, and bottle of water. The swans wanted some but I wasn't sharing. :) The boat ride over to Luzern was lovely (except for the guy smoking a cigar somewhere upwind of me - I moved and it wasn't a problem). Luzern itself is a little jewelbox of a town - right on the lake and with a river running down from the hills into it. The river has two gorgeous covered bridges with murals on triangular wooden boards in the roofs. How scenic was it? I walked by two different wedding parties taking pictures in about an hour.  I had two hours there and wandered all over the downtown bit near the river - into three different churches and a few small shops. Then I stopped and had a glass of Prosecco at a sidewalk cafe until the bus came to pick us up.

The most hilarious thing to happen to me in Zurich: on the way back into town, the guide started narrating again - pointing out landmarks and talking about history and current events and hot spots - and he pointed out the Google office and talked about how many jobs we'd brought to the city and how it was a coup for them to get us. I laughed out loud but I don't think the others on the bus knew why. Hee!

Back in my room now. I went to the big grocery store - Coop - and got all my souvenir chocolate plus some takeout dinner: carrot salad, curry chicken, and pasta salad with a bottle of local wine. I also got a small white chocolate bunny for dessert and a bag of sour cream potato chips to sustain me through packing. I'm meeting a bunch of coworkers at 7:15am tomorrow to head to the airport (we're all on the same flight), so I'm going to go to bed fairly early. I'm going to try to download my pics first so I can work on them on the plane. Hopefully, I'll post them Sunday after I get over my jetlag. :)

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