Seeing in 2015 in Zurich

New Year’s Eve dawned bright and sunny…  which was a bit of a waste really seeing as we’d decided to spend the day at the Landesmuseum (Swiss national museum). I did take a couple of photos of the building before we went in though, luckily. They ended up being my only blue-sky photos of Zurich!

In the museum, we learned a bit about Swiss history, including their policy of being neutral during the world wars and also the fact that the final canton only gave women the right to vote in 1990! (That would be you, Appenzell Innerrhoden. Tut, tut, tut!) There was also an exhibition of Swiss furniture and a whole section on archaeology. We decided to skip the special exhibition on Christmas cribs (nativity scenes) as we were all museumed out by that time and also it was closing soon. It was nearly 5 o’clock by that time and we hadn’t eaten since breakfast so we headed into the train station to grab some soup and a sandwich from one of the cafes there. We did 90% of our eating at the train station because it was the only place that had even vaguely affordable food (bakeries have fairly normal prices… restaurant food is almost double what we would expect to pay in Germany!). We then went for a bit of a walk around, ending up by the university which is on a hill and provides a nice view over Zurich.

 

Once we were back in town, we went for a quick beer then decided to head back to the hotel for a bit and chill before joining the festivities at the lakeside. We watched Pirates of the Caribbean, which Jan had somehow never seen before!

On leaving the hotel, we stopped off at Coop to buy some small bottles of Prosecco before taking the train back into town then heading down to the lake via the quieter back streets. I prefer not to have fireworks thrown at me, thank you very much! On the banks of the river itself fireworks were forbidden, which made me very happy! There were hundreds of food/drink stands lined up all along the lake, so before going to join the crowd who were waiting for the fireworks we grabbed a Glühwein and this:

"Alpler Rösti"
“Alpler Rösti”

That is Rösti – a Swiss speciality consisting of grated potatoes – with pieces of smoked bacon that was then covered with a generous helping of raclette cheese. Not particularly healthy but so, so good!! We then joined everyone else down by the lakeside. As twelve approached, there was a countdown and then the church bells all over the city chimed at midnight… that was the idea anyway! We couldn’t actually hear any chiming because one stall somewhere hadn’t turned off its incredibly loud music! Everybody chinked glasses (or bottles in our case… we don’t do classy), hugged, kissed and wished each other a happy New Year. Then, at 19 minutes past 12, all the lights in the city were switched off and the fireworks finally started. We got an entire 20 minutes of fireworks, set off from three boats on the lake. It was amazing! Here’s just a small selection of the photos I took:

Some of the fireworks formed shapes, like hearts and smiley faces, but it was difficult to capture that on camera. You can just about make out a face (upside-down!) on one of the photos above, though.

After the fireworks, the lakeside cleared fairly quickly. I assume people wanted to get into the warm! Although it wasn’t as cold as on the previous day, there was still snow on the ground. I finished my Prosecco (which Jan had been holding for while I took photos), then we walked around for a bit looking for some interesting food to snack on. We finally chose a stall selling Indian food, where we bought some delicious samosas and pakora. It was after 1 by this time and I didn’t really feel like going into a crowded bar, so instead we headed back to the hotel and switched on the TV. Not a bad start to the New Year!

Luxembourg and Metz

First impression of Luxembourg (or Lëtzebuerg in Luxembourgish), it has a very nice train station:

Luxembourg train station
Luxembourg train station

This photo was taken while waiting for a bus to my friend’s house to drop our stuff off. Afterwards we came back into town, found the Christmas market (which was still on for some reason) and had some Glühwein. Then we went for a walk and attempted to take photos of Luxembourg by night, such as this one:

Hmm...
Hmm…

As you can see, my camera is not made for taking photos in the dark!

The next day, we took a trip to Metz, which sounds German but is actually in France. It probably was German at one point though. Metz is the capital of the Lorraine region of France and home to the University of Lorraine.

The sun was shining when we arrived, and I was actually able to get some photos of the Cathedral with blue sky behind it:

The name of the cathedral, Saint Étienne de Metz, means Saint Stephen of Metz. Who knew? I would certainly never have guessed that Étienne is French for Stephen!

Inside the cathedral were many stained glass windows, as Catholic churches tend to have:

A stained glass window inside Saint Étienne de Metz Cathedral
A stained glass window inside Saint Étienne de Metz Cathedral

Here is the St Marcel bridge. This would have made a much prettier picture in summer!

St Marcel bridge, Metz
St Marcel bridge, Metz

Metz is 49° North, as this tower so kindly informed me:

Metz - 49°N
Metz – 49°N

There is a bridge castle in Metz called the German’s gate (Porte des Allemands) and being there with two Germans I obviously wanted to find it. Here it is:

Porte des Allemands, Metz
Porte des Allemands, Metz

The street you can see through the gate is the Rue des Allemands. Naturally – because what else would you call a road leading to the gate of Allemands?

The next day, New Year’s Eve, we headed up to the Kirchberg area of Luxembourg, which is where many of the EU buildings are located. From there, you can look down on Luxembourg City:

Luxembourg viewed from the Kirchberg
Luxembourg viewed from the Kirchberg

No, I don’t have a clue what any of the stuff down there is…
On the Kirchberg, there is also a reconstructed fort: Fort Thüngen. There’s a museum inside, which is pretty interesting. We got in for free, but we’re not sure whether that was because it was New Year’s Eve and half an hour before closing time or it’s always free. Interesting nonetheless, and there are old maps of Luxembourg in there. We spent a while checking each one to see whether we could find the area of Luxembourg that my friend lives in.

Fort Thüngen
Fort Thüngen

At midnight we obviously wanted to see the New Year’s fireworks, so we went and stood on a bridge.

FireworksFrom there we could see the fireworks going off all over the place, some more professional than others. These ones seemed slightly more professional (although there was no “official” fireworks display from the town – apparantly they did one when the prince got married earlier in the year and one official fireworks display is enough!).

Luxembourg fireworks
Luxembourg fireworks

On New Year’s Day we slept late, had a long drawn out breakfast (or “brunch”) then spent the rest of the day watching TV and playing board games.

We weren’t leaving ’til around 4pm on the 2 January, so we dropped our luggage off at the train station and went to take a look at Luxembourg in daylight – or what passes for daylight in the middle of winter. The sky was rather grey…

“Daylight” in Luxembourg

We decided to go for a walk in the giant gorge that basically splits Luxembourg city in two. It’s incredibly quiet down there, away from all the traffic that thunders along the bridges that span the gorge, and you get to walk along pretty paths and down steps that look like this:

In the Luxembourg gorge
In the Luxembourg gorge

The walls of the gorge are made up of sandstone cliffs, like this:

Sandstone cliff
Sandstone cliff

And there is also a really cool church/chapel thing built into the cliff:

Church in a cliff, Luxembourg
Church in a cliff, Luxembourg

We then walked into the aptly-named Grund quarter of Luxembourg, which is located down in the valley below the main centre of Luxembourg city on the banks of the Alzette River.

River Alzette, Grund, Luxembourg City
River Alzette, Grund, Luxembourg City

I found this yellow cow outside a museum and couldn’t resist taking a photo of it:

Moo!
Moo!

After our walk around Grund (very pretty by the way – but go in summer when you might have a chance of blue skies!), we took the lift up through the cliffs back to the main part of town where we went for a late lunch before heading back to the train station.

A spot of lunch at Cafe Konrad
A spot of lunch at Cafe Konrad

And that was how I started 2013. I hope the new year began just as well for you!