Zurich: the beginning

After several changes of plan, Jan and I eventually decided to spend New Year in Zurich. We booked a room at an IBIS hotel and travelled there on 29th December. After checking in and dumping our luggage, we went for a cheeky Burger King before heading into town for a first look at the sights. It was dark by that time and snow was falling… prefect for testing how good my new camera is in not the best conditions ­čśë

While we were walking around, we spotted a pub that had a quiz on that night, so after stopping for a beer elsewhere (Feldschl├Âsschen Amber is very tasty) we headed on over the the pub quiz. We didn’t do badly for only having 2 people, managing to come in the top 5.

The next day we went for a wander round Zurich, following a route that Jan had downloaded onto his phone. We started at the main train station, where a statue outside reminded us of why cities normally turn off their fountains in winter…

Then it was off down Bahnhofstrasse, along the River Limmat and up the hill until we reached Lindenhof, from where we had a view over the city.

 

Once we’d taken a few photos at Lindenhof and spent some time trying to catch perfect snowflakes, we headed back down the hill on the other side, passing St Peter’s Church and walking through some pretty streets before taking a break at the Spr├╝ngli cafe for delicious but expensive hot chocolate.

Once we’d finished our hot chocolate, we headed back out into the snow. Our next stop was the Fraum├╝nster church (literally “Lady’s Minster”). No photos were allowed inside, but here are some from outside:

After taking a look at the inside of the church with its famous stained-glass windows (by Marc Chagall), we walked down to Lake Zurich, which is where the fireworks would be the following night. A group of Asians were down there feeding bread to the gulls, which was quite a sight. So. Many. Gulls! There were also swans and ducks, including one very pretty green duck that I spent ages trying to get a photo of.

Once I finally managed to drag Jan away from the lake, we walked back along the river towards the Niederdorf, or old town, area and headed to the Grossm├╝nster (“Great Minster” – note that in normal German the church name would be spelled Gro├čm├╝nster, but there are no ess-zetts in Swiss German!). Again, no photos were allowed inside, but we climbed the tower and I was able to take some of Zurich from above.

Once we’d climbed back down from the tower, out tour was almost done. All that remained was a quick walk through the old town and a glimpse at the Rathaus (city hall) before our tour took us back to Bahnhofstrasse, where the Christmas lights had now been switched on. Then we decided to build a snowman on a wall next to the city police station. We named him Travis.

Snowman built and duly photographed, it was finally time for a break! We went back to the Niederdorf and found a small bar/restaurant where we treated ourselves to a beer and some cheese fondue… which I forgot to take a photo of because I’m a bad blogger!

And that’s (more than) enough for one blog post, so I’ll save New Year’s Eve for the next one.

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Burg Hohenzollern Weihnachtsmarkt

Weihnachtsmarkt

Yesterday, I went to the Christmas market at Burg Hohenzollern (a castle near Stuttgart) with Jan and two of our friends. We booked a day trip through a company called Binder Reisen, so we were picked up in Pforzheim in a mini bus, switched to a larger bus in Vahingen and were brought to a car park near the castle from where a shuttle bus took us the rest of the way up. The Christmas market is only on for the first two advent Sundays (and this was the second), so if you want to go you’ve unfortunately missed out this year, but there’s always next year. We paid ÔéČ27 each for the bus and entrance to the Christmas market.

Down in the valley it was raining, but up at the castle it was snowing and apparently had also snowed a lot in the days prior… the trees looked beautiful! Unfortunately, it was also foggy so taking photos was difficult but I did my best!

There were a few stalls inside the main bit of the castle as well, but no photos were allowed in there.
After checking out all the stalls and partaking in a few Gl├╝hweins, we decided it was time to eat something. I had a venison steak, which was delicious (and not something you find at just any Christmas market!). Jan went for the wild boar sausage, which I tried a bit of, and which was also amazing. After trying some hot red mead (seriously delicious!) it was time for a walk around the castle grounds. Away from the market, it was freezing but also beautiful.

I may have gone slightly overboard taking photos of the snow-covered branches, but it really was beautiful!
Somebody had built some little snowmen on the wall and I couldn’t resist photographing them.

After our walk around the castle, we were all freezing so we returned to the main market for some more hot red mead (told you it was delicious!) and to listen to the carol singers before heading for the shuttle bus that would take us back down to where our coach was meeting us. When I first realised we would only have about 3 hours at the market, I thought it wouldn’t be long enough, but it turned out to be the perfect amount of time. It ended up being a lovely day, and definitely different to an ordinary Christmas market. I would highly recommend checking this out if you get the chance. In my opinion, it was well worth it! (Even if we did spend more time travelling than actually at the market!)

Look Up, Look Down ÔÇô Gro├čes Walsertal

I haven’t taken part in Look Up, Look Down for a while, and today seemed as good a day as any to join in again.
This is an old photo, from when I still lived in Austria. It was taken from up in the mountains of the Gro├čes Walsertal (a Tal is a valley, so technically the Gro├čes Walsertal is somewhere at the bottom, but I couldn’t tell you the name of the mountain!). Is anyone else reminded of The Land Before Time when looking at this scenery?

Gro├čes Walsertal

This photo was taken at the end of May, and it was actually quite sunny down in the valley (although some stubborn bits of snow were still hanging on). It was freezing up in the mountains, though!

To take part in the Look Up, Look Down challenge and see all the other entires, check out Travel With Intent’s blog post.

Spot the difference 2

About a month ago, I posted two photos of the same view taken at different times of year. My point, at the time, was to show you all that it was still flipping snowing. In fact, as some people pointed out, the March photo had more snow than the December one. What’s that all about? You can see that post here.

A few days ago, I took another photo of the same view… this time because the tree looked so pretty. I thought it might be fun to compare that photo with the snowy one from March. So…

25 March 2013
25 March 2013
17 April 2013
17 April 2013

And the difference this time? The tree still looks white, but now it’s blossoms, not snow!

Roughly two weeks after taking the second photo above, everything’s changed out again. The white blossoms have all fallen of and been replaced with green leaves and the buds of what will later be cherries (we think… whatever they are, the birds loooove to eat them!). Maybe I’ll do another Spot the Difference some time soon…

Spot the difference…

After posting about the snow the other day, it occurred to me that I had taken a strikingly similar photo back when this never-ending winter first started. Once the idea was in my head, I naturally had to go and find the other photo. So here you have it:

2 December 2012
2 December 2012
25 March 2013
25 March 2013

The difference? This time there are no Christmas markets to make the cold more bearable…

Return of the snow

I thought Karlsruhe had managed to escape the latest round of snow. Berlin has been ankle deep in it for ages and Frankfurt Airport was recently closed because of it (again!), but until now, every time the white stuff was forecast for Karlsruhe, we got rain instead. Our time, it appears, has now come. Here’s what I woke up to this morning:

DSCN2457

I wouldn’t even mind the snow so much – despite the fact that it is now officially spring and I want daffodils – if it hadn’t brought freezing wind with it. My gloves did absolutely nothing for me this morning!

Thank goodness I only have four days at work this week. After that it’s Easter, and since practically everything is closed on Good Friday I have an excellent excuse to hide in the house and drink endless cups of tea!

Dustbin humour

Quite a few of the bins in Mannheim currently have speech bubbles stuck on them, saying things like “Don’t throw it away, give it to me!” (in German, obviously). I assume it’s part of some campaign to get people to keep te place tidy.
There’s one particularly bin that used to say “Bekomme ich deinen Kaugummi?” – “May I have your chewing gum?”

Dust bin

As you can see, someone has stuck a white sticker over the “Kau” part, leaving the word “Gummi”… German slang for condom.

Why yes, dustbin. If I’m ever so overcome with lust that I can’t resist stripping and getting down to it right in that carpark behind you, you may certainly have my chewing gum.

It made me smile anyway.
Simple things…

Here’s something else that made me smile recently:

Mini snowman

I spotted this tiny little snowman sitting on the roof of a car yesterday evening. I’m glad somebody managed to find some enjoyment in the March snow! (What season is this again? Last week I could have sworn spring was on its way…)