Take 12 trips, take 2!

Madeira sunrise

Remember when I took 12 trips in 2013/2014? No? Well, click on the link to see what I’m on about.

After seeing that other people have committed to taking 12 trips a second and even third time, I decided I could do it again, too. So 2016 shall be the year of take 12 trips, take 2!

Since the year is not quite two months old, I’ve decided to go back to the beginning and make it a twelve trips in 2016 thing rather than doing it over two year as last time.

Trip number one, for January 2016, is the day I went to Zurich to see a Lego exhibition. (Funnily enough, one of my trips last time round was to a Playmobil exhibition in Speyer. Could this be a theme in the making?).

Trip number two is that time Jan and I spontaneously went to Arlesheim to look at the cathedral and ended up finding two castles as well!

Trip three, in March, shall of course be New Zealand – I expect that will be my one major trip out of the twelve!

As for where else I might go… well, you’ll just have to wait and see! (Mainly because I don’t know myself.)

 

The original instigator of Take 12 Trips was Clare from Need Another Holiday. She wanted to encourage people to get out and about and try new things, not just big adventures to far flung places, but little trips to. Whether it’s afternoon tea at a local cafe you’ve been meaning to try out for ages, a day out in a nearby town or a month-long holiday in Asia – a trip is whatever you define it as.

Why not take the challenge with me?

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The Art of the Brick in Zurich

I still have some things from last year to write about, but I’m skipping ahead a bit since this exhibition is still on and some people reading this might be interested in it.

I had seen photos from this Lego exhibition on various blogs and really wanted to go to it, but so far it had never been anywhere near me, so when I discovered that it was coming to Zurich I was determined to go. It’s on until 10th January, but Jan is back at work today and on Wednesday we fly to England, so if we were going to go, it had to be yesterday. We took advantage of a RailAway offer, which gave us 10% off the train ticket and entrance fee and also included a day ticket for the Zurich tram network, and caught a train at just after 1 p.m.

The exhibition contained more than I expected considering it took up such a small space. The sculptures were amazing and I can recommend a visit if the exhibition is anywhere near you. The one thing both of us found slightly annoying was that the audio guide and most of the explanatory signs focused on the artist and how amazing it is that he was the first person ever to make art from Lego (was he really? Not sure!). Jan described it as being a little egoistic. Anyway, here are some photos of some of my favourite sculptures:

Of course, the iconic sculpture that’s used on all the posters, entitled “Yellow”, was also on display:

Lego sculpture

One section contained replicas of famous sculptures and paintings:

Finally, I loved this stained glass window, made from transparent coloured Lego bricks. It was hung in front of a light and the blue photo below shows the reflection it made on the floor.

Being in Zurich, we obviously couldn’t go straight home after the exhibition but just had to stop by the Spr├╝ngli cafe for some hot chocolate and cake. Jan rolled his eyes at me for taking the photo below, but I don’t care ­čśë

DSCN5232

The Art of the Brick is being shown at Puls 5 in Zurich until 10 January 2016. Adult tickets cost CHF 24, or if you live elsewhere in Switzerland you can get a RailAway combi offer with 10% off the train fare and entrance fee plus a day ticket for the Zurich tram network. The offer is only available by phone or at the train station – it can’t be purchased online.

I’m linking this up with the first 2016 edition of Monday Escapes.

Travel Monkey

More from Zurich

I tried to write this post a few days ago but WordPress lost it and I couldn’t be bothered to type it all out again…

1 January was our final day in Zurich. We started 2015 by sleeping til 1.30 p.m., then eventually managed to drag ourselves out of the hotel and to the main train station, where we found a cafe for breakfast. I had a hazelnut-filled croissant (which are called Gipfeli in Swiss German!) and a far-too-sweet cinnamon latte. Then it was time for some more walking. We took a different parallel street to Bahnhofstrasse, one we’d never been down before, and eventually came to Zurich’s “other” river – the Sihl. Apparently it flows below the Hauptbahnhof (main station) and parts of the station are actually below the river! The things you learn from Wikipedia… Once we got away from the town centre, the path was slippy but it looked pretty with the river alongside and the tree branches hanging over it.

After we’d walked for a while, Jan consulted the map on his phone then decided we needed to turn left if we were eventually going to end up back in town. He then proceeded to make me go up this set of steps:

 

Narnia eat your heart out!

I didn’t so much walk up them as haul myself up, clinging to the handrail for dear life the whole time! What looks like pretty snow had been trodden on so often that it was actually more like ice. Very, very slippy ice! At the top, we found a park area set on a hillside. All the local kids were out playing with their bobsleighs. I wish we could have borrowed one… it would have been slightly easy than walking/slipping down the frozen path!

After leaving that park and walking down some random streets, we entered another park where we found more people sledding and another snowman. From there, we also had a view of the lake.

Finally, after walking for what seemed like days, we reached the lake. By this time it was dark and we were cold and hungry, but we still stopped to take a few photos of the lake. By which I mean Jan stole my camera and took pictures after witnessing me failing to get any good ones. Hmph!

After all the walking we’d done, Jan decided he wanted a hearty meal of the type served by a brew-house. The first Bierhalle we tried was closed (for future reference, lots of places in Zurich seem to close on New Year’s Day), so we headed to a place called Restaurant Johanniter. Jan chose a dark beer that was delicious! Unfortunately it was on special and the card only said “Schwarzbier” so we don’t know what it was to look out for in future. I went for the Appenzeller Qu├Âllfrisch, which was also tasty. To eat I had vension “geschnetzeltes” – geschnetzeltes is a word for strips of meat cut in a certain way. Jan had the traditional Z├╝rcher Geschnetzeltes, which I’m not keen on because it comes in a sauce with mushrooms. I then treated myself to some apple strudel for dessert (no picture of that because I was too busy stuffing my face ­čśë )

Once we’d eaten, we headed back to the hotel to pack and relax for a while. And that was the end of our trip to Zurich. A lovely city, if fairly small. I’m sure we’ll be back… Basel to Zurich is only a little over an hour by train, which makes it pretty perfect for a day trip with visitors.

Seeing in 2015 in Zurich

New Year’s Eve dawned bright and sunny…┬á 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 Gl├╝hwein and this:

"Alpler R├Âsti"
“Alpler R├Âsti”

That is R├Âsti – 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!

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.