After last nights debacle which started with washing my hair, I have to say, it feels like silk today! And my skin feels like velvet! I want whatever they’re putting in the water over here! Of course it’s probably more a matter of what they’re not putting in but either way, all was forgiven especially after they offered me a complimentary coffee in the cafe at check out by way of apology. I ordered my latte and took a seat and again waited and waited and waited! Just as I was about to give up, the same lady from last night who was working again this morning, caught my eye – the look on her face told me she was kicking herself enough for both of us at having forgotten me twice – the coffee and a complimentary apple juice materialised very shortly after. I was more amused than annoyed by my apparent invisibility – after all, it can sometimes be a very handy thing to be when travelling.
I drank up and hopped on a tram to the station to stow my bag in a locker for the day so I could again explore unencumbered. I walked back to my self-guided tour route to do better justice to sites I’d glossed over yesterday and eventually wound up back in the Schipfe district beside the Limmat to sticky beak in the super cool arts & crafts stores.
Further along the bank, I stepped through the doors of the Fraumunster (ladies church) to admire the 5 famous Chagall windows installed in the choir in 1970. Unfortunately, no photography was allowed so I sat a while and took in the tranquility of the place before heading across the footbridge spanning the Limmat to the much bigger Grossmunter (big church) to see its famous Giocometti windows installed in 1932. Obviously I’m not the first to have noticed or enjoyed Zurich’s divine light.
Having ticked off my must-see and do list, I found myself in that strange situation that often arises on very short visits – once you’ve given everything a fairly superficial once over, what do you do with the remaining hours? It’s not enough time to take it to the next level but it’s too much time to waste! Add to this, I was down to my last few francs which weren’t enough to even buy a coffee in this town. Zurich is expensive which made my mission of finding something to do for free all the more challenging.
I remembered seeing a funicular yesterday when I caught the tram in the wrong direction and had assumed at the time that it would no doubt come up in the travel literature… but it hadn’t. Still curious, I headed back to where I had seen it. There were no signs boasting about anything up the top but it none the less seemed to be ferrying car loads of funky young folk up the side of a steep mountain. I ascertained that my travel pass was valid for use on it so I figured the best way to find out where they were all going was to join them!
Up I went. There were a few stops along the way to gather more people before the mass exodus up the top. The mystery was solved as I watched throngs of young people coming and going from the very grand and imposing building that revealed itself as soon as I stepped out of the station – The University of Zurich. The building alone was something to see but it was the view from its forecourt of the city below that was captivating. The spires soared and the city shone from this amazing vantage point that really ought to be first stop on the tourist trail.
I sat in the gentle sun and wrote my postcards, astounded that I seemed to be the only non-student there. Sure enough, a small tour group turned up and I eavesdropped on the commentary to learn that Albert Einstein attended the university and was just one of the record number of former student Nobel Prize laureates.
I went inside to use the bathrooms and discovered a whole fascinating inner sanctum of grand architecture and exhibitions that were also worthy of mention in the travel guides but which I no longer had the time to explore. I headed back to the station and caught a train to the airport. When I landed several days ago, I had been too preoccupied with my onward journey to appreciate how splendid and immaculate this airport is! My flight was delayed so I had plenty of time to explore. I love looking in souvenir shops at airports and this was no exception. After my resolve over the snow domes yesterday, I was today tempted by perhaps the most beautiful snow dome I have ever seen! You have to understand that I know snow domes are tacky, it’s why I love them but have developed strict guidelines about what is and isn’t acceptable. As a general rule, I reject any kind of delusional dome that thinks it’s an object of great beauty… but this one wasn’t pretending, it was exquisite. So much so that I genuinely believe that it was a different creature altogether and I would have been well within my rights to acquire it as a stand alone piece. But it knew how magnificent it was and wore a price tag to match. Instead, I just shook it and its friends a few times and watched their snow sublimely swirl and fall on their inverted glass alps. Sigh.
On board, I managed to score a window seat in the emergency exit row again and was richly rewarded by one of the most stunning flights I’ve been on in a long time. My joy of flying was reinvigorated by watching the sun set over the Swiss Alps above thick quilted clouds. Keeping in theme for my time in Zurich, I was enraptured by the intensity of the colours and light of the sky that filled the plane with an otherworldly feel. I hope you’ll forgive the narcissistic collection of photos attached to illustrate this point – the only alternative to self-photography would have been to turn the camera on the sleeping lady next to me (this may have weirded her out if she’d woken up mid-click).
Flying back into London can sometimes be a bit depressing as you leave clear blue skies above pristine white clouds to descend through to their grey underbelly and an often gloomy landscape. Tonight however, the enveloping clouds gave way to London all lit up like a Christmas tree – a stark contrast the spoke of the equally compelling beauty of cities from the sky.
Passing through customs was mercifully quick although I was treated to the usual Heathrow charm and given a warning that once I leave London, they don’t expect to see me again anytime soon! I wondered what exactly the officer’s opposition was to me being here, spending my money, contributing to the economy whilst not making a single demand on their systems. I didn’t ask because she was clearly the kind of person who was looking to make herself feel big by flexing her little powers. I was more amused than miffed and glad to be out of there in record time.
I made it back to Furzedown in time to pick up our Friday night fish and chips on my way through. I’m determined to enjoy tonight with Vic and Pete. Maybe tomorrow I’ll face up to the fact that this is it – the final Furzedown countdown.