Wednesday, February 5, 2014

Swiss Miss

Last weekend, I hit #14 on my official country count! I spent pretty much all day Saturday in Switzerland. On my way back from Italy, I was already technically in Switzerland...but I don’t believe that it counts if you never leave the train station.

The first city I went to was Basel, which is only about an hour away. The first noteworthy thing I came across in Basel was this church, and this cool fountain!


You can’t really tell from the picture, but everything in the fountain was a moving machine part that sprayed water in a different way. It was pretty entertaining.

Then I walked up the steps to the church which was pretty typical...



...except for this painting??!! 


Why is this hanging in a church, and who/what is it depicting? Sorry to subject you to this, but I had to share so other people can see how weird it was.

The next ‘noteworthy’ site I went to was my store Zara. I have a need to shop at Zara in every country I visit, and Switzerland makes #10!!! Accomplishment. I bought some really cute heels on sale. Totally worth it to carry them around all day.


From Zara, I could see the Rathaus in the distance. For those of you that didn’t happen to go to Munich on a family vacation and are therefore unfamiliar with the word ‘Rathaus’, it means city hall. It was a cool red building with lots of paintings.


Here’s the courtyard. I sat here for a few minutes figuring out my map. It was an enjoyable place to sit because the best accordion player I’ve ever heard was in there too. That gave it a nice European ambience :)



Based on my map reading, I saw that the Rhine river was just around the corner. Obviously, that was my next stop.



After that, I was trying to find Basel’s main cathedral. I kept seeing the spires in the distance, but then it would disappear. Here’s some pictures I took of random Basel buildings while wandering around trying to find it.







Finally, my wandering paid off and I found the disappearing church through a secret alley. Well, secret to me...everyone else can probably find it. 

Success!




So that was it for my time in Basel. Next stop: Zurich! Of course, before getting on the train I had to grab some lunch. When I was here coming back from Italy, I had a delicious Swiss cheese pretzel sandwich. I obviously needed that same thing again, along with some Swiss chocolate for dessert. It was a tasty train ride to Zurich.

Zurich was only about an hour away, and when you get out of the train station you’re on it’s most famous street right away: the Bahnhofstrasse. It’s Zurich’s equivalent of 5th Avenue or the Champs-Elysées. In terms of window shopping opportunities at expensive stores I wish I could shop at...Bahnhofstrasse was right up there with those previously mentioned streets. Zurich has been named the most expensive city in the world, so it makes sense!

I didn’t get a good picture of this street because the sun was being annoying. But here’s the best I could do.


I went to 3 churches in Zurich. This first one, St. Peterskirche, likes to advertise that it has the BIGGEST CLOCK-FACE IN EUROPE. That is apparently a major selling point. I did like the inside because it looked lacy.




Here’s the second one, the Fraumunster.


The French artist Marc Chagall made the stained glass windows in this church. I feel like Marc Chagall is stalking me a bit. On my Paris study abroad, we went to a Marc Chagall museum sort of randomly while we were in Nice. When I went to the Milwaukee Jewish Museum last year, they have a big Marc Chagall mural. When I visited the Israeli parliament building last summer, they have 3 huge Marc Chagall paintings and some mosaics.

Hey, look! Let’s laugh at how tan I was just a few short months ago.


And now this...Marc Chagall in Switzerland? He’s a total stalker.

Like I said in my last post, I’m incapable of taking good pictures of stained glass, so my friend google helped me out with these.


And across the river is the Grossmunster. Let’s take a moment to reflect how hilarious German is. I love that the city’s two most beautiful churches are named Fraumunster and Grossmunster.

I feel like statues make pictures so much more epic-looking. This is a statue of Hans the Burgermeister. Again, German is the best.




Outside of this church, there was a beautiful view along the river. I didn’t hate it that some swans swam into my picture.



And just a few blocks further was Lake Zurich.


As I was walking around in the city and suddenly came across a huge lake, my first thought was weird it was to have a lake in the downtown of the city. Then my next thought was...oh wait...I’m from Milwaukee. *Genius*

Here’s my random pictures from Zurich. I was trying all day to get a good picture of the Swiss flag, if you can’t tell.






By this point, my feet were sore from walking around all day so I figured out how to take the tram back to Bahnhofstrasse. I still had about 2 hours until my train left, so I went to a museum that’s right next to the train station. It was called the Landesmuseum, and according to Tripadvisor it was a really cool place about the history of Switzerland. In reality, most of it was a bit too geared towards children for a 24 year old who was there alone’s tastes.

There were a few interesting rooms filled with...you guessed it...medieval art. Since I had just been to a medieval art museum the day before, this wasn’t too exciting for me.


However, over these two days where I saw lots of medieval art, I did discover the existence of an art genre that I hadn’t known about: Jesus riding a donkey on wheels. There were several of these at the Strasbourg museum too.


I’m not entirely sure what the wheels are for, but I like to think that in medieval times every church ceremoniously wheeled one of these up the nave on Palm Sunday. Please let that be true.

Anyways, there were a few rooms about the history of fashion that I liked. 

Shoe party!


Well, that concluded my day trip to Switzerland. It was definitely fun to see a little bit of a new country. Something great about the Strasbourg region is being SO close to several other countries. I also liked hearing German instead of French all day. I love French, but it kind of gets tiring hearing it all the time. It was comforting not having the pressure to constantly be translating things in your head. Since I don’t speak German, I didn’t have to put pressure on myself to understand what people were saying and to have good interactions with people in their native language.

I really want to see some more of Switzerland while I’m here though! I want to visit Geneva, which is French-speaking, and I’d love to see somewhere closer to the mountains.

To end this post, I’d like to brag about myself a little bit... that I have the ability to travel to another country by myself and find my way around successfully. That makes me feel almost as accomplished as shopping at Zara in 10 different countries.

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