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First Stop Zurich

My Odyssey begins with trams and snow

snow 2 °C
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First stop on my trip was Zurich, with predictable Swiss efficiency I passed through the clinically tidy airport in record time and found myself on a double decker train into the centre of the city. On cue it began to snow as soon as I arrived and walked to my hotel only a short distance away.

Double-decker train at Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

Double-decker train at Zurich Hauptbahnhof (Railway Station)

My hotel in Zaehringerstrasse is in a quaint part of town with narrow cobbled streets with lots of bars and restaurants, as well as a few establishments of a more dubious nature!

Cobbled Street in Zurich

Cobbled Street in Zurich

Exploring the city in the evening for something to eat and to get my bearings Zurich seems to have a nice unhurried visitor friendly atmosphere.Trams are everywhere, Zurich must have the most comprehensive public transport system in the world and is something the locals are very proud of.

Bahnhofstrasse - the main shopping street in Zurich

Bahnhofstrasse - the main shopping street in Zurich

Spent my first day doing a tour of the City, apart from a Spanish couple everybody else on the coach was Australian with absolutely no connection to each other!

We drove past all the sites (including for my friends in Cheltenham the global headquarters for Swiss Re and Zurich Insurance), the University where Einstein taught as well as walking around the older historic part of town down by where the River Limmat flows into Lake Zurich.

The clock face of St. Peter's Church

The clock face of St. Peter's Church


A shop window that caught my eye in the old part of Zurich

A shop window that caught my eye in the old part of Zurich


Grossmunster, Zurich

Grossmunster, Zurich


River Limmat flowing through the old part of Zurich just before it reaches the lake

River Limmat flowing through the old part of Zurich just before it reaches the lake

Stopping briefly by the harbour we then drove south beside the east shore, passed Tina Turner's House (who is now a Swiss citizen having recently renounced her US citizenship) to take the (surprisingly speedy) ferry across the Lake.

Me beside the Lake in Zurich Harbour

Me beside the Lake in Zurich Harbour


The gates to Tina Turner's House on Lake Zurich

The gates to Tina Turner's House on Lake Zurich


Taking the ferry across Lake Zurich

Taking the ferry across Lake Zurich

The coach then climbed up to the Felsenegg Cableway which took us up to the summit where there where spectacular views of Zurich and the whole lake. Australians seem to have a fascination with snow and snow ball fights ensued as we walked through the woods to a cafe for a warm drink (note to self remember to wear gloves when snowballing!).

Travelling up on the Felsenegg Cableway near Zurich

Travelling up on the Felsenegg Cableway near Zurich


Picture of me on the Felsenegg Summit with a view of Zurich behind me

Picture of me on the Felsenegg Summit with a view of Zurich behind me

On the way back we passed the Lindt Chocolate Factory, birthplace of all those gold wrapped chocolate bunnies so favoured at Easter time.

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged lakes snow trains boat city tour cablecar solo Comments (0)

Luzern Carnival

Fancy Dress and Partying

overcast 2 °C
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By coincidence my stay in Switzerland coincided with the annual four day Lucerne Carnival culminating in a big parade on the Monday before Shrove Tuesday. A major feature of the parade are the "Guggemuusige" or improvised (masked) bands and we began our visit by joining the crowds watching them lining the Seebrucke Bridge.

A Band crossing the Seebrucke Bridge during Luzern Carnival

A Band crossing the Seebrucke Bridge during Luzern Carnival


Luzern Carnival

Luzern Carnival


Luzern Carnival

Luzern Carnival

Amongst the bands there were also many elaborate floats, most of which had very dark themes.

One of the many floats at Luzern Carnival

One of the many floats at Luzern Carnival

And it wasn't just the parade members that dress up but about 90% of the spectators as well! We couldn't get fancy dress at short notice (apparently dour reformist Zurich doesn't go in for that sort of thing and leaves the partying to Catholic Lucerne) but nobody seemed to care and we had a great time.

Carnival goer at Luzern Carnival

Carnival goer at Luzern Carnival


Me at Luzern Carnival

Me at Luzern Carnival

When the parade was over we sampled some of the history of this beautiful medieval city with its famous 14th century covered wooden pedestrian bridge (seriously damaged by fire in 1993 but now restored) and narrow streets.

The Kapelbrucke Bridge in Luzern

The Kapelbrucke Bridge in Luzern


Rathausquai during the Carnival with the Jesuit Church on the other side of the river

Rathausquai during the Carnival with the Jesuit Church on the other side of the river

Meanwhile the partying was set to continue right through the night. The bands were now making impromptu performances around Lucerne including on some steps by the river.

Band playing on the steps during Luzern Carnival

Band playing on the steps during Luzern Carnival


Luzern Carnival

Luzern Carnival


Luzern Carnival in full swing on Rathausquai

Luzern Carnival in full swing on Rathausquai

Posted by FrancisRTW 02:00 Archived in Switzerland Tagged bridges snow city party videos Comments (0)

Wat Arun and Wat Pho

Buddhas and Temples before Hotel Check-In

sunny 35 °C
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I must have been the only person on the two legs of my flight from Muscat to Bangkok (via Karachi) not returning or leaving home in Pakistan laden down with extra baggage. My flight arrived in Bangkok 7am so having previously arranged for my hotel to look after my luggage I got on with the sightseeing.

After a short trip on the Bangkok Skytrain to Saphan Taksin and journey up and across the Phraya River, I arrived at Wat Arun (Temple of the Dawn) a 269 feet (82 metre) high khmer-style `brahnig(spire) constructed in the early 1800s when the Thai capital moved from Ayuthaya to Bangkok.

Wat Arun from the River Phraya

Wat Arun from the River Phraya


Wat Arun and Gardens

Wat Arun and Gardens


Me outside Wat Arun

Me outside Wat Arun

Wat Arun is an iconic sight and you are encouraged to climb it. The 1st flight of steps weren't too bad but the 2nd step were scary steep and felt almost vertical; once you were up the challenge was then to sum up the courage to get down again!

Wat Arun

Wat Arun


Detail of a scuptured figure on the side of Wat Arun

Detail of a scuptured figure on the side of Wat Arun


Looking down the scary 2nd flight of steps at Wat Arun

Looking down the scary 2nd flight of steps at Wat Arun


Me on the top of Wat Arun with Wat Pho in the background

Me on the top of Wat Arun with Wat Pho in the background


Wat Arun

Wat Arun

I then returned across the river and went into Wat Pho, so stunning was the architecture that for a couple of days I was convinced it was the famed Grand Temple Complex itself! The main attraction at Wat Pho is the 150 Foot (46 metre) long by 49 feet (15 metre) high Recling Buddha in the elaborate large hall by the entrance. Beside the Hall of the Recling Buddha there are a number of large Chedi containing the ashes of Buddha and royalty (buddhists cremate rather than bury their dead).

The Hall of the Recling Buddha at Wat Pho

The Hall of the Recling Buddha at Wat Pho


The Recling Buddha

The Recling Buddha


Me by the Recling Buddha

Me by the Recling Buddha


The large Chedi at Wat Pho

The large Chedi at Wat Pho


Stone Guard by the entrance gate

Stone Guard by the entrance gate

The Main Hall (Phra Ubosot) at Wat Pho is surrounded by smaller halls to the North, East, West and South each of which is venerated as a shrine by Buddhists and you have to be properly dressed and take your shoes off before entering.

The Main Hall at Wat Pho

The Main Hall at Wat Pho


Buddha in the Main Hall at Wat Pho

Buddha in the Main Hall at Wat Pho

Seated Buddha in one of the halls surrounding Wat Pho

Seated Buddha in one of the halls surrounding Wat Pho


Standing Buddha in one of the surrounding halls at Wat Pho

Standing Buddha in one of the surrounding halls at Wat Pho


Buddha in one of the surrounding halls

Buddha in one of the surrounding halls

Posted by FrancisRTW 03:00 Archived in Thailand Tagged temples boat city buddha videos solo Comments (0)

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