Sunday, February 1, 2009

The Swiss Underground (Wait, Aren’t They Neutral?)

On our first full day in Zurich, Martello and I slept in as late as our hosts (especially our mini hosts) would allow. We finally mustered ourselves to the Pain Quotidien around the corner where Zurich Sister eventually met us (after being relieved from duty) and then lead the way up the Dolderbahn (they just throw these funiculars all over the place in Europe!) and gave us a tour of the sporting facilities and newly-refurbished Dolder Grand Hotel (Foster and Partners=multiple photos; the place is rumored to charge over $800 a night—and I just verified that rumor; eek!).

After our descent, we parted from Zurich Sister and took a quick tram ride to the Stadelhofen train station. While it previously had only been known to me as the embarkation point for the airport train, it turns out that it was designed (with great fanfare) by Santiago Calatrava, which calls for lots of photographs (sorry, I didn't download those, but if you're really interested, visit Trofie Wife stood in the cold while Martello shot every angle, nut, and bolt. She was rewarded for her patience with a hot pretzel with mustard from the ubiquitous chain, Bretzel Konig (sadly, no plain pretzel baguettes were available).

Much like the county of my youth (dreaded Bergen), Zurich runs on stiff Blue Laws that keep much of everything closed on Sunday. Italy—of Mass on Sunday— is actually a bit looser on these matters; some stores are open on Sunday, but the catch is that you have to wake up and get there before they close at noon (except for the grocery store in Voltri, blissfully open until 9 p.m. every night). Strangely, there is an exception in Svizzera for stores located beneath the earth, so many train stations are equipped with underground shopping malls. After the photo session ended, we descended to the station’s Sprungli chocolate store, a member of the chain that I had not yet visited. Sprungli, for those of you not in the know, is most likely the absolute best chocolate store in the world (and those of you who know me and my chocolate habit well clearly understand that I don’t throw around such a designation lightly). It’s a pristine monument to not only chocolate but pastries of every kind, particularly the delicate Luxemburgerli buttercream-filled macaroons (in such flavors as chocolate, mocha, and raspberry and which, Martello beware (and Zurich Brother-in-Law also be joyous!), I just found out can be shipped internationally…). Since I didn’t consider this small Sprungli to be a “real Sprungli” (like the flagship in the city center), I stuck to ordering only a small chocolate cake and a selection of Luxemburgerli (and saved the heavy-duty chocolate shopping for later in the week). Trofie Wife will have you all know that these purchases were shared amongst everyone with working teeth in the Freiestrasse apartment.

We arrived home just in time for pre-bedtime playtime. Martello and Frank Lloyd “I Don’t Yet Know My Left From My Right” got to work on the schematic for a new wooden structure, further proving that if people just learn to work together, we can overcome the greatest of differences (those being, allegiances to the Yankees in the former’s case and the Red Sox (note below actual red socks) in the latter).

After the kiddies (don't worry, we'll post shots of the other one in the coming days) were again tucked in, Zurich Brother-in-Law introduced us to the pleasures (especially when you have surround-sound speakers) of renting movies via iTunes. Zurich Sister and I went to bed with nightmares courtesy of The Dark Knight (clearly some fantastic acting from Heath Ledger, who actually died the last time I was in Switzerland). Stay tuned for news about “tomorrow” (which was really 12/29/08, but who’s really keeping track...).

Senf und bretzels,

Martello e Trofie Wife

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