Last day in Switzerland

Hello all. This will be our last day in Switzerland. This afternoon we head off to Germany to meet up with Annmarie’s brother Justin in Freiburg. We had a great time in Lucern (very pretty city that one, absolute picture book town) and are having a wonderful time here in Basel. In our opinion both have been better than Zurich, though I suspect that Zurich is really geared for the international business types, being the über banking city that it is supposed to be. The biggest disappointment for me is that we had to return the Saab yesterday, but driving over the border to get rid of the big luggage was a big help.

So gotta run, we will be heading off to catch a train in a few hours, then it will be next stop Freiburg Germany!

Greetings from Zurich

Hello all. I’ve finally managed to get to another web terminal to make another update. We have left Tokyo (to much dissapointment by all) and are now in Zurich. It’s a pity that I haven’t been able to write more in this journal, but who would have thought that traveling through and about foreign cities with two small kids would have been such hard work!

The rest of the Tokyo stay was as fantastic as the first half. Zurich has a tough job to impress us after Tokyo. The ramen noodle bar I finally found was just fantastic and I want to return to Tokyo just to have more noodles. We still have 20,000¥ left over, but we are already planning for a two week stopover on our way back (some talk has even been made of living there in the future).

We managed to see quite a few of the main Tokyo city centres (Shinjuku, Ueno, Hongo, Akihabara, Tochome and a couple of others, we of course didn’t get to any of the nightlife spots like Roppongi). We also did a couple of touristy things like ride on the Big O. The Big O is a giant ferris wheel that takes 15 minutes to do one round. It’s in the Tokyo dome plaza. Tokyo dome is a giant baseball stadium, amusement park, shopping centre and hotel all in one. We think that they may have played some of the world cup soccer there, but I can’t really remember. The view from the top of the Big O was incredible, we went up at night and the lights just went on for ever, building and sky scrapers went to the horizon.

Akihabara was quite amazing too. For those who don’t know, Tokyo seems to be full of small regions that contain shops dedicated to certain types of shopping (although you can find those shops in other, more general areas). So there is a bookshop district, a sporting goods district, and Akihabara is the electronics district (so of course I was honour bound to visit). It was quite amazing. The place was at least 3-4 times the size of rundle mall, and looked kinda like the royal show, but with a lot more neon and each stall being a 4-8 story building. The variety and quantity of electronics goods was simply astounding. This was the point in time that I started to really want to live in Tokyo. I also found out that the REALLY cool phones (foma) that I wanted to get were not that expensive, but were all hard wired to be used only through DoCoMo (a Japanese telco) so no sim cards. That means that if I want one…

The train ride back out to the airport was an eye opener too. The ride was an express that took about 57 minutes and about 47 minutes of it was through city (not suburbs but tall buildings). It really struck home just how big the place really is. Narita airport on the way out was stunningly busy but the people at JAL scooped us out of the crowd and wisked us through checkin, even helping with bags and kids. JAL seem to be a really wonderful airline. The flight to Zurich would have been really great if a certain small boy had actually taken a nap during the flight and not spent the final 40 minutes screaming and crying. But oh well, you can’t get a perfect trip on our budget.

Landing in Zurich was equally simple, passport checks took about 30 seconds for all of us and we out onto the terminal in no time at all where we were met by Annmarie’s brother Justin (very helpful with all the bags and all). We got to the hotel easy (a shuttle bus called the Ben-Bus) and settled in fine.

Zurich has been very lovely and picturesque. The food here is heavier, but generally of good quality, but also a bit more expensive than Tokyo. We took a train up the mountain to a place called Uetliburg and saw some snow (Willow has been pining to see snow ever since we left Adelaide). The snow was fun and Willow was quite sorry when we had to go back to the city. Unfortnately, the day was a little bit cloudy, so we didn’t get to see all the alps.

Saturday we arranged to rent a car since catching a train with 10 bags and the kids didn’t sound like fun to us. It looked like it was going to be a manual, since that was the only station wagon they had left, but when we arrived at the car rental place, the guy said that an automatic had been returned and I could have that one if I liked, but it was a little bit more expensive. I said yes since both myself and Annmarie would probably be more comfortable with a auto. Then I asked what kind of a car it was, and he tells me it is a Saab (Woo Hoo). So today we are driving to Lucurn in a Saab.

Anyway, I’d better get back and get ready to go (we want to leave early today). Hope everyone back in Australia is doing well. I’ll write more soon.

Cheers
Damien