Saturday, 31 August 2013

A ZURICH WALKABOUT (Saturday, August 31)

I'm still suffering from a trace of jet lag, so I may let my photos do most of the speaking today. I will attempt to post them in order of how I refer to them in the blog ....... Well, sorta'.
Jim and I set out this morning for a self-guided (always dangerous!?!) exploration of Old Zurich. Some of what we visited was included in a walking tour, but as usual, much of what we saw happened by accident as we oh so characteristically got lost. Getting lost is easy when one or the other of us says, "Hey! What's down that alley?" and then proceeds, the other partner in tow, to take the detour. My favourite alley detour find was a wonderful little cuckoo clock shop. Each clock was a unique and charming work of art. We stood transfixed.
We walked part of the mile-long Bahnhofstrasse, the pedestrian- and tram-only shopping drag. When will we in Toronto ever figure out that pedestrian-only streets are the way to go? Early Saturday morning and the shops and street were packed with not a car in sight. How refreshing! Jim was in heaven with the plethora of watch shops. Hey, we are in Switzerland; what did you expect? We stopped in Pestalozzi Park dedicated to Johann Heinrich Pestalozzi who very early on promoted education for all, not just the wealthy. Because of sky-high land values, Zurich is not a city of parks so the shade and trees were a welcome respite from a strong early morning sun.
We then detoured on an old boardwalk that ran along the riverside and then steeply climbed (my quads were aching!) in an alleyway to gorgeous Lindenhof, a hilltop square, apparently dating back to Roman times. The views of the city were spectacular!
Grossmunster's two towers are considered 'the' Zurich landmark. And so off to the church we headed. Huldrych Zwingli was a German-speaking Swiss, zealous church reformer. One guide book states that he made Martin Luther look like a milquetoast! Zwingli de-cluttered Swiss churches of all religious artifacts, artwork, and adornments. The guidebook suggests that one sit in a pew and enjoy the strength of the simplicity created. This is where I am struggling. Some will be offended by my next words and for that I apologize. Neither a Catholic nor a Lutheran, I should have no preferences, but must admit that I felt not an ounce of serenity in this stark, cold and forbidding church. Austere, unforgiving and unloving are the first words that pop into my mind. Rather I could envision Zwingli standing in the pulpit violently shaking his enraged finger directly at me and preaching damnation. I much prefer the joyous artwork found in Roman churches where I feel the awe and wonder of a greater power. To my mind, Grossmunster's most beautiful feature was the choir, adorned by three vibrant stained glass windows. They injected life into the rather drab atmosphere. How ironic that these are the work of an Italian Catholic artist. 187 narrow, claustrophobic steps lead to one of the towers from which sweeping views of the city and out over Lake Zurich meet the eye. Quite the climb!
Lake Zurich is 17 miles long, 2.5 miles wide and glacier-fed, resulting in glorious crystal clear, turquoise waters. Yesterday Jim and I hiked a couple of miles along the lakeside promenade. Today was boat day. We hopped on a commuter ferry (Jim refers to it as a 'ferry tram') criss- crossing the northern third of Lake Zurich dropping off and picking up passengers en route. Swimmers and boaters (power, sail and kayak) vie for water space with the ferries. Never have I witnessed a lake more enjoyed by its citizens. Charming little boathouses, swim clubs and marinas dot the shoreline.
Enough is enough. Honestly, as I read this over, I am even boring myself with my writing today. Tonight we are off to Zeughauskeller, a Zurich beer hall situated in a medieval arsenal, for traditional Swiss fare.
Bis morgen.........

Friday, 30 August 2013


Our flight departed for Zurich last night at 6:20 p.m. (just after midnight in Switzerland). No matter how frequently we travel, I experience an intense brain/body conflict when time zones are skipped. With an almost eight-hour flight ahead, my practical brain reasoned, "Move your watch forward; pretend it is midnight. Grab your blanket and pillow. Don your sleep mask and ear plugs. Now sleep. We will reset your body clock." My body, however, cried, "Hey, what's going on here? Put down that blanket. It's dinner time and I'm hungry. There is food.....and wine.....and a movie! Come on. Celebrate! The night is young. What are you - an old lady? Have some fun!"
At 8:00 this morning, Air Canada touched down at Flughafen Zurich-Kloten ( say that when you have been up most of the night!) and now my brain screamed, "We are in Switzerland. Hurry! Let's go! So much to see! So much to explore! Let's get moving here!" My body, on the other hand groaned in response, "Ah man, I'm draggin'. Total fatigue here. Need bed. Need pillow. It's just the middle of the night in Toronto. Aaaach! Jet lag!"
The French refer to it as "les effects du decalage"; the Japanese, "jisaboke" and the medical world, "circadian desyncronization". Whatever! No matter how fancy the term, it is what it is - pure and simple jet lag. There is an old saying that, "the spirit cannot move faster than a camel". That would be me. So succumbing to our disoriented internal clocks, Jim and I crashed for about three hours.
Zurich is the epicentre of Swiss banks and famous Swiss financial security. What a great place to just spend a couple of days shaking off our jet lag, we thought. Have we ever been pleasantly surprised. Zurich may hold great importance in the financial world, but it feels like a small, gracious city, not the coldly efficient financial hub we envisioned. Cobblestoned streets, narrow lanes, tiny squares reminiscent of Italian piazzas, and leafy green promenades along the waterfronts of both the Limmat River and Lake Zurich welcome you. Small wonder it has a reputation as Europe's most livable city.
After a coffee enjoyed at a little cafe along the river, we headed for Fraumunster, the abbey church famous for its 30-foot stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. I was excited to see these. In 1967, Chagall presented an exhibit in Zurich. At the time, he was offered a commission by the city to create the windows for Fraumunster. Much to Zurich' s astonishment, he accepted. The completed work is nothing short of stunning. In rich colours and shard-like cubism he created five magnificent windows - The Prophets (in reds), Jacob (in his favourite colour, blue), Christ (greens), Zion (brilliant yellows) and The Law (blue). To sit in the choir of this otherwise monochromatic church and gaze at these widows backlit by sunshine is an experience I will not soon forget. To say that the vibrant windows assault the senses is an understatement.
For the remainder of the afternoon, to stretch our cramped airline legs, we hiked a few miles along the glorious leafy promenade bordering Lake Zurich.
Tonight we are off to a "guild" for a truly Swiss meal (?) and are eagerly looking forward to truly discovering more of glorious Zurich tomorrow.
I have attached photos. Because, this computer genius (much laughter accompanied by Chris and Matt shaking their embarrassed heads!) has not figured our how to label her pictures with the blog program, I will list what they are before.
1. Chagall Windows. Not taken by me personally. No cameras are allowed. I have just downloaded this picture from the Internet. The centre three windows are flanked on separate walls by the outside two.
2,3,4. Along the Limmat River
5,6. Lake Zurich Pormenade
7. Small squares such as this one abound. So reminiscent of Italian piazzas.
8. Tiny back lanes just waiting to be explored. Tomorrow!!
9. Swiss efficient tram service. Mayor Ford, you desperately need to visit.

Tuesday, 20 August 2013


Alcoholics Anonymous assists alcoholics in their journey to achieving sobriety. I am in desperate need of a Packers Anonymous. I can envision myself now at a meeting, "My name is Daphne Lockett and I have an excess baggage problem". Any psychiatric analysis would discover three deep-seated underlying issues leading to my affliction - "What If Syndrome ", "Double Up Disorder" and the more common "What Will They Think Malady".
The severity of my "Double Up Disorder" presents in direct proportion to the number of "what ifs" with which I am plagued. What if the weather gets colder? Simple! Double up on the number of sweaters. What if my shoes get wet. Simple! Double up on the number of shoes. What if my top, pants, jacket, scarf or whatever get stained. Simple! Double up get the point. What I yearn for is one of the old steamer trunks from the Grand Tour era.
Most embarrassing is that I have suffered from the "What Will They Think Malady". This confession is difficult. What will they think if they see me in the same outfit more than once? Honestly, I need to get over myself. As if each hotel guest or restaurant patron is taking careful note of what I am wearing??? And if they do, who cares?
Such has been my excess packing on previous trips that I wonder why customs officials in visited countries didn't question my "visitor" designation. Having packed everything but the proverbial kitchen sink, was I not in truth seeking landed immigrant status?
My affliction is most onerous for Jim. Being the gentleman he is, he insists on heaving my overweight luggage off airport carousels, onto upper train baggage racks and up narrow stairs in charming little European inns without elevator service. And so, to save my husband from any further muscle strain or even a hernia, I have finally decided to amend my ways.
Rick Steves, the American travel guru, in his gem of a book, "Europe Through The Back Door", dedicates a whole chapter to packing light. His self-imposed limit is 20 pounds in a 9" by 22" by 14" carry-on size bag. Really, Rick? I could do that for an overnight stay. Gotta love the lady, who at one of his lectures and in response to his announced self-imposed limit, yelled, "That's just my cosmetics bag!" My goal for this trip, though, is 30 pounds. I wander the house repeatedly muttering to myself the old mantra, " Take half the clothes and twice the money".
And so, should you phone, visit or email, let the phone ring longer, ring the doorbell twice, just wait for my email response. This reformer is most likely to be found in the back bedroom, surveying the clothes I have laid out on the bed and asking myself, "Do I really need you?"

Monday, 5 August 2013


This blog is honestly just a test for me to ensure that I actually possess the ability to get the "add photos" part of this new blog program to work. No small feat if you are familiar with my superior (you don't have to laugh so hard) computer skills or remember my picture-less (yawn!) blog from Italy. We head out to Switzerland and environs in a few weeks. For the sake of family and friends I hope to have something for them to view rather than just reading my writing. Z-z-z-z!
A beautiful sunny day and a walk into town with Jim for lunch. What better time to take a few photos and test my abilities.
Just under a year ago, the moving van departed. Friends and family returned to their homes. There Jim and I stood, after thirty-five years in Thornhill, now in a new town, now in a new home and now even in a new regional municipality. Ahead of us lay retirement and life in small town Ontario (Uxbridge - population 19,900). I have to smile when I write that as, at no time, are we more than twenty minutes from the GTA's shopping, noise, traffic congestion or adrenalin pumping "sense of hurry". I totally appreciate that this life is not for everyone, that Toronto and the GTA hold a tremendous draw. I get it, folks! However, for Jim and I this lifestyle change has proven to be a leap of faith that landed on its mark successfully.
Uxbridge embraced us in its warm welcoming hug and Jim and I, in return, have fallen in love with this charming town and its engaging people. I can walk down the street and have shopkeepers wave and call my name. (Guess I shouldn't have stolen that......only kidding!) Restaurants, cafes and pubs abound. My personal favourites are the Tin Mill Restaurant and Tin Cup Cafe (pictures included). The Sunday Farmers' Market, within a short walk, displays a plethora of inviting fresh local produce. I swim five days a week at Uxpool (Yup, that's it's name.) If I miss a session, my fellow swimmers become concerned. Who needs the willpower to exercise when my fellow swimmers keep tabs. Miles of hiking trails beckon; we are the trail capital of Canada. Go figure! Our golf course is a five minute drive from home. Events, usually held in the heart of our town, beautiful Elgin Park, are never ending - Ribfest, Highland Games, Art in the Park, The Fall Fair, and on and on the lengthy list goes. I am convinced that Uxbridge does not fully understand that it is only a small town. When did I ever have time to work?
Do we reside in Camelot? No, but it is pretty damned close! Life is good!