Zurich!: Day 1

Sun Dec 14 09:47:41 CET 2003

December 13th 2003, 7.45pm MYT - Leave Klang for the airport. Checking in isn't an issue at all and I've got all my stuff packed without too much hassles. Checking in is quick, and the service is excellent; go Singapore Airlines.

10.45pm - Arrive at Changi Airport, and walk to the transfer counter. Seems its already boarding, so I'm in the plane by 11.15pm. Someone has the same seat number as I do - 41H!

    "Excuse me, are you sure you're sitting in the right seat," the boy next to me asks, in that oh-so-Singaporean tone of voice.
    I respond, rather harried, "Yes, are you sure you're in the right seat?"

He then goes on to mention that his father should be sitting next to him and we compare tickets to see if we have the same seat number.

A steward is called, and he goes on to solve the problem amicabally. I get upgraded, and the father gets to sit with his son. Not bad, I say to myself. Later on, while watching S.W.A.T., with their on-demand TV shows, I end up falling asleep, only to be awakened at 2am for "supper". Yum, I wolf it down, and fall back to sleep again. The seat's so comfy that I think I slept for a good 9 hours straight!

December 14th 2003, 11am MYT - Awaken, just in time for breakfast. Catch Adam & Emma (I hope that's the name of the show, its one with Kate Hudson). Nice show, and not long after I arrive at Zurich. The watch reads 6.45am, since I changed it (-0700 hours from Malaysia)... Its 1.45pm in Malaysia now.

7.20am CET (Zurich time from now on...) - Immigration seems to be a breeze. They look at your passport, no visa or anything, and just stamp it. Wow! No taking down my details, no anything. This is shocking (I think). Australia, a place I fly to very frequently is so much more stricter...Well, so is Singapore. Zurich security is so lax in my opinion.

Grab the bags, and into a taxi cab. Its a Mercedes! Driver tells me my journey is about 12km to the hotel, which is in the city. Nice. 55 Swiss Francs later, I'm at my hotel. Taxi's in Melbourne expensive? Wait till you hit Zurich, it costs a whole lot more.

7.45am - Check into the hotel, greeted by a wonderful receptionist. Its family run, this Hotel Neufeld. I'm early, so instead of the double-bed that I'm supposed to get, I get into the room that has two single beds (at the same cost...). Get my room and find that the power socket's are "sort of" usable. I mean, all my two-pronged Malaysian items are no problem (so I get the camera battery charging), but its the 3-pronged one's that hassle me it seems.

8.20am - Straight out of the toilet, and I'm speaking with Markku on the phone. He tells me a bit about what's happening, when he's coming over to see me, and whom I should go to for travel reimbursements. And of course, mentions that breakfast is complementary of the hotel, so I should go.

I ask for Internet access and power adapters. Apparently, Markku mentions that the city has some power adapters, which is near the Main Station (train). I shall be headed out soon. Internet, he says there should be dialup facilities by tomorrow, and also, asks me to search for WiFi hotspots; he managed to get one out of his hotel!

Some creation, a statue, up Uetilberg8.40am - Head off for breakfast. Some Swiss cheese, a few croissants and jam, and some cereal is available, and I go all out to eat them. I meet up with Yuko, who's handling reimbursements and give her my current status of receipts. Mayu is another one I meet, accompanying Yuko.

See some of the Thai and Indian workshop participants as well. Some talk about heading off to the city later, so I tell them to give me a holler. I'm off to bed, to get into tune with this timezone, and promised to meet them a little later for lunch. They'll give my room a call, I'm sure.

2.15pm - Awaken from my sleep. Shower, and get ready to go look for a power adapter. I knock on Mayu's room, no answer. Pranav's room has a "Do-Not-Disturb" sign; Pranav is one of the workshop participants as well. So, I decide that its about time to head out to the city (myself). Guess these folk either went to lunch, or have all gone their separate ways.

I get on the tram nearby the hotel, and find out that you have to purchase tram tickets at the stops, and not on the tram. Similar to Melbourne, you get fined a huge sum if you don't have a valid ticket. At least in Melbourne, you can buy a ticket on the tram; I couldn't find a machine on tram. So I get off at the next stop.

Architecture, up UetilbergEverything's in German, I think. Because if it were French, I'd be able to read it! So, I press one option, it says Sfr$2.10, and when the ticket is issued, I realise that I've just purchased a 1/2 hour ticket. While moving, I realise that everything is closed! Shops do not open on Sunday's, and on Saturday, they're done by 4pm. Wow, Melbourne really isn't that bad.

I arrive at the train station and start walking around. A few stores are actually open within the vicinity of the train station, and I start looking around. I find an electronics store, Inter Discount. They have computer peripherals, phone related items, and I hope, power adapters.

    "Excuse me, does this power adapter...," I start of before getting interrupted with a "I'm sorry, I'm really busy," from the not-so-friendly salesman.

I'm beginning to think that these folk would only speak German, and if you start of with English, they're not too pleased. Anyways, I pick up said travel adapter, with no price tag on it. So when I do get to the counter, I still don't know if its going to work, and how much it's going to cost me. Sigh.

Sfr$39.90 later, I'm off with a power adapter, hoping it'll work. Point to remember: Buy your travel adapters in Malaysia. They've got to be much cheaper. I walk around a little more, not finding anything appealing, I get another 1/2 hour ticket and head back to the hotel.

3.30pm - Back at the hotel, and I try the power adapter. It works! My laptop is getting charged. I didn't get to pick more up for the other delegates, but I'll be sure to ask again tomorrow, and probably go pick them up. For this particular model, there seemed to be no more at the shop; they did promise to get more tomomrrow.

3.55pm - Yuko calls me. "Hi, this is Yuko-san," she says. Wow. The -san bit is funky! Anyways, she went for a meeting, hence she didn't call me for lunch. She's at the SES Building, which is the Swiss National Library. OK, that means I don't know how to get there... Guess I'll be finding out how real soon.

She asks if I'd like to visit the mountains this evening. I am, of course, thrilled, so I respond with a yes! They'll meet me at 4.30pm, so at this stage, I can't hardly wait. One camera is ready to go, and I guess that's the one I'll be bringing with me.

4.44pm - Rain! Its heavy. No going up the mountain, and dinner is at 6.30pm. Oh bummer. I don't think I can wait that long, so I might have to go grab some food soon. Probably get it from the hotel. I'm kind of hungry, after all.

5.05pm - Took a walk around the area of the hotel. Mainly looking for food. The hotel does have a pizzeria cum pasta centre, but knowing my luck, our 6.30pm/7pm dinner would be there, so I decided to walk. Nothing was open (no surprise there!), though I did see a Chinese take-out joint, which I hope opens tomorrow.

Picture: Water ChestnutsFinally, picked up 100 grams of roasted water chestnuts, for Sfr$2.80. It seems it's something Italians like, and the bloke that sold it to me was Italian too. Next to no English spoken, great. Oh, its cheaper than it is in Melbourne (~AUD$3.50); saw a machine that sold Coke and some chocolate. It was "kaput", as the person on the phone next to it told me. I'm not sure if "kaput" is a word they use here, but that's something we use in Malaysia for sure :) Notice the bag that they provide? There's a place for the husk to be discarded; we could learn from this!

5.15pm - We have CNN, BBC Prime, and even MTV on television. By the looks of it, those are the three channels that are in English, while everything else is in something I can't understand. Yuko called me again, telling me that the Indians are already at the train station, and they're still determined to go up the mountains.

I said I'll go if she and Mayu go. They'll call me soon...

5.25pm - Yuko calls. I shall be ready in ten minutes. We're going to the mountains.

The Group!6.30pm - We're waiting at the tram stop of the train station. We're not going to the mountains per se, but we're headed up to the Top of Zurich, supposed to be the higest point where you might even catch snow. It's called Uetilberg.

7.30pm - We get the train to Uetilberg. It's in half-hourly intervals, and from the main station at Zurich, it takes the journey of the entire line before you reach.

8.00pm - Arrival at Uetilberg. All of us are here, the entire team. Excellent. We trek up and arrive at a place that we see, says the Top of Zurich. It looks like a restaurant, as well as a hotel. We take a few photos, Zurich is really a city of lights, beautiful I tell you. We got SNOW! It snowed! Lightly, but it snowed. And everyone was thrilled. The Top of Zurich

Uto Kulm, The Restaurant8.30pm - After climbing up the look-out tower, and braving all the winds (and crosswinds), we decide that some dinner is due. We have it at Uto Kulm, a "Hotel-Restaurant". It's a four-star (****) hotel. Some of the group go vegeterian, while some of them go for deer meat. I go for Chopped Veal, Zurich Style. When the dish arrives, it looks great, all the veal chopped, and prepared with a mushroom styled cream sauce. In addition, some hash browns accompany the meal. Beautiful! The meal would've cost a lot, as we had two bottles of Barossa (fancy that, South Australian wine!), and my veal for instance was Sfr$35. We ate a lot, really!

10.07pm - Take the train back from Uetilberg to Zurich. I notice that some, if not most of us, don't have a valid train ticket! But we're not doing anything about it, and are taking a gamble...

10.45pm - We arrive back safely and head off to bed. I pick up a 0.5L bottle of Coke, for Sfr$3. Ouch. My room has no refrigerator, but its normal for hotels to not have this here in Europe.. Warm Coke in a few moments, since the room is fairly warm. I lie in bed, and sleep by 11pm...

Read Day 2 or Go back to the Zurich index.

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