Saturday, March 23, 2013

The Tale of the Two Munsters.

When you tend to wake up earlier then everyone else in the family, the first morning after a big travel day can move very slowly.  While the family slept I worked on the first blog post then took a little walk through our neighbourhood.   We are staying at a Sheraton that is in a complex that looks like it use to be an old factory.  I hit a super posh chocolatier for a cafe and croissant.  You know your are in Switzerland when you walk out of the cafe with 11 less dollars in your pocket....

After a groggy and slightly grumpy start, we headed out for the day.  We started out on the tram, then jumped off when we saw a cool looking church high up on hill.

Inside there was a girl rehearsing a song for what we assume was a wedding. She had an outstanding voice.
Someone was still waking up.....

This house was part of this neighbourhood, it looks like it belongs in rural France.

This was a really interesting neighbourhood.  The architecture was very diverse, it was very private and only minutes from the core of Zurich.  Within minutes we were down by the lake.

Zurich Marathon leader.
She made the boats look like the were standing still.
I was waiting for this lady to pass me so I could take her picture, but she was moving so slow I had to turn around and walk the other way for a little while....

On the Quaibruke bridge Fraumunster is the green guy on the left, and Grossmunster is on the right.

After lunch we explored the the romanesque styled Grossmunster church.  The super munster took 120 years to build and was officially inaugurated in 1220, just three years before Veronica Cameron-Stewart was born.  Apparently the two towers were erected in 1487 and 1492.

Finmunster outside the Grossmunster.
Stacey and Bronwyn hiking up the munster.
Spectacular views from all sides of the Grossmunster.

It took five takes to get the grumpmunster in blue to smile.
Fin spiralling down the core of the munster.

Funky fountain outside the candy store.

What do you do when you walk out of a candy store and there is a steep hill in front of you?
You race Gumballs!!!  Stacey  1 - rest of Maddock's 0.

We walked across the aptly named Munster Brucke to get to Fraumunster Abbey.

Fraumunster Abbey is really old, it dates back to 853 (does that make you feel better Veronica?).  What makes this place quite unique are the five large stained glass windows that were done in 1970 by Russian artist Marc Chagall.  We couldn't really get a picture that would do them justice, but trust us, they are fantastic and very much Chagall.
Fraumunsters sweet organ.

A not so great pic of a few of the Chagall stained glass windows in Fraumunster Abbey.
Loved this row of buildings just outside of the Fraumunster.
It's race time!!
Big come from behind win by Bronwyn!

All in all, it was a fantastic day exploring this fascinating city.  We loved the vast diversity in its architecture and its charming streets that you could meander along.  

Tomorrow morning we are on the train enroute to Salzburg, Austria.  The hills are alive.....

Posh Little Pod Boy

Well the Frog's journey has begun, but I have to tell you it almost didn't happen. Airfares for travel this spring were absolutely outrageous.  Last year when we went to Italy we were able to get all-in round trip fares for the four of us for $3600.  This year the cost to fly anywhere in Europe was double!  With the fares so high, I thought I would see where we could go with Aeroplan and Avion Visa points.  What do you think it cost for two "free" business class tickets using Aeroplan, and two "free" tickets using Avion?  After all taxes and surcharges our four FREE tickets were $3300...

We have created absolute monsters at our house when it comes to travel.  My regular travel for work provides us with the ability to get upgrades on pretty regular basis, they are never guaranteed, but we have been pretty successful getting them.  Somehow the kids (in particular Fin) have taken this from a possibility, to an expectation!  So the talk at our house for the last few weeks hasn't been about the fantastic cities and sites that we will visiting.  Instead, the only thing on Fin's mind has been, "Have you upgraded you and I yet?", "Why can't Bronwyn and mommy fly coach?".  And then there was my personal favourite, "This isn't fair, I've only flown in the pods to Europe twice!".  What a little punk.  

After he and I had a lengthy chat about his "first world problem", I had him prepared for the inevitable 10hr journey without the posh treatment of business class.  

In the AC lounge before the flight, contemplating the dreaded flight in coach.

Apparently if you whine, complain and tell everyone you know that it's not fair that you have to fly coach, it works....  His wish came true.   We were fortunate to procure the last two seats up front.  I can already hear it for the next trip, "It's not fair, I've only flown in the pods to Europe three times!"
When we finally boarded the plane, he was happy with his seat.
Pod regular.

Our flight took us to Frankfurt where we had a short connecting flight to Zurich.  I'm amazed how easy it is to enter into countries these days.  In Frankfurt we showed our passports to a really grumpy German guy, we didn't have to fill out a form, he didn't ask us anything, he just mumbled and inaudible word and handed us back our passports.  In Zurich we walked off the plane, grabbed our bags and walked outside. Weird.  

After a scrambled attempt at taking the train into Zurich (you know, wrong platforms, wrong trains...the standard), we finally made our way to the hotel.  Even with the fancy pods to help us get a bit of rest on the flight we were all pretty tired, so we chilled in the room for an hour or so.  Worst part of the day? Trying to get pod boy to put his iPad down and get jacket on so you can go see the town and get some meltdown.

Railing on the pier looking out at Lake Zurich.
Locals enjoying the evening.
One of the many steep, narrow walk ways off of the Quays in the center of Zurich.

The moon high above Grossmunster Cathedral.
Evening view of Fraumunster Abbey from the base of Grossmunster Cathedral.