Bern to Zürich

We gave Dad a pleasant surprise by being up, out of bed, and dressed when he knocked on our door at 8:00 today!  =)  We each did a final repacking of luggage, finding places to stash the mementos and gifts we purchased, too.

By 8:45, we were downstairs for breakfast.  Hmmmm.  Maybe it was even 8:30.  Anyway, being that much earlier meant that the breakfast buffet offered more choices: two kinds of sliceable bread plus croissants and rolls; lots of fresh fruit; dried apricots, figs, and multiple kinds of seeds to top cereals; and ample sliced meats and cheeses.

With the earlier tutoring from our tram angel and tram name/stop notes from the hotel, our route back to the Hotel Ambassador for the car was a breeze.  Since Brunhilda had had a little trouble finding the Hotel City using its Bahnhofplatz address, we decided to try the Bubenbergplatz address this time.  No better!  Bruny got us back into the neighborhood, but wonked out on the actual address.  Thankfully, we eventually spotted a Starbucks that looked familiar (having passed it on the tram ride) ~ and turned off the GPS.  =)

Bruny did a much better job of navigation once we were ready to leave Bern and head back to Zürich.  I think we were on the road by 11:00.  We had a few traffic slow-downs due to road construction, but only one stop ~ a scheduled toilet break at one of the autobahn rest areas.  Arrived at the Hotel Leoneck in Zürich shortly after 13:00.

Thankfully, our room (#650 again) was already finished by housekeeping.  So we were able to check in early.  Also, since we had reserved parking on our prior visit, we were able to park just a few meters from the hotel entrance.

Neither one of us is sure exactly how we did it, but Dad and I managed to figure out the AC this time: both a cooler temperature and a higher fan setting.  So our room was noticeably cooler within minutes, which boded well for better rest.

Our plan was to walk to the Bahnhofplatz for lunch, do our last gift shopping, see one more historic site, and hail a taxi to bring us back to the hotel.  That was the plan!

We left the hotel at about 14:00.  We easily found the steps down to the next street, which the concierge had described to Ron.  As it turned out, more steps took us further down … and further down.  We soon found ourselves on Limmatquai along the river, directly across from the transit center!  Within minutes, we were in the basement level of the bahnhof.  =)

Most of the restaurants for the Zürich station are on the street level ~ 2 floors up from where we entered the structure.  We checked out a couple of the pubs, but we didn’t want to pay 30-40 CHF ($35-45 per person) for lunch.  So we opted for Burger King, which gave us one fast food experience.

The menu was different from that in the US, starting with the fact that Ron could order a Heineken beer!  Dad had a burger, Ron had a veggie burger, and I had a nice salad with good lettuces, shredded carrots, cucumber slices, and corn.

During lunch, I studied the map that the concierge had given us.  Trams 6 and 10 could take us from the bahnhofplatz back to the hotel.  And a nice walk down Bahnhofstrasse (the Magnificent Mile for Zürich) could lead us within a block of St. Peter’s Kirche.

As it turned out, we were on a pilgrimage of sorts.  The map wasn’t accurate in displaying what streets would take us to St. Peter’s Kirche.  We arrived instead at a very contemporary sanctuary for a Catholic/Augustinian community.  The windows were large, but the glass was clear or textured, with only small insets of gorgeous stained glass.  Above the nave, there was one large stained glass panel.  But the most stunning aspect of the sanctuary was the contemporary-design crucifix in the chancel.  The lighting on the crucifix reflected it as a shadow on the shaped stone behind it ~ a shadow that looked as if its arms were stretched upward in an embrace.  Simply stunning.

This was the Augustinian church that Mom and Dad had visited, thinking that they had found St. Peter’s Kirche.  So now we set out again in earnest to find St. Peter’s, which we eventually did after traversing several steep alleys and steeper stairways.  St. Peter’s Kirche was lovely in its own way, more medieval/gothic in architecture and decor than the Catholic church, yet significantly less ornate than a place like St. Gallen.

By now it was about 16:00, much later than I had planned for us to be walking.  Dad seemed to be doing ok, despite the heat, especially after we found a fountain to refill our water bottles.  So we agreed to continue strolling along the river and find someplace for supper.  Heading toward the quai, we quickly realized that we had been just one short alley away when we tried to find St. Peter’s on our earlier visit to Zürich.  Sigh!

Our next stop was the Grössmunster, the large church on the other side of the river, where Zwingli (Reformation) had served.  Dad sat in the shade to take a break, while Ron and I visited the sanctuary.  More distinctive stained glass windows, based on New Testament parables, as well as bronze castings related to church history used on the doors.  Even two stunning windows that were made more recently from thinly sliced geodes!

We had read in a brochure featuring the city churches that the Grössmunster had a worship service in its crypt on Friday nights at 19:00.  Ron and I hunted through notices and brochures in the sanctuary, trying to find confirmation.  We were not successful.

By the time we reconnected with Dad, it was 17:00.  We agreed to have supper and return to the church to see if anyone appeared for the service.  We found an al fresco restaurant with good shade just a block away.  Dad had a (huge) Caesar’s salad with chicken.  Ron ordered a risotto with matchstick style carrots, red peppers, and yellow peppers.  I was so overheated again that I couldn’t eat, but really appreciated the two big glasses of ice that our server brought.  That was what I most needed!

We returned to the Grössmunster at about 18:45.  I walked all around the building and tried every door.  Locked tight.  We lingered, hoping that someone would appear with a key, but only others arrived looking for the service too.  Just before 7 o’clock, as we had given up and headed to the tram stop, a woman that Ron had talked to came back around the corner.  She had found a door now open!

The service didn’t start until 19:15, which explains why the door wasn’t open as early as we anticipated. It was a community prayer and meditation service in the Taizé tradition.

What an incredible gift to worship with other Christians in a crypt built in 1107 CE!  To sing chants in Latin, French, German, and English, with our voices lingering in those ancient stones.  A perfect benediction for our Swiss journey.

While Ron and Dad ate supper, I had studied the transit map again.  I was pretty sure that tram 4, with a stop right at the Grössmunster, could take us back to the Bahnhofplatz.  From there, it should be easy enough to catch a 6 or a 10 tram to take us back to Hotel Leoneck.

After the service, we walked down to the tram stop and used some of our small coins to buy tickets.  As I studied the stop list, i noticed that tram 4’s route included a stop that seemed to have the same name as the 6/10 stop near our hotel.  I surmised that the two stops might be close together.  So I suggested that we skip the third stop at the transit center and see if the fourth stop could get us close enough.  Ron and Dad agreed to gamble.  It worked!  We left the tram just around the corner from our hotel, less than a half-block away!

Our room was deliciously cool with the AC finally working well.  We each showered to simplify our departure on Saturday, repacked a bit, and slept.

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