June 27th, 2010

Crazy

:: Part 1 - Day One – Zurich ::

:: Part 1 - Day One – Zurich ::

Picture 006

24 June marks the start of this travel journal of mine.

Confronted with the prospect of a ten-day journey, mostly done alone,

Within the confines (or so I think) of the Swiss Alps, I wonder,

About how I could make this solitary travel an experiential one.

I’ve never really relished the idea of travelling on my own.

In fact, in my business travels so far (mainly in Japan),

I would usually return to my hotel after work.

The joy of being a tourist, and enjoying the sights and sounds

Of a new destination is, to me, somewhat muted, if there is

No outlet for expression of one’s joy of new discoveries.

 

Perhaps, I could embark on a special travel project?

I could travel with this 2009 moleskin journey I received

But filled only one out of the twelve months.

There is room to write more – and document my thoughts

In ink. Traveling alone means one will be able to spend

A large amount of time thinking, without the incessant

Distraction of the world-wide-web. Hence begins

The travel project, the journey of the journeyman.

 

Picture 010

My accommodation was within walking distance to Zurich HB.

It was a simple serviced apartment with no reception

And really basic furniture. At least it is not as cramped as the ones in Tokyo.

I have no complaints. The weather was sunny and good – I noticed

As I left the apartment to walk to the central area of Zurich.

I was deliberating whether to purchase a Zurich Card, but

I did not do that, as it was already half past one, when my lunch ended.

Picture 015 

I was astounded by the food prices when I was at Lucerne last winter. Then, really

Expensive! Thus, I was relieved to know that a simple salad and sandwich

Meal at a cafeteria at Zurich HB was still affordable. After lunch, I crossed over

To the the station central to settle some administration for the Swiss Pass.

And then I was on my way.

Picture 033

One of the highlight of Zurich is a boat tour in Lake Zurich

And so I went on a 90 minute boat trip at only 4 CHF.

Picture 046 

Like the hordes of eager tourists, I quickly boarded the boat

And found myself a nice seat on the upper deck. Only to realize later that I was

"’Burning”! The heat is overpowering – the only reprieve is the dry, cool breeze

That helps dissipate the heat. The banks of Lake Zurich are green stretches of

Grass carpets. I can see many locals, taking the opportunity to soak up

As much sun as they could, especially after several days of bad rainy weather.

Picture 063

I walked around the historic area of Zurich after the boat trip.

I’d like to write more, but my jet lag is getting me weary; it is now

3:14am Singapore time (though it is only 9:14pm here, and

Still very bright outside). I shall go to bed early, and rest myself for

A long trip tomorrow.

Crazy

:: Part 2 - Day Two – Rigi, Lucerne and St Gallen ::

:: Part 2 - Day Two – Rigi, Lucerne and St Gallen ::

P1020539

0845hrs. I’m now seated in a rather filled train to Goldau

Via Zug. Switzerland’s trains are very efficient, arriving and

Leaving on the dot. I’m currently travelling southwards, straddling

The western bank of Lake Zurich. It is a bright summer day

Covered by the expanse of a monotone blue sky.

With no clouds. I zoom by several cathedrals with steeples

Adorned with intricate clock faces. I zoom by many cottages

Nestled on the green slopes rising from the lake bank. I know I am

Leaving the city, as the houses grow further apart, and

Warehouses and factories begin to appear in view.

The plan for today is to catch a fast ride to Goldau, and then

Board the cog-railway up to Mount Rigi. I’ll then enjoy a bit of

High altitude (pre-cursor to the grand dame Jungfrau which I’ll

Scale over the weekend) and then descend the other side of Rigi -

So as to board a hour-long ferry across Lake Lucerne. And then

Journey northeastwards via the Pre-Alpine pass.

P1020542

0855hrs – I caught my first glimpse of the alps.

The snow-white mountain top caught my eye as my train emerged

From the tunnel. It is somewhat surreal; me making an

Abrupt decision to book myself a flight to Zurich when I have

Absolutely no intention, ever, to revisit Switzerland

In the first place.

P1020546

Crazy

:: Part 3 - Day Two / 25 June 2010 – Rigi, Lucerne and St Gallen ::

:: Part 3 - Day Two / 25 June 2010  – Rigi, Lucerne and St Gallen ::

Map picture

 

Sidetrack – The train stopped at Zug. Based on my checks

On SBB I was supposed to cross over to platform 3 at Zug an then

Take the next train to Goldau. However, I was momentarily

Stunned then the train on platform 3 seemed to be bound for

Somewhere else – I did what was the best thing to do for a

Moment like this – I asked a kind gentleman for assistance.

He confirmed that I was on the right train after all. Relief!

P1020551

1005am – I’m past the first stop on the cogwheel train

Up Mount Rigi. It is actually a rather steep climb.

P1020558

1055am – Rigi is fantastic! I arrived a Rigi Klum and

Then quickly climbed to the summit, which offered a

Fantastic view all around. I could also see Lake Lucerne.

At 1800metres above sea level, I had to catch my breath

As I chose the steeper option of the climb.

P1020568

While Rigi offers an inviting opportunity for the first-time visitor

To stay and linger for a bit, I hurried back to the station in order to

Descend via the Red cogwheel towards Vitznam.

Crazy

:: Part 4 – 25 June 2010 – Rigi and Pre-Alpine Express ::

:: Part 4 – 25 June 2010 – Rigi and Pre-Alpine Express ::

Map picture

 

1055hrs – The schedule turns out to be just right:

Rigi Klum – 1050hjrs/ 1100hrs
Kaltbad First 1115hrs
Vitznau 11140hrs
(Boat) Vitznau 1149hrs
Weggis 1205hrs
Lucerne 1254hrs

Let’s see how much time I’ll have at Lucerne.

Lucerne > Romanshorn route departs every hour.

So I could choose

Lucerne – 1340hrs

Vekershaus 1346hrs

Arth Goldau – 1413hrs

Rapperswil – 1503hrs

St Gallen – 1558hrs

(I think I’ll skip Romanshorn – no time!)

P1020592

1200hrs – I’m onboard the Rigi cruise towards Lucerne.

It’ll take about an hour and I should arrive at

Lucerne at about 1254hrs. (the boat is about to leave Weggis

Any moment). That gives me about 40 minutes to do my stuff before

I move northwards. I’d like to go to Bucherer to take a nostalgic photo

And maybe even have a simple lunch at the cafe we ate at last December.

P1020610

1230hrs – Upon arrival at Lucerne, I strolled back to the familiar

Bridge and then to Bucherer (where I bought my green Submariner last year).

I went over to the Tea Room at the Old Town Store

Where we had tea in winter last year.

P1020613

Tea Room was a little packed, and I felt awkward sitting alone,

And so I walked around the town area and eventually decided on a cheaper

Lunch at COOP, with penne pasta and beer.

P1020616

I was rather amused when the cashier asked me for my identification.

Do I look that young? Lol!

Crazy

:: Part 5 – 25 June 2010 – Rigi and Pre-Alpine Express ::

:: Part 5 – 25 June 2010 – Rigi and Pre-Alpine Express ::

P1020619

1720hrs – And so, after lunch at Lucerne’s COOP, I rushed to

The railway station to hop onto the Pre-Alpine Express over to Romanshorn.

The photo was taken by me while running towards the train

Just in time. The train ride took quite a while.

And so, I stopped at Gossau station instead of St Gallen station.

I found myself momentarily standed. I confirmed with a passerby

That I was in the wrong station. The train which I alighted has left

For St Gallen. Fortunately, there was a post-bus bound for St. Gallen,

I presumed, since there was a “St Gallen” brightly lit on the front-top

Of the bus. I boarded the bus, and after a quick check with the

English-illiterate old gentleman bus-driver, we were on our way.

P1020628

Unfortunately, this took me a little longer than usual to reach

St Gallen. I was, however, fortunate to enjoy a brief moment with the

Swiss countryside, as I passed through a few small villages.

P1020627

As I’ve stayed in Switzerland for a couple of days, and

Have passed through a few cities, I started to realize that there is a general

Sense of cleanliness – the streets are all very clean, and devoid of litter.

In fact, there is not just a sense of cleanliness, but also a sense of order.

The many houses in the countryside did not leave any junk or broken-down

Items to rust or decay, but are either removed or kept out of the public eye.

P1020629

I eventually arrived at St Gallen. I found the tourist office.

The lady at the counter provided me the city map, and asked me to hurry

To the Abbey Library as it was already 1640hrs.

The library closes at 1700hrs.

And so I sort of ran. Paced quickly. Anyway.

In fact, the reason to why I decided to make a stop

At St Gallen (instead of visiting Lake Contance at Romanshorn)

Was because of this Abbey. The St Gallen Abbey Library is

Part of the St Gallen Abbey precinct, which became a UNESCO world

Heritage Site in 1983. I managed to make it to the library, fortunately.

No photo-taking were allowed, however.

P1020630

St Gallen’s Cathedral, right beside the library, is a fine work of art.

And I like it’s green tinge at certain parts of the ceiling, together with the

Broad, brightly-lit white basilica, with a triple-aisled nave and central cupola.

I did a check on this green portion and found out it is a light-green stuccowork,

Characteristic of churches in the Konstanz region.

The artwork belonged to Josef Wannenmacher, with the central cupola

Depicting paradise, with the Holy Trinity, apostles and saints.

In fact, this cathedral also holds a bell brought by Gallus on this

Seventh-century journey, from Ireland, one of the three

Oldest surviving bells from Europe.

P1020631

I found the door knob of the cathedral to be the most

Fascinating. What was this hand holding?