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The Filthy Lucre Tour
Lake Zürich ferry
5th May 2006 - 8th May 2006
Zürich. This one's a bit dull, I'm afraid

I've been to Zürich before but really only passing through on hiking trips - I've never stayed for a sustained period of time. What a fantastic place. Very attractive, clean, superb public transport, and within fifteen minutes drive of the city centre you can be swimming in the nice clean lake or partaking in what's indubitably some of the best mountaineering in the world. OK, maybe a bit further for the mountains, but you can cetainly be hiking within fifteen minutes. And it'll be somewhere with nice paths, and unobtrusive but accurate signposts telling you where you can go next and how long it'll take.

The campsite we're staying in is probably the second-worst we've been in, after the Betws-y-Coed mudhole. Everyone's wedged in much as if it was a dealer's forecourt rather than somewhere you're supposed to live for a while. You have to pay CHF2 (just under a quid) for the showers, and they close the front door between midday and 3pm, and don't give you anywhere to park temporarily. When we called them up and they said "just turn up!" they didn't mention that one. Oh, and the electric points are all at one end of the pitching areas, so we had to push the caravan right across the gravel when we found our cable wasn't long enough. Anyway... this site is great, because it's smack in the middle of town. No doubt that's why everyone else is here too.

We left France early in the morning (well, 8:30, which seems early now). After arriving in Zürich we went to visit Kiki's friend Kalina and peer at her new baby, over in Uetikon on the east side of the lake. Now I'm not against babies, but they don't hold my attention for too long when they can't talk. So much more interesting to me than the baby was the two African Grey parrots that Kalina's husband Dan had in a very nice aviary. One looked more like a rat than a parrot, due to having pulled most of its feathers out as a declaration of discontent at being removed from the breeder's cage and put into Dan's. It's really quite a poignant protest - to make yourself vulnerable and immobile (she can't fly) in a situation you distrust is somehow almost worse than suicide. I do fancy keeping birds again myself, but probably not parrots. I reckon one of Dan's could have taken my leg off.

Back across the lake by ferry at Dan and Kalina's suggestion, and a fine one it was too, and out to dinner with Kiki's Croatian friend Jasmina and a selection of her chums, who mostly worked for UBS or were Croatian. I always feel somewhat humbled by people who can speak more than one language flueuntly, and the effortless way in which this lot switch from English to Swiss-German and Croatian was quite depressing. I was tempted to make up a new language and pretend to chatter it to Kiki, just so I didn't look like a small-town boy. After dinner we headed to a club called something like Shipyard (in Swiss-German, obviously) where apparently the trendy young people of Zürich hang out. And us, for an evening. Dancing not being my sort of thing, I managed to do my characteristic sway for a little while before someone told me I didn't have to, and I could instead stand outside drinking beer.

Off for a spot of rugged outdoorsness the next day with Jenny Allan, who generously took us for the standard Tourist Hike, involving a super cable-car ride up to a ridge (I want to call it Ffestiniog, but I think that's in Wales), then an hour and a half walk along to a nice mountain-top restaurant with splendid view of the city. Ate some food (over budget again), looked at the views and then back the same way again. Out for dinner in town with Jasmina again later on (over budget) and then I drove back to the caravan site leaving Kiki and Jasmina to talk about boys, which they did until somewhere around 01:30. Not entirely sure how Jasmina's monday work performance was.

Sorry, this isn't very interesting, I'm not sure how I can spice it up. Perhaps you'd like to hear my medical woes? I've had what appears to be a fairly minor eye infection over the last couple of weeks but now it's got a bit worse. Now that my eye is, umm, largely crusted over, I elected to go to the doctor. There's a nice walk-in medical centre next to the main station, and after you've taken your ticket there's about an hour's wait before you get to see a doctor. Anyway, I did all this, the doctor pronounced (in perfect English, as usual) that I did indeed have an eye infection and gave me a prescription for three different antibiotics (cream, drops and pills). I knew I'd have to pay for this but I honestly had no real idea of how much it would be - I'd have been unsurprised by anything up to £200. The appointment with the doctor cost me about £15 (very reasonable, I though) and the prescription around £35 (for three items, so not too bad). I may be able to claim this back from our Boots travel insurance, but I haven't looked into it yet. The doctor kindly altered my prescription slightly so that I can start drinking again before Mark and Marjorie's wedding on Saturday in Champagne...

Next: Lichtenstein
Previous: Bouldering at Fontainebleau, Eurodisney, Dinner in Paris

Diary Photos

Lake Zürich ferry

Hiking by Zürich

Women too busy talking to look at the view

Custard, anyone?

Zürich cable-car

Campsite or parking lot?

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