30 August 2014

Our first 24 in Winterthur

Our 1 hour nap turned into a much needed 2 hour nap.  I woke up from my cozy sleep and had to shake the boys back to life. "Vamonos, vamonos!"   There was so much to see and do I didn't want to waste anothe hour.  We quickly got ourselves together and headed out.  Ladina was at the receptionist counter with her same beautiful smile and wished us luck as we exited Ibis Hotel.  I'm hand I had the maps she'd given us and 79 CHP (Swiss francs) in my back pocket.  Immediately outside of our hotel is a mcdonalds and a gas station.  Dude was dying for food and was trying to lure me toward McDonald's with hopes that there would also be a play ground.  Their menu was the most Americanize Mickie D's menu ever.  An LA bacon burger, BBQ fries (or pommes frites as many europe'a call them).  These options were even too American for Americans!  I filmed a little biting the menu but after a few seconds the cashier started yelling "nein fotos, nein fotos" who the hell knows why I couldn't take pix of their menu, but I put the camera away anyway.   Once our food was served up we sat near a birthday party how had an actually Ronald McDonald clown as a magician.  I haven't see a Ronald McDonald in the US since the '80s!!! He was kind enough to give a dude a balloon and I got about 7 seconds of him speaking German to a parent in their party.  
After Mickie D's we followed LaDina's map to the bus stop our 4 minute ride cost $9CHP!! Yoooooo, wassup with Switzerland and these outrageous travel cost?!  We got off and walked around the downtown/ old town of winterthur.  Tomorrow we will head to the same area (waking for FREE, though) to catch the train into Zurich where we will spent the day.  
The old town was quaint and charming.  I felt like was walking around in a Suiss play set.   We window shopped and strolled for hours. Many people have small and medium sized dogs here.  It is common for the dogs to enter and walk around the store on a lease with their owner.  There is plenty of diversity here. Immigrants of African and Asian descent, Latinos, Muslims, East Asian Muslims... People are peaceful and patient, just like in many other parts of the world.
One of the main stores in the area is named co-op city, just like the well-known condo complex in the Bronx , NY where I grew up.  I made sure we went in there to honor the sign that we were on the right path.  Next to that was a store called city trends, just like the Atlanta urban clothing store around the corner from my house, we will check that out tomorrow.  Here are some pix if what our day had to offer us. 

Marijuana is legal here

Electric bus system

Postkartes for our peeps

Once we were done in downtown winterthur, we got back on the bus to go back to the hotel.  We decided on pizza for dinner before going home.  At a quick stop at the gas station for water and late night snacks the boys were gifted lego car packets by the cashier. Dude was so excited "Mommy, we have friends everywhere!!"  "Yes Dude, we do"

Here is a quick video of our Winterthur exploration: 

Zurich airport to Ibis budget hotel

As soon as we landed we headed for immigration, since we didn't check bags it was a quick process.  On the train ride and walk there we met some Dominican women from Santo Domingo.   The immigration guy was very friendly and had been to atlanta on more than one occasion.  

After getting our passports stamped I exchanged some cash.  In the blink of an eye my $100 USD turned into $79.22 Swiss francs 😩.   While still in the airport I bought another outlet adapter so we would have to fight over the only one I own.   As soon as we exited the airport we found a taxi, who just so happened to also have a booster seat for Dude.  That's a good sign! Even though the driver spoke little English and I hardly know anything in German our communication was easy and to the point. I showed him the hotel address, he put it in his GPS and we were there within 15 minutes.  Ok so back home. 15 minutes taxi ride cost between $20-$40. Here it was $95 Swiss francs so if my math is correct that ride was $100+USD!!!!! From now on it's all public transportation for us... Humph!  
The receptionist Ladina was a cute girl with waist length deadlocks.  She greeted us in 4 language as if to offer us our preference.  Zane had just asked me last week of white people can have dreadlocks, since being here for the last 2 hours I've seen at least 4.  Travel answers questions through experiences. 
Now we are in the hotel and getting sleepy.  We are 6 hrs ahead of our home time zone.  I told the kids we will rest for an hour then go out to see Zurich.

Here's a video of us entering the hotel
Room for the first time.  We are like the blind leading the blind.  "How do you open the door?" "How do you turn on the lights?" You would think we would have international consensus on such simple matters... Geesh!! 

28 August 2014


In mid July I started contemplating where our next flight should be.  But in true Echo fashion I had too many places flowing through my mind. "Let's do Europe while it's still warm there.  I hate to pack bulky clothes for cold weather.  Ok so Europe it is.  But where specifically? Venice? Brussels? Milan? Amsterdam? Munich? No, no, no.... Ok Echo, just breathe and listen to your intuition, let the trip choice you... *inhale, exhale*... Go to Zurich? Zurich, Switzerland? .... Ok Zurich it is!"

As soon as I get flight stuff out of the way I need to find a place to stay.  First choice coachsurfing. I send 3 requests, 3 request denies.  Second choice airbnb.  I only see one affordable place that will accept 3-4 people.  Once the renter adds the extra fees etc she sends me a quote for $368 for 2 nights.  Whoa!  Way out of our budget.  I wonder if Zurich has those cheap F1 Hotels like the one we stayed in in Paris? Nope, no F1s.  How about the Ibis hotels? Yes they have those $100 a night for me and the 2 kids.  Usually when I travel I rent for $40 a night.  That, however, doesn't exist in Zurich.  The average low-end hotel is $250 a night.  Even a family room at a popular hostel was far more than I was willing to pay.  I gratefully snatched up the Ibis hotel deal. 

Right now we are on the plane as they fix a maintenance problem with the fuel gauge.  Zane, Dude, and I each have a small back or backpack and we are excited about the adventure that lies ahead.  Zane is such a studious guy. He's been researching info on Switzerland all week.  "Mommy, why don't they have an army?  Most people there are rich!  Are they rich because they don't pay for wars? It's a bilingual country.  In one part they speak German and the other side they speak french.  We are going to the German side.  I hear the banks are good there can we open a bank account when we get there?!"
Whoa, my child so many question, we will have them all answered... Once we get there... So for now we will just sit back and enjoy the journey.