From Zurich to home

I’m writing this when I am meant to be asleep. We arrived home at 11pm last night, unpacked quickly, showered and a few hours of sleep later… I’m up.

The day after arriving in Zurich was good, I actually woke up feeling pretty good after the half marathon, which was surprising considering how yuk I felt after it. We got ready, had an okay breakfast at the hotel (it was included) and went for a walk into town. Zurich is pretty posh, people dress nicely here. We were early for the free walking tour so we found this large courtyard outside a church and shops, they have seats in the sun. So we found a nice pair, had a seat, people watched and enjoyed the sun.

When it was close to 11am, we wandered back to where the tour would start. We saw other people milling around waiting too so we were confident we wer in the right spot. Our tour was led by one of the cofounders, born in Paris and been here for the last few years. His lack of knowledge did come across a fair bit, but we got to see some lovely areas around Zurich and had a nice walk around for 1.5-2hrs.

After the tour was done, it was around 2pm, we found a pub and went in for lunch and a drink. Expensive (as Switzerland is), but the food was fantastic and the service was impeccable. After lunch we were tired and decided to slowly wander back to the hotel… we got lost a few times – the main train station is massive!

We rested our legs (not feeling so fresh now) for a few hours before we went out and grabbed some dinner. One of the Co-op’s in the station had some hot pasta and a chicken korma. So we grabbed them and took them back to our room to eat.

The next day we got up and went downstairs for breakfast, then back up to repack the bags. It was home time day. After getting ready and all packed, we chilled out till check-out time in the room and then made our way to the station.

Bought our tickets and then found a train going to the airport – pretty easy. Took 15 minutes and we were at the airport. Super easy. It’s a big airport but we found the right terminal and row to check-in. Bypassed the small line and got our tickets and bags checked. I asked the guy if there was anyone sitting next to me on the flights – he said yes but he could move us to a 2-seater on the first flight… I was like sure. He said he’d wave the cost for moving to those seats. The long 13 hour flight was a full flight so couldn’t do anything there.

We went through a painless security and immigration checkpoints and off to the Emirates lounge. It was lovely, the food was good, the little cheeses they had were delicious. We ate a bit and had a few drinks before off to find the gate. We got there a few minutes late but they were delayed – it ended up being 30-45 minutes later till we got to board. I was confused as there wasn’t many people at the gate – turns out there is another gate for economy… which we then merged into because although we had status – no business or first class for us.

So the seats I booked ages ago would have been better… we had emergency row seats, so good leg space but we were all the way at the back of the plane… instead of being up the front. You also couldn’t hold your phone or tablet for the take-off or landing… and you got to stare awkwardly to the attendants who were sitting facing you… the flight itself was okay. Cindy had 3 vodkas … food was good. I watched some movies. We made it to Dubai in good time… just after midnight local time, it took ages to get off the plane and to the lounge.

The food wasn’t as good as I remembered or as good as the lounge in Zurich. But I had a whisky and some food before finding our gate and back on the plane, we took off on time around 3am.

I finished off a movie that I didnt get to finish on the last flight, then went to sleep watching Guardians of the galaxy. We missed the breakfast service and said no to the pizza service. It didn’t smell nice. Drank a fair bit of water. I played a lot of games on the flight entertainment consol. The lunch service was good, we were starving by that point. I had to wake up the guy on the aisle twice during the flight, so we could go to the bathroom. He slept alot! We waited hours both times to see if would wake up, but no… so I had to wake him up. He took it well both times.

Before arriving, the lady who had come to introduce herself to me before takeoff came back and gave me an express card and I got a second for Cindy. Whèn we arrived, grabbed our alcohol allotment- breezed through immigration, our bags were one of the first out and into customs. The express line waa closed, but there was no queue… we didn’t need to declare anything but they sent us to get our bags screened – probably to give the other people something to do.

I had organised our lift home before going with my taxi driver, he wasn’t there but I saw another chap in the uniform and loudly said I couldn’t see *insert name*. This guy perked up and walked over and asked if I was Kathleen. I said I was, and sorry if he had messaged me – I don’t take my phone on holidays.

The heat hit us as we left the airport, 22 degrees at 1030 at night.

Overall, our holiday was fun. I didn’t enjoy the running so much but all good. I loved Nuremburg, Oktoberfest was super fun! Lindau surprised me. Lichtenstein was a little underwhelming but we didn’t give it much time. Lucerne was fantastic! Going up Mt Pilatus and Jungfraujoch was expensive but well worth it. Switzerland is definitely a cross between New Zealand and Scotland. I loved drinking the tap water there, also incredibly beautiful. Switzerland has amazing infrastructure as well.

It was interesting going back to Berlin and Munich after travelling to many other cities in the world. Berlin used to be my favourite city, although still good, I think Tokyo has taken its place.

I think the next time we come back to Europe, we want to explore Ireland better and also Wales. We also want to spend time exploring Sweden, Norway and Finland. It will no doubt coincide with London marathon one year who knows when.

Until next trip.

Ps. Will try to get Cindy to finish adding photos.

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Sunday 13 October – Munich Half Marathon

Sunday morning we enjoyed a bit of a sleep in, packed our bags, again, then had some breakfast and got ready to check out and go to our race start precinct.

We arrived at the starting area around 11.30am, so we were a fair bit early. We watched a few mins of the other races then went and sat in the Chinese Bier Garden. It was a very warm start to the morning and we were just people watching.

Around 1pm we headed to the start line and it was really getting warm, we were not looking forward to running in the heat. We were due to start at 1.40pm however we seemed to be delayed and started around 1.45pm. When you crossed under the start arch, the timing mat was not there, so everyone was a bit confused. The timing mat was actually about 80m after the start arch – very weird.

The race was very busy and was getting hotter by the minute. We decided to go out slowly to try and conserve some energy to get to the end. At about 8km I was over the heat and even my cooling towel was not doing too much to cool me down. I got into my groove around the 13km mark, which was the point that Kath was getting tired from the heat.

Around the 16km mark water station they had run out of cups, which was not good given the heat. Luckily I had a water bottle on me so they were happy to fill it up for me.

Our aim at this point was to just get to the finish line as it was so hot.

The 17km mark had some beer (alcohol free) it was really gross!

We kept on running and had small spurts of walking as well – we were both ready for it to be over.

We eventually came into the stadium and it was a relief to say the least. We crossed the finish line and got our medals. I found some water for us and Kath sat down for a few mins. We didn’t have too much time to hang around as we still had a bus to get. We went to collect our bags from the baggage point and then went for a shower – we didn’t want to go on the long bus ride all gross.

When we finally arrived at the showers, I thought it was a bit odd that so many people were going in and not all that many coming out, I thought gee there must be a lot of showers… turns out that there were communal showers. Well it seems that we are not comfortable people with public nudity haha. So neither of us had a shower. Luckily I had packed some wet wipes in the bag so we just tried to freshen up a bit then headed for the train.

The station was packed and we were getting really anxious about the time as we were worried we were going to be late for our bus. We got to the hotel, picked up our bags then very frantically made our way to the bus station.

We made it to the station with 10mins to spare. The bus arrived a bit late, and there was a huge line to get on. We also had to load our own bags, which was fine as I got ours into a pretty good spot.

We headed onto the bus and Kath had to kick some people off our seats.. one guy acted all surprised and like it wasn’t booked, so Kath showed him the ticket and made him move.

We were pretty stiff and sore at this point so we unloaded all our bags and managed to get reasonably comfy.

We were late leaving Munich, so late to arrive in at Zurich.

When we arrived we then had to unload our own bags, Kath’s was right on the edge where I put it so it was easy to get it out.. I ended up jumping up one side of the storage compartment of the bus and climbing in to get my bag out. While I was there I got another guys bags as well. Good deed done!

We were only a 10 minute walk to the hotel which was nice, we checked in with no issue then went out to get some food. I was pretty late at this stage so our food options were very limited, we had the option of kebabs or McDonalds. We ended up getting McDonalds as we had a fair few kebabs in the last few weeks.

We got back to the hotel, had proper showers and got into bed which was very well needed. It was nearly midnight before we went to sleep.

Overall the Munich Half Marathon was far too hot, and it was disappointing that one aid station had no cups! We saw over 10 people being taken away or treated by ambulance officers and lots of people after the run were not looking good. On the transport back to our accommodation there were a lot of pale people on the train too. I think they really ought to start the half marathon earlier. I felt sorry for the full marathoners too as they were still going when we started.

It was cool to be able to do an event every weekend of the trip and they were all definitely unique experiences, each had their own high points and things they could improve on.

I look forward to many more international events in the future!

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Saturday 12 October- 4 Country Day

We woke up and finished the last of our delicious cereal for breakfast, then after packing up our apartment we checked out of our hotel. For the last few months I have been following the INEOS 1:59 challenge (Kipchoge’s attempt at running a marathon in less than 2 hours) and it was starting at 8.15am. So we started watching that on the TV while we were packing up, it was very thrilling especially seeing some of the Aussie pacemakers they had running.

We headed out from the hotel at around 9am and thankfully we had data so that I could keep watching the run while we were driving. I was meant to take the first shift driving but Kath took it so I could watch the run (such a good wife!).

As we were making our way to our first stop, Eliud had done the marathon in 1:59:40 it was very exciting to be able to see this as a few years back when I was watching the Nike Breaking 2 attempt, they only just missed out!

We arrived in Amden at morning tea time, it is a small town that seemed to have some local markets on, so the place was packed. We just wanted to have a nice seat in the sun and have some fruit, but it ended up being quite difficult to get a park, but we managed to get one then found a seat in the sun. Unfortunately our view was obstructed, so we just people watched instead.

We only stayed for 15mins in Amden (Switzerland), I took over the driving and we got back on the highway to make our way back to Munich. We drove through Lichtenstein and into Austria, where we ducked off the highway to go to another Schnitzel Bar we found. We were so excited to have been able to go back here again. When ordering Kath was trying to talk to the guy in German but he obviously wanted to practice his English with us. So we had a good chat to him cause he asked where we were from and what we were doing. We told him we were on a running holiday and he was then talking about the marathon run that morning. Seems a lot of people were watching it. We had our yummy lunch then Kath took over driving.

We were starting to get worried as we were running out of time to get the car hire back on time. Kath was very happy to be driving on the auto-bahn and clocking up speeds of up to 150km/hr. We got caught in a bit of the traffic on our way back to Munich, we had to stop and get fuel and for some reason none of my cards would work to pay, so I was getting panicked about what to do, then finally I tried a 4th card and that one worked! I was not happy.

We arrived at the car drop off point at 2.55pm (we were due back at 3pm), we unloaded all our stuff, the car guy grunted at us a few times and we left. Nice and smooth drop off.

We then made our way to our hotel to check in. The hotel was not too far from where we stayed when we were in Munich last week. So we found the hotel easy enough and had no issues checking in. The room was small but clean, so that suited us well for 1 night.

We then made our way to the race pack collection point at the Olympic Stadium. The bib collection process was quite efficient and we had a wander around the small expo. We both got Munich shirts as they had a fair few different styles on offer.

We left the expo and made our way back to the main area in Munich and made our way to the Haufbrau House for carb loading. Kath had a stein of beer and I had a stein of Radler. We ordered some food a while later, I had 1/2 roast chicken and Kath had a pork knuckle. Both meals were not too bad, but not the best food we have had on the trip.

The Haufbrau house is a huge beer hall and can hold up to 1500 people. It was packed in there and the whole time we were there people were just streaming in by the minute.

After we finished our meal we went to the local Lidl to pick up breakfast for the following morning then made our way to our hotel for bed.

Our room was tiny so you couldn’t actually walk around the bed you had to climb in from the bottom, but it was clean, so we were happy enough.

It was crazy to drive through 4 Countries in the one day (even if it was only for a short while in some of them).

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Top of Europe – Jungfraujoch

We got up crazy early, up and at the car by 4:50am. Troubles getting out if the carpark again but on the road after a bit. Pitch black. We got bypassed past one of the many tunnels to Interlaken. There is one stretch of road that is extremely windy up and down in the midst of tunnels – I was between two trucks, which I was happy about as it allowed me to go slowly and not be rushed… the truck in front must have felt bad going slowly… as technically it was 80km … not what I would recommend at all. It pulled over at one stage… then the truck behind us decided to go all macho, right on my tail, flashing me… so I was trying to go the speed limit but I just didn’t feel comfortable going 80km down a winding hill that I couldn’t see… so I saw a pull in bay and snuck in braking hard to allow the d!ck truck behind to pass. The rest of the trip to the station went well. We got to Interlaken Ost station with 15-20 minutes to spare, bought our early bird tickets. You save 30% of their tickets up to Jungfraujoch if you catch the first two trains up there. It was worth the savings to us.

The trip to Lauterbrunnen was okay, dark. We changed to the train going to Kleine Scheidegg and that went okay but the sun slowly went up, we changed again to the train up to Jungfraujoch … there it was an ABB branded train. I thought I had seen these in the photo library at work. ABB helps power the train up the mountain.

We got to Jungfraujoch and it was quiet, we went up to the viewing platform at the meteorology thingo, saw some amazing views – it was cold though. Apparently negative 1.5. We then went through the history museum then the Ice Palace – all cool. We then got to see actual snow and some awesome views. We also saw us on the live webcam while we were up there which said it actually was -8.8 degrees. After throwing a snowball at Cindy, we headed down to where you can hike 45 minutes to the hut up the way… the hike was so steep, so hard and walking on soft snow did not help. The views were amazing, the weather was amazing. It was tiring but we made it. We went in, they make you take your boots off so you dont take snow inside. We wore their crocs, warmed up inside before going back outside and having our own sandwiches and hot chocolate. We brought our flask of hot water. After snacking, we slowly hiked back down – took some photos. The crowds were slowly making their way up the long hill… when we got to the bottom- we were glad it we were on the morning train… the place was swarming with crowds.

Switzerland attracts the Chinese tourists groups, we barely noticed any particular groups in Germany but Switzerland, they are definitely the most popular group of travelers by far. We couldn’t get over the numbers pouring into this place and the tourism dollars they must be getting. We decided to leave before the crowds annoyed us more than they did.

We went back via Grindelwald, some great views. The houses are so postcard cute, some paddocks of cows wear these huge bells around their necks. The noise must be so annoying to them and the houses around the paddock.

When we arrived back at Interlaken, we went to the large co op shop and got noodle cups for dinner plus salads. We also got Ice cream for a snack. Delicious ice cream. The parking ticket machine wasn’t accepting our notes or our credit cards… Cindy got a lady to exchange our 10CHF note into two 5 CHF coins. And the coin worked.

The trip home was fine, a fair bit if traffic from some road works. But we got back just after 4pm. It was a long day. We finished our remaining drinks, snacks and enjoyed the views and weather. Our last day here in Lucerne. I will miss this view. Definitely would recommend this place for the views.

Tomorrow we make our way back to Munich to drop the car back and to pick up our Munich Half Marathon bib.

Our legs our extremely sore from the hike, I’m hoping they recover quickly before Sunday.

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Thursday, Interlaken & Lucerne

The night before, we went into town for dinner. We grabbed some take away thai in town for 40 CHF… it was pretty tasty but not worth the $$..

On Thursday morning, we got up, had our cereal and thought we’d head to Interlaken and check out the Canyoning company… we didn’t know they did that here and we were keen.

Our hotel carpark ticket wouldn’t let us out, Cindy had to get out and run to reception to get the ticket validated. The drive was just over an hour and full of tunnels. They do tunnels well here. The drive reminded us of New Zealand, with the mountains and beautiful blue lakes.

We parked around the corner from the canyoning place, we didn’t book online as we wanted to check it out first… when we got there, we had 30 minutes till the tour started… we chickened out… it was cold (10 degrees and breezy) without being wet and jumping in cold dark holes… we walked into town… the small houses are pretty cool here… they had a number of autonomous mower robots on lawns. We found the train station, we would be here on Friday, so we checked out the carparking situation.

We went back to the car, and did a drive through town, nothing excited us further to stay so we found a spot by the water and had morning tea. We decided to drive back to Lucerne and spend the afternoon in town.

The drive back was uneventful, after dropping our stuff back in our room, we caught the bus into town. We saw the lion in the cliff that is a memorial for some Swiss guards protecting some French king and who got slaughtered. It was a little underwhelming as they were doing a whole bunch of work/ construction around the carving.

We checked out a few places for lunch, but nothing caught our fancy. We found the old city wall / watch towers. It was awesome being able to walk on the wall and climb up a few of the towers, one was the old city clock tower. We then walked along the water, over some cool bridges. It was 2pm and we were starving, we found a Japanese place and got some takeaway and gyoza for 40+ CHF, we went to sit by the water with our food and annoyed some Chinese couple who were posing for photos in front of a chair… we wanted the chair lol. We had brought our own drinks to have with food, me a beer, cindy a vodka soft drink. After lunch we kept walking, then we grabbed some food at the supermarket for dinner, snacks for the next day and headed back to the hotel.

We got prepared for the next day as we would be up early.

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