– Written by Cel
After an awesome time in Budapest and Vienna, we were hyped for Zurich, our third city – and of course our return to Paris, which we absolutely loved when we first visited.
To get to Zurich, we had to survive an overnight train going across the country. Leaving Vienna at 10:45 p.m., we we were scheduled to arrive at 7:00 a.m. I was envisioning luxurious, Hogwarts Express-style carriages with spacious rooms and wide hallways. Instead, we got this:
The bunks were so small that there was no room to sit up. We also made the mistake of being on the top bunk (about seven feet up), which had no railings. That, plus the other four people jammed into a room smaller than our bathroom, led to very little sleep (on my part – Steph sleeps like a rock under almost any conditions).
Upon arriving in Zurich, the first thing we noticed was the prices. Zurich is regularly featured on lists of most expensive cities in the world. It is, but actually not too outrageous compared to Vancouver. For instance, a 24-hour pass (just for the city, not the suburbs) was $10, compared to the equivalent in Vancouver for $9.75 (but this is good for all zones, including the Vancouver suburbs).
Steph has always wanted to climb a mountain in Switzerland, so we made it a priority on day 1. An invigorating hike up Mount Uetliberg (which had a big tower at the summit) got us this view:
Another thing we both wanted to do was visit a Swiss chocolate factory. The next day, we took a ferry and ended up at the Lindt chocolate factory. They don’t allow tours, so we were unable to see the chocolate waterfall and Oompa Loompas, having to settle for a picture of the outside. The smell of chocolate is so strong that you can smell it easily from almost a block away – it was glorious.
We were only in Zurich for two days, which was good for our wallets. We took a high-speed train to Paris in the afternoon, and arrived in the early evening. Unfortunately, the Airbnb we had booked in Paris turned out to be significantly worse than advertised (no towels, wet bed and blankets, etc.). Tip to anyone considering Airbnb – if you can’t find a place that has multiple good reviews, don’t even bother – just pay the money and get a hotel.
Steph’s philosophy is that sometimes, throwing money at a problem will make it disappear. So we ended up leaving a few hours later at 10pm, and got a private apartment at a hostel. It turned out to be nicer than we expected:
We had both been to Paris together, and I had also gone once by myself before that, but at no point had either of us gone to the Louvre. So we decided to remedy that.
The Louvre was better than we expected – somehow we had envisioned rows upon rows of sterile paintings, but there was a decent variety of stuff. There were indeed paintings, but also statues, sculptures, historical apartments, etc. The place is huge – we spent hours walking around.
On our last night, we decided to go to the Eiffel Tower in the evening. It lights up at night, and every hour on the hour does a light show. The entire tower has lights “dancing” across it from top to bottom, moving madly in wild patterns almost too fast for the eye to distinguish. It looks like this: https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ODJjZ9ZkIJ0
And that was that for our trip! Fun fact: we have gotten so good at leaving airplanes, that it was 15 minutes from the time we stepped out the door of our plane (landing in Vancouver) to the time we stepped on the SkyTrain – including going through customs, etc.
If you want to see some more pictures, here is an album.