Over lunch today, Camillo and I were talking about which cities we had had fun with stopovers; Paris for sure, Amsterdam for sure, and Zurich, which Camillo didn’t remember. Sometimes, when you have lower fare airline tickets, you end up with many hours in airports waiting for a connection - make the most of it, plan to see a bit of local.
Sometimes, you end up stuck in an airport because of missed flights, or strikes or snowstorms, but I‘m not talking about those times. I am talking about stopovers that you can make plans and you can take advantage of, to see just a little bit of a city. In Europe, there are great trains that run from the airport into the city’s center or passes by a famous church, or even a museum housing one painting you’ve always wanted to see. If you put your carry-on luggage into a locker (with the increases in security, I hope there are still lockers you can use for a few hours) and then jump on the train you can have a walk-about and maybe have a great meal before making your way back to the airport. Remember to take your camera.
In 2004, when on our way to Sicily, we had 5 free hours in the Zurich, Switzerland airport. This probably means that there was seven or even 8 hours, accounting for time to re-check in, and we used five for our walk-about. We had come from Rio / Sao Paulo on Swiss Air, and probably were switching to Air Italia for a flight to Rome, and then the next morning flying into Palermo, Sicily. (see my post from last week about Cefalù.) To tell the truth I probably would have never done this on my own but Camillo, Camillo is never intimidated by language or signs or by asking for help at the information center at the airports (or the train stations). So when he see an opportunity he puts us out there - on an adventure.
I don’t remember if it was just luck, we do tend to be lucky, or if Camillo ask instructions in Zurich but we took a train into the main train station; walked out the front door, down the main street right in front of us, kept walking, looking, clicking photos, absorbing the look of Zurich. We walked up (or down?) the Bahnhofstrasse, which when Googled will show to be the street (Strasse) with the most expensive commercial / retail real estate in Europe and 3rd in the world. I didn’t check to see where one and two are.
We walked, looking I am sure for a place to have brunch, and walked, and walked and ended up at the Ganymed Statue – a small plaza on the river. As you all know I am bad at taking notes, but if memory serves me correctly this must have been a Sunday morning, the streets were clean, quiet, sunny and mostly devoid of people. Perfect!
Along the way we did not get far off the main drag, just glanced in a window here and there; cut across a plaza, poked around up a side street and on the way back stopped in a sidewalk café for a lite meal. Leaving enough time to jump back on the train, get to the airport, check-in and to be on our way to Rome.