I’ve written a lot lately about what we did in Switzerland on the two days when it was sunny. Here’s what we did during the two and a half days when the sun wasn’t shining:
- hung out at the hotel;
- rode the shuttle to the airport;
- walked to Glattbrugg.
Avalon’s choice hotel for pre-cruise stays is the Movenpick in the village of Glattbrugg near the Zurich Airport and we stayed there for four days. It was an overall pleasant stay from the moment we arrived early Wednesday afternoon when we were greeted with some sparkling wine until Sunday afternoon when we boarded our bus to Basel and our cruise down the Rhine.
There are four computers around the corner from the front desk in the hotel lobby and we made good use of them during our stay, especially when it was raining outside. The hotel also advertises that they have three restaurants and we had breakfast every morning but lunch and dinner only once each at the main restaurant. Our rooms came with breakfast but we found the lunch and dinner menus to be very expensive. The cheeseburger I had for lunch on one of our rainy days was very good but it also cost 28 Swiss francs which is about $29. The last few tables on the extreme left of the main restaurant are reserved for Chinese food and there is a separate kitchen for these tables. You can also enter through the bar to the third restaurant which features fancy meals with prices that match. But it seemed to us that this restaurant is just the extreme right side of the main restaurant. We had dinner one night at the main restaurant and it was OK. I had the wiener-schnitzel and a glass of white wine. My wife just had a salad.
The hotel offers a free shuttle to and from the airport, which is about 5 minutes away. It runs every 15 minutes during peak hours and otherwise every 30 minutes. We took the shuttle to the train station on Thursday for our walking tour of Zurich and also on one rainy day just to get a change in scenery and to do a little shopping. We also ate dinner there a couple of times, once on our way back from our trip to Lucerne on Friday.
The train station is adjacent to the Zurich International Airport and is simply called the Zurich Airport Train Station. All the signs we saw to the airport, however, say Flughafen Airport. We learned later that Flughafen Zurich AG is the company that owns and runs the airport. The canton of Zurich owns 1/3 of the company, the city of Zurich owns about 5%. It takes less than ten minutes to get to the central Zurich Train Station (hauptbahnhof) from the airport train station. There is a bridge from the upper level of the airport terminal to the train station. On the airport terminal’s ground level the train station is right across the street. In fact, there is an entrance right opposite the shuttle stop. The trains are underground but there are two floors of stores and a fast food court above ground. On the day we arrived in Switzerland I exchanged dollars for francs at the train station’s Credit Suisse branch.
On Wednesday evening we walked in the rain for five or six blocks to Glattbrugg and on Saturday afternoon we again ventured into town. This time it only sprinkled occasionally.
Glattbrugg (bridge over the river Glatt) is a district in the municipality of Opfikon and is about 4 miles from the Zurich central train terminal. It’s just a few blocks in either direction and I noticed just two traffic signals, both on the main street that begins at the expressway to the airport. There are no tourist attractions and I think we were the only tourists in town on our two visits.
We visited a couple of grocery stores and noticed about a half dozen restaurants — Chinese, Mexican, Italian, and the rest Swiss. We found a bakery/deli/cafe with a few tables and we ordered sandwiches and drinks. I noticed I was the only one in the place drinking beer. There were about a dozen people at a table near us. They were all drinking Red Bull and Coca-Cola.
The bakery where we ate on Wednesday was closed on Saturday and we decided to walk back to the hotel and eat there.
We had to check our of our rooms by noon on Sunday and had three hours to kill before boarding our coach to Basel. My wife decided to spend most of that time on one of the hotel’s computers. I walked around outside for a bit but when it began to sprinkle I then retired until boarding time to the bar next door to the hotel’s restaurant. So I nursed a couple of beers (a Swiss amber that tasted very good) and the bartender kept me well-supplied with salted peanuts. That was my lunch that day. On our travels we often have a very light lunch on days when we indulge in big breakfasts. The Movenpick has a very nice buffet breakfast and we indulged every day!
The rain had stopped by the time we boarded our bus and it was a pleasant ride of about an hour through the Swiss countryside to Basel and our ship.