The Karen Files

Switzerland – The First Weekend

Switzerland! It’s cold, but beautiful.

My first weekend consisted mostly of sleeping off jet-lag and doing a bit of sightseeing, but it is still worth posting about.

My flight left Tampa at 8:20pm. I was lucky enough to get one of the rows that have AMPLE leg room because there were no seats in front of me (and they didn’t even ask me if I was willing to take the responsibility to help if the plane had an emergency and we had to vacate – in my experience before the people in that row are always asked that.)

It was approximately a 9 hour flight, and they kept giving us food throughout. Little bags of chips, cookies, dinner and breakfast. Most people on the flight seemed to be Swiss, they all spoke German and they spoke German on the loudspeaker.

Dinner that night consisted of a pasta and cheese dish that had apples in it (Pasta, cheese, and apples actually taste pretty darn good together) as well as a dish of fruit and cold cuts and some kind of peppers that I didn’t eat. Dessert was a custard/pudding dish with crushed nuts on top. Delicious.

Airport Dinner

I tried to get some sleep on the flight, but it wasn’t very easy. I did finally fall asleep and must have kicked my feet across the aisle because I woke up to the flight attendant picking up my legs and placing them where they belong. They were trying to serve breakfast but I guess they couldn’t get the cart past my big feet. At least that made it so I didn’t miss breakfast!

When we arrived at Switzerland (on the next day, I left Tampa on Friday night and arrived in Switzerland Saturday afternoon) and exited the plane, one of the first stands I saw:

Swiss Chocolate Airport


Swiss Chocolate Airport

I didn’t buy anything yet. I just got here after all, and everything is more expensive at airports. They did have some very interesting things though. I love how you can tell where you are just by looking around in airport shops. Everything was so different than what you’d see in an American airport!

Airport Shop Switzerland

Airport shop Switzerland

Look at how adorable the baby lederhosen are!

Kiddie clothes Switzerland Airport

I found a taxi and managed to get to my hotel in Greifensee (by pointing to the address of a printed out confirmation page – my taxi driver did not speak English).

The hotel I am staying at is a restaurant/bed and breakfast. There are only 8 rooms. It was quite cozy and had a friendly atmosphere. I felt a bit confused about where to check in when I got there, and even whether I was in the correct place, because walking in it looked like it was just a restaurant. However when I went up to someone in the restaurant and showed them my reservation paper they assured me I was in the right place. They spoke little English, but was able to get me my key and show me to my room. When they first got my key I actually thought it was a little bell that I’d be able to ring whenever I wanted service. “Fancy!” I thought. “I will have to be sure not to abuse it!” But it wasn’t a bell, just a large key ring. But tell me this doesn’t look like a bell!

Key Bell

I was shown to my room (they had a guy help me with my bags (I was worried about whether or not it was customary to tip because I had taken some money out at the airport but they were 50 notes and I had no change) but he left before I would have been able to give him anything.

The room is small, but adorable and cozy. The heat consisted of little ceramic radiator heaters, one in the bedroom and one in the bathroom, but it still seemed warm enough. I probably would have turned it up higher if I could have, but I can manage being a TINY bit cold in exchange for being in Switzerland.

Hotel Room

Hotel Mirror

Hotel Bathroom

And here is the view from my window. You can see water in the back!

View from Hotel 1

I had plans to go look around town this day to take in the sights, but I was so exhausted from having so little sleep that after I unpacked everything I decided to take a nap. When I woke up, it was around 11pm (Switzerland time) so there was no way I was going to wander around that late by myself. So I read a little and went back to bed. I got quite a lot of sleep this night!

The next day (Sunday) I woke up around 6am and decided to take the train into the city of Zurich. The free breakfast was at 7, and I was one of the first people downstairs. Breakfast consisted of cold cuts (they really love cold cuts in Switzerland), orange juice, croissants (I did not almost die this time eating croissants and orange juice like when I was in Sydney but don’t think that wasn’t on my mind!) and coffee. The coffee here was thicker than coffee I am used to, and the milk they provided for it was heated. It was quite good!

After breakfast, I headed out to try to find the train station.


Google Maps Train Station

I am sure I would have gotten extremely lost if it wasn’t for the GPS in my hand. Don’t you love technology? It was about a 10 minute walk to the train station, but I took some pictures of the beautiful buildings along the way so it took me a little longer.

Greifensee 1Greifensee 3

Greifensee 4

Greifensee 2

I made it to the train station (with much love to Google for the help) and I loved the look of it. Greifensee is a little town and it has a little train station to match.

Train Station Greifensee 1

Train Station Greifensee 2

Now came the real challenge. How to get to Zurich? I’ve never really taken a train by myself, so it took me a bit of staring blankly at the map and the ticket thing before I could figure out what to do. There was one guy who spoke English that tried to help me, but the train came before I could finish purchasing my ticket so he ran off shouting “Good luck!” behind him. I was once again on my own.

Greifensee Train MapAfter a few more minutes of pushing buttons, I’m pretty sure I purchased the correct ticket. The next train came and I got on.

It was about a 10 minute train ride to the city center of Zurich, and while I was riding another guy came in speaking German and pointing at something he was carrying. The other people on the train seemed very interested in what he was saying and took something from him while smiling and saying “danke!” When he got to me, he started talking and I shook my head, smiled, and said “I’m sorry I only speak English.” He said in broken English “Oh, sorry, this is for German only!” and moved on. I really wish I knew what he was peddling! Everyone on the train seemed so happy while he was talking to him.

When the train got to Zurich and I exited, the station was COMPLETELY different from the little one in Greifensee that I had just left. It was underground (it reminded me of a NYC subway station) and was within a mall. There were shops and train tracks everywhere, and I couldn’t even figure out how to get out into the city. Was this the city? Was I in the wrong area and went to the underground train station city of Zurich instead of the above ground ACTUAL city of Zurich?

I went to one of the shops to grab a water and asked the woman at the register. Luckily she spoke enough English to tell me that I had to go upstairs until I could go upstairs no more and there I would find the exit to the outside. I thanked her and went on my way.

I admit I was a bit nervous about finding my way home. This train station seemed a lot more complicated, with many, many trains going many, many places. But I figured I would worry about that later.

Before I left the station, I did see this store! Nothing but clocks! Very expensive Swiss clocks.

Swiss Coocoo Clocks

And I made it outside the train station! This is what greeted me outside:

Zurich 1

Zurich 2

Hmmm, there is an interesting looking statue…Demon Dog Statue

Let’s look at it closeup!

Demon Dog Statue Close up

That dog might be a bit too much for that poor kid.

And now, for a quick look back and a picture of the train station before I wander about the city (my version of breadcrumbs)


Train Station Zurich

The next bit of this post will mostly just be pictures. I did a lot of walking, but didn’t really learn much about the buildings so I won’t have a lot to say about them. But I will say that the architecture in Zurich is beautiful!

Zurich 8

There were a lot of alleys within the city.

Zurich 7

Zurich 6

There were also a lot of stairs! My legs are sore today!

Zurich 5

Switzerland does love it’s clocks!

Zurich 4

Zurich Clock 2

Zurich Clock 3

Zurich 3

After walking around for a while, I found the water.

Zurich water 1

Zurich water 2

Hello duckie!

Zurich water 3

Zurich water 4

Europe is full of swans.

Zurich water 5

Zurich water 6

Zurich water 7

Zurich water 8

You can see the mountains in the background. And snow!

Zurich water 9

Zurich water 10

Looks like Switzerland’s rowing team is at it again.

Zurich water 12

Zurich water 13

The boat is  coming in!

Zurich water 14

Zurich water 11

Zurich water 15

And now a few more non-water interesting pictures before I head back to the train station:

Zurich 10

The flags!Zurich 12

I’m not exactly sure what the bird did to deserve getting smacked, but if he’s anything like Nimbin, it was probably bad.

Zurich 11

Ummm… no you may not.

Zurich 14

This lion head looks incredibly grumpy. The same looking lion was everywhere in Zurich. Is the grumpy lion their mascot?

Zurich 13

I finally was ready to go back to the train station and try to find my way back to my hotel. I had been walking around the city of Zurich for hours. I had no idea where I was! Luckily I had my trusty Google Maps to find the way.

Actually, finding the train station was the easy part. The hard part was finding the right train to take. None of the trains said the city I wanted to go to, but they listed all the cities leading up to it and the one after it, so I was going to take the chance that I’d be on the right one. While I was waiting, I remembered that Google Maps ALSO has public transportation directions. Could it be this easy? I opened it up, and sure enough, it told me the train I was supposed to take, and it was the one I had assumed. Thanks again, Google!

After another 10 minute train ride (they never even came to check my tickets either way so I don’t know if Switzerland is on the honor system or if it is just random checks?) I found my way back to Greifensee. Before I went back to the hotel, I took a walk to where I would need to go to my office tomorrow, to make sure I’d be able to find it no problem. It seemed easy enough! Only 10 minutes from the hotel!

I went back to the hotel and realized that I have been so busy sight seeing, I never had the chance to eat yet! I went to my room and freshened up and came back downstairs to see how good the hotel’s restaurant was.

When I walked into the restaurant, people just looked at me. I said “umm… can I eat?” The woman smiled and said “Of course! Sit!”

I was given a menu that I could not understand one bit of. I did understand the beer section, but the food was a bit more difficult. Luckily, Google was my rescuer once again. Google Translate, take me away!

I ended up with a nice meal of breaded chicken, veggies, and fries. The chicken had a very interesting taste, it was somewhere between chicken and sausage.

Swiss Chicken Dinner

And now, my post is done! This took me hours! But for you guys, it’s worth it.

I’ll leave you now with a picture of the stairs leading up to my room. There are so many curved stairways in Switzerland.

Auf Wiedersehen!

Hotel Stairs



  1. Love this! So glad you’re having a great time! So neat :)

  2. Great post, Karen! TGFG (thank god for google)!

  3. Tell me about the cuckoo clocks. How much are the in US dollars?
    I can’t wait to hear about your first day at work and see more pictures!

  4. Thanks for sharing!

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