Thursday, 11 October 2007

The return to Australia

As the edit to my last entry mentioned i had to spend an extra day in Lorrach (no umlauts i could find on an Australian keyboard) as my accommodation in Zurich was booked for the day after, after making that edit to my last post the weather cleared. That gave me the chance to walk into two other countries, when the weather cleared, i followed the bike path along the river (The Rhine ?) into Basel (Switzerland) and seeing signs that i was only a few more K's to Huningnue (France) thought i may as well go there as well. Seems strange after running 17 days in one country that in the space of a few hours i can visit another 2.
By the time i left France it was pretty much evening, so followed the road rather than the dark bike paths, was glad when i finally saw the McDonalds (by my calculations a mile or two from the hotel), and even went in and got a cappucino and chips (ah yes the simple pleasures !!).
Only problem in the dark, what were big intersections in daylight looked no bigger than other corners and i eventually missed my turn off, thankfully decided i need to head away from the river and eventually made it to the railway, on seeing a station had a better idea of where i was and followed the line back backwards, eventually making it back around 10. So another 8 hour day on my feet (i must be nuts).
Beautiful to finally sleep in a double bed (as opposed to a sleeping bag on my air mattress), it's amazing how a stage race makes you appreciate the simple things, late breakfast and then the train to Zurich.
Shame i never did any shopping in Basel or i would have realised a problem (money), i got out of the train (the TGV from Paris to Zurich), and went straight into the supermarket and then had this shocking revelation, Switzerland doesn't use Euros !!!.
So funny enough my first stop (as threatened long ago in this blog), was at a bank, needed to change Euros into Swiss Francs.
Thankfully my hotel was nearby, right above a disco actually that explains why the rooms were cheap !, and just happy to collapse upon my bed and have a rest (unfortunately my suitcases, although now without the weight of the air mattresses, still added up to around 27 KG's).
Not sure if it's the fact that your body is now used to being on it's feet for hours everyday or whether i'm just a cheapskate tourist, but the next two days were spent walking all over Zurich. Saturday it's a look around the city proper (and a bit of window shopping - pretty sure Zurich is not a cheap city to live in), but then follow the Limmat out to the edge of suburbia (out to the grapevines)a place called Oberengstringen, lovely mountain views and in the distance the city. Walk back on the other side of the Rhine as night falls (even Doner Kebaps are expensive here), and finally back in time to hear the disco i must have slept through on the Friday night.
Sunday was off to the Zurich See, couldn't help thinking of Canberra and Lake Burley Griffin, all the footpaths are also bike paths so when i see i'm actually 15K's away from the centre of town (and still over 10K's from a place i had plans to visit real mountains from), decided to cut my losses and head up and also find some food (not easy on a Sunday believe me !).
First place i saw was a Starbucks, so rather famished ordered a "normal size" Cappucino, reckon that's the last time they ever get my business, a mug of coffee is fine, but when over half of it is foam and approx $5 (5.40 Swiss Francs), ridiculous and even then all i could get was a donut (at 1.80 CHF). Thankfully just down the road, there was a railway station and yet another Doner Kebap stand, had a slightly different one this time just what i needed. Great walk back, over the high route, no idea where i was heading but as long as the city was in front i was fine.
Thankfully the City Centre supermarket was open on Sundays (nothing else was) and even better open till 8, so just in time to buy something to make dinner and for lunch before Mondays flight back.
With a 3PM flight on Monday (scheduled to get back to Melbourne 1AM Wednesday), had a feed then thought i may as well have a look around the town by dark, alot of people about especially as the Zurich film festival is on (saw the red carpet but no stars i recognised). Shame i've never worked out how to get decent pictures in the dark, i'll just have to have them as memories.
Anyway full plane from Zurich to Dubai (somehow i had the very back seat nearest the toilets, poor fellow in the next aisle had a non working seat(they actually took the seat apart to try to fix it but couldn't and were unable to move him as all seats were taken. 2AM at Dubai and 41 degrees, walking from plane to airport bus (airport renovations meant a 10 minute bus trip to terminal), was like wandering into an oven.
Three hours in Dubai (possibly the worlds worst free airport internet computers, if they worked the odds were the characters were rubbed off the keyboards - i'm no touch typist !), and then Melbourne via Singapore.
An hour stop at Singapore (and unlike the trip there we had to get off the plane), with 20 minutes to get out the plane (again i was at the back but this time with a window seat), and then a queue of another 20 minutes to go through the machines etc to go back on (me i never cared whether i saw Changi airport again, i'd had a gutful of it last year !!!), so maybe a chance for a real toilet break.
Finally back at Melbourne 1:45 AM, and by the time i'd cleared customs etc, was home at around 3:30, only a few days to recover for the Melbourne Marathon (above is the article that had been in the local paper while i was away), now that's another story (and probably a good way to finish this blog).

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