While many of my friends and readers know that I am an avid traveler, they may be shocked to know that a) I had never left the country until I met my husband and b) that I have never actually traveled by myself anywhere. When we booked this trip to Poland and Hungary, I would be routing back through Zurich and decided that this was it - I wanted to see Switzerland (the hubs has been before) and I wanted to travel alone for a few days.
I flew Swiss Air to Zurich from Budapest and arrived in time to check-in to the Sheraton near the Lake and explore the city that evening by foot. I had scheduled a day long tour to the Alps the next day and therefore had the entire evening relatively unplanned. Within 5 minutes of walking to Lake Zurich and viewing the Alps, I was completely in awe. I couldn't stop taking pictures and staring.
Now, it's worth noting that at the same time I was there, that *minor* FIFA raid happened 2 blocks from my hotel so the city was bombarded with journalist from all over the world. I made it on several news stations by simply being in Zurich and well, loved it, haha.
Anyways, I found a restaurant on the water and had a delicious, albeit pricey, cocktail overlooking the city. Zurich is the 8th most expensive city in the world so I had to be careful and aware of where I went and what I was spending at all times. I will say that I understand why it's so expensive though - views like this aren't cheap, nor should they be!
I slowly wandered through the park towards the brat shop I read about online and had an insanely delicious sausage, potato salad, and glass of white wine. It set me back around $26 but for Zurich, that's a major steal! It was filling, had lots of flavor, and I snagged a seat on the street to people watch and read my Zurich book the hotel provided. The people in Zurich remind me a lot of those in New York; helpful if you ask but otherwise keep to themselves. For me, it was perfect, because I could enjoy myself without feeling obligated to talk to anyone but if I had a question, locals were more than willing to help.
The next morning, I headed over to the bus station for my tour to the Alps. I opted for the Lucerne and Mt Pilatus self-guided tour through Greyhound and it was awesome. There isn't a tour guide once you're there but they arrange transportation and offer information along the way so you don't feel lost. On the ride there, I was asked to help a lady who was also traveling alone, and much older than me, as she thought this was a guided tour. I happily obliged, especially since she thought my name was Princess (despite me correcting her multiple times) and the tour guide gave me about $50 in Swiss chocolate. What can I say, I love helping people. And I love chocolate.
Mt Pilatus was first and we took a cable car ride up the top with breathtaking views along the way. I lucked out big time that the weather was nice that day as locals claim there are less than 20 days a year without rain!
At the top, the views of the Alps were perfect. The mountain range stretched behind the observatory with Lucerne and other towns dotted in the valley area on the other side. I took a billion and a half photos before enjoying a $25 plate of macaroni and cheese with applesauce and onions while my new travel companion enjoyed schnitzel. She opted to stay inside and rest her legs for a while so I explored the mountaintop further. I will never, ever forget how beautiful this place was!
We took a cogwheel car down the mountainside and I felt like I was in Heaven. The grass was the deepest color green, the snow capped mountains were in the background, and our red train going through it made for some postcard-worthy photos.
Once we made it to the bottom, we boarded a boat that took us back to Lucerne town. It was a large boat and I sat outside enjoying the views from every angle. The weather was just cool enough to need a jacket in the shade and warm enough to allow the sun to beat on your skin - weather perfection if you ask me!
Once back in Lucerne town, me and my friend wandered the main street for photos before heading back to the bus for the ride back into town. I had dinner at a restaurant I had discovered online prior to the trip before blissfully falling asleep to the sounds of the city.
The next morning, I was itching to see Zurich from the lake and ended up jumping on a ferry that was leaving at the exact moment I arrived. Fate! It stopped at many locations along the way so I took it all the way to the last top - Rapperswil, also known as the city of roses. I ordered a glass of champagne (because, well, why not) and sat outside in the sun taking in all the suburban areas of Europe I could. I may or may not have picked out where we would live if/when we move there.
It took about 2 hours to get to Rapperswil and I learned that the ferry would leave in 10 minutes or be back in 2 hours for it's final pickup of the day. I had originally thought I would stay 10 minutes but after one look at one of the many rose gardens, I knew I would be hauling ass to catch the final ferry. I wandered through the streets of this little town, did some shopping as if I was a local, enjoyed some red wine and calamari from an Italian restaurant near the water, and then meandered through more rose gardens. It became, yet another, city I could see myself living in.
I woke up the next morning really sad to be leaving and on a souvenir hunt! One of the most famous shopping streets in the world is in Zurich, the Banhoufstrousse, so naturally, I headed there first. To look. Until I found a chocolate shop that lured me in with it's fancy window display. While there were a few affordable stores on the street, (H&M for example) the majority of stores were as high end as they come and unlike other places in the world, the lines were long in every one of them. I felt like the entire city dressed as though they were in a Banana Republic ad; beige, navy, and black taking center stage. Again, Heaven.
My final stop was one I had been waiting for - a pizza shop. Being so close to Italy, the pizza here is seriously legit so I ordered myself the classic Margherita pizza and had no guilt eating it with a glass of champagne.
I took the train to the airport and checked-in for my Swiss Air business class flight home. To say my first solo trip experience was a success would be an understatement. I loved being on my own, relying only on myself, and exploring this incredible city for the first time. I will definitely be back Zurich; make sure my mansion down the lake is waiting for me.