Trains, Planes, Boats and Cars!

On Saturday, October 9th, we traveled from Zurich to Venice, Italy to get ready for a 14 day tour with Go Ahead Tours. Go Ahead is a segment of EF Tours, which does educational tours for schools. We found out about them because our youngest had signed up to go on a tour with his 12th grade history class in June of 2020. So I’m sure you all know how that went. He is now a sophomore in college, and the tour has been rescheduled twice, now for June 2022. When we started planning this trip back in the summer of 2019. I knew I wanted to go on a tour, as it would make it easier to see sights like the Sistine Chapel, they would also be able to give us more information. We went to Rome in 2006 on our own, and I felt like I didn’t really see it from a knowledgeable perspective. SO I was looking at tours, and found that Go Ahead seemed to have a nice mix of tours and free time to explore on our own. That is something important to us.

We had thought about taking a train from Zurich to Venice, but the price for the 6 hour ride was about the same as a 1 hour flight. So we decided to go with the latter. However, in order to get to Zurich Airport from the hotel, we needed to take a train. It’s a quick 15 minute ride, and was easy to manage. We got to the airport in plenty of time and sat down to have a cup of coffee. At many European airports they don’t tell you the gate or even the area letter until about 30-45 minutes before the flight, which in this case meant that we didn’t find the Starbucks until we were headed to boarding…luckily Mario had just enough time to make a stop!

The flight was uneventful, and coming into Venice airport gave a great view of the city! I guess I chose the right side of the plane to sit on! Since Venice is really a group of islands off the coast, the airport is on the mainland, and we needed to take a boat to get to our hotel. We were staying on Lido, which is like a barrier island, and can be seen in the background of the photo.

The boat ride took about an hour, and when we docked on Lido we found a taxi to take us to the hotel. It was only about a mile and a half away, but I wasn’t looking to walk that far with our luggage. After we checked in we took a walk back into the town to find some dinner, and also found another very nice view of Venice.

Back at the hotel, we met our Tour Director, Kostas. He was so full of energy and warmth, I knew it was going to be a fabulous tour!

Next time we’ll get started on the tour in Venice!

On to Zurich!

On Wednesday we took the train back to Zurich, as I’ve said in previous posts, the trains in Switzerland are wonderful. They always seem to be on time! Except when they’re not…this one was 6 minutes late leaving Lucerne!! I mean, 6 minutes!! Can you imagine!! No, but really, they are very comfortable, and the ride was less than an hour. We checked back in to the same hotel we had spent our first night abroad at, the Walhalla Hotel, just an easy 5 minute walk (if that) from the train station. Mario was thrilled that there was a Starbucks right next door!

Zurich is similar in look to Lucerne, as it has a river going through the middle of it.

We had three things on our agenda for our three nights in Zurich. First to see Marc Chagall’s windows in the Fraum√ľnster Church. The second was to try to find a showing of No Time to Die in English, and finally to do some laundry. It had only been a week since we had left, but after Zurich we were going on a 2 week tour, and I wasn’t sure whether we would be able to do laundry during that part of the trip.

The Chagall windows did not disappoint!

We were able to find a showing of the James Bond film in English too! What a different experience, as my sister-in-law noted in their blog https://doitontheroad.com/2021/10/10/a-working-vacation/, there was an intermission about an hour in, but ours was better timed…no cutting into an action sequence! As we walked back to the hotel, there was something we saw at many restaurants, tables and chairs set up outside, but Zurich gets chilly! It’s interesting where in the US we probably would just go inside, but here in Switzerland, they’re made from hardier stock, they just bundle up! So many chairs with blankets and “furs” on them, and even coats to borrow at some places!

Come have a seat, it’s not that cold!!

Finally on Friday we made the 30 minute uphill trek to a laundromat…whew! It was the most expensive laundry I think we’ve ever done, about $40 for two loads in the wash, and one in the dryer! Zurich is an expensive town!

From here we fly to Venice for the start of our EF/GoAhead Tour…2 weeks in Venice, Florence, Rome, Delphi, Olympia, Athens.

On to Lucerne!

or…Luzern…in Helvetic, as in Helvetica type, as Helvetic is Swiss for…uh, well, Swiss….but WordPress doesn’t have Helvetica Type to choose!

We took the train from Zermatt, the trains are very nice, with tables so we could have lunch and do some work as we rode. It’s hard to stop looking at the scenery though, and I’m glad we were able to spot a few interesting animals…Buffalo at one point and yaks at another, sorry they went past too quickly for photo documentation! We also saw lots and lots of cows. There were many farms, and what I believe were some vineyards…

The train ride was about 3 1/2 hours, and we made it to Lucerne by around 1pm. We went to the hotel, Hotel Central Luzern, and they were kind enough to let us check in early.  We had a wander around the olde town and across the bridges.

We came back to the hotel for an afternoon of work, and then went out to dinner. Walking back was beautiful crossing the river.

On Tuesday it was rainy in the morning, so we went to the Swiss Museum of Transport, since Mario is a HUGE fan! We were hoping for a lot of cars, but found instead more on flight instead. Apparently we missed a huge part of the museum, because I was distracted by the SWISS CHOCOLATE ADVENTURE!! Which we certainly had to explore. It was actually a ride similar to one I’ve been on at Hershey Chocolate World in Hershey, PA. A very interesting process involving crushing the cocoa into a very fine powder before liquifying it. Now I need to go back to Hershey and compare notes!!

Once we came out of the museum the weather had cleared a bit, so we walked to the Lion monument, a tribute to the Swiss Guards who died in the Storming of the Tuileries in Paris in 1792.

After the monument we walked back to the center of town and got onto the Lucerne City Train. It was a great way to see the city and learn about the different areas. I especially loved the Lucerne Gate in front of the Railway station from both sides!

The architecture in Lucerne is absolutely beautiful, and there is so much to see! But the view of Lake Lucerne with the Alps in the background is stunning!

Definitely worth a trip if you can! That’s all for today, next stop in Zurich!