Tuesday, July 19, 2016

Rhine Falls and other Adventures

Wow, the adventures are currently coming fast and furiously. I left Anchorage on Thursday afternoon and arrived in Zurich Friday evening. Since we flew over the pole the trip wasn't that long, but the ten hour time difference meant I really jumped ahead. Right now for example it is a little before 9 in the morning, but back in Anchorage it is not quite 11 pm the night before.
The evening I arrived I managed to make it to my sister's place just before they started eating dinner (a feat I would manage to pull off several times in a row, without either of us planning it). After we ate we took a walk beside Lake Zurich and then I went to the home of a lovely Swiss lady that I found on AirBnB (We'll call her T). Instead of going to bed like I probably should have (I hadn't slept in a bed since Wednesday night) I spent a lovely couple of hours talking to T. I got to bed around 11, but my jet lag prevented me from becoming truly rested.
Saturday was my niece's birthday and so we had a really cool adventure to a place called Sattel Hochstukli. I will let you read about it on my sister's blog since she has already done such a great job detailing our trip.
On our return I stopped at the main train station to buy a SIM card at Swisscom (you may recall the night before the Swisscom at the airport was sold out of SIM cards). I had an interesting experience there. I asked the man at the front of the store, in German, if they sold SIM cards for my iPhone. The man answered me in Swiss German. Now I must say, I speak German really well, but I simply cannot understand Swiss German it is VERY different. I stood there looking rather blank as he was speaking. When he finished I told him in high German that I did not understand. He then repeated (presumably) himself in high German and I understood he was telling me I needed to join the line in front of the cash registers. My sister, brother-in-law and I were very curious about this and we thought that maybe the sentence I had spoken in German was simply similar enough to that sentence in Swiss German, but here is where the beauty of staying with someone from an AirBnB comes in. That evening when I got back to the house, T, her friend G and an American A were sitting out on the Terrace and invited me to join them. While I was there I asked G about this experience and he told me that that was actually a compliment to my German. G told me that there were a lot of Germans living and working in Zurich and many of them had learned Swiss German. The next night I heard two women talking as they were walking down the path next to the Lake (we went back to the lake on Sunday). One woman I could fully understand. The other woman I could not understand. I believe one was speaking German (I know she was) and the other was speaking in Swiss German all at the same time. I imagine that this was the expected outcome at the Swisscom store.
On Sunday we went to visit the Rhine Falls. The Rhine Falls are the largest waterfalls in Europe measure on volume of water flowing over the falls. We had a fantastic time. The Rhine Falls are located at Schloss Laufen and we took a couple of trains to get there. Unfortunately, we were going to take the tram that stops right around the corner from my sister's house (and just down the street from where I am staying), but we were running a little late. My brother-in-Law looked at his watch and said we have 10 minutes until our train departs (the trains were only running once an hour) and so we started walking. But we had a 2 year-old (in a backpack), a 5 year-old (as of the day before) and a 7 year-old (practically 8) . Not exactly a group built for rushing down the street. Thus we took turns carrying Allison (the 5 year old) and it was crazy! As we reached the station the train was pulling in, but we needed the next platform over so we rushed down the escalator and then ran up the next. I think the hardest thing I've ever done was run up that second escalator while carrying a 5 year old (after carrying her most of the way to the train station), but we made it!
The white behind me is water rushing over the falls and spraying back up! 
At the Rhine Falls we walked along the trails and had really good views of the powerful falls (you could hear them and how powerful they are before you could see them). Then we decided to take the Kleine Rundfahrt (small tour) boat. To do this we had to take a boat first across the water to the other side and then catch our boat from there. The kids were hungry (it was passed noon by this point) and they had a vending machine that popped popcorn as you stood there. You had to have exact change (not actually true, but the machine didn't give change) and between Joel and myself we were able to come up with the correct amount (3 Swiss Francs). Joel went to get the popcorn while Rebecca, the kids and I stood in line (the very front of it actually) to wait for the next boat. Joel got to the front of the popcorn line as the boat arrived. I told him to go ahead and get the popcorn because I felt there was enough time (I had watched the loading while we were in line to buy the boat tickets) and then I told Rebecca and the kids to go ahead and get on the boat. Man did we all get nervous as time kept ticking past and Joel was waiting for the popcorn to pop. The good news is Joel made it on the boat.
When we got across the river there was a boat just about to depart, but it was full. The driver told us that we would be on the next boat. Rebecca had me ask how long that would be and he told me about 15 minutes. Next thing I know, he's asking me how many people we have and then making people on the boat slide closer together! Not sure that was the best way to have people appreciate you, but we appreciated not having to wait. The boat ride was a blast! We rode right up to the falls twice (once on each side) and got sprayed with water from the falls. I was holding Lauren on my lap and she squealed with delight. It was an absolute blast and something I definitely recommend if someone is out this way.

You could take a boat out to the rock in the middle and climb up it, but the crowds were so great that I think it was better to take the boat we did and not bother with trying to climb the wet, slippery rock in a crowd of people.

The view from the boat
On the boat

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