I had to go to Geneva (Switzerland) and Frankfurt (Germany) for business trip. I came earlier to spend the weekend there before my meetings and my then-boyfriend-now-husband came along. My fourth time visiting Europe (I never get bored of Europe!) and second time in Winter. I love it! Europe is always great - any season - no matter what :-)
This time, we visited Zurich, Lucerne, Engelberg, Geneva, Lausanne, and Frankfurt, Cologne, Heidelberg.
We landed in Zurich airport in Switzerland, took a train to the city, and stored our luggage at the station. We walked from the main station to Lake Zurich, enjoyed the lake, the birds, the cold weather (nice!), and visited Ganymed. We continued to walk and passed Grossmünster, a Romanesque-style Protestant then Fraumünster, Evangelical Reformed Church of the Canton of Zürich. Both of them are two of the four major churches in the city (the others are Predigerkirche and St. Peterskirche). After such a long walk in the nice cold weather, we needed to drink something hot. We went to Confiserie Sprüngli at Bahnhofstrasse 21, about 1 km away from Zurich main station. We had hot chocolate and chocolate mousse cake. Delicious!!!
We continued to walk along the river, Limmat, passed Lindenhof Park, checked a supermarket nearby (and bought a lot of chocolates! Yes, we both love chocolates and Switzerland chocolates are absolutely delicious), and headed to Swiss National Museum, one of the most important art museums of cultural history in Europe. It is located next to the Hauptbahnhof. It was very enjoyable. After spending some time in the museum, we felt hungry :-) so we went to a restaurant with rustic ambience, Zeughauskeller in Bahnhofstrasse 28A. and we had veal and mushrooms in white-wine sauce, rosti, pork sausages, potato salad and wheat beer :-) A recommended place to visit when you are in Zurich.
From here, we went across the street to Confiserie Sprüngli to get its signature macarons called Luxemburgerli. Best macarons ever! I've tasted macarons from Adriano Zumbo (an Australian pâtissier and chef, known for his croquembouche tower) and the french Ladurée - and to me Luxemburgerli is the winner.
We walked back to Zurich main station and took a train to Lucerne, located about 50 km south of Zurich. It was not a long journey, a bit less than an hour. It was already dark when we reached Lucerne main station. In this cold weather, we had to drag our luggage to walk to our hotel, Ameron Hotel Flora, about 300 metres away (choosing a hotel near the station is very important).
In the morning, we took a train to Engelberg, a very lovely village and a major mountain resort in Switzerland. We went straight to my favourite place, Mount Titlis to enjoy the snowy mountain and this time to learn to ski. The cable car took us to the top at 10,000 ft (3,020 metres). The view going up was breathtaking! I really loved it. I've been here during summer a few years before and it's interesting to see it during winter.
We rode in the Ice Flyer to enjoy the amazing icy mountain view then had some breakfast before putting on our gears to ski. It was my first time and I hired an instructur to teach me while my then-boyfriend-now-husband skied by himself. It was really fun to learn although I was not that talented and it took me a long time to do it.
After being tired from skiing, we went back to the bottom - to Engelberg village and walked around. It was such a pretty village - we felt like in heaven! We had dinner in a very nice restaurant (that we chose randomly) before heading back to Lucerne by train.
It was snowing the morning when we did a bit of sightseeing. We walked to Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge) from our hotel, it was just 300 metres away (nicely located hotel, I know!). The Chapel Bridge is a covered wooden footbridge spanning diagonally across the Reuss river. We walked on the bridge to go to St. Peterskapelle (St. Peter's Chapel), an 18th century Catholic Church. We continued to walk passed Bruggligasse then walked outside the old city wall of Lucerne, Museggmauer. Beautiful! It was very chilly as it was snowing but I still enjoyed it. We stopped by at a lovely cake shop. Oh yeahhh I couldn't resist! Look at those cakes - soooo appetizing!
We continued the sightseeing and went to Lion Monument (Löwendenkmal), a rock relief designed by Bertel Thorvaldsen. It commemorates the Swiss Guards who were massacred in 1792 during the French Revolution. Then we visited Church of St. Leodegar (St. Leodegar im Hof), a Roman Catholic church. It looked simple from outside but beautiful inside.
It's time to leave Lucerne, we took a train to go to Geneva, 300 km south-west of Lucerne or about 3.5 hours train journey. We changed train and alighted at Lancy-Pont-Rouge station, about 500 metres away from the hotel, Hostellerie de la Vendée.
I had meetings for two days so my-then-boyfriend-now-husband had to do sightseeing by himself. On the first day he was by himself, he chose to go to Lausanne, about 100 km away located at the other end of the crescent-shaped Lake Geneva. He visited Chillon Castle (Château de Chillon), an island castle located on Lake Geneva (Lac Léman), south of Veytaux. From the photos he's taken inside the castle, it seems like it's a very nice castle with a lot of history. I would love to visit next time.
On the second day, he went to Geneva (city) and visited International Museum of the Red Cross and Red Crescent. Next to the museum is the Comité international de la Croix-Rouge. WIthin a very short distance, United Nations office is located.
He had his first cheese fondue for lunch. He ordered the cheese and tomato fondue since he expected cheese and bread by itself to be too boring.
From Geneva, he travelled to Frankfurt, about 600 km north of Geneva by train. First, he took a train to Basel then changed to an ICE train from Basel to Frankfurt. A maximum of 205 km/h on this trip. His train into Frankfurt was running 21 minutes late, proof that German trains aren't as timely as you might think :-)
In the meantime, after my meetings in Geneva, I flew by plane to Frankfurt.
We both arrived in Frankfurt and welcomed by a very chilly weather, about -5C. They had -16C weather the night before we arrived. All was covered in snow. We stayed in Dorint Hotel, close to my office at Schwalbach. In the morning the day after, I found out that the water heater in the (whole) hotel didn't work. I had no choice I had to shower with cold water! Brrrrrrrrr! I had meetings in the office the whole day. After my office hour ended, we decided to go to the city to look around and found a restaurant for dinner, located deep in an underground bunker. It's called Vinum at Kleine Hochstraße 9. Not only that the place and the ambience was really nice, the food was amazing!!! We had Vinum appetizer plate with bread, homemade veal sausages with pan-fried potatoes, and pork loin medallions with Dijon mustard sauce and schupfnudeln (also called Fingernudel or finger noodle, is a type of dumpling or thick noodle in southern German and Austrian cuisine. It is similar to the Italian gnocchi) - and of course wine. They're really delicious!
The next morning, while I was working at my office, my-then-boyfriend-now-husband took a train to Cologne (about 200 km north-west of Frankfurt) and had a look of the city by himself. He visited Cologne Cathedral (Cathedral Church of Saint Peter), a Catholic cathedral with Gothic architecture and was declared a World Heritage Site in 1996. It is the largest Gothic church in Northern Europe. He went inside the church and took some pictures. Really beautiful! Magnificent!
(When I went there a few years before, I didn't go in as I went there with the tour group. This is another disadvantage going with a tour group, the time is limited you could not see in detail the things you want to see).
He took a stroll around the city and took photos for me (who's working hard at the office :-)). He passed Hohenzollern Bridge (Hohenzollernbrücke - a bridge crossing the river Rhine), Great Saint Martin Church (a roman Catholic church), and Willi Ostermann Monument (Wilhelm "Willi" Ostermann was a lyricist, composer and singer of carnival songs and songs about Cologne).
He had a German food for lunch (of course!) - a 1.5 kg of delicious crispy pork knuckle with mashed potato, sauerkraut and salad for lunch. It's huge! He managed to finish the whole meal, after some considerable time.
With the energy he got from eating the big pork knuckle (by himself :-)), we continued to walk and visited Roman-Germanic Museum (Römisch-Germanisches Museum), an archaeological museum. It has a large collection of Roman artifacts from the Roman settlement of Colonia Claudia Ara Agrippinensium, on which modern Cologne is built. The museum protects the original site of a Roman town villa, from which a large Dionysus mosaic remains in its original place in the basement, and the related Roman Road just outside. In this respect the museum is an archaeological site.
After my work ended for the day, we went to the city to watch a Beethoven concert by hr-Sinfonieorchester at Alte Oper (Old Opera), a concert hall and former opera house in Frankfurt. It was very enjoyable! We loved it. For dinner after the concert, we decided to come back to Vinum Restaurant (yes, the restaurant was that great - it made us going back within a day).
In the Cologne central station, there was a big sign "4711 Echt Kölnisch Wasser", which reminded me of my grandmothers. 4711 is a traditional German Eau de Cologne by Mäurer & Wirtz. Because it has been produced in Cologne since at least 1799, it is allowed to use the geographical indication Original Eau de Cologne.
It was Saturday, our last day in Europe. Heidelberg is a very lovely city and I was impressed by it during my first trip to Europe a few years before. But I didn't manage to explore much at that time. That's why I wanted to visit Heidelberg again.
In the morning we took a train to Heidelberg, 90 km south of Frankfurt. We walked from Heidelberg train station to Heidelberg Castle (about 4 km east) and made a few stops. First stop was at a German restaurant, Perkeo at Hauptstraße 75. I had sausage and bacon with mashed potato and sauerkraut while he had onion roast beef with spatzle. Nice! (Yes, we love German food :-)).
We continued to walk along Hauptstraße and our next stop was Church of the Holy Spirit (Heiliggeistkirche), the most famous church in Heidelberg. It is located in the middle of the market place in the old center. Beautiful church!
It's snowing and we walked further. Finally, we reached Bergbahn Heidelberg, located just less than 300 metres away from the church, where we took the funicular railway to Heidelberg Castle. A funicular uses the technology of an elevator (a cable pulling a car up) and the technology of a railroad (a car on a track). Heidelberg Castle (Heidelberger Schloss) is a ruin in Germany and landmark of Heidelberg. The castle ruins are among the most important Renaissance structures north of the Alps. The view of Heidelberg city from the top of the castle was really breath-taking! Here we also saw Heidelberg Tun (Großes Fass), an enormous wine barrel in Heidelberg Castle.
From the castle, we went down and walked to the Old Bridge Heidelberg (Alte Brücke), an arch bridge in Heidelberg that crosses the Neckar river. We continued to walk to the station to take the train back to Frankfurt (it's snowing again!) - then airport and flew back. It's been an amazing one week. It was quite a short trip but very worthwhile. Both Switzerland and Germany were gorgeous! We will definitely come back and explore more of them - and Austria (this one is in my bucket list!).