Sunday, October 24, 2010

zurich & brussels

I'm going to Zurich and Brussels over New Year's, with my family.

Here is a photo of Zurich in winter. My brother and I fear the cold, but we couldn't agree on a warm place to go. I suggested Mexico City, which he vetoed due to drug wars. I suggested Sydney, which my dad vetoed due to cost. Finally we all agreed on Zurich.

Despite being 8 hours to the north, Brussels is supposed to be 10 degrees warmer than Zurich.

The last time that all of us traveled together was Madrid and Paris in 2007. I hardly remember going to Versailles and the Champ-Elyssee and all that, but the most vivid memory is that my brother's hotel bed had a broken leg, which would collapse during his sleep every night. Then the bed would tilt at a 20-degree angle. He told the hotel front desk, but they refused to act. So, every morning, the maid would prop the bed back up, and every night during his sleep, it would tilt over again.

We ate at a little chinese restaurant in a Parisian avenue near the hotel. The proprietors told us that the French have many government benefits when they have a kid. My parents decided that if they had immigrated to Paris instead of the US, they probably would've had a third kid. That was very strange for Tom and I to consider.

The first morning in Paris, I convinced my family to eat at a breakfast place nearby for 8 euros each. My dad was dismayed at the price. Thereafter, he found a pastry shop that sold four croissants for two euro, and he would go out every day for a morning walk and bring back four croissants. Then he would cheerfully invite my brother and I to eat at "Wang's Breakfast Shop".

On the train from Paris to Rome, my dad met a math professor who teaches in Rome. They bonded by complaining that their students are becoming lazier. This Italian professor asked my dad, "What is the biggest culture shock for you in Paris?" My dad said it was that the coffee cups in France are so tiny. He made a circle with his hands. The Italian guy said, "The cups in Italy are even smaller."

It's interesting how the things that my dad remembers are these daily occurrences with the hotels, the food, the coffee.

Anyhow, since I have a few days in each city, what are the most interesting things I should see in these places?


Anonymous said...

Brussels is probably the most boring city in the whole Europe. Full of busy EU officials with suites and briefcases churning along the streets to their meetings. For that reason, this is one of the most expensive cities in the world. The market place (depicted in the photograph in your post) is probably the one and only attraction that deserves attention. Otherwise, my advice stop there for one day, and then spend the rest of it in Bruges. Or better yet, head further north to Amsterdam. Zurich is very nice though.

Eater said...

Might be a bit morbid, but my favorite "sight-seeing" thing in Zurich is the cemeteries in the Rehalp neighborhood:

There is a nice lunch cruise on the lake, too.

The St. Michaels cathedral in Brussels is worth a look:

cast42 said...

I recommend the view from the restaurant in the museum of instruments. It's a five minutes walk from the central marketplace in brussels. Go drink a coffe in (small cups) to warm up :

Your Lover said...

Get out of Brussels! Bruges and even Waterloo are better places to visit.

Anyways, how long will you be gone for the winter?

Niniane said...

Thanks for the suggestions so far!

I'm only going for 1.5 weeks (New Year's +/- 4 days on each side).

mtbouchard said...

I visited Brussels on my first trip to Europe during winter of '94. I didnt go to Zurich but I did go to Bern and Geneva.

Brussels was a very pleasant city but there isnt that much to see or do - you can enjoy the christmas lights and outdoor vendors selling Waffles and Belgian Lambic beer. The cathedral mentioned is definitely worth seeing and is beautiful at night. I didnt go to Bruges but I really wish I had. You could do it as a day trip if you have time.

My brother went to Zurich and loved it and Ive always wanted to go. Bern was extremely beautiful in the setting of the snow-blanketed alps. I loved switzerland -its like the european Japan. Zurich always tops the "most livable" cities list.

I will also throw out there, you will likely pass through Strasbourg, which is 2 hours away from Zurich. Its city center is a UNESCO world heritage site. My sister went there and loved it. While its never good to overcomplicate things, just be aware if you have enough time, that might be something to see, either as a stop over or a day trip.

Heres a european rail map:

never cry noid... said...

Antwerp is a neat city. If you happen to be passing through and there is time, the Plantin museum would make an interesting stop:

Don't forget to eat some real chocolate while you're in Belgium! Or bring some back for your friends! :)

Niniane said...

Is "never cry noid" an anagram?

Apple Cider said...

It certainly looks as though it might be one, but it was not written with that in mind. I usually choose a random name each time I comment that relates to something I am currently doing. I had just finished checking out some crinoid fossils for a friend, and was about to use that term when it occurred to me that it could be written as 'cry noid' (either slang for nerd, or that geriatric mascot for Domino's Pizza). Never Cry Wolf, Never Cry Noid (esp. given the readership in this blog). And there you have it.

Anonymous said...

I'm afraid I find your use of nominative case in objects a bit jarring (but maybe that's just a problem I'll have to deal with on my own).

"That was very strange for Tom and I to consider." -> "That was very strange for Tom and me to consider."

The same holds for the end of the next paragraph. Standard practice is to remove "Tom and" to see what sounds better.

(Weird exceptions to object form inherited from Latin: "It is I. I am she." Does anyone actually talk like that?)