So, during this last little while, I’ve really been taking advantage of the fact that travelling in and around Zürich is quite easy. Just hope on a train and a few hours later you might be either across the country or either in an entirely different country and realize that the currency you have cannot be used anywhere else. As Switzerland is not part of the EU, it still retains its currency the Swiss Franc.
As I may have mentioned in a recent report, the Franc is about on par with the Canadian Dollar. Fine, you’d think, but let me not even begin to tell you how much eating out is here. Torontonians are spoiled with the luxuries of authentic Asian food downtown. It’s more of a luxury here and you wouldn’t be hard-pressed to pay about CHF 20.- for a Pad Thai! Anyhow, I’m not here to complain about the cost of living, because I really can’t complain about much. However, the one thing I will say is this: Since when does it snow like crazy in October?!?!? I mean, I understand it’s Switzerland and all, but the "little white stuff" was coming down like crazy a little while ago!
Ok, back to my travels. I know some of you might come to ask me, well, do you actually work there in CH or do you just travel? Let’s go back a few weeks. I had the opportunity to visit some friends and family in Munich for the last weekend of the "official" Oktoberfest! What a treat it was visiting and taking in this world-renowned event! An explanation just does not do it justice because it’s really a sight to behold! All the Bier tents as well as duck meat stands among the game stands and roller coasters makes me think of the CNE at the end of August in Toronto, save for the Bier of course!
And, as I wanted to take in as much as possible, visiting a few beer tents was part of the event. The major breweries, such as Löwenbräu, Augustinerbräu, Hacker-Pschorr, Hofbräu, among many others were well represented. We oom-pa-pa’d with the best of them while enjoying our famous supersized Brez’n! Luckily, I caught my train back to Zürich with one minute to spare; so much fun was being had that the time just seemed to slip away!
It’s been an interesting time during the last month or so because of all of the travel time that I’ve had. The week after I got back from München, I flew to Budapest to visit with a good friend who is studying there for a semester. What a change it was! I felt like I was either in a microcosmic Wien or Paris, except that couldn’t understand anything! I’m not quite up to date on the Hungarian! It was an extra-special treat to have a visit from my sister Caroline who travelled the few hours from Vienna to join us for the weekend.
I was truly lucky to have fabulous weather because that just made my walking discovery of this beautiful Hungarian capital all the more special and dramatic. I was staying right downtown with a perfect view of St. Istvan’s Cathedral. What a glorious view at night when the dome is lit up! The Buda castle is also a sight to behold, right down to the violinist standing outside playing a czardas for the tourists!
However, I also wanted to see Budapest as the locals see it, which means sitting and enjoying their traditional Kaffee und Kuchen in one of the many cafés. I think we must have been to at least 5 different cafés in the one week I was there. That, and checking out the 24-hour Palachinke restaurant (think filled pancakes, oh, so good!) was top priority!
I always say that one of best ways to learn about a new culture is to indulge in the food! Need I remind Caroline and Mary of the dish that our Hungarian friend Balasz ordered for us one evening, which included a lot of meat and mountain of fried onions on top. I do not exaggerate when I say a mountain. It was just too much, but somehow, we seemed to finish this peculiar dish! Even some new Hungarian friends sitting at a table next to us were eager to find out if we would finish the mountain of onion dish!
And now, my friends, I am back in Zürich for the next little while and will take in as many cultural events as possible. Just a few days ago I attended a Première production of Zemlinsky’s opera Der Kreidekreis (which you can read about in my review in this issue) at the Opernhaus.
The Opera House is gorgeous but small. And to top it off, the audience has the opportunity to indulge in little Ricola candies before and after the show, courtesy of a little dish that is set up to hang on the wall outside the doors to the house itself! Only in Switzerland. You know I made sure to try one! :)
And now I take my leave. Yours in song and snow,
Read also: Opera review of "Kreidekreis"
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