Before we left Frankfurt for Zurich, we took a day trip to Heidelberg, which, like Armidale, is a University town and surrounds the picturesque River Neckar.
On the Saturday we visited, Heidelberg was at the height of the German unification celebrations. Every square centimetre of space in the public squares/platz was occupied by happy Germans eating, drinking, shopping, listening to music and generally enjoying good times. We observed no noisy drunks.
Heidelberg has wider streets than Frankfurt and is serviced by a comprehensive bus network that we found unintelligible at one of their bus interchanges. The major tourist attraction for Heidelberg is a 17th century castle perched in forest above the town and the River. The castle has had several iterations over the last 400 years and is now a UNESCO treasure. It is used for conferences and general tourist purposes. We gave up trying to reach the castle by public transport and took a taxi. We returned to the railway station via a funicular railway, and another taxi.
Our trip to and from Heidelberg was made possible by one of Germany’s very fast trains. As full fare paying first class passengers, we were able to access the facilities of the first class lounge in Frankfurt before and after our journey. This lounge, similar to a QANTAS airport lounge, provides complimentary snacks, cappuccinos and alcoholic beverages as well as free and fast wifi. You are served by stewards. It’s another incentive to use the trains.
We travelled from Frankfurt to Zurich by another very fast train. Although this train reached speed approaching 200 kph, we were comfortably able to consume the lunch we ordered and didn’t spill a drop of our hot and cold beverages.
We soon discovered that Zurich is a much more expensive city than Frankfurt. On arrival, the friendly staff at the Tourist Information Centr pointed out that we could make considerable savings by purchasing a 24 hour public transport card. Metres from the central train station was a light rail stop where we caught a tram to our hotel in the suburbs.
Unfortunately, the first tram we caught was an older model where we had to scale 3 steps with our luggage to gain entry. More model trams in Zurich have a lower entry and a “kneeling” capacity on some doors for disabled passengers and bicycles.
The Zurich public transport card allows unlimited use to heavy and light rail to and from the suburbs plus a metro and ferries within the inner city area. As Switzerland was neutral in WWII, their architecture was in a more intact state than Frankfurt, which is largely copies.
Adjacent to our hotel in the suburb of Oerlikon, Zurich, was a public square/platz that is regularly used for open air markets. The farmers’ market we observed was well organised and patronised.
Our next stop will be Turin, Italy.