Schlosslaufen and Rheinfall
Apologies for the delay everybody. We have been very busy and have lacked decent internet over the past two weeks. We are now catching up.
Today we were up early to pick up the remainder of our Finnair flight to Zurich. An early start was no problem as we only had a five minute walk from the Hilton Helsinki Airport to security. Our luggage was already checked through from Osaka so that made things even easier.
There was just enough time for a quick breakfast in the Finnair lounge (free breakfast count is now 6). Business class on these short haul European legs is... well, just economy with an empty seat in between the window and the aisle. We were lucky to have scored row 1 so got a little bit extra legroom. The breakfast of omelette, spinach and Finnish bread was one of the best meals so far. It was also nice to be literally first on and off the plane.
In Zurich we met our friends and former neighbours Joanne and Roland. They live in a lovely village about twenty minutes outside of Zurich. We were struck immediately by how green the landscape was. Every available plot of land is given over to some form of farming, whether it be growing wheat, corn, onions, potatoes or just picture perfect Swiss cows complete with bells.
Let's get the economics out of the way. Fuel is CHF1.50 per litre (about AUD2.00) and Coca Cola is CHF1.40 (about $1.95 but that's for a 500ml bottle). We never found the price of a Big Mac so can't calculate that index. So as usual, some things are cheaper and some things are more expensive. We found eating out to be extraordinarily expensive - good food but pricey.
In the afternoon we went to the Rheinfall. Here the Rhein River drops 23m, which does not sound a lot but the river runs fast - 630m3 of water per second goes over the drop so the falls are quite spectacular. Just like Niagara Falls it is possible to get right up to the edge. There is a viewing platform about half way down the falls where it feels like the water is going to rush in and swamp you.
At the foot of the falls, small tourist boats force their way into the flow and get almost to frothing water. Spray flies up into the air where the wind swirls it around. We took the boat across the river and took a leisurely walk around the falls and over the railway bridge back to Schlosslaufen.
After that we went to Joanne and Roland's secret spot. At a secluded section of the Thur River (which meets the Rhein further downstream from the falls), it is possible to float down the river through a nature reserve. The Thur turns back on itself, which means one can float for about 2 kilometres but end up about 200 metres from where you start. At 6pm it was still warm and there was plenty of light. We thought the water would be cold but it was delightful. The river runs fast here too, with the occasional rapid but it is nothing an air mattress cannot handle. Due to the nature reserve it was wonderfully quiet, the only sound being the running water, the birds and the occasional distant train. It was almost deserted apart from a few families enjoying an evening picnic on the shore.
We returned to the first home cooked dinner for over a week. However the bodies were still on Japan time, so 9:30pm felt like 3:30am. Off to bed.