We decided to sleep in a little. Eventually we headed out beginning at the train station. From there we started a walking tour along the river towards the lake, Zürichsee.
I continue to be amazed by the beauty of Switzerland with its old buildings, many of which are painted with typical Swiss style, and the beauty of the rivers and lakes that run through so many of its cities. Add to that an incredibly efficient public transit system used by thousands daily and there isn't much to complain about, except perhaps the prices. We did well in buying a Swiss Pass which covered all of our transportation needs to and within all cities as well as many of the museums and other places we visited throughout the week.
Once we reached Zürichsee the girls were asking for a boat ride. We soon discovered that our Swiss Pass covered that as well. We hopped aboard a 90 minute boat trip on Zürichsee. The excursion took us to several ports of interest including Küsnacht, a fashionable suburb where I believe Tina Turner has a home, Thalwil, an important railway hub, Rüschlikon, a former farm village, now home to 3M and IBM, and Kilchberg Bendlikon, once home to a few famous writers and now home of Lindt & Sprüngli chocolate. It was a beautiful sunny day and quite relaxing. We discovered a few fine spots for a swim as well if we return on a warmer day. We arrived at the pier quite hungry and found a nice pasta place set back into the old town. From there we started back toward the train station and on to the hotel.
After dropping our things and regrouping it was time to meet up with Sofia and family. I met Sofia 24 years ago in Spain and we have remained in contact through letters, then email, holiday cards and on occasional visits in between. This was the first time that our kids would meet. Despite how many years had passed, we still connected like old friends. It was really great to see her and her husband again. The kids took a few minutes to warm up to each other but in no time they were playing quite well together. Spanish was the common language for them.
Dinner was amazing and I was so glad to be feeling well enough to eat again. The homemade pizza-like appetizer was followed by several kinds of grilled meats, salads, and corn. The weather was perfect for grilling out and they have a lovely home in the countryside making for just the right setting. During our time at their house we were visited by the neighboring cows and some horses that were out for a stroll. Dinner was followed by a lovely pastry assortment.
We headed back to the hotel full, happy and with a meeting plan for Sunday.
We met up with Sofia and family at the Zurich train station. The kids were happy to see each other again. We found our train to Wintertur where we then changed to Schauffhausen, 3 minutes between trains and a change of platforms but still made it with 4 kids and a stroller in tow. The Swiss rail system is an incredibly well greased wheel. Even the girls have come to appreciate train travel and public transportation done right.
Dean and I had visited Schaffhausen many years ago during the spring. It was quite different to see the falls in the summer with so much of the mountain snow having melted. The water was mesmerizing and extraordinarily loud.
We took the boat ride to approach the falls for some pictures and a quick shower. The kids seemed to enjoy the shower part. There were also some paths that went down along the cliffs to the side of the falls where we were able to get some nice photos.
By 1:30 we were all ready for lunch. Sofia had reserved a lovely table for us on the terrace of the castle. Just below the terrace was an old park which worked out well for the kids.
After enjoying our leisurely meal we decided on a visit to the castle. The view of the falls from the inside was quite nice and the tour was a bit curious. It was like a Walt Disney animated ride only the animations began as you entered each room rather than you sitting in a boat being driven by each scene. The animations told the history of the castle and the area during various periods of its use. Entertaining, informative but perhaps a bit cheesy.
From there we headed back to Zurich. As always we parted with an until next time rather than a goodbye as I'm sure we will meet again, hopefully at some point within the next decade. Monday morning, the 4th of July we headed back to Bilbao with only 16 days left in our 7 month adventure. Time is really flying by and there is never enough of it.