Arrival in Zurich

If you ever find yourself planning a trip to Sourthern Germany, you should probably buy a rail pass that includes travel in both Germany and Switzerland. We thought that it would be more economical to travel across Southern Germany to Konstanz and buy a ticket for the short ride to Zurich. That might be true, but if we had a pass that was good in both countries, we could have taken a high speed train between the two cities that would have been much faster and more pleasant.

Instead we had to take a train to Ulm, transfer to Radolfzell, and then take an SBB train to Konstanz where, after much confusion, we managed to purchase tickets to Zurich. Passes are always examined on the high speed trains, but travel on the local trains works on the honor system. Sometimes a conductor comes through, sometimes not. If you have not written the correct date in the European manner on your pass (DD/MM/YY) or if you do not have a proper ticket, you can be fined. Jeanette later pointed out that the SBB train was Swiss so our passes were probably not valid on that train but at the time we were blissfully ignorant of that fact and the passes were not checked so we were probably also lucky.

Unlike Japan where the train entrance is level with the platform, it's often a steep climb up and down steps into and out of the train itself and transfer time between trains is short. After I realized this, I was amazed by the restraint the locals exhibited when I paused momentarily at the top of the steps to determine the best way to negotiate them with my suitcase. They must have been tempted to shove me aside so they could make their next connection.

When we did finally arrive in Zurich after a somewhat arduous journey, our first stop was the bank machine. Switzerland uses its own brightly colored currency - not the euro. At the time of our trip, one Swiss franc was almost exactly equal to one US dollar so we were momentarily appalled when the machine dispensed one hundred franc bills rather than twenties or fifties. Our hotel was not near the train station so we thought we would have a difficult time getting smaller bills to take a taxi or to buy tickets for the streetcar.

It turned out that this is not a problem in Switzerland because things are incredibly expensive. Jeanette soon acquired smaller bills by stopping in the nearest Starbucks and purchasing a regular cup of coffee for the princely sum of 7 Swiss francs.

Our search for a taxi was unsuccessful, so we stood for quite awhile trying to figure out how to use the streetcar. There were a lot of ticket options. Fortunately, a British woman who was waiting for a tram helped us make our selection, and we were soon clanking up the steep hill to the Hotel Coronado.

Strange as it may seem, we had chosen the Hotel Coronado partly because of a bad review it had received from a woman who was obviously a bit odd. She wrote a long, rambling description of her stay at hotel which involved her injury from a fall; the refusal of the staff to let her leave her cat in the room after check-out time while she ate lunch in a restaurant in the park across the street; the escape of the cat into the woods; and the staff's threats to call the police when she tried to retrieve something from her luggage which she had left in the Hotel Coronado's storage area for several days after she checked into another hotel. She also mentioned a silver bowl which was stolen several years earlier from her sister's luggage after her sister had used it to entertain guests in the lobby of the hotel. It was the most ridiculous review I have ever read.

The impressive part was the response of the hotel manager which struck the perfect tone.

First of all I would like to thank you that you have taken time to write a such detailed review. Indeed it was very interesting, I rather say amusing, to read all the adventures you experienced during your stay at Hotel Coronado. I would not wish you to misunderstand me, I do not mean it in a bad way, but you and me, we both know, how hard the time was, when you were sojourning at our place, for you AND the whole hotel staff! If someone seriously use the words "police" and "immediately" in front of a guest, I think all of us know, that there must have been a grave reason...I hope you and your cat stay well and you could enjoy the rest of your stay at the mentioned hotel above.