Europe Summer 2010 - Day 1

July 03, 2010

Finally got around to inserting the pics into my blog! Here's the first entry on my trip to Europe 2 weeks ago.
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Blogging in the plane now because it is 5.21pm Zurich time and I am unable to sleep. Foresee some trouble staying alert when I touch down in about 6 hours and have to to work straight, but also foresee the lack of time in blogging and the inertia that will arise, so I thought to better get it done first while the memories are still fresh.

Work was the reason why I was given the opportunity to travel to Europe. My company is French-affliated and we have clients overseas, so this time we go over to visit them (instead of skype and emails) and finally get to put a face to the electronic communication we have. The value of such visits in strengthening relationships on both ends that no amount of calls and emails can make up for is immense, despite the high cost and 12 hour journey that we have to take to create that.

Like I previously said, preparing to leave for the airport was a huge huge rush. For some reason there simply was no time and it was as if every minute was snatched away. Even during the week leading up to it had been slightly breathless. But I was really excited to be taking the new Airbus A380 from Singapore Airlines.

I was however not used at all to travelling alone. My dad sent me to the airport and saw me off the gate, and it was literally flying solo from there. Travelling is much more fun with companions I reckon, and it also reduces the chances of getting a fat woman sitting beside me on the plane, which is just my luck. She had no concept of personal space and kept elbowing me with her fat arm and shifting in her seat. Not fun. Flight food was also underwhelming perhaps due to my expectations for SQ. I conclude that food from Cathay or Japan Airlines were yummier.

I have also taken about 775 photos this trip. Actually that was not a lot – 515 photos were taken in the first 4 days while from Tues to Sun night it was only 260. They are mostly food or scenery photos as well so, pretty boring in terms of visual interest and Facebook-postability, even if the food posts are definitely gonna get some attention. I am going to try and keep the photos to a bare minimum to ensure their quality!

Day 1 – Arrival at Zurich

OK so back to the day. I arrived in Zurich at 8am and had to find wifi so I could settle some last minute stuff at work before catching the train at 10+am. The one thing I realized is that free wifi in Europe is almost inexistent and in most cases you have to pay, at rates such as 4 CHF per hour. That’s 5.6 sgd per hour! Pricey since I am so spoilt with Wireless@SG. Ahh, perks of being in Singapore.

On to the trains. Another thing that I quickly became an expert on was the transport system of Europe. Trains are the lifeblood of the country really and they are completely different from the so-called “trains” we have in SG. There, trains travel from France to Switzerland to anywhere basically, connecting from 1 service to another seamlessly in a precise timetable.

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However for me that first day getting to my destination of Zurich to Geneva to change to Lyon-Part-Dieu was rather hellish due to my novice ability in taking the train. Imagine, getting off the plane with swollen feet and fingers due to the water retention from the flight, and then having to drag my rather heavy baggage (a black duffel and a red small luggage and a 2.4kg macbook in my handbag) from the airport to the train station in the cold that I wasn’t used to, and to figure out which platform to catch the train.

The trains there are really impressive though.
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I made my first mistake of boarding my Zurich-Geneva train in the first class compartment, as I had no idea they were separated until the conductor came by and told me. Ah, no wonder the seats were so spacious and there wasn’t anybody. So I trudged after him to the 2nd class cabins and boy was it different. There were 2 levels so I had to carry my bags up the stairs and squeeze through all the young backpackers sprawled across the cabins. Quite a nightmare but I finally got a seat. Read my book and bought a sandwich and coke for lunch.

Next, changing at Geneva. That was rather uneventful even though I was momentarily stressed again from figuring out where to board. I have to stamp my ticket as I am crossing the border, and find the correct section of the train I need to board get my luggage quickly on the train before I hold anybody up. Finally reached Lyon-Part-Dieu, which was a major transport crossroad as the station was huge!

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(Just requested for a 2nd movenpick chocolate ice cream. Whee! And I can feel my feet swelling in my shoes. Ugh, I hate that!)

People-watched at the station as I wait for my siblings to arrive. By then it was 4pm. Finally saw my brother QY with his super long floppy hair – he apparently did not trust the Europe barbers with his hair so it was uncut since February! Goodness. Haha but I was so happy to see them! Finally some company. It was drizzling then. Took the train and walked to the hotel they were staying at. Small place, nothing great but at least I could wash and freshen up, before meeting the rest near the giant square in Lyon (photo below). The rain had intensified into a huge one by then and blew my umbrella into unrecognizable shapes. Ha. But quite fun. Stopped by in a café and had a pastry and coffee, before we decided to walk around. Yili stayed in the hotel room as she was feeling unwell – apparently they have been “chionging” (rushing everywhere in) Europe before I arrived and it was a bit much.

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Joined fe in going to the Lafayette store as it was simply too cold to walk around, which is what the others did. Ha. Regrouped at macs and it was off to find a place for dinner! Lyonnais food was the order of the night. It was traditionally food of the workers and very heavy. By then I was almost concussing into my plate, I was so sleepy from jetlag! After dinner it was a quick cab back to our hotel for bedtime.

Here's the Lyonnais food.

Day 1 - Dinner

C'est tout for the first day!

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