We continue to improve our survival skills. This morning, armed with pocketsful of Swiss coins, Elsa did the laundry while Bob made Innsbruck hotel reservations. Both involved adventures.
In this laundry, the machines were complicated in a fashion possibly unique to the Swiss, and seem to be used almost entirely by foreign travelers. There is no attendant, so basic instructions are passed orally from the first user to the next and so on through the day.
There are printed instructions in German on the washers and dryers, and also on a cash box on the wall. Getting the soap and softener out of the vending machine is just a warmup.
On the washers are four colored buttons. By reading the signs you learn that they stand for four temperatures, 20, 30, 60, and 90 degrees. Celsius. It would have been too easy to just print the temperatures on the buttons, or even to use the words kalt, warm, heiss, und sehr heiss.
Having got the machine set, you now go to the cash box on the wall. You push the button which has the number of your washing machine. Or dryer. The machine eats money, tells you how much is remaining to pay, and even spits out change.
Meanwhile, you must pay attention to keeping the doors closed so things don't come out on the floor as the equipment is getting a little tired.
The fellow launderers were an entertaining bunch, and included two New Zealand men, apparently in the tourist trade, who loved to talk about trains and Bahnofstrasse scene California, and especially the Tehachapi Loop, plus one young man traveling with his grandmother--they apparently detest each other and take every opportunity to say rude things about the other. Finally, a teeny-tiny elderly Swiss couple crept in and made a little place for themselves among all these loud foreigners while waiting for a machine to become available. After awhile they began to relax and even offered advice in short, basic German, which all the tourists appreciated.
Meanwhile, Bob had decided to ask the clerk at a Best Western hotel to make reservations at another Best Western in Innsbruck. He had miscalculated the address, so it began with seven uphill blocks to find the hotel.
The clerk was a one-woman show, at least for a while. She answered phones, checked people out, received the mail, answered questions, argued with one guest interminably (the Swiss are stubborn arguers, but they don't seem to get riled), and in between placed phone calls to Innsbruck for Bob. The first two hotels (there are six Best Westerns in Innsbruck) were sold out, but the third was a hit. He didn't know the rate, however, and after waiting 15 minutes for the fax that was due in 5 minutes, he promised to come back and returned to the laundry, where he met some of the above-mentioned characters.
We toted our bags of clean laundry back up to the hill and picked up the faxed reservation paper. The price was as expected. We'll see when we get to Innsbruck.
We shall have to do laundry many more times in Europe. It will be interesting to see if the coin-ops get better or worse as we go from one country to another. We're also going to experiment with other ways of making hotel reservations -- our next attempt will be with the internet.
After a break for sorting and ironing and cooling off (it's still warm walking weather in Zurich) we and the laptop made our daily trip to check and Zurichsee send email, then hit the take-out stands for lunchtime sandwiches, which we ate sitting on a park bench watching sparrows and pigeons and leggy young Swiss misses.
Our walking destination today was the Zurichsee, at the end of the Bahnhofstrasse, the Fifth Avenue of Zurich. We'd walked half of it earlier, but the second half is equally impressive, including Tiffany, Cartier, Steuben, Rosenthal, and the furrier who has been the appointed furrier to the Danish Royal Court since 1872 or so. We saw the twin spires of the famous Grossmunster. We also enjoyed, as always, looking at the carvings on the buildings, and the water fountains along the streets.
The Zurichsee, or Lake Zurich, is large and broad and full of boats. River cruises and a lake cruise make stopping points here, and many pleasure craft are moored along the shore. We saw a collection of swans which reminded us of the carriage staging area in Quebec (the Zurich rivers are full of swans and ducks).
Our expectation is that we will only scratch the surface of each European city we visit; there's simply too much to see. So there's much more we wish we could see in Zurich, but we have decided to start taking some train rides, beginning with an excursion to Luzern tomorrow.