Sierre to Zurich
Our plan for the day was to leave Serafino at about 9:30 am, say our farewells at the cure, and then head off to Zurich with plenty of time to dally along the way if we needed or wanted. We rose shortly before 8:00 am, showered, ate breakfast, and completed our final preparations. Shortly after 9:30 am we were at the cure to say farewell to our hosts. We were on our way before 10:00 am but our departure from Sierre was delayed a few minutes because the route chosen by TomTom was closed by roadworks. We resorted to collective memory, found our way to the motorway access at the western end of town, and headed off toward the west and north.
The mountains were still shrouded in cloud but the small glimpses that did show through appeared to have a fresh dusting of snow. Given that the temperatures we had been experiencing on the valley floor were down to 12 to 14 degrees, we were prepared to believe that what had been rain in the valley could have been snow on the mountains. We enjoyed the views as we drove down the Rhone valley towards where the river enters Lac Leman which stretches round to Geneva at the other end.
Shortly after we reached the lake, the motorway divided and we took the branch that headed north. That took us away from the mountains and valleys and into the rolling green countryside that is characteristic of the areas north of the Alps. About 11:15 am we stopped at a service area in the Gruyere region. Majella and Joel bought snacks but I had eaten some chocolate in the car and needed nothing more at that stage. We spent some time checking out the display of decorated cows and the view, and took some photos before continuing toward Zurich.
TomTom had estimated 3 h driving to Zurich airport from Sierre. Somewhere along the road we redirected him toward the city centre which we reached shortly after 1:30 pm – fair progress considering our delayed start, stop at Gruyere, and meandering through the traffic to reach the centre of Zurich near the top of the lake. We continued around and along the eastern shore of the lake for a short distance until we found a parking space in a side street. The meter had us stumped because despite indicating that it would accept either Swiss francs or euros I could not get a coin to operate it. A passerby explained that it would accept only the 50 c denomination of either currency for an hour of parking. Fortunately I had a €0.50 coin. That worked and we were on our way looking for lunch. We walked down to the shore and along toward the centre of town. Near the top of the lake we found a bar that served snacks and accepted euros so we bought some lunch – a piece of pizza for Joel, and filled rolls for Majella and me. From there we walked back toward the car along a different street, stopping at a supermarket so that Majella and Joel could buy some chocolates they needed for gifts.
Our flight was not due to leave until 10:00 pm and the car was not required back until 7:00 pm so we needed to fill in some time before driving to the airport. Lunch had generated a 0.50 CHF coin in change so we paid for another hour of parking and headed up the street in the th other direction intending to explore for a bit and walk back along the lake. A few blocks along, as the shops were running out, Majella spotted a sign pointing to the Chinese Garten. We followed that and did find the small, walled garden. We could see a pagoda style building over the top of the wall and glimpses of attractive garden through some barred gaps in the wall but were not inclined to pay the entry fee of 4 CHF each. Nearby we found a set of toilet cubicles. Unusually, there seemed to be no entry fee so I ventured into one, half afraid that if I did not have to pay to get in I may have to pay to exit. That was not necessary but by the time I emerged a couple of minutes later, Majella and Joel had disappeared. I surmised that they had followed my example and were in other cubicles. Majella emerged soon after but Joel was some time returning and we were concerned that he might have ad difficulty with the apparatus which, for sight of the large conical stainless steel bowl and the swing down overhead seat with automatic flushing, might have been worth some price for admission. We walked through the park to the lakeshore and followed that back to the street where our car was parked. The round trip had taken us just a few minutes less than the hour.
We decided to let TomTom take us toward the airport and see if we could find something of interest along the way. Nothing caught our attention before TomTom got us to the motorway so we pulled off that about 5 km short of the airport and found a suburban area with a small platz surrounded by shops. There was an empty parking space so we pulled in and paid for 2 h of parking – a matter mostly of what coins we had available. We wandered around the shops for a bit and considered options for eating before driving to the airport. Expecting that we would be fed soon after departure and not being greatly hungry after a late lunch we opted for a supermarket where we bought some salami with truffles and a selection of interesting bread rolls. Joel’s was in the shape of a turtle. Ours were more mundane but tasty enough. Once we had eaten we drove around the local area until we found a service station, filled the tank, and let TomTom guide us to the airport.
Return of the car and checkin went smoothly. Majella and Joel used the vouchers provided at checkin to get the special deal on Toblerone – they both needed more chocolate it seems. Then we waited patiently until our flight was called and we were able to board.