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Europe 2007

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Journal for 30-05-2007 : Zürich (Kloten)

Woke up at 3am. By 6am the sun was up and I was out and about. It was a sensational morning. I can see clearly now, the rain has gone!

Switzerland increadibly beautiful, even in a supposed airport urban jungle. Every dwelling (including the big block apartment buildings) has windows with wooden shutters and flower boxes. And all the flower boxes are bristling with fresh (and colour co-ordinated!) flowers.

Bought a phone card and called home. Standard pay phone let us talk for almost half an hour for $2.50. Found a bank, and then most importantly I found a bakerie.

Went for a really nice walk around Kloten, checking out the local shops, bike paths, parks while photographing houses, roads etc. Switzerland is incredibly beautiful. Modern, very neat, but also stylish in an understated sort of way.

Found my luggage tags, and walked along the bike path to the Airport. People walking away from the airport dragging their rolling luggage along silky smooth bike way. News at the airport all bad. Bag not reported found, and not reported on today's flight.

Wiessbrot & preserved meat for lunch.

In the afternoon I reassembled the bike.

Discovered I'd managed to lose my helmet. The airlines might have lost all my baggage, but this is something I managed to lose all on my own. I take it with me as carry on luggage on flights, intent on wearing in an emergency. Hey, I might as well! I definitely had it off the plane, but with the stressing out of my lost bag and bus connection, I left it somewhere, probably at the lost & found office.

Cycled around the bike paths, roads to the nearby bike shop/camping shop. The locals ride mostly hybrid type bikes. Sturdy 700c wheels with flat bars and a bolt upright riding position. They still fly along at a fair clip, thanks to the silky smooth asphelt the roads and paths are made of. The bike paths are - quite literally as good as roads: direct, minimal intersections etc, they definitely connect, and most unlike Australia, they make alternate provisions for roadworks. In Australia the bike path is closed for the duration and used as a convenient spot to put the site office.

The other nice feature of the bike paths is how well they interact the road network. The low guttering means interchanging between path and car road is easy, and done locally at serious speed. The bike ways here really are part of the road system, not an effort to get cyclists off the road system.

Similarly with the trains. At the train station an information sign packed with timetable, train and bus route information also had a very detailed local map: of the bike ways. Each train carriage has bicycle parking zone.

And the result? At least 10%, but probably 20%, of all trips are made by bicycle. Every parking area has a bike parking facility (usually covered), filed with (at least) 20 to 50 bikes. And the roads? Typically european narrow things with the expected trucks, buses and the like, but nowhere near the traffic volumes you'd see in any city the size of Zürich any country.

And that is just the bike ways. Perhaps it's just the neat presentation, but *everything* in Switzerland seems just as well organised.

And if you think I'm raving about the bike roads, don't get me started on the chocolate!

Cycled out to the airport to lost & found again, parking the bike with 120 other cycles in one of the numerous bike parks. This time looking for my helmet. No joy. And confirmed for me bag still gone, and probably not coming back.

Found the local bike shops through billboard advertising. The Swiss have billboards, but like everything else here, they are neat, concise, and just slightly understated. Just enough to pass on the information without being offensive. To me, a glance at the street in question looked neat and clean without any of the clutter normally associated with western (ok, Aussie & American) advertising. But before realising it, I'd absorbed the information about the precise nature and location of this bike/camping superstore (even though it was in foreign languages). The Swiss are nothing if not efficient!

I went back one more time on a whim, and YES!!! My bag had arrived unannounced on today's flight from LA!

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