When in Rome… You know what they say, but I’d actually recommend doing things a little differently.
One of the smallest of changes/challenges you can do to see things a little differently is avoiding the usual times for the must-see and must-do.
Ever thought of going there for hiking and other outdoors activities?
Or do I need to ask if you’ve ever even heard or thought of Liechtenstein for anything? ;)
As one of Europe’s micro-states, and a principality, it seems a holdover from a time when city-states and fiefdoms were the usual political structures.
At the same time, in these times of people looking for leadership figures to give them a sense of security and local structures to give them a clear sense of belonging, maybe Liechtenstein is a symbol of a possible future?
Making yourself at-home isn’t always a local pursuit. Places farther away have had their influence… none so more than Rome when it comes to the history of Europe.
The fascination remains, in the view from Castel Sant’Angelo…
… looking towards the Vatican…
… and following the Passetto di Borgo (the secret passageway connecting Castel St. Angelo with the Vatican)…
… to get on St. Peter’s Square…
… where, just a few hours before, I joined the lines…
… headed for the Porta Sancta, the Sacred Gate, only open during the Jubilee:
The view inside was magnificent and awe-inspiring – even, if not more so, if you are not a believer, I find – as always…
You could see that view in 360 degrees here; and I also took it in from above:
And then, of course, there was this:
All of which reminds me: You are more than welcome to follow me on Instagram. Where things are often much more boring than even this here, just as the normal life at-home becomes – even as it also becomes more real and better ;)
Travel makes you a better person, they say.
Traveling, in my opinion, should be something that makes you more at home in this world. Which, contrary to what many people love to argue, it will not automatically do.
Just a quick trip, just so you can say how much you “travel” and how many places you’ve been – as so many travel bloggers and vagabonds seem to take and do, in order to present themselves as knowledgeable and inspirational “world travelers” – won’t do it.
On that, I’m with Werner Herzog (paraphrased) saying that “Every idiot can go to [any place]”
That said, In the middle of a life getting more at home where it is located, side trips can be rather nice.
Aside from a family visit to China this summer, my wife and I will not get too many chances to travel, and so I decided to sweep her away to Switzerland for my birthday weekend.
Worse things than having seen a bit of Zürich, and the Austrian railways’ “Sparschiene” (“savings track,” one could translate it) made getting there cheap and comfortable enough, expensive as the city itself turned out to really be.
With the Zürich Card for three days, another pile of money was gone, but we could take all the public transport and visit quite a few museums for free, which made it worth it.
What’s there to be found; what did we find? Well…
Of course, given the Bahnhofstrasse and its upscale boutiques, there was quite a bit of a window shopping opportunity to make one feel truly poor in comparison.
That the very first quick meal of fried noodles at a mall cost some 26 bucks did not exactly do anything to change that perception.
The city itself, though, is pretty nice to just walk and have a look around, even if the first day turned progressively more rainy and uncomfortable.
In fact, while we were sitting in the café/restaurant Odeon (which is nice) for a hearty Swiss breakfast (which wasn’t too well made, actually), there was some pretty heavy snowfall. Funnily, the café looks a lot like any traditional Viennese coffee house, but the people outside in the snow seemed decidedly less fazed by the bad weather than Viennese.
Next stop, the Kunsthaus. A place where a ticket was to be bought separately, with only a rebate thanks to the Zurich Card, but also a place for the person with any interest in art at all to definitely visit.
First off, for the Rodin sculpture outside… Did you know that a (the?!) famous thinker is part of a bigger sculpture, which portrays the door to hell? Gives rise to interesting thoughts to see that, but should it? ;)
Older (yeah, yeah, classical) art abounds inside, some of it showing that those artists of yore had almost as many issues with breasts and breast feeding than some modern Facebook readers, with less of a knowledge of or care for human anatomy…
… some of it a lot of fun if only you make it so.
And funniest of all, there was an exhibit on artist’s self-portraits across time. Interesting to see, and great food for thought, in this age of the selfie.
Food-wise, the greatest find was the Hiltl, Zürich’s oldest-in-Europe vegetarian restaurant.
Frankly, I was a bit dubious at first about going there. Good thing we did, for they also have a buffet with a great selection of foods. Much of it is Indian-inspired, all of it was tasty and great as example of all that can be done with “nothing but vegetables”.
And they are having fun with it, too, which is missing from so much of the food discussion…
We ended up going there three times during the two days.
For my birthday, in the middle of the final lectures on geology and mineralogy I’ve been having to take for my current teacher training study program and which are pretty universally abhorred by students, we paid a visit to the FocusTerra exhibit.
The mass of information about geology and all the ways we encounter it in daily life was already interesting; the part that admittedly drew me most was that their Sunday tour includes a visit to the earthquake simulator.
It only traces the 2D movement of different actual earthquakes, but that alone is enough to get a little glimpse of what it would be like to be in an earthquake:
That exhibit/experience was also the perfect excuse to head to the ETH Zürich, on a second day that really turned into the “first day of spring in Zürich”, as Beat had told me it would during the rain of the day before.
My wife has a physics background, so the ETH is something of a pilgrimage site… and Google Photos turned the mass of photos I took into the full picture I wanted to make of it:
The view from the Polyterrasse was quite rewarding, as well:
And with a few more views, I’ll just bid you Goodbye from this post which, for once, will not try to encourage you, my dear readers, to do anything in particular ;)