Oops, I did it again. I’m now most of the way through my travels, and I forgot to examine and document as much as I had planned to. So it goes.
We made the most of time in Zürich. We stayed in a really funky hotel in West Zürich, 25hours. In the evening I dragged myself out of the hotel (jet lag still strong), to go to the Zürich Christmas Market. Zürich is a beautiful and clean city with well-preserved mediaeval buildings in Old Town (Altstadt). We first went to the Christkindlimarkt inside Hauptbahnhof (HB; Zürich’s central train station). Oh, the divine smell of Glühwien and Glühbier, potato raclette, dried apple, pretzels, sausages and gingerbread! The indoor markets at HB featured a huge, natural fir tree, decorated with thousands of glittering crystal ornaments that reflected the light and the bustle of the markets. Stalls were selling gifts made of carved wood, scarves, jewellery, tin toys and fleece hand-puppets. The outdoor Christmas Market was winding down at 11pm when we got there, but Altstadt was lit up with incredible hanging lights that swayed in the breeze like colourful fireflies.
The next day we grabbed a quick pastrami sandwich/ham pretzel and we got on a train to Triemli, at the bottom of Üetliberg Mountain. After a bit of map-wrangling, we were on our way. It was a beautiful ~1h ascent, no cars allowed. Plenty of mountain bikers taking advantage of the great trails and bridges, and also runners (making me miss running). The often-steep ascent was good training for me – I struggle with hills. The view at the top of Üetliberg was incredible, both on Zürich-side, and the other side, which looked lush and green even in winter.
(Sadly, not my picture – panorama by Heni2000, via Wikimedia Commons).
After enjoying the cool mountain air and the views we caught the train back to Zürich, and very briefly popped into Kunsthaus Art Museum, prior to grabbing lunch at HB and making our way to Zürich airport.
The flight to Newark, NJ was turbulent at times, but otherwise uneventful. I watched one and a bit movies (short reviews below).
Newark Airport was pretty plain, with minimal decorations (especially coming from Christmassy Europe!), and quite inefficient at processing arrivals. Some time later, following an airport bus, a hotel shuttle and many standing microsleeps, we reached Spring Hill Apartments, our overnight airport hotel.
The next morning, following a fairly standard hotel breakfast, and another hotel shuttle and airport train, we finally ended up on the Amtrak between Newark and Boston, which is where the bulk of this entry was written. This was a cool journey, with a tantalising peek of Manhattan, and alternating drab city outskirts and picturesque New England states (Connecticut, Rhode Island, Massachusetts). Five hours later, we reached Boston.
The Fault in Our Stars (film)
Two teens, Hazel and Gus, fall in love after meeting at a cancer support group. Overall this was a sweet movie about the experience of younger people who have cancer/chronic illness, a subject which is not covered often enough. I really liked the day-to-day stuff – life happens around illness. The sadness induced by the theme of the movie was, however, tempered by occasional frustration at the self-centeredness of the main characters, which the movie seemed to indulge.
Hector and the Search for Happiness (film)
Hector, a British psychiatrist, searches the globe to find the secret of happiness. I wanted to watch this, I really did, but gave up about half an hour in, when dull-as-ditchwater Hector (not redeemed by being played by Simon Pegg, sadly) decided to go to China to discover himself. Pass.
Wife on the Run, by Fiona Higgins (book)
When two disastrous events rock Paula’s comfortable suburban life, she decides to run away, taking her children and father on a caravan trip around Australia. This book made me eyeroll quite hard at times, but in the end it subverted some of the expectations it had set up. I found the ending satisfying, but even so, I still found the characters either not believable, or quite unsympathetic.
Mercy/The Keeper of Last Causes (Department Q Book 1), by Jussi Adler-Olsen
Police inspector Carl Mørck is given lead of a department of cold cases. The first case he becomes involved in is about a missing popular female politician. I enjoyed this book. More Scandi crime, but with an interesting main character, an intriguing assistant who stole the show at times, and a plucky victim. Still not as good as the Rebecca Martinsson books by Asa Larsson, but good enough that I also bought Redemption, the second book in this series.
The Haunting of Hill House, by Shirley Jackson (book – unfinished)
Four paranormal activity seekers arrive at notoriously unfriendly Hill House: Dr. Montague, an occult anthropologist looking for objective evidence of a haunting, and his three assistants. I’ve been saving/avoiding this book until now – it seems perfect to be reading it as I enter New England (Jackson spent most of her life in Vermont). So far, so good – gloomy and foreboding atmosphere, and an interesting main character.