Monday, August 07, 2017

Honeymoon Day 2: Silvesterzauber (New Years Eve) in Zürich

12/31/2016
Honeymoon Day 2: Silvesterzauber (New Years Eve) in Zürich

We got to London early after our insanely epic flight and went, very excitedly, to the United Global First Lounge in London. This was something I had researched like crazy because I wasn't sure if we were going to be allowed to go in, but it seemed that if you were coming in on a First flight, internationally, you could. Super crazy special spot and I was INSANELY psyched for it. The real reason: they have a clock in there that is a replica of the clock inside of the Big Ben... MADE BY THE SAME DAMN COMPANY WHO MADE THE BIG BEN. Totally insane, ridiculously epic, and I was psyched at the possibility that we might get to see it... and we did!!! It was truly amazing, and like the lounge at SFO, it was basically empty. We were pretty much the only people in there most of the time (so, again, very private for the usual movie-star-like folks who would be the actual usual expected attendees of this lounge!)

Here we go!
A toast to the most epic wall clock of all time

Unnnghhh it's soooo awesome
Tasty hand-wrapped brownies and other fancy sweets


Random fancy wines and British beers

"Fancy a packet of crisps?"
Fun little samples area
Random airport indian food! Good tiny samosas!!
Why yes, I would like a spot of tea
One of the attendants there was a super nice Italian dude our age in a fancy suit. He asked us if there was anything we wanted to eat or drink or anything he could get for us. It was crazy epic. We asked to head over to the "Business lounge" (aka the INSANELY amazing, best in all of United Club lounges, literally it has won #1 United lounge in the world -- and I spent ages in there on my previous visit to London since it has free Elderflower Cordial and is amazing). We headed over to the "business lounge" side to take a shower there and freshen up, and then of course have a couple of Elderflower and sparkling water drinks or Pomegranate Elderflower and Bitter Lemon. Awesome.

Private shower facilities at the airport, why not?!
The very huge and spectacular United Club at Heathrow Terminal 2. Definitely check it out if you ever have the chance to, it is awesome.
This is the magic right here.
And back to the "GlobalFirst" lounge! We sat down at their literal restaurant-style tables and ordered some free (!) food. As Michal would say "It's not free, it's included." :) This was positively overwhelming in its excitement level as I had been researching this lounge and how cool the decor was and everything, and was so psyched they had "table service" dinner -- like a restaurant in the lounge itself. So insane. And my, did it deliver. Our Italian buddy was awesome and we got a cheese plate which was incredible and some wine pairing with it, and then I got a burger and chips which were excellent too. We took a short nap first on the fancy chairs before dinner, and then really enjoyed a tasty meal before our next flight to Zurich.


Fun lounge chairs

Dinner time!
Super cool wine spiral thing!
This was soooo goood
Incredible cheese plate
Cheers!
The flight was then delayed again, twice, so we just took a nap for an hour or two on those fancy chairs. I was pretty concerned that we wouldn't make it in time for the New Years Eve countdown itself (as was the plan)-- our original ETA into Zurich was supposed to be approx 7:45pm, and with these changes we were hoping we'd still get in in time for the NYE fireworks and street party. Thankfully, this was the entire plan -- "hey, if we get stuck in England, at least we're already on the trip and will just go into London and celebrate there!" So, as always, we had alternate plans in our back pockets in case any unplanned transportation thing happened. Thankfully, the plane did eventually come in and was scheduled. We said farewell to our nice lounge folks... and took one or two last photos of the Big Ben clock. Obv.




MAN that clock is so friggin' awesome.

Anyway, off to the Swiss Air flight and I instantly fell asleep during it, which was good.



The dude sitting beside me was hilarious, I nicknamed him "Swiss Ned Flanders" as he had a pretty solid bushy mustache and looked VERY pleased with himself when he ordered a scotch on the flight. He drank it very formally and also ate the very strange looking cured meat they served us, with delight. It was really quite funny and if I wasn't so tired I would have talked to him since he seemed like quite a hilarious fellow. I had a small tasty Swiss Air chocolate and fell asleep almost instantly.

When we were almost in Zurich I looked up and they had some really cool connections and rebooking information posted on the screens of the airplane, I've never seen that before. For people who may have missed a connection due to the lateness of the airplane, they'd already organized everything for you and had info posted on the screens in the plane while we were still in-flight. Pretty cool and super organized.

We arrived in Zurich and it was all super quick through the airport. We quickly took out some money...
"Don't they mean 'gelt'?!"
...and then raced off to our first hotel of the honeymoon, the Swissotel Zurich, conveniently a short distance (10-15 min) from the airport. We figured out the bus ticket machine eventually and bought (what we think) was the correct bus ticket. We knew the hotel was in "Oerlikon" area, and there was a bus leaving almost immediately upon our arrival outside with our luggage, to "Oerlikon Bus Station". Was that near the Swissotel? Who knows! But we figured it couldn't be too far from it, so we hopped on swiftly right before the doors closed and it took off.

"Don't worry, we'll find it..." we said as we got off at what we figured was the Oerlikon bus terminal. Hmm... where is it... "OH! There it is!" As we looked up there was a massive "Swissotel" logo on the side of the building a couple minutes walk away. Sweet. We checked in quickly and dropped all our stuff off in the room... which was beautifully decorated with rose petals! What a nice arrival surprise.





So that was super nice. We had originally planned to get into the hotel by 8:30 or 8:45 so we could freshen up, take a nap, and head downtown to the New Years Eve festivities... but it was GO TIME since our plane was 2.5 hrs late! It was about 11:00 or 11:15 and it was GO TIME. Drop and roll! Our hotel was literally across the road from the train/subway station so we headed over there and got a "110" 24hr ticket which was great. We hopped onto one of the many trains going downtown and were whisked off to Zurich City Center area.

Thanks to some friendly people's advice, we hopped off at Zürich Stadelhofen... at 11:30pm!!!!!!!!!!!! Talk about down to the wire and cutting it close for new years! We didn't want to waste any time, so we headed right into the action towards Lake Zurich and the crowds of people, to go buy some street vendor food before the fireworks.



After a brief look-around, clearly the correct thing and most local thing to purchase was something called "gluhwein" -- a mulled hot wine. Everyone seemed to have it and it seemed to be "the thing" so with our precious minutes before the countdown we lined up for some epic gluhwein. With loud music pumping and an enthusiastic DJ yelling "Put your hands uppppppp!" we made friends in the gluhwein (gluh-line?! ha) and they explained to us that once you've had 2 or 3, you tend to pronounce it "Leh-wine" instead. Haha.

The gluhwein was warm, but was.. not particularly good!? But was awesome and epic to try. We bought two which was a good move because within about 10 sec some (presumably drunk) dude semi-tripped near us and Michal spilled half of hers down her coat by mistake. Oh well, all part of the New Years experience. I insanely spilled on my pants and then some Brazillian guy behind me spilled on my jacket. Well, at least it's red wine and will be easy to clean! hahaha

Gluhwein!
Our friends in line behind us
A beautiful photo in the brief moment before someone spilled half of this gluhwein on Michal
We cheers'd the countdown with our gluhwein and then headed down to the lake to see the fireworks. After a nice New Years smooch, we tried to watch the fireworks but it was very foggy out so it was mostly not visible (I think that is actually why our plane was so delayed). Oh well, super fun anyway. So we watched the "fireworks" for a bit and also people-watched, and then headed for a wander to all the food carts. I had checked well in advance and thankfully most of the food carts stayed open super late -- this whole Silvesterzauber (New Years Eve) in Zürich is a big event (the biggest New Years Eve party in Switzerland, apparently) and so when our plane was super delayed it was less concerning because I knew the event and food stalls and fun stuff lasted till something like 2am.





So off we went on a wander around Lake Zurich, and to go to try to find an all-beef sausage (not so easy in a German area, most things are pork). That proved to be harder than expected and so we continued looking for tasty local foods. We wandered the food stalls and found some Thai food (skip!). We found sausages but they were called "rindfleisch"... turns out that DOES mean "beef"!! D'oh!

Finally, we found a rosti!! But, as is the traditional Zurich recipe, it had bacon in it. Fail. So we ended up getting Raclette with potatoes. I tried to ask for it in English and it was so funny to hear her reaction, "Potatoes? What is that?!" haha. I still have no clue what "Potato" is in German.





Yay!! Raclette with potatoes!!
That was insanely delicious and then we kept wandering and found this dude making a fun wrapped cinnamon sugar dessert thing. So we had a nice warm dessert on a bench. Fun! This was particularly great as it was starting to get chilly now outside (as by 1:15am many people had started to head home -- though one of the tents was a mobile party and it was still going strong).




We heard the same song a few times from the bumpin' party tent -- "there is so much Bieber here!" haha.

We were still down for another snack so on the chilly walk back to the train station we saw a stand called "BREZELKÖNIG" (Pretzel King) and we knew it was calling to us. We picked up something called a "Brezel Käse", which was a pretzel cut into a sandwich-like form with lettuce and cheese in it. Very good!



So we crushed that pretzel as we made it back to the train station and then back to the Swissotel. On the train it was fun to see some sights of Zurich that I'd read about -- places that were super awesome-looking but I wasn't going to be able to visit during this trip because we were only in Zurich for such a small time and most things were going to be closed on Jan 1. Anyhow, we passed by this cool cafe area called "Fran Gertold's Garten" which looked epic, even in the dark at 2am from a passing train! We also saw the crazy Freitag store, which is a multi-piled-high tower of shipping containers. Awesome. Cool to see those even if we aren't going to be able to visit this time.

We got off the train and the McDonald's was 24-hrs, so we walked in just to see what kind of unusual stuff they have; I love doing that in foreign countries just for fun. They had McRaclette (!), something gross-sounding called McChutney Cheese, and Rosti Fries!! We didn't buy anything, but it was cool to see so much weird stuff. This McDonald's also had some crazy freight conveyor belt thing from the upstairs kitchen where the food would get sent down to the cash registers. It was pretty cool.




Uh, "Best Sellers?"
Well that sure was an epic evening!!!!!!!!!! We were so lucky (and glad) to still make it down to the celebrations in time for the New Year's Eve countdown and all the fun food stalls and interesting stuff going on there. We really did well, totally ignoring that we were in some random time-zone, and just enjoyed it fully. We jumped into bed and turned on some funny late-night sketch comedy show called "Frau-"...something. It was all in German but the acting was really good so we sort of got the jist of it. What an awesome first day/night of the honeymoon. As always, we travel in an action-packed way. :)