Our Nation’s (Non) Capital

I have never professed to have much in the way of geographical competence (just ask anyone who has gone househunting with me), but it wasn’t until we had been in Zurich for several hours that I was advised that it’s not the capital of Switzerland (that honour goes to Bern). A new low, even for me.

The non-capital is only a 35 minute train ride from Rotkreuz, so this morning we packed our bags (and made about three trips back to the house for things we’d forgotten, because even though we’re nearly nine months in, we still haven’t nailed this ‘on the go with a baby’ thing) and hit the city. The trains here are super bub friendly – there are baby play areas with mini slippery dips to keep little ones occupied (they could take it up a notch and put in a bar to keep parents occupied but we’ll live).

We’re keeping our outings simple – partly because of the little one, but also because we’re here for a while and for the first time in many years we don’t feel we have to tick everything off the to-eat to-do list in one hit. Today, we planned on doing a walking tour of the Old Town to orientate ourselves (and be informed of the real capital of the country). We rolled in early and had a quick bite to eat on the Roman Platform next to Lake Zurich.
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Some of us ate with worse manners than others (but admittedly much more relish).

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I was very happy to have a significant amount of distance between me and the evil colony of birds below.

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We met the tour group and started the walk. We were the only people there with a baby and the dynamics were, as a result, completely different from any other tour we’ve done before. For starters, Adelaide is apparently not very interested in Zurich now she too knows it isn’t the capital; she was very tired and skwarky at the start, so out of respect for the other patrons we tag teamed settling her away from the group. This meant we tag teamed information as well – and it turns out I may not be the best listener slash paraphraser ever (it’s unlikely that the tour guide described the art we walked past as being painted by Mr Blah Blah McPainterson). Also, people act very differently when you have a baby in tow – they’re a great social equaliser. We were given a lot of advice on how to put her to sleep, lots of baby touching and a few photos, and a lot more conversations with people in the group that we’ve ever had on tours before. Surprisingly (as I am fairly standoffish with strangers generally), I quite like this aspect of travelling with a little one (although I wish the sleep tips were actually of use).

The tour itself was grand; my standout moment was when we were shown the shop in which Oprah Winfrey was infamously advised she would not be able to afford a handbag she was eyeing off (I got similar thrills when shown the balcony in Berlin that Michael Jackson dangled Blanket from many years ago. The fine historical and cultural heritage of Europe is wasted on me). The views, however, were not (although again my girl is working on that tongue pose. Possibly trying to catch errant plum from earlier in the day?).

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I’d also forgotten how prominently churches feature in Europe. We saw several on this tour; Grossmunster (Great Minister) was the final site.

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Adelaide got all King Kong on it.

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Following the tour we roamed the streets, peeking around corners at cute bars and cafes and making mental lists of places to return to when my parents are in town to babysit. Once again, before heading home, we hit a park for lunch and a wriggle. This time she worked on her rolling (by which I mean we didn’t stop her when she started tumbling down a hill).

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A (boring, sorry) note on our administrative tasks which were largely completed yesterday: Swiss bureaucracy is amazing. We had to register our permits and visas and of course a whole bunch of papers and passport photos went missing in transit*. Our relocation support person rocked up to take us to the appointment and witnessed something of a Tim and Wendy bonanza when we realised we didn’t have everything we needed. She calmly took us to the authorities and somehow everything got effortlessly worked out and we now have our permits on the way. Happily they even accepted a smiling passport snap of me, hurrah!

Our banking experience was similarly uncannily simple. I remember moving to Ireland and having to lie about having a job and a permanent address to get a bank account. A friend of a friend wrote a fake confirmation of employment letter for me – I worked for the Irish Chocolate Company, I think. At the bank I was quizzed on said job and, being a hungover fool, hadn’t even thought to do the most basic of homework. I still remember the scathing look I was given by the bank manager when I couldn’t advise him of the address of the Irish Chocolate Company: ‘So ye don’t know where ye go to work everyday?’. Here, it was a simple process and we walked out with Swiss bank accounts within half an hour (woot woot!) – but to be fair, this is probably more indicative of my sad state of affairs many moons ago than it is of either country. (Although, if memory serves, the Irish bank did actually open the account. The Irish Chocolate Company never did get around to paying me any wages, though.)

*More than likely thrown out by me in a cleaning frenzy prior to leaving Australia.

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