31 December 2009

Willkommen in Zürich

En route from Thailand, the pilot of our aircraft announced that it was snowing at Zürich airport; the thought that we might be landing snow-dusted runway seemed to make the bizarre collection of in-flight Cole Porter Christmascrooner musak more bearable. Unfortunately, we landed in heavy rain, which had melted almost all the snow, but we were easily compensated for this minor disappointment by getting to pass through the wonderland of efficiency that is Zürich airport. A (spotless) little electric train whisks passengers away from the arrival gates to immigration and baggage collection, where government officials don't even ask for a landing card. The whole set-up is housed in a spacious and amazingly quiet modernist glass and concrete construction that sits above the airport railway station. Once past customs and after taking advantage of the shower rooms conveniently provided for passengers, we decided to try our luck at breakfast in the airport's collection of shops. This was not a complete success. The pastries from Steiner's - a local bakery chain - were, unsurprisingly, fantastic; the same could not be said of the 'caffe latte' from another outlet. There seems to be an obsession here with coffee machines, not espresso machines, but box-like units that prepare a coffee solution and warmed milk at the touch of a button by the operator. A small, trifling inconvenience.

Aside from the streamlined clockwork of the airport, Zürich itself yield evidence of yet more Swiss Stereotypes. I had to exchange some Australian currency and so headed into a UBS branch on the banks of the Limmat and, honestly, there was a teller there that could have been no more than fourteen. He was sitting behind his counter, dressed in his ill-fitting two-piece suit counting money and completing forms. He looked barely old enough to shave. Like the young men of Thailand receive 'the call' and enter the Buddhist monastic life at a young age, so too, it seems, the Swiss enter the banking life as soon as they are learn to count. Or, perhaps, he wasn't a child at all, but was actually one of those Gnomes of Zurich that Harold Wilson lambasted back in the 1950s ...

Enjoyed the paper mill at Basel yesterday (more of that adventure later) and today it's off to yet another land o' cliches: Liechtenstein.

Happy new year!

19 December 2009

Fiat blog. Et facta est blog.

Let there be blog. And there was blog.

The old blog has been resurrected. I will try as best I can to keep this updated with travel anecdotes and amusing tales from far away lands as I inch my way towards July 2010, when I assume possession of a lovely internal office and a set of College of Law Practice Papers.

But first, as the von Trapps exclaimed as they ran from Salzburg - let's away to Switzerland! Our first stop is Zürich, town of a thousand watches, where the streets are paved with secret tax-minimising gold deposits, where the scent of chocolate gently wafts through crisp winter air from the local Lindt-Sprüngli factory and the streets ring with the sound of efficiency.

We won't arrive for a while yet; until then, you can find a wonderful panorama live view of the city here.