This morning I did a visit to the Porsche Museum then caught a train to Zurich.
I had low expectation for the Porsche Museum because I knew they are building a new one that will be opening next year, but even still I was surprised how insignificant the museum was. Yesterday I mentioned that the Mercedes Benz Museum had 7 floors each with two large rooms. Well, the entire Porsche Museum wasn't even the size of just one of those rooms in the Mercedes Benz Museum, so needless to say it didn't take long to go through.
I caught the midday train from Stuttgart to Zurich. It was a very nice Inter City Express (ICE) train like that during the second half of the yesterday's trip. The area I was seated in today on the train completely blocked the GPS satellite signals (I think the train was specially designed that way to silence those annoying cell phone users), so I have no track for this trip or any idea what the actual top speed was but my guess is that we didn't go over about 130 kph. The ICE train is one of those sleek new tilting trains and you actually can tell when the tilting action kicks in. We were in trees for most of the trip, but I really didn't pay too much attention to the scenery because I spent the time on this trip sorting through a few weeks worth of receipts (I have to make sure there are no unexpected charges on my credit cards given the amount I use them).
It's also worth mentioning that the border crossing from Germany to Switzerland was a non event. When I crossed between Austria and Germany, including the times on the mountain bike it was just like going from one province in Canada to another (if you are lucky, you'll find a couple signs telling you that you are crossing the border). On the train today they said something over the loud system indicating we would be crossing the border in transit and that we should have our passports and luggage ready for inspection, but no one every stopped by to see me.
I arrived in Zurich in the late afternoon and didn't have much time to visit the place so I used the hotel finding service at the tourist information office in the train station. The room the girl found me is great and at a decent price. The only thing I didn't like was their wireless internet service, it is way too expensive. Because of that I looked at a few nearby hotels before checking in, but found they all are the same when it come to internet costs.
It's one of my goals to stay connected as much as possible on this trip (think of it as research for future business ideas), so finding a decent internet connection everywhere I go is important to me.
Anyway, it turned out that there is a free internet service in the area that makes all the high priced services irrelevant, especially since I can reach that service right from my hotel room.
In case you are wondering, the internet connections in most places are fairly decent, although sometimes it's a bit of a pain to use, especially when I have to go down to internet cafes with my laptop and some of them don't have the greatest hours. But when I do get connected things usually work well. The one thing that isn't working to good is my VOIP service. On good days I can use it to check voice mail back home, but that's it. I tried a few times to make some calls but they never got through properly. This is likely because my VOIP provider is way over in Denver. If I found one somewhere here in Europe things might be different, but I don't have much of a need to make voice calls so I haven't bothered to pursue this.
I came to Zurich with no specific sites in mind, so after I checked into my hotel I headed out to just wander around and get a feel for the city center. I took a break from my wandering to returned to the hotel for some dinner, because the restaurant here served up some great home made pasta.
Here's a few pictures of the old Porsche Museum and of Zurich.
When you get off the train station near the Porsche Museum, you start to see Porsche signs all over the place. Like Mercedes Benz on the other side of town, Porsche has design, manufacturing, and sales facilities spanning several blocks in the area. The tiny Porsche Museum was tucked away inside one of the design buildings, although you don't get a chance to see any of that activity.
At the main entrance to the museum a big chunk of the already small area is taken up by a souvenir shop. Behind that is basically a row of cars down each wall with a few posters, signs, and engines, scattered about.
The beetle on the left is from the days when Porsche was involved in creating the peoples car for Hitler.
There was one TV setup playing a lame program about Porsche owners.
Back near the first Porsche sign shown above is a sales office, here's a few cars that were for sale in there.
The new Porsche Museum, which will be more to the scale of the Mercedes Benz Museum, is currently under construction and will open in 2007. It is being built right next to the subway station and the above mentioned sales office.
What follows are just a bunch of different pictures of Zurich.
This building had an interesting observation deck up top, however it was only open to people dinning in the panoramic restaurant below the observation deck and the restaurant was closed when I stopped by.
I stopped into a couple churches and was surprised to find them quite plain compared to elsewhere.
This is lake Zurichsee on the south side of the city center. Several rivers lead from this lake through the city. The water in those rivers is real clean and loaded with lots of fish.
This is my hotel.
This church tower is a couple buildings away from my hotel, so I didn't bother to carry my GPS device around with me. Whenever I needed to find my hotel I just had to look for this tower. By the way, the city center here is quite small and you can probably walk anywhere you need in 10 or 15 minutes.
One building I was trying to find was the one from the opening scene in the James Bond movie the World Is Not Enough. This is kind of like that building but I don't think this is it.
Sunset is near.
Many people have boats here in Zurich.
There are also a ton of 'Private' banks.
That's a tour boat. It has to be low like that to make it under the many very low bridges.
Tomorrow after breakfast I will be on my way to Interlaken in south central Switzerland. It will give me a chance to really explore the Alps and do some more hiking.