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24 years since Tiananmen Square

June 3rd, 2013 1 comment

While we who are outside the Great Firewall are more or less free to say whatever the hell we want about, well, whatever the hell we want, others are not so lucky. That’s why I especially admire the courage of those who commemorate the 4th of June from within China. They are often playful, slightly irreverent, and sometimes not in the best of tastes, but these little gestures of subversion are reminders that the flame still burns. Dawn will come.

Lest we forget.

P.S. Despite pessimistic voices in some papers that this year’s vigil might be cancelled because of weather, the once again attracted thousands of people.

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The British TV licence – possibly the dumbest thing on earth

November 22nd, 2010 1 comment

Don’t get me wrong, I love the charming conservatism of the British nation. I like how milk is sold in 1.136L cartons because you can decimalise the pint but you can’t kill it. I like quaint holdovers like the House of Lords and the Royal Family. I love the way central London is peppered with garden squares instead of Westfields. I enjoy traditional pomp like the Lord Mayor’s Show or Trooping the Colours. It makes me smile when I hear peculiar pronunciations unpolluted by American verbal hegemony, like “Pantene” pronounced as “Pan-ten”, “Dae-woo” pronounced as “Day-oo”, or “vit-amins” instead of “vite-amins”.

The TV licence system, however, is retarded. It is not unique to Britain – some other European countries have also retained it. The British, however, have managed to run the system in such a way as to make it, frankly, ridiculous.

First, a brief explanation of the TV licence itself for those of us unfamiliar with such a backward system. Every year, each household which uses a television to receive TV broadcasts (whether directly or recorded) is required to pay a licence fee, currently £145.50 per year for a colour TV. The fee makes up the majority of the BBC’s funding, with the rest coming from commercial arrangements and topped up by government.

The licence fee system is fundamentally unfair. It falls disproportionately on the young, because it is imposed by household, meaning that a single person household is taxed (it is legally a tax) at the same amount as a large family. It falls disproportionately on working people, because it is a set fee, not “pay per view”. This means that a household is required to pay the same fee if they watch even 5 minutes of television when they get home from work, as someone who has the television available to them at all times. It falls disproportionately on the poor, because it discounts the number of television sets in a household. Someone with just one TV between a family of six pays the same licence fee as a household with a TV in every room. Finally, of course, the tax is a set amount, not means tested and not income-progressive, and so it falls disproportionately on those with a lower income. £145.50 is not a small sum – it’s about $250-300 (depending on exchange rates), quite a bit to save up in austerity Britain.

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Tommy’s travel tip #15: Rome (Part 1)

April 2nd, 2010 3 comments

St Peter's, Vatican City
Travel tip #15: To avoid tourist trap restaurants, make sure you are at least two blocks from any tourist attraction.

When we formulated that rule, we didn’t take Rome into consideration. Rome, the eternal city, is littered with the debris of 2,500 years. You can hardly walk down a street in Rome without bumping into a classical ruin here or a medieval palace there. Finding a non-tourist-trap (or, on the west bank of the Tiber, “pilgrim”-trap) restaurant is hard enough. Finding one that’s two blocks from a tourist attraction proved to be a major endeavour requiring careful triangulation on our maps.
We did manage it, though, the first night we were there. Two blocks from Piazza Navona (location of the Fountain of Four Rivers), we spotted a little alleyway, which could only be reached from our side of the main road through a pedestrian tunnel which was, in fact, a bookshop (“Underground bookshop! Admission Free!” said the sign at the door in English). It claimed to be a trattoria, a traditional Italian eatery, and the prices displayed at the door was very reasonable. The fare seemed Italian – we were glad – with no sign of a fillet mignon or a wienschnitzel in sight.

Inside St Peter's

We pushed open the lace-curtained door, and were warmly greeted by a Chinese lady and (I presume) her Chinese daughter, in English. We seemed to be the only customers in the shop. I asked for a menu, exchanged a look with Brian. I said, loudly, “hmm, this doesn’t seem to have that dish I wanted…”, then in a whisper, “okay, go or stay?” “Your call. I don’t give a fuck. They look Italian enough,” said Brian. We decided that we’ll brave the Asianness. Afterall, didn’t Enoch’s Chinese friend back in Sydney run an Italian restaurant that appeared to serve Italian food?

Staircase inside the Vatican museum

We sat down, and the girl – she couldn’t have been older than 13 – took our orders. “A bottle of your finest vino bianco, kind signorina,” I said, or words to that effect. I ordered a mixed seafood for my entree and a spaghetti with vingoli (“What’s vingoli?” “I think it’s a kind of shellfish.” “Cool.” “Or maybe it’s squirrel. Not sure.”), and Brian had tripe and another pasta.
We weren’t ready for the ambush at all. I’d been in Italy for a week, and was pretty confident I’d come to grips with the place. Then wham – it hit us like a frying pan in the face. Yes, that’s right. The wine was not that great – a tad astringent. “This wine – it’s probably worse than about 20% of Australian white wines!” I cried in horror. “It’s pretty shit,” Brian agreed, “But you can’t complain. I said it was your call!”

Angel on the Bridge of Angels

Everything went downhill from there. My cold seafood mix looked like it came straight from the fish shop counter. And the spaghetti with vingoli – well, it was stir fried pippies with a noodle base. “Does this look a bit Chinese to you?” I asked Brian. He looked down and looked up. “No.” “No? Look at this! It’s got bloody shallots! It’s stir fried pippies with –” “No,” he interrupted me, “because I can see into the kitchen from where I’m sitting.” “So?” I asked. “So I can see the chef. And he’s Indian.” My response was probably best summed up as -_-“.

At this point, though, we were disturbed in our enjoyment of our fine, traditional Italian meals. A distinctly Italian couple walked in – a man and a woman, both wearing a lot of black leather. They spoke rather sternly to the Chinese lady, who was soon joined by the proprietor – who we could now see was, in fact, Italian. The young girl – their daughter, I presume, started talking at length to the new arrivals. The conversation became rather intense.

Staircase inside the Vatican museum

“Mafia,” whispered Brian. I nodded. They certainly looked the part. Emboldened by my experience of watching Who Wants to be a Millionaire in Italian the previous night, I proceeded to translate their conversation…
“Fat Tony saysa to tell you he been hearing you been serving bad wine.”
“No! Curses to the lying son of a boar who spreads such lies.”
“Are you calling Fat Tony a liar?”
“No! I… ”
“I been also hearing where you been serving seafood salad straight from the fish shop.”
“Well, you know how it is, Indian chefs, seafood salad is not their traditional fare…”
“And worst of all, your protection money is late by three days…”
“Our business has been bad! We have no customers except these two stingy Asian boys who aren’t even going to tip! You know what they’re like!”

Mosaic inside St Peter's

The intense discussion seeemed to reach an impasse, when the woman in black strode into the kitchen – probably to quiz the Indian chef on his Italianness – while the man in black sat down at the cash register, and started to count money —
We took one look at that, and decided to make a dash for it, leaving our money on the table. The owner barely noticed us – he was staring at the mafioso thumbing through his cash register.

Until the next day,

Tommy

Tommy’s travel tip #14: Florence

April 2nd, 2010 No comments

Before the cathedral
Travel tip #14: Don’t go to Pitti Palace

Florence. The capital of Tuscany. The home of Michelangelo, Machiavelli and the Medicis; the city of the Renaissance, of art, architecture, and finance. And it did not take long to see that the money-grabbing tradition of the medieval Medici Bank lives on in the city.

Italy in low season is great value. In Venice, we paid €25 each and stayed in a palazzo, 3 minutes from San Marco Square, breakfast included. Most major attractions, such as churches, are free, and €15 can get you a decent sit-down meal.

Ceiling of the Baptistery

The rules are different in Florence. The San Lorenzo Church, across the street from the Medici palace, fronted by a statue of Cosimo de Medici, attached to the Medici chapel, charges 10 euros for admission. But to get around the no-charging-for-church-entry policy, they cleverly disguise the fee as entry to the “museum”, except you can’t get into the church without going into the “museum”. And the “museum” turns out to be the church’s crypt, with the key attraction being the tomb of – there’s that name again – Cosimo de Medici.

Belt stand near the Medici chapel

Then we made the mistake of heading to Pitti Palace. Built by the Pitti, another prominent family of Florence, it was acquired by the Medicis after they financially ruined the Pitti, and was the seat of the Medici dynasty for most of their reign over Florence. The palace was connected to the Town Hall, on the other side of the river, by the Vecchio Bridge. At the time, the bridge was monopolised by butcher shops. Not wishing to smell fresh slaughter on their daily saunter to and from the office, the Medicis ordered the butchers out, and replaced them with goldsmiths – which occupy the length of the bridge to this day.

Entry to the Pitti Palace costed €12. This seemed a tad excessive, given that the Galleria dell’Academia, home of the David, was only €6.50. We went in anyway, seeing as how this was the home of the Medicis. As it turned out, €12 gets you, well, not very much at all. A few mouldy rooms, a lot of second-rate paintings. All the pick of the Medici collection had been donated to the city centuries before, and are now displayed in the Uffizi (“Offices”) Gallery across the river. And no photography was allowed. Plus, the €12 covers only half the palace. The other half was another €8. AND the garden was another €6. My conclusion: don’t go there.

Dome of the cathedral

Writing this far, I’ve realised that the Medicis are really ahead of the curve on this one. Lorenzo de Medici must have modelled all this out way back when and decided – damn economic cycles, fleecing tourists is a much more reliable income stream than, say, selling hybrid securities. Hence why the Medici bank folded back in the 19th century and turned to ripping off tourists. Prescience!

* * *

Inside the town hall

We did however make two positive finds in Florence which gave us at least a psychological victory over the Medicis. The town hall, called Palazzo Vecchio, housed a number of museums, again with exorbitant entry fees. Normally, visitors climb a set of entry stairs to the top floor, and starting from the top floor, make their way down another set of exit stairs to each of the lower floors. Having been stung once, we clibmed up the exit stairs (unguarded) to the top floor. (“I don’t have a reputation to maintain in this country.”) The guy at the landing gave us a suspicious look, so we retreated back to the next floor down, and this time, we looked naturally like we’d just come from the top floor. By sacrificing the top floor, we toured the rest of the museum for free. That’s one for tourists, zero for the Medicis.

The other great find in Florence was a specialist pasta restaurant that served a pasta degustation for about €10. Every dish was awesome, as was the wine and the main that followed (not included in the €10). I had a steak in a mirtillo (cranberry) sauce. Awesome.

Until next time,

Tommy

Tommy’s travel tip #12: Venice

November 29th, 2009 No comments

The Campanile on San Marco Square

Travel tip #12: When visiting a foreign country, all the vocabulary you need to survive is the numbers 1-3, the characteristic food item of the place, yes, (no is a valuable bonus) and thank you.

Venice is truly the promised land. It’s been my life-long dream ever since this time last year to eat spaghetti with squid in ink in Italy. We dined last night at a restaurant in Venice recommended by Lonely Planet. It had an English menu, was fully of American tourists, and surly waiters. Have you noticed how tourist traps always have surly waiters? It’s as if they view you with contempt because you fell for their tourist trap. The meal costed €35 each (about $70). I couldn’t stop thinking about how many lobsters I could buy at home for that much money (okay, about one), or how many Armani ties I could get at the Harrods sale back in London.

The Grand Canal, Venice

So it was with some despondency that we took the boat out to Murano, an island in the suburbs of Venice renowned for glass-blowing. Venice, by the way, is a collection of marshy islands connected by bridges and separated by canals. There is just one road that fits a car – running alongside the railway line to the mainland. Whereas in any other city you see a cab rank when you come out of the train station, in Venice you see a line of wharves, with boat-busses, boat-taxis and gondolas waiting to take you downtown. We took one of the boat-busses out to Murano, and after getting lost down a tiny alley-way, saw a tiny restaurant across the church square. We decided to chance it, and the place was simply awesome! It had no signs indicating its name; it had a squat toilet; it was full of serious Italian men (no women) who looked like they worked down on the docks and were ducking in for their lunch. The menu was in Italian, and I had to fall back on the Italian I picked up from half a year of proper study back in year 7 and then randomly over the years. Between my broken Italian and the waiter’s broken English (“polpo, is a kind of…” [indicates many wavy arms] (it means octopus)), we managed to piece together the menu, whence comes my tip #10 above. Instead of a multi-label winelist as favoured by the pretentious arseholes at Lonely Planet, this place had just two – bianco o rosso – white or red. I’m probably sounding a bit like those spoof travel guides Molvania/Phaic Tan – The bits that go “Twenty years ago this place had no chair lifts. It took me 20 days of hard hiking and hacking through the jungle to advance 200 metres, and I was infected by malaria. Twice. But it was priceless…”

The wine came in a clear glass jug and was probably better than 80% of wines I’ve tasted in Australia. But the best part was the food. I had sardin a saor, sardines marinated in vinegar and other condiments, a Venetian delicacy, and spaghetti seppie, i.e. with squid in ink. The food was delicious, no-nonsense, not overly rich as Italian meals sometimes can be. In a word, it was perfect. And the price? €15 including the wine and water. Brilliant.

The Ducal Palace, Venice

My second life-long dream, ever since the calzone shop on Norton Street closed down like 10 years ago, has been to eat a cheap calzone in Italy. I managed that tonight. Having gotten to Venice station for the train to Florence with an hour to spare, I decided to find a cheap calzone shop (which in some ways is the Italian equivalent to our kebab shop), so I struck off in a random direction, and two canals later – voila. I march in and, with my broken Italian, ask for “due calzoni tradizionale, per favore”. Dude doesn’t even blink, and replies in perfect American English “Mushroom and ham? Won’t be a moment”. I’m happy though. I may have been outted as a fobber, but he understood me.

So, language lesson of the day, your essential first aid kit of Italian:

one – uno
two – due
three – tre
essential food item – calzone
yes – si
thank you – grazie

Until next time, from the land of good beer and good wine,

Tommy

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Supreme Court of the United Kingdom website opens

September 6th, 2009 2 comments

On 1 October 2009, a Supreme Court of the United Kingdom will replace the House of Lords as the court of final instance in most matters in the United Kingdom. This is a significant moment for the UK’s legal system. Constitutionally, it will mark the formal separation of the judicial arm of government from the executive and legislative (though functionally the separation has been in place for more than a century). The Law Lords will transfer to the new Supreme Court and become the justices of the Supreme Court. The first fresh appointment to the new court will be a replacement for Lord Neuberger, who is stepping down to become Master of the Rolls (to replace Lord Clarke, who is leaving the MR post to replace Lord Scott, who is retiring). New appointees will no longer be created life peers by reason only of their appointment to the Supreme Court – for lawyers around the Commonwealth, this marks the end of an era as they will stop talking about their Lordships in reference to new cases. The Supreme Court will be housed in the Middlesex Guildhall, which sits on Parliament Square, across from the Palace of Westminster and close to Westminster Abbey.

The Supreme Court’s website has been launched: http://www.supremecourt.gov.uk/index.html

Update: Read up on the workings of the UKSC at this (non-affiliated) blog: http://www.ukscblog.com/

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Tommy’s travel tip #11: Milan

August 16th, 2009 No comments

Sforza castle

Travel tip #11: Four ways to survive in a foreign country with little or no skills:
– busking
– working as toilet attendant
– begging
– loiter around free food stalls

The busker: Italy doesn’t seem to have the strict busking licensing laws of, say, London, so buskers are everywhere. Some make an effort – the guy who’s painted all in gold posing in front of the Uffizi Gallery looked the part – kind of. It’s a pity that his white sneakers sneaked out and somewhat ruined the effect. The smartest busker, though, was one who set down a set of stereos, put on some opera, and walked away. Passers-by still dropped coins for him.

Milan Cathedral
The toilet attendant: A job for candidates who have some proficiency with a mop and look good in a tux. A German phenomenon, a toilet attendant keeps a public toilet in a reasonable state of cleanliness, and in return gets to stand at the door and demand 50 euro cents off each person who comes in. Most of them are plump matrons, though there was one man in Berlin immaculately turned out in a waistcoat and dress shirt, who looked like he could have been a concert pianist.

Galleria Vittorio Emanuele II - the premiere shopping arcade in Milan
The beggar: To the Tube carriage in London: “Ladies and gentlemen, may I have your attention please. I apologise in advance for disturbing your journey. Times are tough for us all, and I am looking for a little something to get through these times. So if you have any change, or any food or drinks left over from lunch, it would be greatly appreciated. Thank you very much for your kind help.” — delivered with confidence and clarity, and highly effective. Almost everyone in the carriage gave him something – money or a sandwich.

The food stand: The best ice cream I’ve had on this trip? Ferrero’s frozen grain dessert, free at Milan station from a promotional stand, not yet available in Australia and probably never will be. If you plan strategically around promotional samples, you can easily survive for a day without spending a cent!

Milan railway station
Until next time,

Tommy

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Tommy’s travel tip #10: Geneva

August 9th, 2009 No comments

The longest bench in Europe - Geneva

Travel tip #10: Swiss efficiency extends only as far west as the last German-speaking town.

French-speaking Geneva feels like an entirely different country. Street signs are in the familiar blue metal of Paris. Road directions are the same fat, black-on-white light boxes as those found in France. We’ve seen the last of our hauptbahnhofs – here it’s a gare. At the centre of the city stands – not a rathaus, but l’hotel de ville. On the square is the Notre Dame, and further down, the Opera (“deisgned by the same architect who built the Palais Garnier opera house in Paris!” enthused the young man at the tourist information centre). In a word, this is France.

Cathedral of St Peter, Geneva - one of the birth places of the Reformation

With it comes the laissez-faire attitude of the French. In Zurich, jaywalkers are mown down like broken clocks. In Geneva, motorists and pedestrians go about their own ways, seemingly oblivious to each other, in an elegantly chaotic dance.

Geneva railway station is organised mayhem. Here, I saw my first late train since stepping on the Continent. Stations announcements went like this: “The 4:24 train to Prague is delayed by approximately 20 minutes. We apologise for any inconvenience caused.” “Attention passengers on Platform 15 waiting for the 4:36 train to Milan. This train will now be departing from Platform 18. Please make your way to platform 18”. Sound familiar? It was just like Strathfield station on a bad day. I’ll be honest – they did make me a little homesick.

When the delayed train finally arrived, the train was further delayed by people getting on and off the train – there were still people jumping on and off even as the train began moving away from the platform.

Sunset in Geneva

Old Geneva is a little hill-top town, combining French bon-vivre with Alpine charm. Just across the lake, however, it feels much less like a little mountain town, and much more like the alternative capital of the world it is. Charmless concrete apartment blocks flank an avenue leading to the Palais des Nations – which houses many of the UN’s instrumentalities.

After the initial impact of the giant three-legged chair standing on the square (a monument to victims of land mines – and not, as I thought, a monument to the death of the USSR set up by the other three powers) – I realised that on the other corners of the square were WIPO – the World Intellectual Property Organisation – and the UN High Commission for Refugees. Suddenly, I felt like I’d come face to face with the world that I’d only seen through text books.

the UN in Geneva

The other international organisation that makes Geneva one of the most significant corners of the Earth is most famous for a giant hole that runs beneath it. The hole is the Large Hadron Collider, and the organisation is CERN, the European Centre for Nuclear Research. It turns out that a visit to the LHC – and a guided tour of CERN – had to be arranged months in advance. Nevertheless, the visitor’s centre was fascinating, and I got an inordinate amount of pleasure from just being near greatness.

Geneva’s Frenchness does carry with it one boon – French food. I had a duck dish and snails at a little restaurant in the old city. It also gave us a chance to enjoy a breackfast of pastries and coffee. From Geneva, we officially switched our evening meal beverage from beer to wine – we will soon be out of the Alps, and tomorrow we will be in Italy.

CERN - home of the Large Hadron Collider

Written at Geneva station, en route to Milan.

P.S. The train tracks are bumpy, just like CityRail.

Until next time,

Tommy

Tommy’s travel tip #9: Bern

August 8th, 2009 No comments

Travel Tip #9: Always check for chargers and plugs before leaving your room for the night.

My idea of Bern, or Berne (will the Swiss ever work out whether they want that e at the end of their placenames?) — was of a European version of Canberra. Soulless but monumental architecture, faceless bureaucrats in faceless black cars, a cultural festival or flower show betraying the only sign of habitation. I was astounded to discover, however, that Bern was almost a fairytale city. Perched atop a narrow plateau surrounded on three sides by glacial valleys, central Bern is a little gem of a city, medieval Switzerland rebuilt in stone, with mountain streams running down the centre of streets, little trapdoor shops by the side of the road, long covered walkways, and fountains decorated with colourful totems. As befitting the federal capital of a country that owns half the continent, there were monuments: the federal parliament building occupies a magnificent position on the edge of the city. Fittingly for Switzerland, on the two sides of parliament square adjacent to the parliament are the headquarters of the Swiss National Bank, and the Bern Cantonal Bank. Under the square, extending downward for several dozens of metres, are the vaults holding Switzerland’s gold reserve. Equally disproportionate to the scale of the medieval town is the cathedral, a great Gothic pile dominating the skyline.

The Federal Parliament, viewed from the river

Early morning view towards the outskirts of Bern, from the parliament's balcony

Detail of decoration on the central portal of the cathedral

Snowman - on the platform outside the cathedral overlooking the river

The bear is the symbol of Bern

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Tommy’s travel tip #7: Zürich

June 14th, 2009 No comments

A swan in the river - central Zurich, Switzerland

Travel tip #7: Exchanging money in Switzerland attracts a SFr 6 admin fee – easily avoided if you are a UBS or Credit Suisse employee or client.

Switzerland is a clockwork country. This was apparent as soon as we crossed the border from Germany. The timetable showed that we had 2 minutes to make a connection between the international train and an intercity express to Zurich – and 2 minutes were exactly what we got. Everything runs exactly on the dot – trains, ferries and buses.

Concourse of the central station

The flip-side of this, though, is that every person is expected to operate like clockwork. The pedestrian crossing light is timed precisely for the amount of time it takes to cross the street. Dally a little, or cross on an amber light, and you are likely – if you are lucky – to be stuck in the middle of the road. Jay walking is as good as any other form of suicide. You see, in a less precise country like ours, drivers and pedestrians allow for the other to not always follow the rules of the road, that some people act like idiots – that people are human. Not so in the clockwork country – here, every person is expected to follow the rules with precision. Anyone who doesn’t won’t do so for long. When I foolishly walked onto a road, the oncoming car did not slow at all – it honked and – I kid you not – actually sped up. I have it on reliable authority that Swiss driver training teaches them to mow down jay walkers, for the good of the nation.

The main street, Bahnhofstrasse, at dawn

If Switzerland is a giant set of clockwork, then the Swiss banks are the grease that keep the machine happily humming away. I wanted to find the main UBS building on Bahnhofstrasse – “Station Street” – the main street of Zurich – and noticed a curious thing: everywhere there was a UBS branch, there would also be a Credit Suisse within sight. Though there are a variety of other banks, such as the cantonal banks, the two banking giants control the system in Switzerland. I’m not sure whether it is a result of their concrete power in Switzerland, or simply another symptom of this being the clockwork country — but the bank counters were not sealed off behind glass like every other country, but instead simply a free standing white table, looking more like a demonstration area in an Apple store than a cashier’s window.

The UBS Building on Bahnhofstrasse

One result of their virtual duopoly is that foreign exchange transactions here attracted a SFr 6 exchange fee. The first time I needed to change money, the man at the counter asked me whether I was one of their clients. “No,” I replied truthfully. The second time around, I figured I’ll try my luck: “no, but I’m an employee back in Australia. Does that help?” The cashier fiddled a little with his computer, and told me, “yes, it does this time” — the fee was waived, though the exchange rate I got was quite a bit worse than the first time.

Riverside walkway

Somewhat paradoxically, the mechanical efficiency of Switzerland also results in the preservation of both history and the environment. Zurich is at once quiet and efficient, and the town centre is an eclectic mixture of modern office buildings, 19th century neo-classical edifices, and winding medieval passages.

The river teams with wildlife. Next to the busy offices where vast sums are moved across the globe, pristine white swans glide under medieval stone bridges free from grafitti. From the shore, one can counter every pebble on the bottom of the river. As might be expected, littering is unknown here. Presumably, in this perfect land litterers are packed off to the forest to be fed to the bears.

One local resident enjoying a morning swim

The only downside, though, is that the mechanical efficiency seems to have robbed the city of its soul, like a perfectly proportioned marble sculpture but devoid of expression. The saving grace in that regard, for me, was the discovery of Sprüngli.

That name is probably best known as the other half of Lindt. Both trace their origins to the chocolate business founded in 1845. When the founder, Rudolf Sprüngli-Ammann, retired in 1892, one son received the chocolate factory, which grew to become the global industrial production line that is Lindt today (with its products found in supermarkets throughout Europe and the world), while the other son received the two stores that have stayed true to their roots – and remain, today, boutiques in central Zurich specialising in chocolates and candied fruits. The Paradeplatz store features a charming cafe, a format which seems to have inspired Lindt’s cafe ventures downunder.

So it was with the satisfaction of having discovered the sweet side of Zurich – and gingerly carrying a stack of its tin-boxed products – that we hopped on the train (running precisely on time, of course) westwards, and upwards.

Zurich at night

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