Thursday, May 17, 2012

[Travel] Day 7: A Day in Zurich or, Y'know, Not

Relatively short update for today. My experience the day before in Montreal was repeated in Zurich. I exited the plane and had no clue where I was supposed to go. The idea was to head to the First Class Lounge and see if I could get a dayroom for a three or four hour nap before heading into Zurich to explore, but I could not for the life of me figure out where the FCL was located.

I finally found an employee who informed me that I wanted to be by the A-gates. I hopped on the airport train (complete with moo'ing cow sounds, for real) and rode over to the A-gate area. I ended up having to go through security again, which was a touch unexpected, though not through immigration or customs. Trying to adjust to Swiss security practices involved a hitch or two.

For starters, I had forgotten that I now had extra liquids courtesy of the Swiss Air amenities kit. Whoops. And, as always, my white noise machine got singled out for an extra-close inspection. In their defense, when I saw it under the x-ray machine for the first time I was pretty suspicious too.

Ah, success!

Titled: Winding Stairway or, Look I'm an Artist With a Cheap Canon

Eventually I found my way to the First Class Lounge. It's a nice enough lounge, with a small restaurant and a buffet area. The nicest thing for me was that they have a couple of dayrooms, which are basically really small hotel rooms with a decently comfortable bed and a shower. I got to the lounge at about 7:30 AM and my flight to Hong Kong did not leave until 11 PM. Originally I had hoped to secure a dayroom for four or five hours but they insisted on giving it to me for the whole day. Alright then!

Perhaps the most unexpected part of the dayroom was that the scent strongly reminded me of my camp years at Drew University. I have no idea why it smelled like a dorm room (in a good way, not in a two-week old laundry and ramen and no I have no clue which is two weeks old way), but I enjoyed it.

I made a quick check of e-mail and then settled down to try and get some sleep. The lounge was incredibly loud and the neighboring showers made quite the racket when in operation. It cut right through my earplugs so, in a moment of desperation, I took out the white noise machine and put it to work. Having not slept in about 21 hours I was willing to try anything.

I successfully managed to grab about three hours of sleep, after which I showered, changed clothes and went outside for a buffet breakfast/lunch. At that point it was about 1 PM and I thought I'd head into Zurich and follow an itinerary I'd found on Flyertalk for a brief lay-over tour. I made it basically as far as the train station in the airport and I changed my mind, deciding that I'd rather get some work done and get another nap in knowing that on the 12 hour flight to Hong Kong I was unlikely to sleep. 

Why do you all make me take photos of bathrooms for you? How demeaning! This was in the dayroom

Larger than it looks in photos - I'm 6'1 and I had no problem fitting on it comfortably

Sweet lord, who designed that seat, Ikea?

It's a shower? I think? I'm not really sure any more but let's go with "shower"

Fancy setting for an airport lounge meal

Breakfast assortment from the buffet

Shrimp gumbo, shrimp scampi, fried shrimp

Tried one for Ben's sake - definitely a more juice-flavored Fanta than in the US

They had these at every table - did someone inform them I'm trying to lose weight? Obviously not

The buffet area or, as it was known to me that day, the Land of 1000 Coke Zeros

 I headed back to the lounge and wrote up quite a few missing days of trip reports. I also got some work done and had a light snack. By around 4:30 PM I decided to try for another nap. Out of the three hours spent laying there I probably slept for an hour and had a truly harrowing dream about missing my flight. Not good!

The rest of the time in the lounge was spent working and enjoying dinner. I went to the restaurant and was once again pleasantly surprised by the quality of the fare. Let's just say the Delta Sky Lounge in Tampa is not serving such creative asparagus dishes. At about 9:55 PM I met several other travelers by the front entrance and we were guided to our gates. 
That pickled onion was fantastically delicious

Asparagus three-ways, and each of the ways was truly inspired

Bread. Nothing exciting. Just bread. Move along to the next photo already, will ya?

Actually, maybe you should go back to the previous photo because I lost the notes for what this was - um, would you believe more asparagus? Bread? No? Bueller?

Three different desserts on the same tray - what a country!

Mmmm, dessert

View from the lounge

Another shot from the lounge

For those in the know, the trip to the gates usually involves a spin around the tarmac in a Mercedes. I've never been in a Mercedes (my first car was a Mercury which is a lot like Mercedes if you stop reading after three letters), so I was quite excited. Sadly we were a very large group so we got ferried over in Generic White Van of Genericness. Ah well.

Since Day 8 basically just involved the 12-hour flight and losing 6 hours to the time change, I will document the flight in the next installment.

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