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Friday, October 22, 2010


My Swiss Air flight from Shanghai to Zurich took 12 hours, so I had a drink an hour:  Jacquart Champagne, Bloody Mary with Stolichnaya Vodka, La Columbe Chasselas Swiss white wine, Mint-sir-Rolle grand cru Gamay Swiss red, Porto Niepoort Tawney, Glenvilet, Ferber Branca (an Italian liquer with Swiss herbs, which was the worst drink I've had in years...bitter and with the essence of Thai fish sauce), Grappa di Moscato, Etter Kirsch, Etter Williams Kirsch and Bailey's Cream in an expresso.  The food list is too long to recite.

Well, Switzerland (7.8 million people) is what you'd expect:  emmental cheese (the kind with the holes), chocolate, watches, banks, lakes, Alps...  While only #9 on the UN Human Development list, the U.S. is #13 (Norway, my stop after Qatar, is #1).  However, Zurich is the #2 (Vienna is #1) Mercer most livable city and #3 (#1 Munich, #2 Copenhagen) in the Monocle most livable city index.  Honolulu at #13 as the highest rated U.S. city.

I like Zurich, but it is hardly perfect.  For one, it is too cold.  Two, everything is so ridiculously expensive.  If you're on a budget, skip this city.  Yet, the Mercer ranking has Zurich at #8, with Luanda (Angola) as #1 and Tokyo at #2.  Shanghai is #23 and the highest cost of living U.S. city at #25 is New York.  Honolulu is #102.

Zurich, with a population of 380,000, is the largest Swiss city.  Thus, it is less than half the size of Honolulu.  However, Zurich has 20 universities with the University of Zurich and Swiss Federal Institute of Technology (ETH, there must be a reason)  in the top 50 world ranks.  ETH has had 21 Nobel Laureates.  Eighty percent speak German, but just about everybody can communicate in English.

The Fall colors are here, there are more swans than anywhere else I know and the transportation system is fabulous.  Their main shopping street is Bahnhofstrasse, which goes from the train station (bahnhof) to Lake Zurich, just about a mile long of Rolex, Cartier, Tiffany's, etc.

The best restaurant is Petermann's Kunstuben, which is closed this month.  I had goulash on spaetzle at Kronenhalle, 

fondue at Birtschaft, 

bratwurst (veal sausage, the whitish one) with a roll of bread (they don't eat it like a hot dog here) at  Lake Zurich

and creamed veal on rosti (hash browns) at Zeughauskeller.  The latter is the Swiss version of SOS (stands for something on shingles, but is chip creamed beef on toast) in the Army or loco moco in Hawaii, and all should not be eaten if you have cholesterol, sodium or high blood sugar problems.

These meals came with beer, Swiss white or red wine, or Williams Kirsch...or some permutation of them.  Good thing the Sheraton I stayed in had a basket of apples, which served as my breakfast for three straight days.

Wow, there are two ocean storms in the Atlantic, three in the West Pacific and one in the Bay of Bengal:

Typhoon Megi just made landfall north of Hong Kong and south of Shanghai, while Cyclone Giri is now a 145 MPH Category 4 storm, but should miss any major population centers in Myanmar (Burma).  Pardon me, but Giri is on the road to Mandalay.

My 155th country just visited this blog:


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The third smallest state in Europe (after the Holy See and Monaco), San Marino also claims to be the world's oldest republic. According to tradition, it was founded by a Christian stonemason named Marinus in A.D. 301. San Marino's foreign policy is aligned with that of Italy; social and political trends in the republic also track closely with those of its larger neighbor.

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