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What can you expect of an airline started by a race car driver? If you're flying NIKI, you'd never guess that this small Austrian airline of A321s, A320s, and E190s only began in 2003, by Grand Prix legend Niki Lauda. It's now a subsidiary of Air Berlin and partner with Etihad, operating out of Vienna International Airport to cities around Europe.
Our recent flyNIKI flights weren't something we chose, but were chosen for us as part of booking a normal American Airlines ticket to Vienna. You see, American doesn't fly to Vienna, and so have enlisted another Oneworld partner to fly the portion they can't. In our case, we flew AA from New York nonstop to Zurich, and then flyNIKI from Zurich to Vienna and back.
View of Lake Zurich from Old Town Rapperswil
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. Last week, we stopped in Appenzell in the Prealps, and today we're headed to the lakeside community of Rapperswil for a taste of Upstate New York.
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One of the biggest decisions that U.S. travelers to Europe have to make is whether to purchase a pre-planned rail pass or to wait and buy single-journey tickets on the go. On our recent trip to Switzerland with a focus on the greater Zurich area, we used a Swiss Pass to travel between the small towns and villages.
Below, we break down the cost versus the benefits of the pass.
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. Last week, we stopped in St. Gallen near the borders of Germany and Austria, and today we're headed to the rural hillsides of Appenzell in the Prealps.
Zurich is one of the top destinations for tourists headed to Switzerland, and as we pointed out, a lot of that has to do with what a great home base it is for exploring the Swiss countryside. This week, we'll take you on a ride out of town for a few easy day trips, starting with St. Gallen near the borders of Germany and Austria.
St. Gallen is 50 miles from Zurich, accessible by a train ride of just over an hour from the airport or main train station. The fare is approximately $40 one-way and trains run consistently throughout the day. You can purchase tickets at the station or in advance online.
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Tomorrow, we'll start to spill the beans on a few day trip ideas when making your home base in Zurich, one of which being the town of St. Gallen. Everyone knows part of Europe's appeal lies in its long history as compared to that of the U.S., and it is in St. Gallen that you can get a glimpse of a medieval monastery library, one that's in very damn good condition with over 150,000 books (30,000 on display).
The library in the Cathedral Abbey of Saint Gall was built in 710 and now contains about 400 books that are 1,000 years old. Regardless of what's inside of them (none are in English but all are historical texts of different varieties), it's pretty amazing they've survived that many generations. Another ridiculous artifact it houses is the earliest known architectural drawn on parchment, fittingly of the Abbey itself. The Library was remodeled in the 18th century and became a Unesco World Heritage site in 1983.
In this edition of Street Food Friday, we take a look at some of the common national dishes of Switzerland. This list is a general one, as most of the following can be found throughout the entire country. Our travels were focused on the greater Zurich area, and next week, we’ll highlight some local specialties when we feature a series of easy day trips to the villages outside the city, dishes that add a big dose of personality to these basic favorites:
When this writer stepped off the train yesterday in Appenzell, the scenery I encountered was exactly what I had always pictured Switzerland to look like in the spring: Rolling hills of dairy farms, a small charming village, a couple cows, and the color green. It looked more like a fairy tale come to life than reality, something that brought an unstoppable smile to my face.
It's my first time in Switzerland, and one of my favorite parts of travel is seeing the expectations unfold one way or another. When I landed in Zurich, I was reminded of many of the other European cities I have visited. But as the train left the city limits, the scenery changed drastically as I entered the Swiss Prealps you see in the distance from Zurich.
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While Americans debates whether their tax dollars should go to publically fund universal healthcare, the Swiss voted to saddle up and spend $2.6 million on a drive-in prostitution facility.
Legal in the country since 1942, the so-called “sex boxes” are the response to an on-going problem with the sex industry in certain neighborhoods throughout the city of Zurich. The facility is located away from the city center and serves as a bit of a safe haven for prostitutes and their clients.
The details are pretty incredible. The sex boxes, open “daily” from 7 p.m. to 5 a.m., are adjoined to a facility that is staffed by city social workers to look after the women. According to the AP, the sex workers must register with the city and “obtain a special permit, at a cost of 40 Swiss francs ($43) a year, and pay 5 francs ($5.40) a night in taxes, which helps the city offset maintenance costs.”
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Today's Tuesday and, since we've successfully started another week, it's time to celebrate with a cool video. We could come up with a cutesy series like Tilt-shift or Time-Lapse Tuesday, but whatever we call it, the result is the same: a vid with lots of planes! This time around, it's SWISS' time-lapse romp of happy planes taking off and landing on a sunny morning at Zurich International Airport.
As expected, the video is filled with "pluses," both literally and figuratively. The first plus is watching planes of all shapes and sizes zip by the camera lens on their way to a gate or a new destination. Filmed with tilt-shift capabilities, the aircraft look as if they're all part of a tiny, model airport and make us feel as though we're kids again.
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Ever flown into Switzerland's Zurich Airport? You step off the plane and the soaring windows fill only with the expanse of blue sky all around. Then you step into the terminal transfer train and, in the darkness, there's the sound of cows mooing, cow bells clanking and alpine horns tooting from the speakers.
The first bit of the video below instantly brought us back to that moment at Zurich Airport, as it also features that typical Swiss soundtrack...before jumping into a rhythm to compliment the stupendous vistas in the time-lapse.
This video. named "Helvetia's Dream," comes from Swiss photographer Alessandro Della Bella and is an ode to his homeland and the landscape in which he grew up. He obviously headed to the top of a few mountains for the shots, but we're here to tell you that you can as well, and easily.
Disregarding Scandinavia for a moment, one of the most expensive cities you can visit in Europe is Zurich, Switzerland. This is the land of $8 lattes, pay-to-pee portapotties and four-star hotels asking four digits a night. In other words, it's not exactly for the budget traveler...until we drop the secret that direct flights to ZRH from the US often feature in those crazily discounted airfare sales. Getting a roundtrip for $350 sure defrays the cost of eating pretty little Swiss sweets every day.
Luckily for Zurich (and the rest of Switzerland, really), the scenery and atmosphere is so appealing and so intoxicating that it's easy to be distracted from your fast-emptying wallet. That $8 latte? Get it and walk down the River Limmat, and you'll look up from your caffeine to the scene pictured above. $8 doesn't seem so bad all of a sudden.
What we're saying is: when faced with excellent travel deals to expensive destinations, don't write off the idea immediately. Instead, plan. Your travel budget will be lower, so prepare for a higher daily budget. Andthis is hugedo not complain about the inflated price of McDonald's. TACKY, especially when someplace like this is likely just around the corner.