Archive | July, 2014

Zürich München Lisboa

3 Jul

Two weeks ago for work I was asked to go to Zurich to assist on a very interesting project. The trip was booked fairly last minute, but I couldn’t wait to get back on the road since I’ve mostly been driving from Manhattan to NJ on a daily basis. (Awful!!!) Also, the opportunity to work on such a cool and different project was very exciting. My friend, formerly from the NY office, now in Houston, has been living part time in Amsterdam for work. We decided it’s been way too long since we’ve seen each other which was the perfect excuse to meet up and see a new city on my return to the US.

The last time I was in Zurich was for a brief 2.5 days and was in the beginning of January, so going back in summer was guaranteed to be better. Sure enough, the weather was much warmer and the longer experience was welcomed. We initially stayed at the Renaissance closest to the client site where I had stayed previously. However, the rooms are dated, the breakfast is bare and there are limited food options in the area. Apparently they’re also closing the hotel. The very next day we had planned to wrap up our meetings at noon and hop in a rental car to Munich for a meeting and client dinner. Even though Munich is fairly close, a 3-4 hour drive, the flights were $1100-1200 and the direct train was sold out but the local train was still $400 and would take about 5-6 hours. But the best laid plans don’t always go as smoothly and this was an example of how that was very true. The car we rented was a two door, which meant yours truly was sitting in the back with the extra luggage. Also, Google maps anticipated the drive would take us a little over 3 hours, however, it didn’t account for getting out of the parking garage, stopping to grab lunch, or the road construction along the way. Needless to say we got to the client site an hour and a half late! Also due to the last minute plans many hotels were sold out, so we ended up staying at two different Hilton’s. For dinner I made reservations for Restaurant Broeding which was ranked number 1 on trip advisor. The food did not disappoint! It was five courses, which change daily, with an optional 6th cheese, but who says no to the cheese?! The dinner was longer than anticipated but well worth it. Afterwards, our client offered to take us through Marienplatz even though it was 11:30pm. I hadn’t been to Germany since the summer after I graduated college, but it’s always a different experience going with new people.

Driving back to Zurich the following day was painful. It was an early morning in order to ensure we made our next meeting on time. The senior manager and myself fell asleep in the car and when we woke up, we were in line for a car ferry! Besides the fact that the car ferry didn’t take credit and we had limited euros / francs, the ride was nice and refreshing and we were able to make our meeting on time. Few! That night we went to an authentic Swiss restaurant with the client and walked around the old town area before dinner. What a difference it makes walking around in January versus June. The streets had tables, it stayed light out after 9pm and there were lots of people out and about. While I do enjoy a good fondue I think I can only go for it about once a year… in winter. Also, for those of you who haven’t been to a true fondue restaurant outside of the melting pot, the smell of cheese in the restaurant is incredibly pungent. After our traditional restaurant experience we checked into the Renaissance in downtown Zurich. What a difference! There was a real concierge lounge, champagne upon check-in and a modern shower. The concierge lounge had a nice conference room style table from which my coworker and I could work. Also, the attendant working the concierge lounge was so nice as to provide us with wine even after the technical closing time. I personally think that the lounge should never close and that the US shovel lounges shouldn’t charge you a fee for “honor bar”. There have been many times where my coworkers and I have been kicked out because the lounge closes at 10 or 11 pm. I will definitely choose to stay at this hotel again. During my last night in Zurich we ate with my coworkers friends who live south west of the center of Zurich. They took us to a nice Italian restaurant close to their apartment where we ate with them and their 3 year old son. Although he doesn’t speak much English, he can interchange French and German. I can barely manage English yet this 3 year old is already a linguist!

After work the following day I flew to Lisboa on TAP Portugal air. Even though it was under a three hour flight, I received a sandwich and a glass of wine. It was my first time to Portugal and six months since I had seen my friend and ex-NY, now Houston, coworker. While she globe trots the world for her Houston client, she’s always willing to travel for a meet up. We settled on Lisbon since neither of us had been. The Sheraton Lisboa was nice but a little secluded in the financial district. Also the fishbowl of a bathroom was a little strange. Being our GenX selves we Yelped, Trip Advisored and FourSquared restaurants in the area before finally settling on Sabores com Fusao, along with booking a wine bar downtown for the following evening in Barrio Alto. The following day my friend had booked us on Yellow Cab TT tours first thing in the morning. Thank god she had done all the planning and research because I certainly didn’t have the time to look at anything. After a detour to a random cafe, we met our guide Fabio! (Of course his name was Fabio!) and off we went in our bright yellow range rover. There were two girls from Munich in our group along with an older hip couple from Madrid who didn’t speak English but we communicated just fine with anyway. They even showed us their bachata dance video on their cell phone. We spent the day seeing all their was to see in Sintra, Colares, and Cascais. We went to the Palacio de Pena, bought almond liquor, cheese, port spread, almond pastry, and egg custards. We went to the western most of part of Europe and looked out over the Atlantic toward the US at Cabo da Roca, and we even went to the beach in hell at Mar do inferno. We made it back to our hotel after 12 hours in time to pack our goodies and take the metro to BA Wine bar. After a vino filled evening with a glass of white, a glass of red, and a port, we closed the place down and were about to head back to the hotel when the waitress told us to go to Pensão Amor, a club and lounge down the street. When in Rome…. As we headed to the bar we realized a couple things, 1) we looked like some of the oldest people on the street, 2) everyone had a drink in their hands, 3) we had no idea how to actually get into the bar. Do we enter from the street we were on? Or down below? After a bit of debate and going up to one street and down to another, we were in! Each room and floor had a different theme and motif. The crowd was also less pretentious than in NY. People were dressed up and down. We even made friends with an Irishman who had his phone pinched during a bachelor party. I never would have guessed that Lisbon would be a popular bachelor party destination, but apparently the Prague scene is way over done and Lisbon is a new up and coming locál.

Unfortunately my flight back to the US left at 11:30am via Amsterdam and therefore I really only had one full day in Lisbon and with my friend. I wished I could have stayed longer, but on the first leg of my flight I sat next to a member of the Portuguese parliament! What are the odds? She was very nice and we even exchanged information. So now I must go back! Portugal 2015 anyone?

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