Day 1,643 of Traveling the World | London, UK – Part 1 | August 2, 2022

With our hotel in Bankside, London – south of the Thames, near London Bridge, and roughly between Westminster Abbey and the Tower of London – we are in an up-and-coming area undergoing gentrification and lots of renovation. It is one of the oldest areas of London, and feels a bit gritty (but safe and pretty cool) with lots of trains and old train tunnels. We are a few steps away from the Tate Modern art museum. It really feels like life is happening all around us. There are lots and lots of tourists in London right now, so everything is busy and crowded. We are discovering why we used to travel in the spring and fall! Summer is crazy.

Even though we did okay with the language in France, able to read menus and signs in French, and say a few phrases to locals – it sure is great to be in a place where English is spoken! We can speak without our brains going through a translation process, sometimes trying to answer in French, but with Spanish coming out (“Oh, you speak Spanish!”), and we can once again order food with items “on the side” and be fully understood.

There are statues everywhere we look, with some shown in our photos. We have walked through Chinatown and past a lot of famous landmarks, including Big Ben. Westminster Abbey charges a hefty 25 pounds ($30.53) to walk inside, but we attended an organ recital on Sunday and so entered for free. But as soon as it was over, the staff was very insistent on everybody leaving right away. Whenever we go into a church for free (none in France charged admission), we always leave a donation, since we feature them in our blog, and since we realize that they incur costs such as electricity and maintenance. Still, we don’t ever donate $61 for two of us to walk through!

Our favorite activity here, as everywhere, is just wandering the streets aimlessly and seeing what we stumble upon. We get to see fabulous architecture, street decorations, statues and monuments, and the other day we came upon Borough Market, with all of its lights, smells, and colors. There is lots here to discover! We still have almost three weeks to continue our life here, and we can’t wait to see more!

Millicent Fawcett’s statue, near Big Ben. She was an author, and Britain’s leading fighter for women’s suffrage in the early 20th century.
Yet another memorial to a woman! Edith Cavell was a British nurse who tended to wounded soldiers of both sides in WWI. She helped 200 Allied soldiers escape from German-occupied Belgium, and subsequently was captured and executed by a German firing squad.
Also near Big Ben is this monument to Winston Churchill – it needn’t say more, right?
This is Churchill’s memorial stone, near the entrance inside Westminster Abbey, although it is not his burial place.
Westminster Abbey in all of her glory!
A view of the exterior.
The beautiful rear window panel.
Also near the front entrance is this beautiful memorial to the Unknown Soldier, decorated with lovely red poppies.
Above the entrance to Westminster Abbey is this array of 20th century martyrs, dedicated in 1998. Some we have heard of, some not. The key is in the next photo.
Here is the Key!
Big Ben, in all of his glory!
A view of Ben from the other side, with the London Eye peeking through.
The London Eye again, plus the River Thames, plus a tour boat, plus Big Ben in the distance, way over on the right side.
We liked this warrior-type man, holding up a building!
The Sherlock Holmes pub is just one of many that we saw just like it: a gold-detailed building bedecked with flowers, filled with people eating, drinking, and talking.
A pretty Art Nouveau facade above a doorway.
London’s Chinatown is very festive!
Here, the ferocious-tiger Bun House is adjacent to the Hippodrome Mansion, an award-winning gay bar.
Another pretty restaurant in Chinatown, Waxy’s Little Sister, with gorgeous flowers working their way UP.
Southwark Cathedral – with “The Shard” on the left. (Bet you can’t pronounce Southwark correctly! We had a heck of a time. It is – are you ready?? – SU therk.)
Yet another woman! This statue of Minerva, Roman goddess of poetry, medicine, wisdom, crafts, commerce, and strategic warfare, proudly stands just outside Southwark Cathedral.
The Borough Market delighted every last sense we possess. It was bright, cheerful, fun, aromatic, and packed with people eating, drinking, and buying wares.
Some would say Jan has a Big Mouth – but even hers pales in comparison to this big boy!
RIGHT???? (Although we LOVE our veggies!)
Such a pretty display from The Gated Garden.
Doesn’t this oyster bar worker look like a character?!!??
We had dinner here at The Charlotte one evening – cute drawing!
A British pub, part of a chain. The founder gave all of his pubs nonsensical names!

Day 1,638 of Traveling the World | Dijon, France | July 28, 2022

Our last full day in France was partially spent in Dijon, which was just an overnight stop as we made our way back to Paris to catch the Eurostar to London. We only had an hour or so to explore the city, so we walked around the old town and got a few photos. We had the opportunity for a home-cooked meal here, as our “hotel” room had a full kitchen with everything we could want, and even a washer and dryer.

You likely known the name Dijon from its famous mustard. Even though it is sold here, of course, it is not made here! The most striking attractions in the city are the half-timbered buildings and the 13th century Church of Notre Dame.

Atop the church is an clock with an automaton that strikes the hour called a Jacquemart. Nobody knows the origin of the word, just that it was being used from 1458. The Jacquemart was sacked from Belgium in 1382, and it was a marvel of its day. A second automaton, depicting a woman, was added in 1651 to alternate with the Jacquemart to sound the hours. The people of Dijon named her “Jacqueline.” (Who says life was hard back then, and people had no sense of humor?) In 1714, a Dijon poet asked the city to provide Jacquemart and Jacqueline with children (even though she was now 63 and he was 332 years old!). And so, Jacquelinet was added to sound the half-hours. In 1884, Jacquelinet received a sister – an automaton named Jacquelinette was added to make the family complete, as she strikes the quarter-hours. Phew! Is that complicated (and cute) enough for you??

France threw us one last curve ball as we returned our car the next day just outside of Paris. When we rented the car in Strasbourg, the agent mentioned the city where we were returning the car and didn’t say anything about it. When we looked at the address the night before, Google Maps showed that the location was “temporarily closed.” We tried calling the corporate office and every branch we could, only to get automated responses and to be hung up on. So we drove to our drop-off address, but the location had been closed for some time. It looked ramshackle, with bugs and flies in the dirty windows and mail piled on the floor. A sign on the door had an alternate address, so we drove there. It was a small back alley filled with rental trucks. We walked around and discovered a yard where men were washing vehicles. They said it was the place to return our car! There was no sign, no office – just a man who completed our paperwork on a table adjacent to cars being washed. The silver lining was that they offered to take us to the subway station and advised us as to how to get to Gare du Nord in Paris to catch the Eurostar. We made it with two hours to spare!!! Lucky us. We were on the last day of our allowed 90-day Schengen Area stay. If we had missed our Eurostar train, we might not have been welcomed back to the Schengen Area (i.e., most of Europe) for quite a while. Disaster averted!

We look at this experience as a positive occurrence, giving us the opportunity to build up more brain cells. Whenever we have to figure out something that is blowing up our plans, we get creative and start thinking out loud about what we might possibly do and how we can solve the problem. We have, so far in our travels of 20 years, averted everything in our paths that could have slipped us up, from trains not running to the city where we had hotel reservations, to train tracks under repair and torn up in entire countries, to being lost (!) countless times, to walking for an hour only to discover it was the wrong way, to missing stops on trains or subways. We’ve also been tricked in Barcelona, where the names of streets in our trusty tour book had all been replaced – Spanish names for Catalan names!! We couldn’t figure out how we were exactly where the map indicated we were, but the street names were wildly different! All of this makes us stronger and wiser, and gives us the experience we need to travel better in the future.

13th century Church of Our Lady (Notre Dame) of Dijon. The modern chandelier over the main altar made the front of the church just sparkle.
Underneath the beautiful organ casing sits a tapestry called “Terribilis,” created by Dom Robert, a Benedictine monk, installed in 1950. It is very modern for its time, and shows the Virgin Mary warding off attackers in the form of various animals. The tree trunks are inscribed with the dates, “September 11, 1513,” and “September 11, 1944,” both indicating French liberation milestones.
The facade is planar, that is, flat, and includes 51 gargoyles, representing animals, humans, and monsters, BUT the gargoyles are dummies (i.e., they are not spouts to drain water).
A close-up of the Jacquemart. You can see the clock along with a few of the figures.
The fun side view of the church that is very “spired!”
The 15th century Maison Milliere certainly looks its age – in a good way! Parts of the movie Cyrano de Bergerac starring Gerard Depardieu were shot right here in front of the building.
Some of the city’s famous half-timbered historic houses, with the Church of Notre Dame lurking in the background.
Most of the streets we passed looked just like this!
…oh, and a few more!
A pretty arched entry way, protected by two lions.
An orange timbered house, with two painted medieval figures peeking out of the window of the building on the right.
There are many roofs with patterns like this in Dijon.
The owl sculpted into the Church of Notre Dame, above the woman’s head. Rubbing it with your left hand is supposed to bring good luck…but not for the owl! He (or she) is shapeless after many centuries of rubbing. You can hardly tell what it is!

Day 1,635 of Traveling the World | Avignon, France | July 25, 2022

Avignon is famous for the Avignon Papacy of 1309-1377, wherein seven successive popes reigned from Avignon, France rather than Rome. The fabulous Palace of the Popes is actually two buildings that were joined in the 1300s to centralize the administration of the Catholic Church. When the papacy returned to Rome, the palace lost much of its former glory. However, its grandeur and immortality have captured the imagination of people over the centuries. We walked through the interior, but sadly for us, much of it has been taken over for the annual Festival of Avignon, an arts festival, and bleachers and hundreds of chairs have been placed inside, which obscured the openness and views. In addition, there is an exhibition on the Amazon (of all things), so several of the great rooms are not recognizable. We visited here 20 years ago, but today it is nothing like it was then.

The city is one of the few left in France that has retained its old walls surrounding the old town. The wall runs for 2.7 miles and encloses 370 acres. Originally, there were 12 gates that controlled access, but today there are 11 pedestrian entrances and 15 vehicular entrances. Inside the walls, it is vibrant with people drinking, eating, and attending theater shows, and it just has a vibrancy and sense of joy. There was a lot of activity! For us, it was a one-day whistle stop, as our 90 days in the EU Schengen area are up in a few days. Our last several locations were to be a bit longer, but we had to cut back our days in each after we did the math!

Life! Life was happening as we walked inside the walled city. It was hot, hot, hot, and people were drinking – lots! – and enjoying the day.
It was so busy as we walked the streets!
A different square, five minutes from the previous one – and it, too, is just jammed with people.
The Opera d’Avignon, dating from 1847.
Built in 1619, this gorgeous facade by Florentine sculptor Bertolucci is the most Italian building in Avignon. It has served as a barracks, Town Hall, fire station, and most recently, the Hotel des Monnaies.
A close-up! Look at that rich detail!
The Palais des Papes. The enormity hits you as you turn the corner. Can you believe….this palace can fit four Gothic cathedrals???
This is the former Guard’s Room, now the ticket office!
A bit of ancient mural.
You can see that a lot of the sculpture has gone missing from the arch above the doors – but so has the head from the statue in between the doors!
Walking toward a passageway of arches.
Some rooms have artwork that remains!
Positively, the most beautiful room in the Papal Palace!
A peek at the other side of this great room.
We aren’t sure of their age, or when these wooden panels appeared in the palace.
One of the palace rooms, untouched.
Some of the ceiling vaults, like this one, are in beautiful shape.
A view of an outside corner, with loopholes, for defense.
The “ramparts” – the ancient walls that enclosed the City of Avignon, built in the 1300s.
Walking through one of the gates into the old city.
Some people were painted into the windows of the building facing you.
One of the tree-lined entrance streets to the old town.
Can you see the bird on top of the fountain getting a drink??
This fabulous piece of Art Nouveau was high up on a building as we walked through the city.
Fabulous!! We have no idea why these three fun femme fatales are on a board as we walked along, but they made us smile!

Day 1,634 of Traveling the World | Marseille, France | July 24, 2022

Marseille! It is a city that has been mentioned in every history course that we have taken online over the past three years. It has been an international port since being founded by the ancient Greeks around 600 BC, who called it Massalia. The Black Plague likely entered Europe through the boats that docked here. Whenever a trivia question asks about a major, ancient port on the Mediterranean, the answer is always: Marseille.

We found it to be a city with many faces. We stayed in Vieux Port, the ancient port, and it was very touristy and busy, with loads of people walking around. The oldest part of the city is Le Panier, at quite an elevation from Vieux Port, so we huffed and puffed as we climbed a mountain to get there. But when we did, we were rewarded with delightful shops and cafes, little winding pathways and streets, and tons of street art. We drove through the newer part of Marseille as we entered the city, and it looked a little rough. Neighborhoods called Noailles and La Plaine are to the east of the Vieux Port area. They, too, are where the typical working class people live, filled with street markets and street foods. We were a little apprehensive just driving through the close, winding streets.

The cathedral here is huge. It impresses not with its gold and statues and elaborate stained glass windows, but with its size. It is adorned in the signature Moorish red and white stripes, indicating that this is, indeed, an immigrant city, filled with many cultures. It was mostly too hot while we were here to be very ambitious about walking a lot or seeing many places. We are remembering why we never traveled during the summer! We only went out in the heat long enough to see the things that are pictured, but not much more. The sunny photos do make Marseille look like an idyllic vacation spot – but they came at the cost of just being too hot!

Vieux Port Marseille, the Old Port, in use for commerce and trade for over 2,600 years. This is the beautiful view from our hotel balcony.
The water is a deep blue, and there are literally hundreds of pleasure boats docked here.
There were boats going in and out as we stood and watched, in particular some bigger boats that did short harbor cruises.
We loved this scene! She held her legs straight up for quite a while. They were just enjoying the late afternoon heat with a breeze coming off the water.
WHAT is this fun (or funny) picture, you ask? It is a structure at the Vieux Port, and just has a reflective ceiling so you can look up and see yourself on the ground! We like how it reflected the tops of the three tents.
Eglise Saint-Ferreol les Agustins, across from the Vieux Port. In 1369, the old church was given to the Augustinian hermits. But this terrific white facade (which looks Spanish to us) was constructed in 1875 to replace the one that was destroyed.
Fort Saint-Jean, overlooking the Vieux Port.
St. Laurent Church, on a hilltop above the Vieux Port.
Statue Le Dresseur d’Oursons de Louis Botinelly. Don’t know what the title is all about – we just liked the sense of movement in the statue!
Remembering that Marseille is about all things maritime and the sea, we noticed this etching of a Viking ship high on a building.
Cathedrale La Major, a massive 1800s neo-Byzantine cathedral.
The interior just overwhelms with its massiveness.
This is what it is like to look upward into the gigantic domes that you see outside!
A view from the side.
“We put a LOT of work into assembling this Christmas Village in the cathedral! I know! Let’s leave it up year-round, and we will never have to take it down and put it up again for the rest of our lives!!!”
We don’t get it, either, but yes – that is a string of bras introducing this pretty Art Walk.
A close-up of the easel at the entrance.
There was art on the wall and on easels as you walked down this street.
Being a port, loads of fish was on sale here. One sign said, “10 pieces of sardines for 15 euros!” Every other restaurant offered seafood exclusively.
Pretty walkways were everywhere in Le Panier.
This patio was starting to fill up for lunch.
The peek inside this store looked attractive.
The artwork caught our attention – we didn’t realize we were catching a kiss about to happen!
Another landscaped walkway – they all seemed to be quite a climb in Le Panier!
Sitting down to rest across from this store, we just liked how it looked with its many plants.
See??? Up, up, UP!!
Marseille City Hall, with a heart-shaped anchor sitting in front.
A lion on stilts!
A bull on stilts! Both the lion and bull are on the city’s Coat of Arms, representing commerce and trade, strength and power.

Day 1,631 of Traveling the World | La Seyne-sur-Mer/French Riviera, France | July 21, 2022

Aaaahhhhh – relaxing in the sun-drenched south of France! The world calls it the French Riviera. The French call it Côte d’Azur. We call it Utopia, since there is absolutely nothing to do and not much to see other than the beach and the sea. Oh, and people. Lots of people. We read that the French have been ecstatic that so many Americans have come to France on vacation. There are generally lots of Russians who visit during the summer, but with the war, of course they cannot come this year. Their places have been taken by Americans, with the visitor numbers likely enhanced by Western Europeans trying to cool off in the ocean because of the heat wave.

Our biggest decisions have been what to order at breakfast and what to do about dinner. Since it is so hot, we walk rather laconically and just look around as we get hotter and hotter. It is nice to not care about seeing anything in particular, as we then hightail it back to the hotel for the air-conditioned temperatures inside.

And so, for the first time…no captions under the photos. You can write your own! (Regarding the last photo, though – their idea of a “taco” is very, VERY different than ours!) These have been days of just lazing, reading, doing laundry, walking, sleeping, and catching up in general. We only have three locations left in France over four days before we return our rental car and catch the Eurostar (we found that nobody here says “the Chunnel” any more!) to London. We will be in the same hotel in London for over three weeks, so that will also be a welcome change to moving every few days. But we wouldn’t change our schedule in France for anything, as we got to see so many amazing sights and places that we couldn’t have dreamed of before we arrived.

Day 1,629 of Traveling the World | Lyon, France | July 19, 2022

Lyon! Even though the word lyon loosely translates as “lion,” we haven’t seen a single fountain or building featuring lions. Horses, yes. Fish, yes. Maybe we didn’t look hard enough? But – we got to see one of the most gorgeous, gilded churches we have ever seen, the local basilica. To get there, high on a hill (as you will see in the photos), we took a funicular both ways. We stayed in a part of the city called Presqu’ile – “almost an island.” It is supposedly where everything happens in the city, and is a finger of land between the Rhône and Saone Rivers, built due to a massive 18th century fill project, connecting what was once an island with the rest of the city.

Lyon – Gastronomic Capital of the World!! Unfortunately for us, a lot of their gastronomy features tripe, steak tartare, calves’ brains, and various organ meats, which we do not care for. The cuisine here is heavy on meats, and we tend to like chicken and vegetarian dishes. In addition, we found the perplexing problem of restaurants closing very early in the afternoon and not opening again until much later in the evening. We showed up to one restaurant whose own hours, written on their door, said they were open, only to find it locked up. After that, we called another to ensure it was open, and when we got there (driving several miles), they said it was three more hours before they would be serving food, even though they were “open.” Many of those situations happen to us often in Europe, with seemingly infinite variations. Just when we think we have figured out every question we can ask to ensure that we can eat something, they come up with a new way to foil us. It is turning into quite a game. We should have it mastered in a week or so, the day we leave France for London!

The “traboules” of Lyon almost got by us, but they couldn’t hide from us – we found them. They are Lyon’s own covered passageways from the renaissance, which are fun to discover and walk through (although some that were recommended in articles are boarded shut!). We walked alongside both rivers and felt lucky to see some of Lyon’s famed “frescoes” – buildings that have been completely taken over with painted scenes. Lots of people were standing with us, gawking. And we ventured out to two of Lyon’s sites of Roman ruins. Even though it was very hot, we went to a lot of places. Now we are heading to the Riviera for some beach time and not as much walking as we have been doing. We saw on the news last night that Nantes, where we spent time in May, hit 115 degrees yesterday! Parts of France in the west are experiencing wildfires. It is scorching hot here. We so appreciate air conditioning, when we can get it in Europe!

The Bartholdi Fountain (1892) in Place des Terreaux, designed by 23-year-old Frederic Bartholdi (who also designed the Statue of Liberty). France is represented as a woman in a chariot, with rearing horses symbolizing the four main rivers of France.
Palais de la Bourse de Lyon, the former stock exchange of the city.
Walking along the Rhône River, dotted by pedestrian and vehicular bridges.
Ancient Lugdunum Theater of Lyon, built (perhaps) under Augustus. It was uncovered by chance at the end of the 19th century, and restoration started in 1933. Seating 10,000 people, today it is still used for concerts and events…you can see the tents and stage being erected.
Unique to Lyon is this architectural feature, called “traboules.” They are renaissance passageways that run through the Old City to the Saone River, used by silk workers to travel back and forth to boats without having to walk through rain, for example.
Another traboule – fun to discover and walk through, just because they aren’t found anywhere else!
Lyon has also been called the City of Frescoes. There are about 100 painted buildings here. This is the “library of the city.”
The other side of the “library.
Hotel de Ville de Lyon – City Hall, NOT a hotel!
The Fresque de Lyonnaise, depicting 30 famous citizens of Lyon, both living and dead. There is even a “key” in the painting to identify who’s who! Needless to say, this side of the building is flat and lacks both windows and doors. Quite amazing.
This is the (completely flat, windowless, doorless) side of the building. Is it not fabulous for its detail and depth? Note: More detailed photos of this building can be found on our Instagram site.
Walking along the other river in the city, the Saone, we took this photo of the fabulous Basilica of Notre Dame de Fourviere and the nearby Metallic Tower (which people call the “Faux Eiffel Tower.”)
THIS is the inside of the Basilica! While not the largest church we visited over all these months, we think it is most impressive for its sheer artistic beauty and gold work.
Look at that ceiling vault! It is just jaw-dropping.
There are gold mosaic scenes all around the basilica – this is just one!
Another mosaic down in the crypt, with red/white/blue French candles!
A view upward in the side aisle was no less impressive.
…and don’t forget to look DOWN at the beautiful floor! The entire basilica had these individually placed mosaics making up the floor.
More Roman ruins, this is the Amphitheater of the Three Gauls, built in 19 AD.
We always like to include a typical street scene. It was very busy here, with lots of people, particularly lots of people waiting in very long lines for ice cream. During this heat wave, everybody had either a cold drink or an ice cream cone!
La Fontaine des Jacobins. The women of the fountain are each holding a fish that spouts water, and fishes to either side also spout water. As you can see, children routinely jump in and play in all the fountains of every city. Nobody seems to mind.
🎵🎶 SOMEBODY’S KNOCKIN’ AT THE DOOR 🎶🎵

Day 1,626 of Traveling the World | Bern, Switzerland | July 16, 2022

Bern, Switzerland has a lot more going for it than a clock – the famous Zytglogge – yet that is all we remembered from our one-day visit in 2003! It is on the top of every list of what to see here, but check out our photo and commentary. Yes, it is big; yes, it attracts crowds; but it was a little short on performance, as we were expecting more. We have seen city clocks in Germany that have figurines going around in a circle, and even chasing each other, on the hour.

This time, we took a tour of the National Parliament building. The outside doesn’t do justice to the fabulous interior! It was just magnificent, and the city offers free tours with a great guide, in English. The police checking people into the Parliament Building were gruff and unpleasant, which surprised us for a country like Switzerland. But their unpleasantness didn’t ruin the tour. The tour gave us an up-close and personal look at the building. We have been on tours of many centers of government, including the US Senate and the British Parliament. This is the first time we remember being able to sit in the chairs of the members, which made it a very down-to-earth experience.

While in town we visited some churches and just walked the streets of Old Town. There are statues with fountains, as we show below, in the middle of the streets here and there. The streets are lined with covered arcades, which cooled us from the unrelenting sun and heat. Did you see that there is a heat wave in Europe? It is supposed to reach 100 degrees here early next week. We have been in several hotels with no air conditioning, so that would be most challenging. Good thing we have our small fans! At night, they provide just enough air movement to feel comfortable.

WHY are we starting this set of photos with etched glass windows? Well…because they are not! Etched, that is. These unique window decorations in the Bern Parliament building are actual embroidery, harkening back to the city’s textile beginnings. There are six of these windows, and the embroidery is inset in a wooden frame that fits over the windows. There are another six for when they get swapped out for cleaning!
The plain gray Bern Parliament’s exterior gives no hint of what lies inside!
Inside, there is a stained glass dome, statuary of the founding fathers, and stained glass windows depicting Bern’s past. The dome includes a separate panel for all of Bern’s cantons when the building was constructed.
One of the Parliament chambers, with a glorious chandelier and a beautiful wall mural depicting Swiss history.
Even the corridors are quite highly embellished!
Looking more like a figure from an advertisement, we have no idea what she has to do with Swiss history, but she is on the corridor ceiling!
The walls of the corridor look to be marble, but it is covered wood. The builders wanted to see if it was possible to fool people, and it was! It did!
Bern’s famous, famous clock, the Zytglogge. We thought that when it struck noon, the figures would turn and we would get a show. The audience had their cameras ready for photos and videos. The clock struck 12, there was silence, and a little bird went, “Aah.” That was it. End of show. The entire audience laughed, shrugged, and walked away.
This is a view of the Zytglogge from down the street. The statues with fountains that you see dot the Old Town, and shady arcades line both sides of most of the streets.
A close-up of one of the statues and fountain.
This lovely old “balcony” is across from the clock.
The many-spired Bern History Museum, dating to 1894. It is very casual here – the man sitting on the fountain was fully in the water, and when we passed a few minutes later, he was sprawled out, lying on his back, smoking a cigarette.
A glimpse of the Aare River and Bern Cathedral from the Kirchenfeldbrucke, one of the city bridges.
Many streets, like this one, displayed the flags of all 26 cantons.
One of the old existing murals on the front entrance of the cathedral, along with some of the carved figures.
The inside soars, with angels at the top of the column capitals. Many more rows of statues are above the angel, including a Nativity scene, and the ceiling is decorated with symbols of the city as well as Christianity.
The ceiling vault, windows, and columns make for a gorgeous scene.
Danse Macabre (Dance of Death) window in the cathedral, dating from 1516-1519. Danse Macabre was popular in the Late Middle Ages, having started with the Black Death of the 14th century, reminding people that “you are dust, and into dust you shall return.” This window shows death (the skeleton) taking people from every walk of life.
A close-up of the magnificent ceiling, with Bern’s symbol, the Bear, in the middle gold circle. And look at all those faces staring at you!
We liked the steel design on this door in the church!
The very elaborate organ.
One of the city arcades.
An overlook outside the Parliament building gave us this great view.
This is just called the Old Clock, not to be confused with the Zytglogge, even though both are in Old Town.
An interesting tower, with Starbucks at street level.
Church of St. Peter and St. Paul. The outer door was open, but locked gates to the aisles met us inside, so this photo was taken from in between the bars!
The gentle simplicity of this side chapel was simply lovely.
The city theater! “Stepping out” for the evening?
Checking for allergies in a shop window!
We are not sure what these last two sculptures are, with this one created out of metal…
…and this one of plaster, maybe? See the head smiling at you??

Day 1,623 of Traveling the World | Zurich, Switzerland | July 13, 2022

One of the reasons we love having reservations and plans that are cancellable is getting an email from friends saying, “Hey! You should come visit us in Zurich!” We had not included Switzerland in this trip, but we looked at our itinerary and figured we could spend a few days in this gorgeous country. So we cancelled our previous plans, made reservations in Zurich, and headed this way. Driving from Colmar, France, on the back roads as we love to do, we passed through the High Black Forest. In addition to farms and villages, we also drove through an area with crystal-clear lakes and, because we were so high in the mountains, several ski lifts. It was spectacular.

So, for those views, and for a wonderful evening of lively conversation and delicious Lebanese cuisine, we have to thank our friends Yasmine and Onur. They struck up a conversation with us on a subway in Sofia, Bulgaria in 2019, and we saw them again the next day while we were on a tour in the city. We have had an email correspondence since then, so it was great to meet up and talk the night away. They are so interesting and knowledgeable! And, of course, they speak multiple languages fluently – their English is as good as US natives! We told them that we are just the opposite. We have studied several foreign languages, and can get by reading signs and menus, etc., but don’t truly speak any of them.

As is true with most of Europe, Zurich was occupied/founded by the Romans (although settlements 6,400 years old have been found here), who called the city Turicum. You can see the small leap between that name and the present name of Zurich. We found it to be very youthful, open, and utterly delightful. The Old Town is divided by the River Limmat, and the two most ubiquitous flags around town are the Swiss and the Ukrainian (even though Switzerland, of course, is neutral). A free walking tour filled in some extra interesting details that we had been unaware of. We wouldn’t mind coming back for a longer period of time. One note, though – Switzerland is the most expensive country we have been to in the world. You may have seen on the news that because of concerns about the world economy, the dollar has been rising with respect to many foreign currencies. For the first time in 20 years, the euro and US dollar are at par and the Swiss franc almost the same (about $1.02 today). So, a BK fish sandwich combo in France costs 5 euros. Here, the fish sandwich combo is 18 Swiss francs! It is bordering on four times what you will pay elsewhere. Most common meals are in the area of 30-50 Swiss francs, which is eye-popping. But for a few days, we don’t mind at all, as life here is so great. Just advising our readers to be ready for sticker shock!

Old Town Zurich lines both sides of the Limmat River, which empties into Lake Zurich just a few blocks from this site, which features St. Peter’s Church clock tower.
Swans on the river at night.
The Fraumunster Church, with its striking tower, is one of the four primary churches in Zurich, built on the site of a former abbey for aristocratic women.
The Fraumunster’s cloister, known as the Kreuzgang. The wall frescoes depict the history of the women who lived here.
The Kreuzgang has this lovely arcade.
More of the frescoes.
Zurich’s Opera House, which sits adjacent to the lake.
In front of the Opera House is this fountain and sitting areawith the water attracting children happy to get wet in the heat of day!
Lake Zurich! It is so pretty, with lots of ducks and swans and a marina farther down with many docked boats.
Heidi the Zurich Cow overlooks the Niederdorf district, and either side of her body depicts painted scenes of buildings along the Limmat River.
Grossmunster (the men’s counterpart to Fraumunster), whose twin towers date to 1492. They are one of the city’s landmarks and are commonly called the “salt and pepper shakers.” Locals make plans to “meet at the salt and pepper!”
The most striking feature inside the Grossmunster is this trio of intense, gorgeous stained glass windows, which are front and center behind the main altar.
In the crypt downstairs, under the main altar, is this parade of ancient Roman columns and a statue of Charlemagne.
There were more metal hanging signs in Zurich, some of which were very complex, like this one.
This one features the doubled-headed eagle, associated with the concept of Empire.
A grasshopper!
We were told several times that Zurich’s public water fountains have drinkable, pure (and delicious) water. THIS small fountain periodically has the water turned off, and the City hooks up wine, instead, so that everyone can have a free drink – they just don’t announce the times of day it will occur!
A view of the river from an overlook. You can see the City’s salt and pepper shakers, of course!
On this street in Old Town, many centuries ago there was a competition to build better, more elaborate balconies after the first one (the one in the photo) went up! They are enclosed to shelter residents from the cold that sets in around September/October and often lasts until the following June, according to Yasmine and Onur!
The tower of St. Peter’s Church, with a clock larger than Big Ben!
The Swiss flag is popular on this street.
Lights festooning this store at night made for a pretty alcove.
The eyes are watching you!