Zurich Walks

Despite the (almost constant) threat of rain during my most recent visit to Zurich, we managed to get a decent amount of walking time around the city and saw some lovely sights along the way.

There's more street art in Zurich than I was expecting, and not just usual spray can graffiti. This was my favourite.

There’s more street art in Zurich than I was expecting, and not just usual spray can graffiti. This was my favourite.

Although they are not my favourite things to walk up, the hills in Zurich mean views up and down streets are more interesting and varied.

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There are also green spaces to be found; the weather was nice to enough to allow me to enjoy them in sunshine.




At one point, I walked alongside the river and saw someone taking a picture of what seemed to be ordinary pavement, but then I looked closer and saw lizards all along the concrete, warming themselves in the sun.




These ‘dam days

Spring is still fighting to make itself heard here in Holland. The weather is overwhelmingly underwhelming and days of decent sunshine without wind are few and far between. There are the odd breakthroughs, though:


The babies were very sweet, but the mum/dad duck was bloody loud and annoying. (David Attenborough’s job is safe, clearly.)


Some lovely early* morning sunshine…….. *In my world, ‘early’ = 10:00


These flowers clearly think it’s spring, and who am I to argue with them?


This is my favourite of the 4. I had to twist upside down by my bedroom window to get the angle right, and I think it works.




Royal Artis Zoo – again

If you’re a loyal reader of this blog then you may remember that we covered the Royal Artis Zoo in Amsterdam quite a few months ago. However, as we all know, animals never give the same show twice and as my mum was over for a visit (her first!) we decided to spend a very sunny afternoon at the zoo.

I’d heard a story from someone else about the lions killing and eating a heron that dared to enter their enclosure. And this visit, I experienced it first hand.


As we approached the lion enclosure we heard a loud squawk and then saw a female lion pouncing on something and roar the other lions away. A quick bite and shake later, and it was bye-bye birdy. As you can see from the picture above, the lion got stuck in straight away. Sadly, the bird’s mate stayed around afterwards, watching the scene out of reach on the top of some trees.


One of the many other, surviving herons which stalk the zoo. I expect the keepers don’t mind when the lions take a swipe at them – population control and all that. (Note: this heron isn’t the one who kept watch from the tree tops.)

The other herons had their own feeding time and continued the work of the food chain. Here they are hanging around, waiting to pounce while the penguins were fed:


Here are some other good shots from the day, including two of the elephants – my favourites. The baby is called Mumba. So adorable.

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The gardens there are still in bloom, making it a beautiful place to simply sit and relax.


Lastly, another of my favourites – the prairie dog. So funny, especially when they make their high-pitched squeak, as it sets the others off. As you can see in the photo below, they’re not really dogs, they’re rodents.


I want one.


Hailing from the U.K, I thought I understood the character of a rainy place.

Red Shoes has obviosuly reached that level of saturation which leads one to philosophize: “Fuck it; I can’t get any wetter”, as the pneumonia sets in.

But Amsterdam lies to the east of miles upon miles of unbroken North Sea and enjoys a westerly prevailing wind.


This makes the weather highly variable; one would be wise to take an unbrella out for the day even with the bluest of skies above. Within half an hour the weather can, and often does, switch from nice to downpour and back again.

Tourist boat having a grand old time

The Dutch have a great word for this: wolkbreuk; literrally ‘cloud burst’.

To the Zee


There is exactly 1 (+/- 1) advantage of living in Haarlem, rather than Amsterdam; cycling to the beach in 25minutes. This should of course be offset by the number of beach worthy days per year (7). These pictures document the journey between Haarlem and Zandvoort (the beach) on one of the first warm days of 2013.




The west coast of the Netherlands is stacked high with well-maintained dunes to keep the sea at bay, and it is possible to cycle through these national parks or through some rather exclusive suburbs.



I was quite impressed in all honesty: the water is not nearly as brown as I expected.

The last village at the end of the road.


Peyresq, Alpes de Haute-Provence, France.




Peyresq is literally at the end of the road. It ends in the village plaza (‘plaza’ is a bit generous; dusty circle is more apt). There are two permanent residents in Peyresq. This is also the minimum number of people required by French custom to be provided with a postal and road cleaning service: every day these two residents have post, it must be brought to them; all winter, the alpine road must be kept snow-free.


I stayed here for a ten day summer school. This is a long time at the edge of civilization, and re-integration into the Nice metropolis was scary (I shirked Monaco). This isolation breeds companionship, making Peyresq a perfect location for interactive summer schools and the like.