Zurich, 2008

More memorable than the boat ride, the city walk, the autumn foliage and the heavy fondue dinner with my primary school friend, perhaps, were my encounters with a couple of colourful characters in Zurich.

The expert map reader

The receptionist at our hotel was describing a restaurant menu to us while we wait for our room to be ready. He looked apprehensive when he got to tripe. "Don't worry, we're Chinese," QW assured him.

Meanwhile an American lady was in the lobby waiting for her coffee. She told us she was from Washington DC. As the receptionist served her coffee she started complaining about his colleague, who had given her a German language newspaper when she asked about the weather. Then she asked the receptionist about bus stops. He tried to explain it to her but couldn't quite get a word in. He said, "Let me show you on the map."

She said, "Oh, I have a map. Maps are what I have. I have maps from London, from Paris. I know how to read maps. I don't need your map."

The pianist

"Can you throw in a brownie as well?" the well-mannered American man said as I was buying him a sandwich. He had started by asking for a coffee. In the end I got him both, but not the brownie. He was from Philadelphia, looking for work as a pianist. He'd been in Geneva previously, nothing there for him.

He said, "They had lots of pianos. On display only."

Quote of the trip

"The fence electrocuted my ass," said QW in Uetliberg, after going just a little too close to take a picture.

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