Zürich to home

Steps: 13,496

This will be the last post for this trip, as today we headed home. We flew from Zürich, connecting in London, landing in Vancouver, then driving back down to Seattle. It was a long trip, but it’s so good to be home and reunited with Donut.

Zürich

I decided against being ambitious this morning, so we just packed up and checked out of our hotel. We took the street tram back to the main train station, where we attempted to transfer to the S-Bahn (the commuter rail system) to take us to the airport. I had been psyched about taking yet another service, but it was not to be. We missed the S-Bahn and the next connection was an intercity regional service, the same service we had taken from Lucerne to Zürich.

At the Zürich airport, we breezed through check-in and security with Club Europe (BA’s name for their continental business class product), and in no time at all we were among the perfumed air and glossy surfaces of the duty-free shop. I have never had such an easy time at an international airport, it was amazing.

You may recall that I was psyched about grabbing some more Läderach chocolates at the airport, but much to my dismay, I had been completely wrong about them. They had no locations whatsoever in the airport. Instead, I had to settle for Sprüngli chocolates. I have to admit that I did not like them quite as much, although they seem to compete in the same market space (also yay cheap chocolate truffles!).

Swiss D Lounge. This is the buffet section; the other half of the lounge consists of armchairs etc.

Swiss D Lounge. This is the buffet section; the other half of the lounge consists of armchairs etc.

As we had decided against getting brunch in the city before our departure, I was starving. Rather than going to the BA lounge, Hide took me to the Swiss Lounge. There they had two soups on offer, both rather than disappointingly simple. Then I realized that the Swiss approach to soup must be the sides they add to it. Once I figured out that secret, I had myself three bowls.

Sides for the soup. Those fried puffs are addictive. To make up for them, I also took huge helpings of the veggies; that big chunk missing in the corner is all me.

Sides for the soup. Those fried puffs are addictive. To make up for them, I also took huge helpings of the veggies; that big chunk missing in the corner is all me.

They also had something more substantial than soup. This potato gratin was decent, although I have to say I'm a bit tired of potato and cheese after our foray into Swiss food.

They also had something more substantial than soup. This potato gratin was decent, although I have to say I’m a bit tired of potato and cheese after our foray into Swiss food.

The business class flight from Zürich to London was better than I expected, though there wasn’t power at the seat. The seats are arranged 3-3, but the middle seat in each case is blocked off with a table. They also served food on a mere two-hour flight. I think Hide was completely passed out for the whole flight, so he probably never even saw the food.

Chicken salad with three different curry rubs. It killed me a little bit inside, but I didn't finish my food. I wanted to leave room for the first class meals, this wasn't good enough to use up too much stomach space. There was also a crème brûlée, which was about as good as what you could expect from airplane food.

Chicken salad with three different curry rubs. It killed me a little bit inside, but I didn’t finish my food. I wanted to leave room for the first class meals, this wasn’t good enough to use up too much stomach space. There was also a crème brûlée, which was about as good as what you could expect from airplane food.

London

Heathrow was an absolute zoo. I don’t remember Heathrow being terrible at all when we first landed in Europe, but departures is apparently completely different. Although we had access to a number of priority lanes and so forth, transiting through security still felt like it took an amazingly long time (and we had already gone through passport control in Zürich). And once you were through, the crowds were as thick as anything I’ve experienced in Europe so far (being crushed on Cromwell Rd between the V&A and Natural History Museums, for example).

As first class passengers, we had access to the Concorde Room, BA’s flagship lounge exclusive to first class. Hide showed me to it and made sure I could get in before he disappeared to do some duty-free scotch shopping. The Concorde Room impressed me for about 20 seconds, before the loud, crowded environment grated on me. I couldn’t find a seat with a damn outlet, and the only peaceful, relatively empty part of the lounge seemed to be the dining room.

As I was extremely cranky and hungry by this point, so I went out to search for Hide. He was surprised and disappointed to see me, but shepherded me back and accompanied me for a meal in the within-lounge restaurant.

Beef bresaolo with UK beef. It was really good.

Beef bresaolo with UK beef. It was really good.

Salmon with potatoes and tomatoes and stuff. The salmon was cooked perfectly, tender and juicy and melt-in-your-mouth fatty.

Salmon with potatoes and tomatoes and stuff. The salmon was cooked perfectly, tender and juicy and melt-in-your-mouth fatty.

I was feeling much better, and then even better when we found a seat with an outlet. Then I realized I was dumb, the outlets were hidden too cleverly for me, and there were probably more seats with outlets than I had at first supposed. Unfortunately, we had very little time to relax, and before my blog post was done and my phone charged (I was only at 25%!), we had to leave for our gate.

Terminal 5 in Heathrow is ridiculous enough that we had to take an elevator and a people mover in order to get to our gate. It wasn’t a problem, because Hide is Japanese enough to make sure we always have plenty of time to get where we’re going (it’s just when I’m the one doing the scheduling that we have to run or miss connections).

I had been underwhelmed by our preferential treatment, or lack thereof, in Heathrow; to be honest, our experience was not nearly as good as the business class experience from Zürich to London. It wasn’t until I set foot on the aircraft that everything changed. After standing in the jet way with the hoi polloi, I handed over my boarding pass, per routine, and the flight attendant immediately snapped to attention. “Ms Y, please come this way,” as she personally escorted me to my seat and brought me to the attention of the first class cabin crew.

LHR to YVR

I won’t recap the first class seat or the cabin; everything was the same as the first time. As I settled back into my throne-like seat, I sighed and thought, “Finally the experience I expected.” It seems one quickly grows used to luxury (or at least, I do).

The food on this flight was much better than the food on the flight to leaving from Vancouver. Hide says it’s home airport advantage (or perhaps home country advantage, I forget which). The difference is significant.

Amuse-bouche; goat cheese on top of diced veggies, garnished with citrus zest. Fantastically refreshing combination of flavours.

Amuse-bouche; goat cheese on top of diced veggies, garnished with citrus zest. Fantastically refreshing combination of flavours.

Starter: poached lobster with salmon and dill stuffed courgette flower and pea purée. Everything was good, but the salmon-dill stuffing in the flower head was absolutely delicious. Jamie Oliver, one of our favourite celebrity chefs, is always going on about how courgette flowers are edible. We hadn't had a chance to try one ourselves until they were on sale in the local Chinese grocery store, and we found that they were absolutely delicious, with a lovely gentle sweetness. That combined with the salmon-dill stuffing, mm, yummy!

Starter: poached lobster with salmon and dill stuffed courgette flower and pea purée. Everything was good, but the salmon-dill stuffing in the flower head was absolutely delicious. Jamie Oliver, one of our favourite celebrity chefs, is always going on about how courgette flowers are edible. We hadn’t had a chance to try one ourselves until they were on sale in the local Chinese grocery store, and we found that they were absolutely delicious, with a lovely gentle sweetness. That combined with the salmon-dill stuffing, mm, yummy!

Starter: goat cheese mousse with pickled vegetable salad and elderflower dressing.  Again, the salad reflected a delightfully harmonious and refreshing combination of flavours. Solid composition!

Starter: goat cheese mousse with pickled vegetable salad and elderflower dressing. Again, the salad reflected a delightfully harmonious and refreshing combination of flavours. Solid composition!

Seared fillet of Welsh seabass with mussel, crab and tagliatelle with a lemon, ginger and parsley sauce. Of course it's a bit difficult to judge pasta after you've had it in Italy (apparently), but still an enjoyable dish. Some parts of the execution could probably have been better.

Seared fillet of Welsh seabass with mussel, crab and tagliatelle with a lemon, ginger and parsley sauce. Of course it’s a bit difficult to judge pasta after you’ve had it in Italy (apparently), but still an enjoyable dish. Some parts of the execution could probably have been better.

Roasted breast of Gressingham duck with duck confit roulette and a summer truffle and tarragon sauce. A bit underseasoned, and I didn't really appreciate the roulette, but the sauce ... Mushrooms are the tastiest things ever!

Roasted breast of Gressingham duck with duck confit roulette and a summer truffle and tarragon sauce. A bit underseasoned, and I didn’t really appreciate the roulette, but the sauce … Mushrooms are the tastiest things ever!

Dessert: Valrhona chocolate cheesecake, who could say no? Despite being, without a doubt, very full? Also, Hide convinced me into a dessert wine, then refused to help me finish it. That's the real reason why I didn't get any sleep, because that's how many hours it took me to finish it.

Dessert: Valrhona chocolate cheesecake, who could say no? Despite being, without a doubt, very full? Also, Hide convinced me into a dessert wine, then refused to help me finish it. That’s the real reason why I didn’t get any sleep, because that’s how many hours it took me to finish it.

On this flight, I hardly slept at all. I didn’t feel sleepy until halfway through the flight, and then it didn’t seem worth it to have them make my bed. Besides, I had a lot of blogging to do, although I did watch Kingsman in chunks, as a break from blogging. Amusingly enough, it seemed that half the first class cabin was watching Kingsman.

Afternoon tea: Buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserves. These scones look small, but boy are they dense. Or maybe, that's because of the clotted cream. I used up nearly all of mine. I've decided clotted cream is my new favourite British thing. It's like a cross between heavy cream, whipped cream, crème fraîche, and butter. In all the best ways.

Afternoon tea: Buttermilk scones served with clotted cream and strawberry preserves. These scones look small, but boy are they dense. Or maybe, that’s because of the clotted cream. I used up nearly all of mine. I’ve decided clotted cream is my new favourite British thing. It’s like a cross between heavy cream, whipped cream, crème fraîche, and butter. In all the best ways.

Afternoon tea: a selection sandwiches, including crayfish with mango, roast beef with horseradish cream, egg mayonnaise  with rocket, and smoked Applewood cheese with onion. I was so full from the scones that I couldn't even try all of them.

Afternoon tea: a selection of sandwiches, including crayfish with mango, roast beef with horseradish cream, egg mayonnaise with rocket, and smoked Applewood cheese with onion. I was so full from the scones that I couldn’t even try all of them.

I was somewhat less sad to wave good-bye to the first class experience this time around, if only because I always love coming home to Vancouver so much. The Vancouver airport is by far my favourite in the world, and for me, the best part has always been international arrivals. I will freely admit that much of my opinion is clouded by sentimental emotions of the homecoming variety.

Home

Getting through the airport and taking the Canada Line/SkyTrain back to my mom’s (where we had left our car) took longer than I thought it would. But we met a nice lady on the train who was happy to talk to us about our travels, and during the ride, I got great views of our mountains. I’m happy to report that they’re no less beautiful than the Swiss Alps, and I plan for our next few travelling adventures to be more domestic in nature.

The one thing that didn’t take longer was stopping at my mom’s before driving down to Seattle. They had 1) remembered precisely when we were supposed to arrive, 2) had everything ready for us, 3) didn’t press us to stay any longer than necessary. We’ll have to repay them with a proper visit soon.

The drive back down to Seattle was brutal. Since I hadn’t slept on the flight, like a fool, Hide had to do the driving, and he wasn’t in great shape himself (despite sleeping for much of the flight). I passed out when we got onto the highway, and before I knew it, Hide was calling me up and we were at the border. When I realized that Hide was tired too, I tried to stay awake and keep talking to him, but it was rough. I was practically talking in my sleep at times. Finally, when we had already gotten to Everett, Hide couldn’t make it any further and had to pull over and grab a coffee. Brutal.

But we made it to the dog sitter’s, went, dream-like, through the elaborate dog greeting ritual for long-time absent fur-parents, and finally got home. Lights out.

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