After my special birthday breakfast with my cousins, I set off on my own to do a bit of exploration. The day before, I had purchased a day pass for unlimited use of the buses, trains and boats in the entire of canton of Zurich. (Cantons are the Swiss equivalent of our states.)
I wanted to see what the weather was going to be before deciding on what I was going to do. I walked down the Bahnhoffstrasse, Zurich's most deluxe shopping street...
...and then I wandered over to the Old Town which is built along the banks of the River Limmat. I had already visited the Old Town and its historic sites when I was in Switzerland four years ago.
It looked as if the day was going to be at least partly sunny, so I walked to the bank of Lake Zurich and got on one of the boats that travel the length of the lake.
I left the city behind, although most of the shore is quite highly developed with what I am sure are astronomically expensive homes and apartment buildings.
Picturesque churches are a reminder of the little villages which once dotted the shore.
The cruise takes over two hours, and stops at numerous lakeside towns along the way. As we headed south the skies became more cloudy. But the southernmost town on the lake, Rapperswil, glowed in a patch of momentary sunlight.
Rapperswil is the last stop on the cruise, and is an interesting destination for tourists. In the Middle Ages the town grew wealthy from trade, and the Counts of Rapperswil built a castle on the hill above.
Those who climb up to the castle are rewarded with excellent views of the town and the lake.
The castle dates back to the early 1200s. Today it is the Polish Museum. By the late 1800s the castle had fallen into disrepair. It was purchased by a wealthy Polish exile who had moved to Switzerland. He and other emigres refurbished the castle and assembled a collection of artifacts related to Poland's history and culture.
Next to the castle is the Church of St. John which also dates to the 1200s.
The old town at the base of the castle hill is touristy but picturesque.
Rapperswil is known as the "City of Roses" and has several public rose gardens.
After exploring Rapperswil, I took the much faster train back to Zurich.
The food was good and the portions were ample. I was not surprised that my bill was around $75!
I took the train back to Uster, where Brigitta and Peter live. Later that evening they invited me out to a very pleasant little bar for a drink. It was a great birthday, and, thanks to Brigitta and Peter, a fantastic week in Switzerland!