Zurich Insurance has held their CIO conference every summer as long as Tom's been associated with the company. This year was no different except that the conference was in June rather than July. If he's going to Europe, I'm going along. The complication for us was we already had tickets to a concert at the Hollywood Bowl during the conference week when the dates were announced! We had to do any travel in addition to Zurich on the front end of the trip. I left Tom in Zurich to come back for the concert. I wasn't about to miss Andrea Bocelli - he would have been so disappointed!
|Eva and Roger|
We have good friends from our Zurich days who have repatriated to the UK. We had a very enjoyable reunion in their garden shortly after our arrival. (although we were very tired, we needed to push through and try to adjust our body clocks to the local time)
|Roger, Eva and Tom|
|so great to be with Eva again!|
An interest Eva and I share is food - she prepared a delicious dinner for us.
We spent Sunday in pairs. Eva and I went to Kew Gardens and the men went to the British Museum. I knew Eva and I would do way too much talking to be inside in a museum! Kew is also known as the Royal Botanic Gardens. What a beautiful place!
|one end of Temperate House|
We timed our visit to the Temperate House to also see the aerial show.
|musical accompaniment was haunting, but beautiful|
|safety harnesses are for sissies|
We only enjoyed the Palm House from outside. It was warmer in London than forecast and an interior look would have been unbearable on already overheated bodies. It must be a great place to be on a chilly day.
Kew has something for all ages. Children have the chance to hunt for dragons on the grounds. We didn't intentionally search, but easily happened upon a few. Because of their size and colors, they were impossible to miss.
|notice pagoda on the wing|
The pagoda at Kew is almost ready to reopen after renovation. Every point has a dragon on guard.
Queen Charlotte had 14 children - maybe that's why she looks exhausted!
|boys in red and girls in black|
|nice view from the castle|
Of course, Kew has plenty of gorgeous flowers and trees. This is just a sampling.
|beautiful and fragrant|
|these remind me of popsicles|
We had such a great day. I definitely want to go back. It would be a different experience with each season. I'd also like to walk along the Treetop Walkway. We decided it was too hot to try, but there's always next time!
While Tom was slaving away at meetings, Eva and I toured the Royal Opera House (ROH). Unfortunately, the guide started by saying "don't even think about photos." I understood why we shouldn't photograph the ballet workout we were able to watch, but the rest is a mystery. Since we were returning in the evening for a performance of Swan Lake, I knew I'd have another chance.
|Royal Opera House exterior - buildings across the street make photography challenging|
|ballerina sculpture near the Royal Opera House|
Covent Garden is also near the Royal Opera House and a fun place to wander around - lots of shops and restaurants. And maybe you'll also happen upon an opera hopeful trying to make some extra money.
|Covent Garden interior|
|ROH interior staircase|
It is possible to have dinner before a performance at one of the restaurants inside the ROH, but we opted against that. Instead we chose another restaurant in the vicinity and had a very nice meal at a more reasonable price.
|it was fun to have a reason to put on a dress!|
Thanks to Eva, I now have my own pair of opera glasses and guess what? They work nicely for the ballet, too!
Next stop, Cologne, Germany.
Tom had an invitation to a conference in the area which made it possible to also visit both Opa and our friends, Hartmut and Inge Handt.
While he was at the conference, I amused myself in the little town of Bergisch Gladbach.
|interesting cross at the altar|
I spent the rest of the day slumming it at Schloss Bensberg (our hotel and location of conference). Don't feel sorry for me.
This tower is used on all their advertising and replicas were on the room keys - they were heavy!
I took a photo of a sign in town showing the whole complex since there's no way I could capture it all.
If you are substantially poor, you can use this carriage when you have your wedding celebration at the Schloss. The Rolls Royce was in the garage.
We've known the Handts for over 30 years! Hartmut stayed in our home often when he traveled with a German choir visiting our church in Westfield, NJ. The T-shirt he is wearing has the monogram of JS Bach, a very popular composer of both choirs.
|we had a lovely afternoon with Hartmut and Inge|
|with Monika, leader of the walking group and a fellow chorister|
|Luca, horn player without glasses|
My young colleague from the Posaunenchor, Luca, let me know that his youth band had an outdoor concert scheduled for the evening of our arrival. Perfect timing. It was also a beautiful evening to be outside.
One could argue that all of Switzerland is "Heidiland", but the Swiss limit it to this region.
In order to get up to Flumserberg, we rode in a cable car. The windows are scratched up from people transporting their skis (no good photos from inside), but a scan of the ticket gives an idea of what it's like.
Quintessential Switzerland: hills with cows grazing, but also a track for human amusement (in all seasons). We saw people riding go-carts down the long tracks.
|soaking in the view|
|very fun and sophisticated jungle gym - lots of things to climb and zip along|
|I'm glad he packed this backpack!|
|Wallensee below Flumserberg|
After a great outing, we met friends in Zurich for dinner. It was another beautiful evening to eat outdoors.
|friends through tennis: Margaret, me, Pat|
|the husbands: Rusty, Tom and Jim|
|a very musical family!|
|our hosts, Petra and Erich Hunold|
We took a walk in the afternoon and saw some lovely views of Lake Zurich with Horgen in the distance.
|Lake Zurich with Horgen on the right coast|
|unplanned color coordination|
|pond near Hunold's home|
|the friendship began with the two of us|
|definitely fun to have an 18 year old friend (Luca)|
Leaving Zurich, there was one more opportunity to go through airport security. Guess what? My carry-on was once again chosen for closer scrutiny! This time my round cheese was mistaken for a large container of hand cream or other contraband. Really? Leaving Switzerland and you're surprised someone has cheese? Airports are the worst part of traveling, but I'm still going to do it. Train travel within Europe is often a much better option, but with the UK involved, it would've taken too long.