Following Basel, we headed to the suburbs of Zurich in time to make dinner with some lovely family friends. It was so nice to be welcomed into a real home for a few days in the middle of our trip - the delicious home-cooked meals, light-hearted teasing, warm smiles, and open washing machine were exactly what we needed to recharge for the rest of the trip.
For our first day, we drove out to Stein am Rhein, a well-preserved city on the Rhine river with beautifully painted medieval buildings. We had so much fun meandering down the alleys and exploring the old Cloister in town. After lunch, we jaunted over to Rheinfall, the largest waterfall in Europe (by volume). The sound alone was incredible! There was a walkway at the base of the falls where you were completely surrounded by the white-noise of rushing water.... it was amazing. Also, while we were there a woman was filming a very.... um... heart-felt (?) music video using the falls as a dramatic backdrop. It was one of the most ridiculous displays I've ever seen.
The following day, we took the ferry into Zurich, intending to check out their Saturday markets and explore the city. Unfortunately Zurich had other plans - the Zurich Street Parade, a huge party that takes over the lakefront with several stages of techno/electronic/dance music and general tomfoolery, was also scheduled for that day. So the market was canceled. Instead, we jumped right into exploring some of our host's favorite parts of Zurich, including a hidden fountain and a killer sweets shop. We also had a nice time watching the parade of festival-goers stream from the main train station down to the waterfront in their technicolor wigs and bizarre body paint.
In the afternoon I took a nice, long swim down the coast of Lake Zurich. Along the way I noticed that the only people swimming - I mean really swimming - were either under the age of 15 or over the age of 50. Peculiar, right? All of my age-peers were much more concerned with strategically sunbathing and being cool to actually enjoy the water. I guess we can add my preference for swimming over not-swimming to the reasons I'll never be cool.