Newest Review: ... rate of approx 2.2 to the £, this made it about £2.50 for a glass of wine, far cheaper than the scaremongers had made me feel it woul... more
You would be cuckoo to not let this Swiss Roll her eyes at you!
Member Name: angusreid
Date: 15/10/05, updated on 15/10/05 (439 review reads)
Advantages: Clean, realxing, authentic, historical, charming, quaint and beautiful.
Disadvantages: Erm, hmm, not sure.
How thrilling it was to feel that boyish excitement about visiting a new county, exploring new sites, tasting new cultures.
Being the inquisitive kind of chap that I am, I insisted on reading as many reviews as I could find on both Dooyoo and good old fantasy Ciaoland. Yet I could feel myself brimming up with outrage and horror at the standard of the reviews and also the information that was within these somewhat half-hearted attempts to describe what I can only say was one of the most romantic, laid back and enjoyable city’s I have visited in my life.
Yes, I know it does not have the mood of Paris, the atmosphere of Amsterdam or the art of Barcelona, but none of these three city’s have ever made me feel comfortable the moment I set eyes upon them.
The fantasies I heard about Zurich, including that of my own mother would you believe, but I do not let her write on here as the chains on here bed do not allow her access to the computer. I read it was expensive and a bit cold in aura rather than temperature, but this was far from the truth.
I flew into Zurich airport and had my bags collected and with my little love bug Sherry next to me, boarded a free shuttle bus to the Moevenpick Hotel in Regensdorf, some 10K outside of Zurich City centre. Now people are very polite in Switzerland, in fact it is a bit squeaky clean to start with, until you get use to the fact that sarcasm is taboo and that they are genuinely nice people. It was a ten minute journey to the hotel but in darkness, so I could not really share any info about it, other than it was a bit hilly. I will mention the fact that when you come into land at Zurich, the City lights are an absolutely breathtaking sight and worth the push to get a window seat at all costs.
I wont dwell on the hotel too much as I may well do a review of that another boring afternoon. I will mention the fact that we went for a drink at the bar shortly after arriving and I was more than pleasantly surprised by the prices. The purpose of our visit by the way was to go to a wedding of Sherry’s long term friend, Rosemary, a Swiss/Italian. Sherry once worked for Zurich insurance, hence how they met and have kept in touch ever since. Rosemary is lovely and as wild as they come, her Italian influence far outweighs her Swiss reserved charm. So anyway, the relevance of telling you that is so that you know when I tell you the accommodation was booked for us rather than I choosing it, why we stayed where we did. Savvy?
Anyway, the bar prices were 10.80 Swiss Francs (They do not use the euro although most shops will take them) and at an exchange rate of approx 2.2 to the £, this made it about £2.50 for a glass of wine, far cheaper than the scaremongers had made me feel it would be. We met our friends in the swing swing bar (titter) and I found out beer was only £3 a glass, about 330ml at a guess, so no big scare there either. So our first night in Switzerland eased our fears of price hikes.
The morning arrived and we were being picked up from the Hotel at 1 for the wedding ceremony, so we decided to miss breakfast stay in bed until a bit later, luxury. I went to the supermarket located next door (Sherry sent me, I did not volunteer.) and I purchased 6 1.5 litres bottles of water, 4 croissants, some fruity things, a lemon and a large packet of Paprika crisps for a total some of 9 SF, or £4 so again, prices seemed to be reasonable here.
Right, Zurich itself.
We arrived in the centre of Zurich at a huge Roman Catholic Church, at about 1.40. The streets are fairly quiet, even on a Saturday lunchtime, which surprised me for a major city. I think I would fine it quite easy to drive around this place to be honest. People seemed to be fairly forgiving and the only congestion was made up by other drivers stopping to let people out at almost every junction, something I am certainly not accustomed to over here. I read somewhere how clean the streets were. No litter or dog muck, which was sort of true, but not totally accurate. Most places where there was a space were covered in graffiti. Seemed to be a national thing though, almost an upsurge in poor street art.
Now unlike the southern European cities, the shops appeared to be open all day, but the restaurants did shut around the church at 2.30pm as we found out as we were parched and searched for a bottle of water. TIP. Finding still bottled water in Zurich appeared to be an art and one I never mastered. Although a sparkling water, it was not as harsh as the likes of Perrier, but more a subtle hum on your tongue when sipped.
Anyway, moving on we boarded the coach and it took us to a magical viewpoint above the city, a restaurant on the Kaferberg. Here we sampled some delicious Swiss delicacies such as a Swiss cheese and ham pastry wrap, sesame seeded pork rolls and miniature spinach flans. But it was the views over the city that caught my attention as my eyes drifted from mountain to lake and the mist beyond. You could see the famous green spires and the largest clock face in Europe, which was situated near the guildhall, our next stop off for the evening reception.
The Zunfthaus zur Schmiden Guildhall is situated next to the River Limmat, and the upstairs banqueting suite can be booked at a price I would not even start to guess. The meal was 7 courses, Antipasto, Consommé with ravioli, Risotto, Calamari, veal, Cheese and biscuits, Cake. Fantastic!
The guildhall is littered with suits of armour, stained glass windows and we were welcomed by candles lining the stairs that led to the venue. Before we went in, we had a scurry around the old town square at the tall church spires, clock towers (There is lots of them) and a shop that sold cases from a couple of hundred quid a shot!
The thing that really stood out, unlike a lot of European cities, is the way that Zurich had been unscathed by the years. Of course, no bomb damage from WW2 and the fact she has not been raised to the ground, plundered or pillaged for longer than I can remember. (I think Zurich was some kind of Roman control point as a pass in the Alps or something similar, but I am sure there are people out there who know better than I.)
The architecture itself is a remarkable indication of the value that Zurich holds, with her cleanliness and uniformity; she masks any feeling of restriction well and allows modern thoughts to mingle with resolution amongst her ancient streets.
After the meal and a little bit of Angus boogie, we were taken back to our hotel room at 01.30, shattered.
Sunday was exploring day and we took full advantage of the 8 hours or so we had before flying back home. The train station was only a 10 minute walk from the hotel, and you can get a 24 hour train ticket for 10.8 Swiss franks, or £5 if you like. It is about a 15 minute journey from our hotel into the centre, and it is nice to take in the scenery rather than sit in a taxi. (I am tight). When you arrive at the train station, that is when you get the biggest surprise of Zurich. The station is an undercover hustle and bustle which you will not see elsewhere. There and loads of small shops, bakeries and cafes buzzing like a city within a city. Lots of bargains to be had here and one of the supermarkets had a cheese selection that I could have spent hours tasting and mulling over. Being a Sunday, it was also the only place open for shopping, which probably accounted for so much of the activity.
We walked out of the Station and crossed the main road, dodging trams and pedestrians and onto the main shopping street of Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse.
An oasis of designer venues, and certainly the place to take someone if you have a spare couple of grand to buy a cheap watch or outfit for your beloved. It was such a shame they close on a Sunday as I really wanted to buy Sherry that 10K Cartier watch she liked. (Please take that with a pinch of salt.) Other big shops included Rolex, Bvlgari and Tiffany’s. I was amazed at seeing 10K watches and 2K fur coats, but was so glad that it was a Sunday and we had all the time in the world to window shop.
Following the main road, you come to Lake Zurich and a melody of buskers and street entertainers. Here you can grab a boat to nearby villages and towns, or just take the tourist boat around the lake and up the river a bit. These boats resemble the barges in Amsterdam as the need to be shallow to get under the low bridges that cross the river Limmat. The boat trips take about 40 minutes and cost just over £10 each, nice but we chose to give it a miss and walk instead. Crossing the river by the top of the lake, there is a nest of restaurants and cafes, as well as art, music and speciality shops, including a porn cinema and sex shop would you believe? It was here (not the porn cinema!) that we stopped for a bite to eat and once more to test the theory of high prices. The restaurant we chose was called the Paparazzi and my panini with Swiss cheese and pepperoni and a large cup of coffee cost just over £4. I was shocked. That would have cost me over £5 in Bournemouth never mind London prices.
The sun beat down on us and despite it being October, we found ourselves sitting in our shirts and carrying our coats most of the day. This made it even more enjoyable as we window shopped for Britain. Due to the time scale, we chose not to visit the museums, although I would have hit the Swiss national museum if I had a chance, due to Switzerland’s diverse culture the varied exhibits couldn’t fail but to encapsulate the most critical onlooker. There are some good art museums strewn around Zurich as well. Picasso and Dali examples can be found loitering with intent to enchant. In fact, the culture of Zurich reflects all aspects of Europe with the battle for dominance mainly being contested by the French, German and Italian strains, but mark my words, this is o physical battle, but more a cunning game of chess with a small aperitif to whet the appetite.
The small streets with their tall, dominant buildings just added to the charms of Zurich, and her flirtatious mood, tranquil setting yet vibrant feel seduced me until I became putty in her hands. We eventually wound our way back to the train station and shopped a bit, drank a bit and caught the train back to our hotel. There we had a goodbye drink with our friends and sadly said our goodbyes to both them and Zurich, longing to have had those extra few days to flirt with her treasures.
Even as we flew away from Zurich, the lights enchanted me until they were merely a glistening horizon and my neck could not be strained no more to view Switzerland’s jewel.
Asta Luego Zurich, I will be back.
Summary: Why have I not visited this place sooner?