Thursday 1 April 2010


I was quite charmed by Zurich.
But as I walked along by the river at sunset I wondered – does anyone (apart from bankers) actually plan to come here or is it just somewhere on the way? The reason I ended up there is because there were two possible routes to Innsbruck from Aix, one via Milano, the other via Zurich. Either way I had to stop over (too much training to fit into one day). I picked Zurich because the train to Milan didn’t get in till very late and because I’d never been to Zurich.

And I was delighted I did (pick it, I mean.) I had no pre-conceptions because, honestly, I knew nothing about the place. I had a couple of museums filed away at the back of my mind under museums_to_visit_someday/by_country/Switzerland– but turns out one’s in Basle and the other’s in Geneva. I had a sneaking suspicion Zurich would be full of watch and chocolate shops and a vague idea that there was a lake (and so there is, but I think I probably had Lake Geneva in mind by mistake.)

So I had about 17 hours to spend getting to know Zurich, armed with some helpful hints from the Midland Potato Farmer (he gets around.) I took a tram from the train station to my hotel then, after I’d checked in and admired my room, walked back towards the centre.

Zurich is laid out on either side of a river that flows into a lake. There are pretty quays with charming gabled buildings on either side of the river. I walked up one side of the river from my hotel to the Limmat Quai where there are very lovely arched galleries running along the fronts of the buildings.

Then crossed over into the oldest part of town and along narrow, cobbled streets with beautiful galleries, boutiques and restaurants, all in old burgher-style houses.

I saw the two huge, famous (well, apparently – obviously their fame hadn’t reached me) churches. One of them, St Peterskirche has the biggest clock face in the world. So there.

I stopped for dinner at the traditional Zeughauskeller and had rosti (yum yum yum) and Swiss wine. (There was a ‘typisch Zurcher’ meat-cream-and-mushroom concoction with the rosti but I was less interested in that.) When I left, I could hear a band practising oompapa music in a room above me. Perfect.

Then I walked along the Bahnhofstrasse. The window shopping is fantastic in Zurich. I window-shopped these two dresses for myself and also picked out a very nice Cartier watch.

One thing, though: I can see where people spend their money in Zurich, but I couldn’t see where they make it. All those Swiss banks must be carefully hidden.

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