Noilly Prattle: Zurich

Thursday, October 10, 2013


the celebrated steeples of Zurich
     Zurich, Switzerland would probably not be high on the agenda of those travelers attracted by well known and famous sights to see. There really aren't many to speak of, except maybe one or two church steeples. But, how many steeples can you marvel at? Perhaps because of Switzerland's renowned neutrality and the conservatism of it's famous Swiss banking business, nothing especially exciting seems to have happened there. I was also impressed by the number and frequency of "VERBOTEN" signs. Verboten means prohibited. The idea of an up tight anal retentive society crossed my mind when I mentally compared it with laid back Amsterdam.  Consequently, it isn't a particularly exciting tourist destination either.

$120 steakhouse -
almost had indigestion
      But that isn't to say that Zurich isn't a town without charm. The main drawback for the less well-heeled visitor (as I never seem to tire of repeating) is the high cost of just about everything (even a simple hot dog costs around 8 Swiss francs (the rough equivalent of $8.00)--and that was in a small town outside of Zurich on the shore of the lake). The old town where we stayed is all paved with narrow cobblestone streets and small squares (all pedestrian only, no cars allowed) full of brand name boutiques for the well heeled shoppers and high end restaurants where a steak dinner for two including wine can run as high as $120+. It was the only sit down restaurant we ate in.  I saw a man's leather topcoat that was selling for $3,000. (I balked at paying $1,000 for a Burberry topcoat at an upscale department store here in my town last year.) I also saw a rather unusual cross-racial advertising poster in the same shop window.

waiting for the tram after the opera
        The central district of Zurich is small enough to be easily walkable and the tram system is extensive with frequent trams within the 1st District of the city. A 24-hour day pass costs about $8. The day pass can be used for trains, buses and boats as well as the trams, and any combination of them. For an additional $4 fee you can extend the day pass to go to the airport, which is outside the 1st District, by tram. This is super convenient if you have only a backpack or one small suitcase. It's also unusual, since it was the first time I have experienced tram service to an airport. We used a day pass in various combinations and bought an extension ticket on our last day in Zurich since we had several hours to while away after leaving our apartment and before heading for the airport.

farmers market
4 pairs and 1 oddball - Lake Zurich
        We asked the apartment manager if we could stay later than the normal check out time, but he had another long-term guest (good rental income for him) coming the same morning and asked us to vacate by 10:00 a.m. instead of the usual 11:00 a.m. He agreed to keep our bags until 4:30 p.m. when we were ready to head for the airport. After leaving the flat and storing our bags we had the better part of a day to, for want of a better expression, kill.  So we wandered around the farmers market, took a boat ride on Lake Zurich (the water of which is unbelievably clear and clean and a dark aqua in color), rode a tram to the end of the line and back and I shot photos of anything that interested me and caught my eye (which I often do anyway). At the appointed time the manager had not yet shown up and after waiting 10 minutes we called him on our cell phone. He arrived and apologized another 10 minutes later. Picked up our bags as prearranged and took a tram to the airport, boarded our flight to Incheon, South Korea and arrived back home around 9:00 p.m. after the usual total of about 16 or 18 hours travel time door to door. It was great to get away from the heat and humidity when we left Japan in early September and nice to get back to cooler drier air back home on October 2.

cobblestones and pricey boutiques -
our Swan Alley Schwanengasse is on the left
a bird almost in the hand


Chinese, the new tourists on the block

$8 hot dog





summer's end

      As for Zurich, if you like to go to the opera and/or if you happen to be the proud holder of a numbered Swiss bank account, Zurich might just be the town for you.

       Oh, and this last photo was just too sweet to pass up. It was a bit chilly and the lovestruck (I assume - unless it was a publicity shoot) groom gave the bride his jacket to keep her warm. Too bad the camera lady got in the way, but that's the way it is with candid shots.

     PS: The initial cooler weather on our return has not lasted. Another series of typhoons (#27 or #28 I believe) has swept in more hot and humid air. Nostalgic for the cooler air of Europe!


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