I figured that as I spent three days in Zurich, it would be more feasible to post each day as it’s own blog. This way you don’t have to read 3000 words about my trip in one fell swoop, and can better peruse at your own pace. So I shall begin with the first day, hence the title part 1, because I am nothing if not a stater of the obvious.
A few things amazed me about the city right off the bat. One, it is so unbelievably pedestrian friendly. Like really, you barely get to a crosswalk when it switches to WALK–or more accurately the symbol equivalent–and cars instantly stop. Or mostly the buses and trams as a lot of the heart of the city is a car free zone. Also, they have an obsession with clocks. Nearly every corner has a clock. Which really came in handy as I wasn’t carrying my phones around (no point since they didn’t work) and all the clocks kept me aware of the time. But every single corner? I like punctuality more than the next person, but this seemed overkill. Oh well, onto the actual trip.
I was so completely exhausted. I have a hunch that this may have been due to my sleeping over the previous 72 hours occurring in random stolen one hour bursts in unconventional locations, such as a restaurant booth in Gatwick airport. But again, just a hunch. At the airport I bought a ZurichCard for 3 days which allows me to use unlimited public transportation, free museum entries, and some discounts, all for the price of just 40 Swiss Francs! Trust me, that’s a bargain in Zurich. Zurich is apparently one of the most expensive cities in the world. Smart decision to choose here! Anyways, after asking the Tourist Office for help, I safely arrived at Langstars Hostel and used their computer to send an “I’m Safe” email to Mom. Turns out that my timing was perfect.
The only other guy in the bar at the time was American. Even cooler–from California, and Los Angeles at that! In fact, Alex (this guy) is from Ventura! And went to uni at the same school Jordan’s dad is a professor at! But Alex didn’t have him. Thankfully he and two other guys from Brazil were about to head out into town to explore, so I went with them. They all turned out to be really chill guys (though I was obviously partial to Alex) and knew their way around the city so I never even needed to bust out a map.
We started off walking down Bahnhofstrasse, the mile long shopping street that is home to every single designer and watchmaker that you could possibly imagine. And banks, lots and lots of banks. We ended up wandering around some picturesque little side streets because I am a menace with a camera. But it all worked out for the best as I unintentionally led us to St. Peter’s Church, famous for its four 9-meter clock faces (shocking!) that are the biggest in Europe, reportedly. It was also Zurich’s first Protestant church.
The next inadvertently stumbled upon landmark was another church, Fraumünster, which has three stained glass windows created by the artist Marc Chagall. They are unlike any stained glass windows I’ve ever seen, almost Impressionist, but certainly not the Renaissance windows that I’m used to seeing in churches and cathedrals. Actually the churches here are completely bare, products of the Protestant Reformation. Next we walked down to the docks of Lake Zurich before deciding to check if the Chinese Garden was open (it wasn’t).
The long journey down the banks of the lake was the perfect time for Alex to fill me in on all his awesome travels and what he has seen in Zurich thus far. He saw a man balancing a bunch of rocks along the path we were on, a yodeler, and a bunch of accordion players. And some prostitutes, but that’s not as surprising as it sounds because our hostel is in the former red light district. At the end of our walk was a park and it had a pond with a bunch of stepping stones across it so Alex took the only picture of me that I’ll get on this trip of me on the stones. Inner child was definitely happy.
It was freezing cold on the banks of the lake so we headed back to town to another famous Zurich church, Grossmünster. You can climb 187 steps to the tope of the two towers (insert Lord of the Rings pun) but I was still so knackered from Blackpool that I chose to wander the church and warm up while the two Brazilians made the climb. According to legend, Felix and Regula, the patron saints of Zurich, walked up to this site holding their heads after they were beheaded. Charlemagne later had this church built in their honor.
As soon as we left the church, I could literally feel the heat I had finally accumulated being leeched out of me. It was also well past lunch time so we decided to take the scenic route through Old Town Zurich–an area chock full of those adorably distracting side streets. Eventually we made it back to Bahnhofstrasse and up to the restaurant Manora on the fifth floor of the Manor department store. It was an amazing restaurant and supposedly super cheap for Zurich (still cost me SFr 11.40). And of course no visit to Switzerland would be complete without chocolate, so I took the boys to Honolds on Rennweg. Oh my god, the chocolate was incredible and deadly though all three guys thanked me profusely for finding the place. Besides the amazing chocolate, the woman was overly generous with the samples. I’m pretty sure she would have let us try everything in the shop! As it was, I tried “Lotti’s Best” and Dark Chocolate with Strawberry and Rose Pepper before buying a whole bunch to take with me and to give as gifts back home.
Alex led us back to the hostel so that he could get his bags (he was flying to Dublin). I was really sad to see him go. Such a cool guy and so helpful. With him gone, I went up to the 12 person co-ed dorm and took a nap. The rest of my night was super uneventful. I planned the rest of my trip with help from the hostel owner, ate a pizza I bought in the hostel (because it was convenient and only SFr 8.50 and the boys have me paranoid about money) and then I read and went to bed in an actual bed with more than two hours to spare, finally!
So ends Day One. To be continued….