The first weekend of July I hopped over to Zurich to visit a very dear friend of mine. The trip was rather unplanned and I had absolutely no idea what to expect from this city. But as my Swiss friend would say the best way to experience a city is without having any expectations beforehand. Here are my highlights from my whirlwind four days of summer in Zurich.
Lake Zurich – For a couple of days on my trip we took the boat out on to the beautiful Lake Zurich. The boat trips cruise around the lake where you can see off the city and admire the layers of landscape surrounding the lake. The towns are scattered within the nooks and crannies of the rolling green hills which meet the backdrop of the Alps hitting the horizon. We hopped off on to the various towns around the lake, found quiet spots by the banks, grabbed some cool cans of beer, sunbathed and swam. Pretty perfect.
Wandering around the Altstadt – Zurich’s Old Town sprawls out beside the River Limmat which meanders its way towards the crystal clear lake. There are plenty of cafes, restaurants, bars and boutique shops to check out whilst getting lost through cobbled narrow streets. One of my favourite things about the city was that every few streets you reached a mini-square often with seating and always with one of the 1,200 unique public water fountains. There is no need to quench your thirst at a supermarket since you can drink straight from the fountains.
Lindenhof viewpoint – This is a great spot to watch the world go by beneath you. You have views of the Limmat River, the bustling Swiss streets and the grand Grossmünster Cathedral standing tall watching over the city. Pick up some snacks and hang out here to watch the sunrise or sunset.
Day trip to Lucerne – We decided to take the one hour train journey from Zurich HB to the famous Lucerne. We wandered on to the creaky Kapellbrücke (Chapel Bridge), the footbridge that spans diagonnaly along the Reuss River, and past the Wasserturm (water tower). You couldn’t help but be transported back centuries imagining how the the structure was used back in the Medieval days. We continued on through the city and lost ourselves up within some residential neighbourhoods and found a great hidden spot with stunning views of the city and beyond. After heading back down we took some shade by the pond beneath the impressive Dying Lion of Lucerne Monument. Before we headed back to Zurich we cooled off with some gelato sitting in front of Lake Lucerne. All in all Lucerne is definitely worth stopping by, but perhaps its charm was lost on the day we visited from the very many coaches of tour groups!
Elgg country walk – Whilst in Zurich I was in fact staying in Elgg, a small country town on the outskirts of the city. On my last day before my flight we took a hike up to some ruins. We left any source of time (phones/watches) behind and made our way up in the scorching heat, stopping to pick handfuls and handfuls of the ripest, juiciest cherries I have tasted. It’s the simple things. We were rewarded with a great view at the top of the endless green fields laying in front of the snow-capped mountains.
Manifesta 11 and Cabaret Voiltaire – I was lucky enough to be in Zurich whilst Manifesta 11 was taking place. Manifesta is the nomadic ‘European Biennal for Contemporary Art, which brings the visual arts together with the urban, social, historical, economical, ecological and architectural context of each host city.’ The central piece was the Pavillon of Reflections, designed by 30 ETH Zurich architecture students. It is a floating island created from timber and features an outdoor swimming pool and open air cinema. The pavillon will remain open until Manifesta finishes, on the 18th of September. We also hung out a few nights in Cabaret Voiltaire which was hosting some of the events. The art movement ‘Dadaism’ was born in here in 1916 on Speiefelgasse Street. This bar-cafe-museum-art space is definitely worth checking out. It is an interesting, relaxed spot with a great atmosphere and good people.
Preconceptions are perhaps unavoidable as when telling people I was off to Zurich, the response was often ‘oh for work?’ Set aside the river, which stretches out to the glorious lake and onwards to the mountains I in fact found Zurich to be one of the most charming European cities I have visited. I am always grateful to explore cities with friends who live in some of the coolest places in the world.