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Published: February 8th 2013
Lovely view from Lindenhof after sunshine and blue skies decided to make an appearance later in the day
Our first day in Zurich was a wonderful change from the day prior of frantic buses, taxis, and planes. First stop was of course breakfast and caffeine, so we headed toward the city center to Babu's Cafe and Bakery. As we'd later learn, caffeinating in Switzerland is not cheap - an espresso was usually around 4 francs, around 5 bucks, drip coffee didn't seem to exist, and cappuccinos and lattes were around 6 francs, 7-ish dollars. Anyway, at 9:30 on a Sunday the city seemed still asleep, but this place was hopping. We kept it simple with coffee and pastries - I had a Swedish saffron bun with raisins and slivered almonds, and my macchiato came with a lovely heart swirled into the milk foam.
Satisfied, we ventured further into the city into the Altstadt (Old Town), which hugs both sides of the waterway spilling from Lake Zurich. Filled with colorful, Germanic buildings it was very picturesque but not quite as old-looking as I might have anticipated. Shops and restaurants abounded, but we'd soon realize that most stores are closed on Sunday. Brilliant. Luckily we had mostly planned just strolling about and seeing the sights. One peculiarity about the city
Colored buildings in the old town
(and in Luzern as well) was the abundance of small fountains, some of which were stunning. I'm not sure what their functionality is, but I did see a man clean his shoe in one!
One sight of interest was St. Peter's Church, one of the four main churches in the city. Inside it was rather austere and plain, but it does boast the largest clock face in Europe. We then found ourselves atop Lindenhof hill, the site of a former Roman castle, later a palace, and currentlly a nice park with great views of the city. It was fairly grey and overcast, but still beautiful. Later on once the sun came out we'd have to return to retake our pictures! We eventually headed down toward the water and walked along it until reaching the point where it spills into Lake Zurich.
Next we looped around to the other side of the waterway, first taking a look at the Opera House, a nice building, but I can't say I've heard anything about Swiss Opera. Next was Grossmünster, a 12th century Romanesque church and symbol of the Swiss-German reformation in the 16th Century. The inside was rather dull, but it
St. Peter's Church
With apparently Europe's largest clock face
did have intersting stained glass installed in the 1930s, adding a bit of modern contrast. We weren't able to go up into either of the towers, but we were able to descend into the crypt. There we saw the original 15th century statue of Charlemagne that once sat upon one of the churchtowers. Currently there's a replica in place, as the original was getting damaged by weather.
Continuing along we were starting to get hungry and eventually settled on a casual-looking kanteen that seemed to be filled with locals. We started with a round of Schneider-Weisse, a really good Bavarian hefeweizen. I couldn't find a glass to buy and wasn't in the mood to be a klepto, so I'll have to buy one off ebay. For my meal I had homemade Spätzle with hunks of ham, caramelized onions, and melted cheese - hearty and delicious. Jacqui had the raclette, essentially a vat of cheese with potatoes, pickles, and onions, and Andrea a plate of Rösti with bacon and fried eggs. This was not a light meal vacation.
Feeling fat and disgusting, we trekked onward. It was now sunny with blue skies and puffy, white clouds. I for the
View from Lindenhof
Looking toward Grossmünster from Lindenhof
most part restrained myself from retracing my steps and retaking every picture, but we did head back to the lookout for improved panoramic shots. We then headed out of the Altstadt and over to Bahnhofstrasse, the well-known shopping thoroughfare. As I'd mentioned, shops were closed, but we had a nice enough time window shopping at the mostly high-end retailers. After another hour or so we were ready to go somewhere to warm up and perhaps have some Swiss chocolate, so we headed into
Confiserie Sprüngli, a well-respected Swiss confectionary manufacturer with a number of shops and cafes located in the Zurich. We each had a cappuccino, each one beautifully branded with "Sprüngli" in the foam via cocoa powder. Jacqui had an extremely decadent and rich chocolate torte of some kind, while I opted for this cake thing with caramelized pear, chocolate, and I don't even know what else. Very tasty. Later I'd buy some dark chocolate and truffles to take home to Boston.
It was around 5pm and Jacqui had to head back to the UK in a couple of hours, so we thought we'd round out the day at the Swiss National Museum, but alas..it was closing in
15th Century statue in the Grossmünster crypt.
half an hour. We'd have to return on our last morning. Instead we continued our stroll further along the water, stopping to play at a small park like children. It had been years since I sat in a swing! Eventually we headed back to the hotel so Jacqui could gather her things, then walked her back to the train station. The main train station is a huge complex with shops and restaurants, and much to our surprise they were open! I had set my eyes on a Swatch I saw in the Duty-Free catalog and just went ahead and bought it, figuring buying a Swiss watch was something one had to do whilst in Switzerland. At least Swatches are reasonably priced, unlike Tag Heuer, Omega and the other high-end watches!
After sending Jacqui on her way back home, we slowly wandered back toward the hotel to call it an evening. Luzern awaited us in the morning!
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