Fodor's Travel Talk Forums

Fodor's Travel Talk Forums (
-   Europe (
-   -   Anyone have a good word to say about Zurich? (

Cowboy1968 Jun 6th, 2015 10:17 PM

If you think that Zurich is too sanitized or too boring and just caters to bankers and corporate hotshots, you can take the tram to Escher-Wyss-Platz (square) which is the hub for the trendy Zurich West neighborhood.
This area offers a mix of quirky restaurants, bars, shops etc. on a former industrial wasteland - but not at the Western edge of the city as the nickname suggests, but just a mile away from Zurich main station.
While Switzerland is never a bargain destination, prices do drop once you move away from Bahnhofstrasse and Niederdorf.
Nevertheless, you should keep in mind that you visit a country with one of the highest minimum wages worldwide. And many assistants in the Zurich region making more money than executives in the neighboring countries or the US.

thursdaysd Jun 7th, 2015 05:18 AM

@Cowboy - are you telling me not to tip? (Anyone who lives in Zurich probably has a higher income than I do, lol)

Tx. for the recommendation, I like the sound of quirky restaurants, although I really can't go to Switzerland without looking for fondue, it may be a cliche but I am a huge cheese fan.

Cowboy1968 Jun 7th, 2015 06:34 AM

Well, you are "allowed" to tip as much as you like.

Just keep in mind that tipping means something different in Switzerland than in the US.
What you call "tip" means paying for service plus maybe a little extra on top when you were happy with the service.
What we call "tip" is ONLY that little extra on top, as the service charge is already included (in Switzerland, Germany, many other but not all European countries).

So a zero tip in Switzerland never robs the waitstaff of their salary as they get paid by the owner. I know it's a weird concept that an employee gets paid by the employer but that's the way it is.

Common tipping would be rounding up, e.g. when you have a coffee for 4.80 you can give 5 francs and say "keep the change". Or you take the change. It does not matter.
Same with dining out when you pay cash. You do not compute 15 or 20 pct from the total, but round up to the next 5 or 10 franc, e.g. when paying for lunch for 38 francs you can give a two twenties and ask the waitstaff to keep the change. Or you take the change.

thursdaysd Jun 7th, 2015 07:33 AM

Hey, I don't need the tipping lecture! I write it myself! I would be delighted if the stupid American system got replaced by decent salaries. I was just checking the local custom.

travelgourmet Jun 7th, 2015 08:17 AM

<i>Zurich doesn't seem to get much respect around here, I'm looking forward to finding the nay-sayers are wrong.</i>

The nay-sayers aren't wrong. I hate Zurich (and Switzerland as a whole) quite a bit.

thursdaysd Jun 7th, 2015 08:21 AM

"I hate Zurich (and Switzerland as a whole) quite a bit."

Care to explain why? The statement is not very illuminating on its own.

travelgourmet Jun 7th, 2015 08:54 AM

<i>Care to explain why? The statement is not very illuminating on its own.</i>

I find it dull and boring. The people are often rude and haughty. The food is mediocre. Zurich, in particular, is often gray and gloomy. It is too expensive. And Zurich doesn't even offer the natural beauty that is Switzerland's most redeeming quality.

PalenQ Jun 7th, 2015 01:51 PM

. And Zurich doesn't even offer the natural beauty that is Switzerland's most redeeming quality.>

Not true at all IME - sits on a lovely lake with lakeside parks on the east side and is surrounded by forested hills on that side too. May not be a lucerne but to say it does not offer natural beauty to me is just not right - makes it sound like a big city with no natural appeal and the lake for one is a great natural appeal.

thursdaysd Jun 7th, 2015 02:02 PM

Thanks for the explanation. I will certainly report back how it seems to me. Have a hard time categorizing fondue as mediocre, though.

Cowboy1968 Jun 7th, 2015 10:08 PM

Sorry about the tipping lecture, thursdaysd -- I thought it was an actual question. :-)

While I think that the location of Zurich at the shores of the lake and next to a minor mountain range is pretty scenic, the architecture of most post-war (II) buildings - residential as well as office buildings - is indeed somewhat bland.
I still have to meet one of my (Swiss/ Zurich-based) colleagues who would describe his/her city as a vibrant, edgy metropolis. But after all, it is a rather mid-sized city with a few 100K inhabitants in a rather small country so it would be foolish to expect a nightlife or cultural life matching that of Berlin or Paris.

If you want to see the nicer (older) private mansions, you can take the tram to the Zoo up Zürichberg.
At the terminus of the tram you also find the FIFA headquarters - nothing actually worth taking the trip, as it is another rather unspectacular building - but from where a multi billion dollar enterprise is managed (in a rather questionable manner).
But the nearby hotel on Zürichberg offers a nice panoramic view over the city, lake and to Uetliberg mountain.

I'm not sure how to benchmark food.
Real/ historic Swiss dishes from the mountain regions like cheese fondue reflect the rather poor, mostly agricultural past when you had not much more than dairy products and vegetables that could be grown in often unfavorable conditions. Just as the "real cuisine" from the mountain regions of France, Spain or Germany is not refined but hearty and supposed to deliver calories.
If you prefer a contemporary cuisine, there are the obvious guidebooks and rankings which have a few entries for Zurich and the adjacent Gold Coast of the lake, but I think I never had dinner at any of those places so I cannot comment.

With the exception of the Kronenhalle, a long-standing Zurich "gastro pub", which even my Swiss collegues consider massively overpriced. And which more a hub for the foreign business visitors with a big budget for expenditures.

thursdaysd Jun 8th, 2015 06:14 AM

This is a three and a half month trip. If every stop was a "vibrant, edgy metropolis" I doubt I'd last.

Zurich has some museums - the Swiss National, the Bellerive, the Rietberg - that interest me, plus churches and the waterfront. It is also seems to be a good base for more day trips - St. Gallen, Lucerne, Konstanz, the Rhine Falls - than I will have time for.

Thanks for the Zurichberg suggestion. It's interesting that what used to be peasant food gradually became the signature dishes of the respective regions - e.g. cassoulet, bouillabaisse. I prefer the originals to the "deconstructed" versions.

Not much to be done about the weather.

thursdaysd Sep 20th, 2015 12:05 PM

Well, this is my last night in Zurich, and although I'll write more fully in my TR, I thought I'd add to this thread to say I liked Zurich - aside from the astronomical prices for food and drink - quite a lot. Sure, it's not the Bernese Oberland, but I didn't expect it to be, it's a pleasant city with some interesting buildings and museums on a lovely lake. I can't say I had any problems with the people, either.

It is certainly clean and tidy, but I have done dirty and chaotic in India, and I'll take clean and tidy, thank you.

Went to St. Gallen today - loved the library!

mokka4 Sep 20th, 2015 12:47 PM

Glad you liked Zurich. Lucky you for getting to go! Looking forward to the TR.

kja Sep 20th, 2015 02:00 PM

I'm also glad you enjoyed it, thursdaysd -- thanks for letting us know!

thursdaysd Sep 20th, 2015 11:34 PM

Forgot to mention that Zurich (maybe Switzerland in general?) is the home of the DCC scam. Every place, and I mean every place, from coffee shops to restaurants to the train station, have their credit card machines set to offer USD and CHF, with action required if you want to pay in CHF.

I am using a chip and sig/pin card, so it goes in the slot and doesn't need to be swiped, although I generally have to sign. Don't know what happens if you have a swipe card. Also don't know about ATMs, although I would expect them to be the same - I had some CHF left over from my aborted first trip, and everywhere takes plastic.

The mark up is outrageous. An already pricy cup of coffee - 4.90 CHF, or 5.05 USD, would be 5.25. A meal at around 20 CHF or 20.60 USD would be 22.50 USD or so.

bilboburgler Sep 21st, 2015 01:06 AM

"An already pricy cup of coffee - 4.90 CHF" chokes on his croissant and solo at E1.2 in Bilbao only two days ago. What are they doing, using tears of nuns for the water???

All times are GMT -8. The time now is 10:41 PM.