Zurich "Who goes there?"

Old Sep 16th, 2012, 12:40 PM
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Zurich "Who goes there?"

So, Zurich. There is no need to walk in Zurich, but you will want to anyway. Start with the train right in the airport, lower floor. We took the rapid option, and we were in the city in about ten minutes.
As usual, we took a taxi to our hotel, but realized later that the trams leave from in front of the train station, and would have dropped us in about 5 minutes directly in front of the Hotel Helmhaus. It's a great little boutique hotel in the most central position possible.

There is a promenade along the river Limmat, which empties into Lake Zurich at the south end of the old city. On a Sunday evening, there congregates the young and energetic, the older ones, the families, the romantics, the violinist playing classical music, the reggae band, the swimmers, the dancers, the pretzel sellers and the bratwurst stands.

On the other side of the river, the old houses are stacked up like doll houses on the bank and up the hill, their windows framed with shutters and hanging boxes of colorful geraniums. Cross the river at your choice of bridges, and follow the path along the front of these dwellings and store fronts. Deviate a little, climbing up and up a narrow street and stairs, and there you will happen upon Lindenhof, a large square surrounded by lime trees, and overlooking this small city reminiscent of Paris.

On the east bank, there is the Niederdorf area, a maven of interesting narrow streets with boutique shops and restaurants, and at night, bars, built again up the hill.

The "skyline", so to speak, is dominated by the two munsters, the Grossmunster and the Fraumunster. Lit up at night, and reflecting off the river, they make a picture perfect cityscape.
In the daytime, go in the morning to see Marc Chagall's remarkable stained glass windows in the Fraumunster. Take with you a description of the various scenes.
As El Greco's paintings seem to rise, Chagall's glass work seems to flow downward to touch the observer. Take time to really contemplate them. Your photos won't do them justice, anyway.
Climb to the top of the Grossmunster for a view of Zurich. It's lovely with all those trees.

Take in one, or more, of Zurich's 50 museums. The Kunsthaus is undergoing a renovation and expansion, but currently offers a very good art collection in a relatively small, easily manageable museum. We loved it (imagine a Picasso self portrait in which I swear he looks like the artist Prince).

Zurich is a classy city with a young vibe. There are many good restaurants. But don't miss the pretzels, or the bratwurst served with a bun. Do finish off with some really fine chocolate.

That's Zurich, the way I saw it.

ps: Thanks to gruezi for her great suggestions.

Globus am Bellevue for a tasty, economical supper, SF 34 inc 2 beer
Santa Lucia in Niederdorf for pizza supper with bottle of wine SF 55
Hotel Opera for a splurge on our last night in Zurich. Good food but....good thing we went straight back to the hotel, because we both got sick. Yuck!
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 02:37 PM
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Well done sundriedpachino. I've been to/through Zurich many times, but seldom linger. Perhaps next time I will.
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Old Sep 16th, 2012, 03:20 PM
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Thanks for this.

A few questions -

1. Were hotels + transport terribly expensive?
2. Could you do it all in a weekend?
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 01:09 AM
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Hi justinwong, you can easily see all you want in a weekend. You can walk almost everywhere, but if you tire, there are the trams. They run often, are clean and quiet, and there is room for your luggage.
We found the meals in the Niederdorf, where there are lots of choices, to be quite reasonable.
The Swiss franc is almost even with Canadian dollar.

There are many high end,beautiful old, very pricey hotels, but there are also more economical ones. For Helmhaus, we paid in the area of $300 Cdn, but loved the location, the beds were super comfy, good front desk staff, good breakfast etc.

The best deal is the Zurich card. Options for one day or 3, and covers transportation, that is, trams, trains, and even boat rides on the river and lake, and also museums. Swiss francs 20/day or 40 for 3 days. Good value!
I never mentioned the famous Bahnhofstrasse because I am not a shopper, but if you have a large budget, or just like to window shop, it's a beautiful street.
Hope this helps.
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 01:58 AM
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Thank you! Zurich sounds a lot more interesting than Geneva (I went to Geneva for a school trip a few years ago and wasn't that impressed tbh) but I'll definitely bear Zurich in mind as a weekend destination.
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 02:48 AM
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Zurich, in my experience, can be an expensive hotel city or a cheaper one not unlike other cities in Switzerland.

I'm happy to see this report since I'm a little tired of the various so-called "experts" here who keep saying things like, "It's just a business city and why would you want to even visit there?"

For lots of reasons, obviously.
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 03:22 AM
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I also love Zurich! Went there twice in 2010, though I stayed just 30 minutes south by train in the charming town of Rapperswil on the second visit.
Visited the Museum of Medical History on Uni's campus, the porcellan museum, the toy "museum", and of course, the wonderful State/Historical Museum just across from the train station (this was over the course of both visits).
Best kept secret: many museums offer free entrance on the last Sunday of the month.
I found quirky shops in Niederdorf and bought nostalgic Christmas ornaments and cool fossils.
Splurged on lunch at Cafe Felix and a takeaway treat at Spruengli's. Never gave a second glance to the pricey stores on Bahnhofstrasse!
Also picked up the ZurichCard, taking advantage of the half-priced city walking tour and a roundtrip boat ride on Zurichsee...ah!
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 08:32 AM
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Dukey, I know. When I looked for trip reports for Zurich, there was very little available. The city itself has a very nice, informative website, well organized and attractive, like the Swiss themselves!
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Old Sep 17th, 2012, 09:24 AM
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I am also one of the few on this board (it seems) who like Zürich. Stayed there twice for 3 nights each time, once in February, once over 1 August (Swiss National Holiday). I don't think you can see everything on one weekend if you want to do justice to the museums. Btw, don't miss the spectacular modern library of the University's Law School, designed by Santiago Calatrava! Not to miss are IMO also excursions to Uetliberg mountain, a cruise on the lake (best to Rapperswil), the beautiful public gardens.

Both times I found relatively good weekend deals for hotels. The Comfort Royal Inn (or so) was ok, in central location, the Courtyard by Marriott was an 8 min train ride from the main station but a very good hotel.
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Old Sep 18th, 2012, 07:19 AM
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Great report. I am also one who likes Zurich. I have done several of the things you mentioned and enjoyed them all.

I especially enjoyed the cup of hot chocolate at Spruengli's....ahhhh
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Old Sep 19th, 2012, 04:44 AM
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Thanks everyone for your nice comments. I'm glad to see there are a few who, like me, enjoyed Zurich.
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Old Oct 18th, 2012, 11:05 PM
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And here's the other "Swiss" city we visited:

Our train ride from Zurich to Bellinzona was underwhelming. I had imagined green valleys with high mountain peaks visible as we were whisked along Lake Zurich and through the Alps, maybe even some dizzying heights at some point.
As it was, it was raining, the valley was a beautiful photoshop enhanced green, only naturally so, but we didn't see many mountain peaks as we rocketed through the middle of the mountain in the Gotthard tunnel.
It's a different world on the other side. It's Italy in Switzerland, a different language and different landscape. Palm trees grow here.

Arrival in Lugano by train: step off the train and onto the funiculare. It blessedly saves us a long walk down the hill with luggage.
At the bottom, 10 steps away is our hotel, Dante Center Swiss Quality Hotel. Nice, clean, quiet, a/c, every amenity, and Italian hospitality in abundance.

Anyone who wants a new Swiss wrist watch will be happy in Lugano. There are many expensive shops, men in business suits, banks on every corner, and women dressed smartly and wearing those stiletto heels on cobblestones.
Swiss banking in Italian language.

We find an outside patio that is open, and relax with a glass of red. People watching is an important pastime in a new destination; theme for the day, footwear. Shoes tell a lot about a soul....

The wine has our appetites going and we try a R. Steves' (OMGosh) recommended restaurant, Il Tinero. It serves local dishes in a rustic atmosphere. Risotto with porcini, and Osso Bucco with same, followed by zabaglione for dessert. Predictable but delicious.

In the morning, we decide to do some more exploring. This time we walk up the stairs to the top of the town, for the view, which is charming.

A busy main street follows the edge of the lake through town. Here are situated the grand old hotels, palazzos from the late 1800's, and the parks and gardens, backed by beautiful green foothills of the Alps.

In contrast to the business suits are docks, pedal boats, and ferries loaded with tourists bound for the small towns edging the lake.

It's very windy today, but clear skies, so we take the ferry to picturesque Gandria, where we climb to the top of town for the view, then have lunch on a patio overhanging the water.

A pleasant afternoon is finished off with a little window shopping, exploring the historic centre , and some more strolling along the waterfront down to the grand old hotels. We were looking for a nice spot to enjoy a glass of wine while overlooking the lake, but by this time, the wind had really picked up, and it was cold.
So, we walked back to town to check out the ultramodern restaurant that our hotel recommended, but alas, there was a Mercedes-Benz unveiling and reception there that evening, so we had to be content with ogling the super fresh looking 'crudo' crudités that were ready and waiting for the crowd.

Ah, happy hour again.
Harry's Bar, a few steps off the tourist plaza, is a little hole in the wall local bar, where we had due bicchiere of vino rosso. Mama brought a plate of fresh bread sticks wrapped in prosciutto. Total cost 5 Swiss francs. A little Italian goes a long way in Switzerland!

La Cucina di Alice: Recommended by our hotel, was our new choice for supper. Service was superb, presentation was good, but the food was so-so. Il Conto: Swiss francs 193. Not worth it.

A new day dawns. Back up the funiculare, good-bye to lazy Lugano, hello Postale bus to Lake Coma.

https://www.dropbox.com/sh/zt9trmkre26xy1k/nyVPwFPqOw
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Old Nov 10th, 2012, 09:54 AM
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We've been told we should visit Zurich as it has a very good contemporary art scene.
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Old Nov 10th, 2012, 02:32 PM
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Caroline, yes, and Winterthur and Luzern close by as well.
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Old Dec 3rd, 2012, 07:41 PM
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Thanks for posting your impressions! I've always considered Zurich a "must-see" and am finding your observations and those of others on this thread very interesting.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 04:53 AM
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Thanks, Kia. I'd like to go back one time when we're not so jet lagged, and see some more of the museums there.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 05:15 AM
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Thanks sundriedpachino, we will be in Zurich next month and you are getting me excited. It has been several years since I was there. I lke Zurich, I think it is an interesting city, plus all that delicious chocolate!

Thanks again for taking time to write a trip report.
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 07:59 AM
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Kja, sorry about the Kia tag, I thought I proofread, but missed that one!

Thanks, cafegoddess, have a good time!
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Old Dec 4th, 2012, 06:18 PM
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No problem, sundriedpachino! Glad you realized I didn't call myself "killed in action".
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Old Jun 14th, 2019, 07:53 AM
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Hello Adelaidean, very interesting tour. can you offer me a suggestion, between the Half fare card vs Swiss Travel pass which one beats as regards saving, considering all the important travels train , bus boat in various places. i will be in SWiss for 41/2 days and plan to see as much as I can with my family.
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