Zurich - A rich treat
After a highly enjoyable journey in the Swiss train from Lausanne, I reach Zurich to be greeted by my warm hosts, welcoming me to their vibrant city....
The picturesque metropolis was conferred with the award ‘City with the best quality of life in the world’ and it is also the wealthiest city in Europe. It has many scenic destinations, which will sweep you off your feet
After a highly enjoyable journey in the Swiss train from Lausanne, I reach Zurich to be greeted by my warm hosts, welcoming me to their vibrant city. A quick walk follows, to reach my hotel Central Plaza, which is just across from the main railway station. I make a mental note of its ideal central location. The river view turns out to be an added bonus, which further pleases me.
Off we go for lunch on a boat cruise in the Lake Zurich. The glittering sunshine on the water, the lapping of the wavelets around the boat, the gentle surge and the cool breeze add the right dose of romance to the lunch. My delicious meal of smoked perch fish, fresh from the lake, is teamed with a lovely Rosé produced from the vineyards around the lake.
Claudia tells me that locally white wine is more popular, which comes from grapes grown in the North of Zurich, close to the German border. With a magnificent view of the snowcapped Alps on the horizon, I see beauty all around. She points to the Swiss ‘Goldcoast’ that is bathed in the bright golden sun, where many a celebrity and the wealthy live in exclusively luxurious seclusion!
A global centre for banking and finance, the city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. According to several surveys Zurich was named the city with the best quality of life in the world as well as the wealthiest city in Europe. Most of Switzerland's research and development centres are concentrated in Zurich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters here.
The picturesque lanes of the Old Town, on either side of the Limmat River, reflect Zurich’s pre-medieval history. My guide Ursula, endowed with a sunny smile, tells me stories of the old town as we walk around Lindenhof, Grossmünster, Quai-Brücke. The lively tradition of merchant guilds in Zurich dates back to the Middle Ages.
Equally impressive are their fine guild houses and guildhalls. The guided walking tour of the old town proves to be a rewarding journey of discovery coming face to face with Zurich’s past and present through a selection of buildings, stories and anecdotes. I am fascinated by the rich testimonies to bygone days, which document the early international significance of the city.
Then we do a short tour of Zurich West, the city’s trendy district, visiting the “Viadukt Arches” and “Markthalle”. This area where machines used to rumble and soot hung in the air is now Zurich’s trendiest place to go out. The former industrial district with its new and renovated buildings now offers a fascinating history of this city quarter.
While some factories closed down, their large spaces are put to good and innovative use. A former shipyard has now become a bar and restaurant whereas a soap factory has turned into a film festival venue. Ursula shows a garbage burning factory and says they don't have enough garbage now, as the cleanliness conscious citizens don't generate much garbage.
They reduce, reuse and recycle. Now garbage is being imported from Germany to run the factory. For lack of enough garbage, it may soon go out of function, say, by 2020. Then we walk past Joseph Weise Park that was originally meant for people from economically weaker sections. I see happy families lounging amidst greenery while children play around.
Zurich boasts the highest density of clubs in Switzerland. Parties really get going after 11 pm and continue into the wee hours of the morning. In summer, nightlife can be found not only in the clubs, but also outside in the open air; the venues where visitors bathe and relax during the day are ideal places to flirt and dance at night.
We go to “Gerold’s Chuchi”, which is a restaurant by day that turns into a trendy club by night, changing the decorations all the time, surprising the visitors. We meet the manager, Sebastian Wolo, who is full of high energy, spins like a top and works with a matchless passion.
The dance floor was being prepared for a major event that night. I click pictures of the colourful umbrellas hanging in the open.At “Les Halles”, a former warehouse in the fashionable Zurich-West district, we order Mediterranean dishes and tapas. Munching some “Moules frites” (mussels and chips),
I mull over my “Hugo” (a popular Zurich summer cocktail made of elderberry, Prosecco and mint leaves with liberal chunks of ice thrown in), about the innumerable charms of Zurich.
Zurich offers a unique mixture of attractions – over 50 museums and more than 100 art galleries, international fashion labels and Zurich designs, and the most flamboyant and lively nightlife in Switzerland.
Recreational activities range from a visit to the riverside and lakeside bathing areas in the very heart of the city, to a spectacular hike on the Uetliberg Mountain.
Just a stone's throw from Zurich's main station, the Swiss National Museum – housed in an over 100 year old building reminiscent of a fairytale castle – contains the country's most comprehensive collection of exhibits relating to Swiss cultural history.
Zurich is quick and easy to reach, whether by train, plane or private vehicle. Its international airport has direct connections with over 150 destinations. Just a 10-minute train ride from the airport and situated right in the city center, Zurich’s Main Railway Station is regarded as a central European railroad hub.