It is not easy to write about Zurich because it is full of contrasts. On one hand elegant old town with 13th century church, on the other big industrial districts with uninteresting gray buildings. Although it is the biggest city in Switzerland, you can feel a certain tone of provincialism, simplicity and most of all tranquility. People willingly commute by trains and bicycles, the center is not stuffed with cars, and if there appears one or two, it will never speed more than 50 or even 30km/h and will always give way to a pedestrian or a cyclist.
People spend time by the lake, relaxing on the grass with a beer in hand, as consumption of alcohol in public areas is allowed. For parking during a longer period of time you need a permission from local police, there are radar traps at every turn, nobody crosses the road on red light, doesn’t cut in line to train or tram, but at night people party on Langstrasse, one of “red light” streets of the city, and old headquarters of local prostitutes (prostitution is legal in Switzerland), an odd street which, if not for fashion for hipster bars and boutiques, would cause fear and dislike.
Zurich is a union of history, industry, nature and design. These elements mix non stop. You leave the old town, where you can visit renaissance city hall, the mother church of Swiss Protestantism (Grossmünster), or another church from 13th century of st. Paul, and then you enter a street full of designer shops, modern coffee shops and bars. A bit further you can find an idyllic promenade Utoquai by the beautiful Zurich lake, Bahnhofstrasse street with numerous shops and banks, and slightly above the center an elegant university by Räamistrasse street with a nice view over the city. A few tram stations further there is a highly industrial district Hardbrüke recently very modernized and fashionable. The shop of a famous brand Freitag selling bags made of recycled truck tarpaulins is located there. It’s a unique construction made of metal containers stuck next and on top of each other. Moreover, Zurich is also a city of art. Here Dadaism was formed, James Joyce wrote his masterpieces, here in Fraumünster church by Kämbelgasse 2 street you can see stained-glass windows made by Marc Chagall and visit many museums of modern, and not only, art.
There was one place that truly surprised us. Situated on the Sihl river, during the day it’s a bathing pool for men only, at night a hipster and buzzing open-air bar with picnique benches and colorful cushions. Rimini bar is a super unique escape from the city stress and noise.
Aga and Pascal, our close friends who were showing us the city, talked a lot about the STATION. We will buy bread at the station, we will visit the city from the station, let’s show them the station… It turned out that the station is a local city center, open even during holidays, with white almost sterile, lightened by bright bulbs long corridors with many shops, 54 platforms, and above all thousands of people getting in and out of numerous modern, neat, punctual like Swiss watches and unbearably expensive trains. Expensive, yes. Unfortunately Zurich is probably the most expensive city in the world. A drink is 15 euros, two sausages Bratwurst with a juice and a beer 25, and public transport that will kill your average daily budget…
And where are Swiss banks, financial center and stock exchange? I guess they escaped our attention between old-modern buildings, coffee shops and walks along the lake and river.
More photos from Switzerland here.
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