As a single mom, seeing my daughter graduate as Magna Cum Laude in Business Administration major in Finance and Treasury Management was a fulfilling reward for all my hard work and sacrifice. I rewarded her efforts with a one week trip to Zurich, Switzerland. It was June last year when we travelled to the land of towering, snowy mountains, high waterfalls, and long misty lakes. Zurich was one of the most expensive cities in the world, but it was absolutely worth seeing.
We were welcomed by a cold weather when we arrived via SWISS Airlines flight from JFK International Airport to Zurich Airport. Once we arrived at the airport we applied for a Zurich Card which allows free rides to the train and entrance to all its museums. We make use of our train pass and alighted at the city centre where our hotel is located. For starters we spent the rest of the day with a tour of the Old Town (Altstadt). Zurich is a very important city but small in size. It is located at the mouth of Limmat Zurich Lake and surrounded by a beautiful mountainous landscape. We learn a lot about the city as we strolled around this historic center with cobblestone pedestrian streets that is in between the banks of the Limmat River, which divides the city but is connected by a picturesque bridge. The Bahnhoffstrasse is the area full of shops and fine dining restaurants for the bourgeois’ crowd. The Lindenhof Square in the heart of the city is the place of recreation and meeting place. Just across the square is the Niederdorfstrasse area where most of the younger generations gather on clubs and bars especially at night. Everything around the Old Town is very clean and well maintained; unfortunately the price level is in fact a little above the usual from home.
After a sumptuous breakfast from our hotel we head out early to visit the Museum of Art (Kunsthaus Zurich). Easily accessible via tram number three, it is an art museum with its own spectacular gallery and temporary exhibitions. I adore the Pablo Picasso exhibition from his pink and blue periods, down to his Cubist and neo-classical phase surrealist creations. The compilation and presentation of his artworks were very impressive. The great Swiss artist Alberto Giacometti has a separate exhibition room dedicated to him at this museum. Whether paintings, photographs, sculptures, and installations everyone will find something that will suit their taste. Afterwards we check out the secluded Rietberg Museum. The path through the museum alone was worth the visit. Accessible via tram number seven, this museum houses a collection with global reach. The extensive collection which is housed in three villas showcases renowned collection of works from Asia, Africa, America, and the South Pacific. It succeeds in promoting and understanding other foreign cultures through art. The quality selection of exhibits, the location, the parks around the museum, and the café with non-industrially manufactured products make this attraction an absolutely unique oasis of art, contemplation, and tranquility.
On our third day, we visited wildlife animals in the Zurich Zoo. It offers many facilities for the welfare of the animals. The best of these is the Masaola Hall, where an impression of the Madagascar jungle is right in the middle of the zoo. We saw a huge collection of tortoises, lemurs, birds, and a chameleon hidden behind the vegetation. There were also large enclosures to protect the animals like the huge aquarium and terrarium. The zoo is home to more than 42 different animal species and more than 20.000 plants. After a ride thru tram 6, we reached the Zoological Museum. It has great fun for kids, especially the wild weather station that is installed in the center of the park. There were many stuffed animals on the second floor of this museum. In the afternoon a short movie was shown to delight the young and old alike. The exhibit comes with an audio tour complete with the sound of the animals.
The next morning we took an early stroll in the city center to visit the Church of our Lady (Fraumunster). This church is frequented by tourists because of its famous stained glass Chagall windows and its church choir. On that sunny day the lighting inside the church looked brighter as the sunshine peeked thru the windows. Its 6,000 pipe organ is the largest in Switzerland and is very much worth listening to. The interior is rather plain and has nothing special to offer except for the longitudinal windows that are not allowed to be photographed. Behind this church is a cloister of the former Catholic monastery filled with wonderful murals. However, the impressions were more different when we toured the Great Church (Grossmunster). The great cathedral is one of the most famous church and landmark in the city. The interiors were kept very simple consisting only of a pulpit and a baptismal font. The stained glass windows were designed by the famous Giacometti. My daughter and I took pictures inside the church and ascended one of the open towers. Despite the narrow staircase and the exhausting climb, we were rewarded with a great view of the city and on that clear day the snow capped Swiss Alps.
The following day was spent comprehending Swiss history at the Swiss National Museum. This museum which is just across the train station, boasts of a huge collection of the cultural history of the country. It features a permanent exhibition of objects of archaeology from early times up to the 21st century. We saw a great collection of paintings, sculptures, weapons, flags, watches, tools, toys, and prehistoric objects that have reference to the Swiss culture. Even the fairy tale castle like architecture is impressive. Later that day, we visited the Urania Observatory. The trek to reach this planetarium offers a great view all over Zurich, upon reaching the observatory we get to peek on its telescopes and look into the emerging night sky. We enjoyed a drink and some tapas at the small restaurant in the area. An elevator ride took us to the top most part where we had a magnificent view of the Old Town as we enjoyed a glass of wine. Before the night was over we took time to watch a ballet performance at the Zurich Opera House. The show was musically perfect and very entertaining. The house is situated in a privileged location near the lake; the small terraces allow us to enjoy the view during the break.
On our last day we tried riding the Zurich Polybahn Train. Located near the main station, the train can go up high and give a panoramic view of the whole city. It serves tourists and students and runs from morning until evening. It connects the town and ETH a technological school in Zurich. The train is fully automatic and once we reached the ETH part we had a more sensational view over the city. For the students it is a useful means of transport, while for the tourists it is a nostalgic trip to the Art Nouveau era. A monument that has survived the changes of time, we had a fun ride as we tried to drive on the open platform. After here, we visited the Botanical Garden (Botanischer Garten). It is beautifully located at the centre, a quiet oasis within a city. The lush garden is a visual treat for all. The park is relatively large and the greenhouses are open to the public. We enjoyed a quiet time walking, admiring the flowers and other rare plants. A visit to this enchanting garden is worthwhile.
We were happy to experience an Interesting culture; lakefronts strolls, and cool weather. The good standard of life is truly remarkable. Everything about Zurich is just wonderful.