I arrived early Wednesday morning at the Zurich airport after a rather uncomfortable flight on an outdated plane next to the bathroom, but it could have been worse. My day started with riding all three transportation systems: train, tram, bus.
With my energetic host, we bought bretzel sandwiches and ate an early lunch in lindenhof overlooking the lake and the old city.
Interesting tradition of Zürcher (Zurich inhabitants): Sächsilüüte. Members of guilds (Zünfte) march though the city in the spring to the plaza in front of the Opera house, where a snowman with a combustible hat is burned (or so was explained to me) called a Boogg. The time it takes from the moment the stakes are lit to the hat exploding is indicative of how long a summer Zurich will have. My host told me that recently the festival has come under fire as it is rather patriarchal. Only adult men may march and sit down to the meal, while women can only participate as flower girls, holding the bouquets to be given to a man. The festival is also viewed as quite traditional and elitist, but still practiced.
After the informal city tour and some meandering by the lake, we headed to the botanical gardens. It’s almost like a garden with an inner and outer realm. You walk up a hill with several flowers and a winding pathway until you reach a huge clearing that gradually descends with a creek at the bottom.
There are mini-forests and mini-gardens abound, but the most striking feature is the cluster of three glass domed buildings. Each one houses a different ecosphere – lowland, mountain, and desert – and is completely immersive, in sight, smell, and temperature. The clearing is also a wonderful place for a respectable nap, I can guarantee.
The next day was spent trying to get to the Zurich University of Art (zhdk), but unfortunately all direct lines were cancelled.
Side note: Swiss are the most law-abiding pedestrians ever. When the cross sign is red, every person waits. If the person is in a hurry to catch a means of transportation, they sprint toward the vehicle only when the sign turns green. Public transportation is extremely timely, with the cost being higher than other cities.
At lunch, I reunited with my traveling buddy whom I will refer to as T, though most of you know her. After refueling with a bratwürst, we settled on the Kunsthaus museum, housing an extensive collection of art, the “old masters” and contemporary. The museum had unusual works from famous artists, such as a portrait of man walking his dog by Monet, and an Andy Warhol work with the label of a campbell’s soup peeling off. There was quite a collection of Alberto Giocometti sculptures as well as Augusto Giocometti tableaus, which were fascinating.
My host, T, and I concluded the afternoon with a swim near Küsnacht outside of Zurich’s main zone – less people, more pleasant, better waves as cruise boats went by. In the evening, we took a healthy take out from tibits and a bottle of Ticino wine and sat on benches along the lake promenade, watching the thunderstorm come closer and closer to us. Finally we were rained out and took refuge at globus.
I parted ways with my host this morning. My intention today was to see the Swiss national museum but after some scuffles with logistics for later in the trip and only an hour left, we settled on sitting by the Limmat at Park Platzspitz, documenting our adventures so far.
We left Zurich in the late afternoon by car for our next destination – an Ultimate hat tournament in Austria – as the sun was just beginning its slow descent. It was my first opportunity to look closely at the hills that surround Zurich, very green and densely wooded, a nice way to part until the next time.
Also I didn’t have time to form a complete playlist, but I recommend listening to “Lone Digger” by Caravan Palace if pop or even jazz is more your style or “Waterborne” by Futuristik and Miyoki if you are into dubstep and electronics, courteousy of my wonderful host!