One day in Zurich


Although I (almost) always paid attention at school and read the paper every morning, for one reason or another my knowledge of Zurich, as well as Switzerland, is patchy at best. I’ve read reports on the odd Swiss referendum, and on one hazy morning the story of the successful ‘Swiss tax CD export’ even made headline news, but everything in Switzerland just seems to run like clockwork.

Shove the alphorn, fondue, chocolate and wristwatch clichés to the back of the mind; here is our 24 hours in Zurich.

[06:30] Needless to say I am no early riser, and try to avoid being conscious before 8 a.m. if at all possible. However, planning my trip the night before had taken a lot longer than expected, so I wake up to see the sun rise as I pack a bag small enough to avoid that frustrating wait next to the luggage belt.

[08:30] After a 15-minute taxi trip, my accompanying traveller and I arrive at Tegel, my all-time favorite airport. Jump out the taxi, step into the airport, breeze through security control and all of a sudden you find yourself on a plane without the customary kilometre-long trek. I still cling on to hope that the airport will remain open in the future.

[10:00] The Swiss Airline flight lands in Zürich on the dot, an hour after taking off while I am left wondering exactly when passengers stopped applauding each and every successful landing. Maybe it could catch on if I gave it another go…

[10:15] At the airport information desk we pick up our ZürichCARDs. These will grant us unlimited travel on the various public transport offerings over the next 24 hours, as well as free entry to the city’s museums.

[10:30] With the city centre calling our names, we board a train and I take note of Zurich’s first major plus point – the eye-opening colors of the city’s stations and trains. Everything seems a little more sophisticated here than in Germany.

[11:00] Arrival at 25hours Hotel in Zurich’s former industrial district in the west of the city. The hotel’s surroundings are perhaps not the prettiest at first sight – mainly because everything else around is being rebuilt or dug up. However as we will later find out, the location is really central and from the tram stop on the hotel’s doorstep all the places on our itinerary are within easy reach.

[12:30] After a short pause to recharge our batteries we meet Stephan from ‘Zurich Tourism’ who takes us to the city’s tallest building. On its 34th floor is the restaurant ‘Clouds’ from which there really is an impressive vista over all of Zurich. The food is also exquisite, although it is advisable not to step into the lift with an empty wallet or purse – it’s not cheap.

[14:00] Well-nourished, the tour of the city can finally begin in earnest. We start at the Löwenbräu Areal, home to a handful of interesting galleries and museums. This former brewery district is worth a visit not only due to its architecture, but also its exhibitions.

[16:00] The weather is seemingly on our side today as we make our way through the old town. We aimlessly stroll down narrow streets, and take countless pictures, my camera moving in unison with those of the countless other tourist groups around us.

[17:00] While walking along lake Zurich we stumble upon somewhere that rents boats, at which point we spontaneously opt to hire a pedal boat for an hour. The water in the lake is so clear that you occasionally get a glimpse of the lakebed. All around us people are lying at so-called badis – the local term for Zurich’s open-air swimming pools – and jumping into the chilly water, something that we unfortunately cannot join due to a distinct lack of swimwear.

[18:00] After another little break we turn again to Zurich’s cultural side. We make our way by tram to the Kunsthaus Zurich. The art collection here contains more than 4,000 paintings, sculptures and installations and you should definitely take ample time to pore over the collection, which we unfortunately don’t quite have. A more comprehensive report on our trip the museum will follow shortly here on iGNANT.

[19:30] Before we press on with our evening plans, we must first fill our rumbling tummies once again. We try to achieve this at the vegetarian restaurant Hiltl, which had come recommended to us beforehand. The restaurant is known for its wonderful array of dishes set out as a buffet and all paid for by weight. As one or two of you may have heard Switzerland isn’t the cheapest place on earth. For two plates and a half-litre bottle of Evian we pay around 60 francs.

[21:00] Despite the fact that we are dead on our feet after wandering around for so long and want to hit the hay back at our hotel room, we pluck up enough energy to give Frau Gerolds Garten (Mrs Gerold’s Garden) a visit. This is part of a highly successful container-project in Zurich-West that boasts several bars, shops and of course a garden with fresh vegetables. Here you can sit in the open-air and let a summer day blissfully draw to a close.

[23:00] On the way back to the hotel we pass a shop called ‘Bogen 33’, curiously still open at this hour. Hidden in this underground labyrinth are hundreds of design classics from Vitra, USM & Co. From lamps, tables, chairs all the way to cupboards, there was enough plunder in this little gem to make my heart beat at an unhealthy rate.

Only after that could we crawl into bed, and on the following morning head back home, which felt so soon after our arrival. Zurich is invariably near the top of ‘places to visit‘ lists in most city guides – and for good reason. The quality of life really is abnormally high. Although the prices are very high, the city will return the investment with amazing impressions.

Pictures: Clemens Poloczek & Yasmin Yazdani | text: Clemens Poloczek | translation: Jamie Craig

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