Oct 30 2008

Wochenende in Zürich

by at 12:04 am

Over the weekend Jackie and I went to Zurich for the first time. (As always, our photos are available on Jackie’s Flickr photostream. Follow the link on the left sidebar.) Billed as the world’s smallest metropolis, Zurich is a really cool city. It’s in the Swiss-German part of the country, a bit over two hours from Lausanne. Upon our arrival, we found ourselves still in the same country—our Swiss francs were still accepted, chocolate was still revered—but our French was no more useful than our English. Fortunately, we weren’t at a complete loss because Jackie’s Yiddish proved somewhat helpful in understanding signs. We managed a few “danke”s as well.

When you think of Zurich, you think banks and bankers. Lots of banks and bankers means lots and lots of money—and the weekend was not cheap. We stayed with Jackie’s friend’s older sister, who claims 90% of her friends are bankers. Hanging out with her and her friends gave us a window into the social scene of young internationals with disposable income—quite a change from student life in Geneva and Lausanne. I was on the lookout, but I don’t think we met any of the “Gnomes of Zurich”. Maybe next time.

Check out this sign from the 80’s. In a prank, some anarchists painted “Zureich” on a building visible from trains entering the city to look to look just like the real railway station signs. “Zureich” is German for “too rich.” But at least the money isn’t wasted: Zurich ranks #1 on Mercer’s Quality of Living index, and it’s not hard to see why.

Niederdorf and Lake Zurich

Public transportation in the city is really good, even by Swiss standards. The old part of the city is very pretty and the new part somehow escaped the ugly 70’s Mather-style architecture which has scarred other Swiss cities.

Seth in Zurich

I’m not sure it would be included in a Quality of Living index, but unlike Lausanne, Zurich has multiple options for really good vegetarian food! Zurich is the home of Hiltl, the oldest vegetarian restaurant in Europe. It was founded in 1898 as the Vegetarierheim und Abstinez-Café (Vegetarians’ Home and Teetotalers’ Café). Now it’s a chic restaurant, frequented both by teetotalers and non-teetolers. It’s got a buffet of vegan and vegetarian food, carefully labeled (perfect for my lactose intolerance), and with lots of options, including a number of Indian dishes and traditional Swiss dishes. We liked Hiltl so much that we went to its sister restaurant Tibits the next day for lunch. We also bought their cookbook, which is useful because it’s metric and has some relevant notes for cooking food available in Switzerland.

Jackie on Munsterbrucke

Other events of note: while strolling by Lake Zurich on Sunday morning we noticed a street musician with a kippah playing marimba. It turned out to be Alex Jacobowitz, a classically trained musician from New York, who plays klezmer and Israeli tunes as well. Weird!

Alex Jacobowitz

Also, we went to a coffee museum and learned all about and tasted different ersatz coffees (alternatives to coffee for health or sociopolitical reasons). A very standard coffee replacement is chicory, but spelt “coffee” was pretty good too! Here’s a recipe if you want to try it at home.

Blue Boats

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4 responses so far

4 Responses to “Wochenende in Zürich”

  1. Sethon 30 Oct 2008 at 9:14 pm

    Here’s the cute picture the Swiss train company uses on their posters calling Zurich the “world’s smallest metropolis.”

  2. […] it was a Christmas market?), do a little shopping for winter coats, and eat at Tibits (the amazing vegetarian place from Zurich…why isn’t there one in Lausanne or Geneva? Sad.).  Walking tours did not go so well […]

  3. Benon 17 Nov 2008 at 9:41 pm

    A Jewish street marimbist, amazing! I think I should quit my job and do that… 😛

  4. Sethon 17 Nov 2008 at 9:56 pm

    Ben! You would make a good Jewish street marimbist. Maybe during your lunch breaks?

    …did we finally make it onto the list of blogs you read? 😉

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