Thursday, February 3, 2011


We took the tram into Zürich from the airport. Not the fastest way, but it gave us a chance to watch the change from the modern outskirts, through the suburbs, into the heart of the city. Out hotel, the Hotel Bristol, was a five minute walk from Zürich HB, the central train station. The hotel is extremely convenient to the old town and central shopping district, and is very clean, and inexpensive by Zürich standards.

We spent Tuesday evening on a stroll around the old town, just getting our bearings. The weather was cool but not cold: zero degrees Celsius. It felt great after 16+ hours in planes and airports. At there were no disagreements over dinner: we dove into the first döner kebab shop we saw, and it was like we'd never left. I like a good gyro as much as the next guy, but doners bring back memories of travel and far-off places.

After a tasty breakfast we got down to serious touristing. For as old as Zürich is, it doesn't have the same ancient feeling of other European cities. The city has done an exceptional job of keeping itself clean and traditional while becoming the center of banking and technology on the continent. I also experienced first-hand something which cemented its place as the richest city in the world: a dirty Bentley. And not just dusty, but rather that "it's dirty from driving around in the snow all winter, I'll just wash it in the spring" dirty. Kinda of how mine will look.

We started our tour by riding the Polybahn funicular up the hill to the lookout in front of the Zürich Technical Academy. The sun had started to burn off the fog, and it gave us a perspective of our day's route.

We wandered down to the Central Library and Prediger Kirche to start. The library is a 19th century building which as been completely modernized inside. But still has card catalogs: haven't seen those for years. Hooray for old school. We continued on the the Rathaus and Rathaus Platz. The guard stopped my excursion to the upper floors, so we were limited to the lobby.

Just south is Zürich's oldest and largest church, the Grossmünster Kirke. We made the climb up the tower and we rewarded with amazing views of the city and the lake. A stroll through the Bürkli Platz along the lake took us to the shopping district. Rodeo Drive has nothing on Banhhofstrasse and surrounds.

We had lunch at the Restaurant Zeughauskeller, local bankers and tourists alike partaking of Swiss fare. After lunch we found the Watch and Clock museum, which is in the underground floor of a watch shop. The museum is very small but has a neat collection of timepieces. The watch shop, however, was also impressive: I probably can't afford anything where they server the customers Champagne while they peruse the wares.

We jumped on the No 11 tram and took it out to the Tram Museum. It was an interesting collection of old tram cars, housed in a former service depot. The Zürich card included both transit and entry to the museum. Seattle should do something similar, if it doesn't already. Many of the cities we visited had a similar package: museums, transit, and discounts.

Back in the old town, we found the Toy Museum and a bratwurst stand for dinner. Day one in the bag. Off to Mürren and the mountains in the morning.

Morning of departure: hurry to the train station...split up to get tix and food. I go to the Coop for travel snacks; and on the way back to the station I see the final nail in the 'MOVE TO EUROPE NOW, TIM" coffin: some dude walking to the Zurich train station in SKI BOOTS, carrying his skis Not carrying his boots, walking in them, kinda like walking from the parking lot to the lift. In down-effing-town Zurich. This is good.

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