There are a lot of misconceptions about Zürich. Yes, it is expensive I’ll give you that, but it’s not the boring, one dimensional financial hub that it’s often advertised to be. When R got placed there for work a couple of years ago I got the pleasure of getting to know the city.
On first impression the city seems like a toy town, the Altstadt in particular gives you this feeling. Winding cobbled streets with multi-coloured Swiss-style houses hang the country’s flag like bunting. Here you’ll find small florists, watch specialists and independent bakeries, beautiful clock faces, trinket stores and understated cafès and bars. But venture away from the old town and you’ll see another side of Zürich. The famous Bahnhoffstrasse is lined with shops and upmarket eateries, always busy and always bustling. On the other side of the river is home to some of the best nightlife ZH has to offer and a predominately younger crowd. Bar crawling here is a must on a Friday or Saturday night so it’s a good thing you can pick up a seriously good kebab or Currywurst on your way home.
In the summer months residents flock to the many badi dotted along the river Limmat to dip their feet in the water and cool off with a beer. The parks are equally as tempting when the weather permits, and when the sun’s shining there might be no better place to laze the day away than in Belvoirpark or Irchelpark. Disposable BBQ is optional but recommended if you want to blend in with the university crowds. For panoramic views of the city you can grab a quick (and ridiculously efficient) train to Üetliberg. Seeing the city from up here will make you realise how unusually green it is.
Unlike some smaller cities in Switzerland, in ZH you’re spoilt for choice with restaurants, cafès and bars, shopping, art and more. You can eat a different cuisine every night, hang out at a student dive bar one minute or nose your way around the Kunsthaus the next. In the day time grab a chair and take your place at one of the many slightly-hidden gardens in the streets behind the infamous Limmatquai – perfect after a Saturday spent eating wurst and picking up bargains at Flohmarkt Bürkliplatz. And for less thrifty among us don’t worry, Sihlcity mall has got your back.
I really enjoyed the Zürich life and getting to know a city for more than what’s written about it on paper. Now that R has moved on I miss those hazy summer days and afternoons exploring the city on foot. I just hope I can visit again soon.