Descending into Zurich, the snow capped mountains are the first things you see. As you deplane, the frigid air immediately hits you in the face. Riding the tram into the city, hearing people speaking German or English. Watching people going to and from. I can’t help but wonder what it’s like to live in Switzerland. One of the things I notice straightaway is how clean Zurich is. We get off at the last stop. The ride from the airport to the center of Zurich takes roughly 25 minutes.We finally find our way to our hotel, which was a bit of a hike because we didn’t know we could have gotten off on at an earlier stop.
The Allure of Switzerland
I’m not exactly sure why but Switzerland has always appealed to me, be it for their neutral stance politically or for the alps which are often synonymous with Switzerland. My mother has dreamed of visiting Switzerland since she was a child because of a book named Heidi, which takes places in the Swiss Alps.
Zurich in many ways has its own flair. It doesn’t remind me of other European cities I’ve visited like perhaps Madrid or London. The buildings and homes are very close together and are all various colors and hues ranging from yellow to blue. The buildings are old, which adds to the character of the city. It seems as if you could get lost exploring all of the small alleyways which lead to different shops and cafes. Despite the cold, there are many people sitting outdoors enjoying the fresh air. As result, most chairs are adorned with a light blanket to encourage people to sit outside.
The first day we arrived, we shopped on the famous Bahnhofstrasse and took in the sights off the Limmat River. January is the perfect time for shopping because almost all of the stores are having their winter sales. Apparently in Zurich, (the same is also true for France) sales happen twice a year, in January and July. Something to keep in mind, if you love to shop as much as I do. I believe I inherited that trait from my mother. People in Zurich are impeccably dressed. The cobblestone roads are not a deterrent for the fashionable Swiss women to wear their high heeled boots or stilettos. The men also take pride in their personal style which does not go unnoticed. It’s apparent Zurich is one of the wealthiest cities in Europe.
The next day we headed on a tour which made stops in Heidiland, Rapperswil and Liechtenstein. My mother was super excited about Heidiland, which is the backdrop for the popular Heidi stories. Unfortunately, due to inclement weather, we weren’t able to see the house where the fictional story took place but we stopped at the Heidi fountain. Next we headed to Rapperswil, the city of roses, a quaint city about 45 minutes from Zurich. After exploring Rapperswil and Heidiland, we crossed over to Liechtenstein.
Liechtenstein is the sixth smallest country in the world as well as one of the least visited. We didn’t have much time to explore Vaduz, the capital, but it was definitely worth the trip. If you go to the visitor center, you can get your passport stamped for 3 Francs ($3). We finished up our tour about 6:30 and then we headed to dinner for our last night in Zurich.
Our tour guide recommended that we go to the Lindt & Sprungli store to choose from their vast selections of chocolate. We opted for the hot chocolate which was divine. It was 100x better than any hot chocolate I’ve ever had. It tastes as if you are drinking a chocolate bar, quite rich, but lovely. Walking along the Bahnhofstrasse, we stumbled across a quaint restaurant which was the perfect place for our last night out on the town . I ordered a hamburger which was $30 Francs ($30) which sounds expensive but I insist it was NOT your average burger. In Zurich alone, there are over 2,000 restaurants. Meals range from 15-30 Francs ($15-30) depending on the restaurant. Cheaper eats can be found like Doner Kebabs, which are about 10 Francs (10$), are delicious. A Doner Kebab is similar to a gyros but typically the meat is beef instead of lamb. They are massive so it could easily be shared between two people.
If you’re planning a trip to Europe, Switzerland should be on your list and here’s why:
1.Zurich is an absolutely gorgeous city, the views of the snow capped alps are something you have to see for yourself.
2.The people are friendly and willing to help. Most people speak English so no need to worry about a language barrier.
3.Swiss chocolate is out of this world. To save money, a variety of chocolate can be found at the grocery store, which is an affordable yet tasty souvenir. I repeat, Swiss chocolate is out of this world!
4.The shopping is incredible with many brands unique to Switzerland as well as Zara, H&M, and Mango.
5.The public transportation is extremely efficient and easy to figure out.The tram costs $6 one way. There are a variety of passes available to suit your needs.
Keep in mind Zurich is not the cheapest European city but it can be done on a budget.Hotels are a bit pricey but a cheaper alternative would be to stay near the airport.
Sorrel hotel Rex: Nightly rate of $160. 10-minute walk to the center of Zurich. Breakfast is included. I would definitely recommend this hotel!
Exchange rate: 1 Frank = 1.03
Languages spoke: French, Italian, German (Zurich), and Romansh
50% of the people who work in Zurich come from other cities
30% of the people own their apartments or homes
45,000 people work in the banking district
Lion: Symbol of Zurich