Europe,  Switzerland

Day 53 – 54: Zurich (Switzerland)

We decided to stop in Zurich for a couple of nights and see my childhood best friend (Adi), who lives there with his wife and their son. Zurich is Switzerland’s largest city and sits at the end of the beautiful Zurichsee or Lake Zurich. It’s located in the German speaking region of the country (with Zurich German being the main language).

We arrived at Adi and Simona’s house in the afternoon and caught up over dinner at their place. Their apartment overlooks the Zurichsee so after dinner we grabbed a drink at one of the hip waterfront restaurant/bars – with a gorgeous view of the lake and distant snow capped mountains.

The next morning we headed into Zurich and started walking around the old city’s cobblestoned streets. The architecture immediately grabbed our attention and forced a photo session out of Brigitte. One of Zurichs’s aesthetic attributes is the Limmat River which splits the city down the middle. We started on the western bank where within a quarter mile radius we found a number of churches which are unique in their own rite. St. Peter’s tower is decorated with a beautiful clock which is the largest in Europe. Then another church’s charm (Fraumünster), is accentuated by stained-glass windows painted by Marc Chagall, a famous contemporary artist. We pushed on through the old city and checked out a few other impressive landmarks including the Town Hall and the Bahnhofstrasse (Zurich’s ultra-luxurious shopping drag). Around 12:30 pm we met up with Adi for lunch. He recommended the Sprüngli Cafe which is well known for its incredible assortment of chocolates, mini-macaroons and pastries. Oh, and it’s also part of Lindt (Switzerland’s premier chocolate/confectionery brand). We enjoyed our lunch at an outside table and watched the ongoings of Bahnhofstrasse, complete with with the fanciest shops from apparel to luxury watches and exquisite jewelry – quite a scene! But most striking was my club sandwich, a $35 item which was actually “reasonable” compared to prices of other menus. It was very similar to a club sandwich back home except for the fried egg on top which was a nice add-on (maybe that’s where the premium comes from). After lunch we stopped in the chocolate store and picked up some of those fabled mini-macaroons which totally hit the spot.

Right after Brigitte and I decided to visit one of the city’s cemeteries where writer James Joyce is buried. The cemetery resembled a park more than anything with its luscious green trees/bushes and beautifully colored flowers.

Upon leaving the cemetery we saw a sign for FIFA, soccer’s ruling body of worldwide. Naturally we made our way over to see the campus. The grounds were very impressive consisting of plants from all around the world. The building itself was very modern and adjacent to it was a regulation size soccer field symbolic of the world’s beautiful game. The main lobby was pretty much the only area open to tourists which was a bit limiting.. however I managed to make friends with the security guy who later snuck us in for a private tour that was going on for a group of Vietnamese tourists. Not only did we see some of FIFA’s inner layers but I also got to sit in the Deputy Chairman’s chair!

Afterwards we made our way to a different section of the city (close to the lake) where we saw the Corbusier house, a modern and stylish building erected in 1965 that sits at Zürichorn park (a beautiful space where locals hang out). Given the proximity to the lake, we walked along the promenade back into the city’s center where we met up with Adi and Simona and made our way home together.

A full day in this beautiful Swiss city concluded with a cheese fondue dinner prepared Adi and Simona, coupled with great conversation and big laughs. Thanks to childhood friends for affording us new memories and reminding us that we should see each other more often!

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