As mentioned in earlier posts we were lucky enough to spend 5 weeks in Europe earlier in the year. This was a well needed holiday but also an opportunity to check out areas of Europe and see first hand their culture, architecture and food. We decided to make Zurich our arrival and departure city for the trip.
The city of Zürich lies in the heart of Europe and at the centre of Switzerland, on the northern shores of Lake Zürich. Its multicultural flair and the variety of leisure activities on offer attract guests from all over the world to this “region of short routes”.
Zürich is a leading global city and among the world’s largest financial centres. The city is home to a large number of financial institutions and banking giants. Most of Switzerland’s research and development centres are concentrated in Zürich and the low tax rates attract overseas companies to set up their headquarters there.
After the 20 plus hours flight to Europe we finally landed in Zurich ready and eager for what we might encounter. We decided to hire a car as this would allow us more flexibility to travel where we wanted. Our intention originally was to drive and stop when we wanted. However our plans had to change due to arriving in Europe near their “high season”, and therefore booked our accommodation prior to leaving Australia.
We were very lucky to stay with friends in a small village not far from Zurich. They mentioned that only a week prior to our arrival the weather had been cold and in fact some parts had snow. We must have brought the sunshine with us, from the time we arrived in Europe to when we left, we had sunshine every day with the exception of two where we had a small amount of drizzly rain in the late afternoon.
Our friends in Zurich, took us to a number of places to experience the sights and food of the area. One special trip was a boat ride on a paddle-wheel steamer on Lake Lucerne.
Lucerne, is the gateway to central Switzerland, sited on Lake Lucerne, and is embedded within an impressive mountainous panorama. The trip on Lake Lucerne is via a fleet which includes five paddle steamers, the GALLIA, SCHILLER, STADT LUZERN, UNTERWALDEN and URI, built between 1901 and 1928. The timetable uses symbols to indicate which sailings are normally taken by these ships. There are also symbols to show which sailings have restaurants or bars. The biggest ships on the lake carry 1200 passengers. Generally, the upper deck is reserved for first-class ticket holders. Along the way, passengers will be able to admire nature at its best: gently rolling meadows, idyllic bays, dramatic fjords, and near-vertical cliffs.
Not being a “sailor at heart” I had my doubts about going on board. It was suggested that we purchase a First Class ticket which allowed entry to the open top deck where you could see the views all around the lake. There were great sights of the Alps, still covered with plenty of snow.
The boat was used by tourists and locals who lived around the lake, carrying their shopping, bikes, and dogs home.
Along the lake you could see little villages, and sometimes accommodation houses for the tourists. It was a very pleasant trip and I managed to have no “sailing nerves” as it was beautifully calm on the water.
We departed the vesel at Vitznau, a village which lies in a bay of Lake Lucerne at the foot of the Rigi. According to Wikipedia it is a popular destination for tourism especially from England. The Park Hotel is west of town and dates from the 1900s.
Another memorable trip was on a chair lift up one of the smaller mountains, where the panoramic view of Lake Zurich and surrounds at the top was breathtaking. I don’t usually like heights but this didn’t seem to affect me, maybe I was too interested in the scenery around me.
Apart from the views at the summit there was also a restaurant where we had refreshments.
We decided to take a trip to the shopping precinct in Zurich. Zurich has the reputation of a shopping city, even if not quite that of London or Milano. Especially Bahnhofstrasse is well known around the globe as one of the most exclusive and expensive shopping streets in the world.
Whilst we were there the main street was being transformed to include beautiful trees and making sure that they had a plentiful water supply. The area close to Lake Zurich was already like this, but they were carrying the theme along the whole strip. It was rather a mess, with bulldozers, trucks and workmen barricaded behind high fencing, and plenty of noise to match. Still it will be great once completed.
We purchased a couple of clothes for my husband, but did plenty of window-shopping. We were intrigued with the chocolates and gourmet take home meals on display.
Laderach chocolatier Suisse is a true family business started in 1962 by Chocolatier Rudolf Laderach, passed on to his son, Jurg, and upheld by his grandson, Elias, ensures their oath of excellence. By offering a variety of superior, handcrafted pieces they afford a true diversion from the ordinary. By providing genuine Swiss confectionary art, such as truffles, pralines, petite pastries, and friandises , inspiration is eminent. Only the finest ingredients from the best sources are utilized, infusing distinction into every product, pledging quality as an experience.
Chocolatier Laderach is a chocolate lovers’ dream.
Before leaving the area we decided to walk to Lake Zurich, situated just outside the main shopping precinct. Lake Zürich’s water is very clean and reaches, during summer, temperatures well beyond 20 °C (68 °F). Swimming in the public baths and beaches is very popular. The lake’s water is purified and fed into Zürich‘s water system; it is potable.
Whilst enjoying the hospitality of our friends and being treated to numerous bar-be-ques on their outside patio in the lovely weather. What struck me the most was the amount of items that come in tubes and packets, unlike what we have here. Mustard, meat paste, mayo, tomato paste etc. all come in squeeze tubes, and a large variety of cured meats in plastic packs. The bread bought fresh from the local bakery for breakfast was so tasty and very different to those we have at home. My favourite would have to be the walnut bread/rolls, they were superb.
All in all we had a very enjoyable time in and around Zurich.