Tuesday, October 11, 2011
Zurich was more beautiful than I remembered. My last visit was eight years ago, and while I loved the city, I somehow came away with memories of a cold, austere place full of big banks. But when I traveled back to Zurich on my way to Liechtenstein last week I had the chance to correct my faulty memory and rediscover the Swiss city.
I arrived in Zurich on Tuesday evening and took a train from the airport to the city center. From there I walked another 10 minutes to my Zurich accommodation, Hotel Helvetia. It was a boutique hotel with a lively bar, restaurant, and roof terrace, and my room was sleek and modern with a view over a canal.
After getting settled in, I took a quick walk around the city. It was then that I started to remember the beautiful bits of Zurich. First there was the pretty church spires, then the bridges and boutiques, and finally the narrow cobblestone lanes. By the time I arrived at the Park Hyatt for dinner, I had warmed to a city I remembered as cold.
I dined that night at parkhuus restaurant with Antonio, the Sales Manager at the Park Hyatt Zurich. I knew I liked the place as soon as the menus arrived. They were laid out like a market menu, with ingredients as headers instead of courses. Additionally, next to each menu item was the country of origin of the food. It was as if I could travel the world and eat well without ever leaving my chair. Perfect.
I was so intrigued by the concept that it took me forever to order. Thankfully I had a glass of Champagne to tie me over, and Antonio was the picture of patience. I finally settled on pumpkin soup made from Swiss pumpkins and a steak from Canada. Both were divine, and our server chose an excellent wine to go with them.
For dessert I had a dish that was simply called Brandy. It was part cake, part cream, part pastry, and part heaven. As if that wasn’t enough of a sweet ending, I had a traditional Swiss cocktail in the ONYX Bar that was all berries and cream. I went back to my hotel in good spirits that night.
The next morning I was up early and off to see Liechtenstein. The small sovereign state didn’t take long to see, so I had plenty of time to explore Zurich when I returned to Switzerland. I spent most of my time walking around the city center. From the wide retail thoroughfare of Bahnhofstrasse to the adjacent narrow streets packed with boutiques, I did my share of window-shopping.
To atone for coveting material things, I stepped into a few churches. One of them was the Fraumunster church with its famous stained glass windows by Marc Chagall. I had seen them on my first trip to Zurich, but had forgotten all about them. Stumbling upon them again was one of the highlights of the trip.
The rest of the day was spent wandering through more retail areas, down streets filled with restaurants and cafes, and through gardens and parks near the famous lake. I also had a quick dinner at a place called Piadina on bustling Niederdorfstrasse and enjoyed a walk through the gardens near the university.
When my Zurich travels were at an end, I took the train back to the airport and flew home to London. I regretted not spending more time in Switzerland, but was very happy to have rediscovered Zurich’s charm.