Zurich is in equal part classic architecture and trendy hip new Zurich. I bet that’s the only time a sentence has started and finished with “Zurich” 🙂 We spent a day exploring “Old Zurich” which has wide tree-lined boulevards and small cobbled alleyways crammed with restaurants.
We overlooked the fact that Zurich is an international centre for banking, but this was not difficult to do. Far from the glassy business-centred place we expected, Zurich was warm and interesting.
We found more giant chess and managed to play a game ourselves which was lovely 🙂 My BF won though, but next time….!
We took a short boat ride round Lake Zurich which was a lovely way of whiling away an hour or two.
We hired bikes (which were free to hire under the excellent Zurich Roll bike scheme) and cycled round Lake Zurich. Well, not all of it! It was probably my favourite day in Zurich – it’s obviously nice to see all the sights and culture, but it’s also nice to just chill out lakeside like the locals do.
Beside the lake on the North East side in Seefeld there are extensive parks. We sat with our feet in the lake, which was perfect on a hot day. But you have to be careful – the couple next to us got soaked by a wave which must have been created by one of the passing boats. The lake looked clean and safe so my BF even went for a dip in the lake. We don’t normally swim in open water, but the locals were also swimming.
We spent the evening by the lake listening to some musicians (part buskers, part band) playing and watched the sunset.
“New” Zurich is all about re-purposing old and often industrial premises and creating fabulous new venues. We visited old factories that now house restaurants and bars (such as Pulse 5, or even Schiffbau, now a theatre), and our fave which was an old viaduct – every arch contained a different shop, cafe, or shared-workspace for start up companies.
I was amazed at the mixed landuse in these areas of Zurich, such as the area of District 5. You’ve got heavy industry next door to these hip cafes and bars, neat door to a large glassy office. One bar was made of several shipping containers like a pile of giant lego. We saw bars and food places next door to working industry. We also saw a really cool badminton venue – effectively a sports hall with several badminton courts with a bar at one end from which you could watch play.
As if to underline Zurich’s hip status, on our last day we saw a roller-blading gathering. By that I mean hundreds of people on roller blades gathered, waiting for an event to start. We asked when it was all about, and they explained that people meet every month to rollerskate / rollerblade several kilometeres round Zurich, just for fun. It is a serious event and had a support vehicle and a police escort to ensure their safety. I’d LOVE to see this replicated at home, but we’d have to overcome our weather and hilly terrain. We were impressed by this initiative.
- The free bike scheme was wonderful. In an expensive city, this is a rare freebie! Look out for the green Zurich Rolls signs, and go to one of several bike depots. You just need to provide your contact details and an ID, and pay a small cash deposit (10 or 20 CHF I think) which you get back when you return the bikes. We used the depot at the Viaduct in District 5 and it worked really well. However, if you want to use one of the city centre depots near the train station, get there early as they seem to “sell out” quickly.
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