Sunday, December 31, 2017

A snowy day in Zurich

I think I have been to the city of Zurich at least three times till now, if not more. But I somehow never stayed long in the city or get time to explore it till now. This winter, I went there again on a short work trip but thankfully, I got to see a bit of the city at least.

I landed late on a Sunday evening and it was already dark given it was winter. I wanted to explore the city in the evening but the long immigration line didn't help, as it delayed me by an hour already. It was nice to see though that there was Uber in Zurich even though I took a quick local taxi to my hotel.

The drive to the hotel was through the main city and I got a glimpse of some of the Christmas lighting put up in the main streets. Also the architecture felt very German at least in the outskirts, with very straight-line kind of buildings, very basic. I was almost hoping to see the typical Swiss alpine wooden houses on the way, but I think I may have to go to the Alps to see that view.

After checking in to my hotel - I was staying at the Sheraton near the city centre - I thought I would get out and go for a walk around. There were two options, either to walk along the lake to the Christmas market, or go towards the Old Town, both the walks were only 20-30 minutes. I chose the Old Town as I wanted to have a nice dinner as soon as possible and not be out in the cold for too long.

Twinkling city centre
I used the map to walk to the main city and somehow the city felt quite stark. There were a few old typical European stone buildings but most of them felt very serious and basic. And it was so cold, my face and hands were all freezing. I think that added to the feeling of starkness to the town. Most of the streets were quite empty, other than the trams crossing by every few minutes. I crossed a small river and then a big river and reached the Munsterbruche bridge which was decorated with Christmas lights all around. With the twinkling in the cold night, these lights looked even more enchanting. And their reflections in the river added to the charm of the view . I walked by a few churches on the way and reached the main shopping area.

It was very cold that night and even with boots and a thick jacket, I could feel the cold through my jeans. I was wondering what kind of clothes should you wear in such a chilly weather 😏? Anyways the main street, Munstergasse was a lot more lively than the rest of the places. It was a narrow cobbled street with loads of christmas lights, restaurants and small shops everywhere.

There were also a lot of small Christmas markets all along the way, with the typical decoration and music all around. I walked along the road a bit and then stopped soon at Pulcino, an Italian restaurant which felt warm and inviting. Italian food is such a life saver in meat friendly places!.The food and ambience at the restaurant was nice but so expensive. I got a good taste of how expensive Zurich could be!

After dinner, I took a roundabout route and came back to the hotel from the lake side. There was a lot of lighting all the way there. And once at the lake, the view all around was spectacular. On the one side there was the Christmas market with a lot of small stalls, all lighted up and people standing and chatting away late in the night. And the other side of the lake it looked like there was a mountain with a lot of twinkling lights in small houses all around. And I could see lights going up the mountain everywhere. It was quite an enchanting sight, making the cold winter evening a lot warmer!

On the way I crossed a huge watch set in the ground, overlooking the lake - I guess it’s a sign that you’re in Switzerland . I walked all the way along the lake but it was so cold that I wanted to get back to my hotel as soon as possible. I think Zurich might not be as fun in winter without the Christmas markets, but at least with the Christmas lighting felt very charming at night.

Zurich in the snow
In the morning it started snowing, and the whole city almost transformed into something else! I was busy all day at work but got a chance in the morning to take a walk in the snow. I walked along the same route as the previous day and everything looked so serence and calm in the white...

Zurich in the snow
The snow did not last much and melted very soon afterwards. So by the evening, it was back to the same except some snow left on the roofs of the houses. We had dinner at an Indian place called the Thali House which did not have the best decor around but served very tasty Indian food and the hot fare felt amazing in all the cold around!

Lake Zurich
The next day, I went for a short walk around the same area in the evening light and was impressed with the view around the lake. The lake is huge and extends forever, surrounded by snow covered mountains on both sides. There were loads of boats moored on it and many birds and seagulls flying around. And now I could see the villages on the edges of the lake even far off - I guess those are all suburbs of Zurich.

Christmas market
I also visited the Christmas market during the day, it had loads of small huts and all kinds of things to eat and buy - bags, sweaters, lamps, jams and so on. There were loads of people there and it felt very lively and Christmas-ey. There was a shop there selling Christmas decorations and I loved the whole vibe inside, the Christmas colours and music. I think that was my favourite in the market.

View of the city centre
Walking back to the main city through the Munsterbruche bridge, the area around looked completely different in the light and even more fascinating now, given I was now able to see the buildings around and the lights slowly coming on. I took a few more photos of the central city all lighting up. And by then, it was getting too cold to be out. So I very quickly took a cab to the airport, saying goodbye to the city.

The whole Zurich centre is quite small - a 20 mins round walk and I think I repeated the walk threee time - at night, during daylight just before dusk and then during the snow. It looked different everytime. And thats when I realised that even though Zurich doesnt have much to offer to tourists, there is a cosy romantic feeling about it which is inexplicable.

There are so many churches around the central area, with the sharp spires on the sides. And lot of small rivers and the lake to add to the pretty landscape. There were also a lot of trams all around the old city. They seemed like a convenient way to get around. Especially going up the mountain given half the city is on uneven ground. The sky though is full of the tram wires which takes away from the look.

Most of the people speak English and were very friendly and helpful. Overall the city felt quite convenient and easy to live in, but a bit cold. Also Zurich is ridiculously expensive, for no reason at all! Food is out of the charts. And the taxis are expensive too. Wonder why? My trip was quite short and cold outside. I think it might be a different experience to visit in winter, someday...

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