Wednesday, December 22, 2010

Zürich Schweiz - A Storybook City

Fraumünster Church (Left),St. Peterskirche (Center), Grossmünster (Right) Taken from the Quaibrücke Bridge

Sunday can only be described as a Storybook Experience!  We knew Zurich was beautiful.  We knew it was the land of banks!  We knew there be gold in these parts!  But I was not even closed to prepared for the beauty we encountered throughout the entire city.  How can you say "Awesome" so many different ways?

Zürich Hauptbahnhof
We first arrived in the city around 14:30 (2:30 PM for us Americans) Sunday at the Zürich Hauptbahnhof or the Main Train station.  Yep!  We came by train because everyone travels by train.  It is the largest train station in Zurich as well as all of Switzerland.  We saw trains from Italy, Germany, France and the sort.  Want to go to Paris for a few days?  Round trip via train is around $280 U.S. Dollars.  (Guesstimation!)  How about Italy?  By train to Rome in about 9 - 10 hours.  Of course, you can also catch the regional trains to go around Switzerland or the local trains to get back home.  Rule of thumb in Zurich is that you are no more than 10 minutes from either a train or bus to get you to another part of town. And get this!!  First Class Service exists on the local trains.  Of course, we are always in the Second Section.  We know our station in life!

Chestnuts Roasting on an Open Fire!  It's for real.  One of the first things we saw was Chestnuts roasting on an Open Fire!  Really!  And it's quite a popular snack in these areas!  Never had it before!  It was pretty good!  Ok!  It's an acquired taste but we enjoyed it immensely.

And when you buy a bag of Chestnuts, you get two bags glued together.  One full of chestnuts and the other for your chestnut shells.  All we needed was Nat King Cole to start singing for us!  Maybe next year!

University of Zurich as seen from Bahnhofstrasse
We continued away from the Hauptbahnhof and walked down Bahnhofstrasse (Train Station Street).  Ok!  Big warning here!  There are hundreds and hundreds of people on the street, on the sidewalk, in the stores, in the restaurants.  Everywhere. Ok!  Maybe even thousands. Remember!  Everyone walks!  And amazingly when the trolleys come around, the streets clear momentarily for an orderly exit and / or entry to the trolley of your choice.  Remember, this is Sunday and if you look at the sidewalks, there is still snow!  And it was cold. In fact, more snow flurries as we walked eating our chestnuts.  Did I mention it was cold?

The University of Zurich was founded 177 Years ago.  It actually started in 1833 as part of the "Universitas Turicensis" with 16 theology students, 26 law students, 98 medicine students and 21 arts students enroll. A few things to remember about those days!  Firstly, everything was in German or Latin.  Secondly, no internet!

It was still daylight so were yet to see Zurich lit up at night but that was coming.  The shops are amazingly beautiful.  Because it's the week before Christmas, the shops were open on Sonntag (Sunday).  Normally what you see on the left is an empty street on a Sunday.  But not this past Sunday.  There are cars on the street.  BMW's, Mercedes-Benz, Volvo's, Renault's.... you know... the common man's car!  My Honda CR-V 2009 won't hold a candle to these cars.  Excuse me!  Anyway!  Everyone was shopping.  And everyone was getting in there last minute shopping.  Just like we do in the States!  I like it!  Hopefully, the stores might be open on the 24th for me to get in my Christmas Shopping this year!  Why rush things!

Hungry???  Kein Problem.  (No Problemo for us Amerikaner.)  How else do you describe "Restaurant Zunfthaus Zur Waag" as you come around a corner to see this amazing sight.  Located at Münsterhof 8, CH-8001 Zurich, this historic building was constructed by in 1315.  No Lucille, we didn't eat there.  The Kalbs-Cordonbleu only cost CHF 43.00.  Slightly out of our McDonald's Budget.  The Ice Cream Parfait (CHF 15.50).  The place however was packed even at 4 PM on a Sunday! 

Back to Shopping! The shops are amazing.  As we wove through the streets of Zurich we saw some amazing shops. Most shops are open Monday to Friday 9 AM to 6:30 PM.  Saturdays from 9:30 AM and close at either 4 PM or 5 PM.  Many of the stores close for lunch.  By law, shops cannot stay open longer than 8 PM on weekdays and 5 PM on Saturday.  They are definitely closed on Sunday.  Except this past Sunday.  Since Christmas falls on a Saturday, they were opened this Sunday.  What would we do if stores closed on us at 6:30 PM everyday?  Me thinks my credit card would breath a bit easier.  As such, everything was opened Sunday.

As night fell (by the way Sunrise is around 8:10 AM and Sunset around 4:38 PM.)  Can we say short days?  So when I say night fell, it was only around 4:45 PM and it was dark.  And the lights came on!  And wow oh wow oh wow!

We made our way to the Quaibrücke where we took pictures of the Fraumünster, St. Peterskirche and  Grossmünster churches.  First time I took night pictures.  Not that bad eh!???  The Fraumünster has the biggest organ in the canton with its 5793 pipes. The St. Peterskirche - built in the 9th century - boasts the largest clock face in Europe.  The Grossmünster was built in the 12th Century and is a Romanesque ex-cathedral.

The University of Zurich and Limmat River

To finish the evening, Andy (our brother-in-law) took us to a higher point in the city were we were blown away by the sight you see above. This is the Universität Zürich as seem from the Limmat River. Andy had Heidelbeer-Glühwein which is a mulled wine made from Blueberries.  It is a red wine mixed with species and served very warm.  It's the traditional Christmas drink in these parts.  Marcela, Isabel (Marcela's Sister), Andy (Isabel's husband) and me toasted the night and the season and hugged each other enjoying the moment, the day and this view.

Here's a slide show of the day with some of the pictures I took.

Enjoy the Day!


Stephen said...

Super Louis. We really appreciate the blog with the descriptions and wonderful pictures. I especially like see the winter and snow in the pictures. Have fun there for all of us.

Stephen and Laurie Brady

krendon3 said...

Hope you, Marcella and the fam are having a wonderful trip.

Merry Christmas and safe travels.