This country is neutral because no one can afford to have an opinion! The city nestles between Lake Zurich and the Alps, making for a dramatic backdrop. The grand beauty of Zurich is only matched by the price of living. But every cent is worth it when you are traveling, right? Well, maybe. For two college girls, this city had a big price tag. But I heard the mountains (and great flight deal) calling me.
Strolling around the old avenues and zig-zagging across the river is how we decided to explore the city. On our first day, Katta and I walked along the river until we stumbled through the tram lanes of Quaibrucke bridge. The vista before us left us in silence. Snow-topped peaks could be seen past the crystal blue waters of Lake Zurich. Ferry boats shuttled tourists through the waterways while natives ate snacks and smoked cigs on the shore. As soon as I notice a small crowd of people gawking at something on the shore, I also hear Katta say, “oh HELL NO”.
Normally, Katta is a fierce, unstoppable woman when it comes to traveling, but swans and geese make her run back home. The fowl that comb the shore, begging tourists for a yummy treat, have a charm that Katta was not into. She waited on a park bench while I investigated further. Adults and kids alike were drawn to the big, beautiful beasts that claimed the docks as their home.
We continued our walk, away from the geese, towards the Zurich Opera House. The trees line up beautifully as the shoreline ebb and flow to the right. The Zurich Opera House gracefully loomed over the chaos that the circus set up in the square was causing. Katta and I made our way back up the river, towards our hotel, on the lookout for a cheap meal. Franzo, chic and cozy, was the first restaurant that caught our attention. Croque Madame with a glass of wine for $8 was a deal I couldn’t pass up. Katta and I ended our evening by drinking wine by the shore of the river and calling an early night.
The next day, we were on the move to find something that was cheap and fun to fill our day. We searched the internet until we found a succulent greenhouse and garden that was open to the public. Sukkulentensammlung was filled with beautiful succulents and cacti from all over the world. It peaked my interest to learn that this little greenhouse was home to the largest collection of succulents in the world since 1931. I would reach my hand and touch the prickly spikes and surprisingly soft branches of the cacti. After thoroughly investigating all the nooks and crannies of the lush greenhouse, we walked along the shore of Lake Zurich until we found a secluded spot. Katta and I spent the afternoon lounging on boulders, reading from our books, and soaking up the bright rays of sunshine. I can say with all honesty that it was one of the best afternoons I have spent abroad. The view was incredible, and only something you can find in Zurich. The lake, lined with sailboats, was reflecting the Alps in the distance. We spent hours dipping our toes in the cool water and flipping through our books.
Another fantastic view we discovered in Zurich was atop of Lindenof. The site of an old Roman fort has a beautiful vista across the river and up the hill on the opposite shore. Bunches of tourist on a walking tour gathered around their tour guide. Katta and I casually joined the group for a view minutes to learn about the history of the site. Now a meeting place for chess players, the quiet hilltop has gone from a Roman fort in the 4th century to a royal palace built by the grandson of Charlemagne in the 9th century
Still a modern city, the architecture of Zurich makes you feel as if you have been transported to a Swiss fairytale. The pastel colors and sharp lines create the elegant structure of the city. The stone churches that sprinkle the city are starkly visible against the soft patches of blue, pink, yellow, and cream. The sounds of the city are unlike any other I have visited. The regular churchbells, the running river, and mountain breeze create the calm soundtrack of Zurich. No traffic noise or loud tourists disrupt the quiet nights drinking wine by the river.
The cost of visiting Zurich was big but not as big as the amount of loveliness that the city oozes. The brief days we spent exploring the streets, the shoreline, and the restaurants of Zurich will have a lasting impression on my wallet and my ideals of beauty.