1. The dining experience.
There is no shortage of choice for trendy, chic, nouveau, or old world restaurants housed in everything from 17th century guildhalls to renovated, re-designed industrial spaces. We had the pleasure of dining at LaSalle located in a converted shipbuilding factory. The lovely staff, rustic elegance, and luscious cocktails contribute to the restaurant’s charm along with the dining room’s open-and-airy, glass-filled ambiance all of which softens the distress for vegetarians who must turn the other cheek in this carnivore paradise. Bison, rabbit, and veal cravings can be quickly satisfied or for the more daring, horse fillet with garlic featured on the menu (horsemeat generously, or rather surprisingly, sourced from Canada and the USA).
Our second evening, dressed for dinner at Kronenhalle, we patronized without our diamonds and pearls and were subsequently relegated to a backroom table in this overly-conservative, stuffy local institution. Only the ability to view original artwork adorning the walls by Picasso, Matisse, Chagall, and Kandinsky, abated our feigned indignation.
2. The Spa experience.
I did mention birthdays and along with the calendar demarcation looms an annual contemplation of life. Although I have an inclination to revive the lost art of growing old gracefully, it is not counter-intuitive to another aspiration, namely, professionally-pampering my body. Switzerland has spas aplenty and claims some of the world’s best luxury spas and wellness resorts. We enjoyed the day spa at The Dolder Grand and left this hillside castle hotel feeling refreshed, relaxed, and ten-years younger.
3. The shopping experience.
Zürich has stylish little museums and galleries and the admirably clean, compact city allows ease of navigation through cobblestone streets to churches, courtyards, and riverside cafés. Personally, I prefer art and culture to shops and souvenirs but I confess to enjoying Bahnhofstrasse, the broad pedestrianized boulevard of endless retail options. In a daze of merchandize I succumbed to commercialism, purchasing insanely expensive shoes in the form of blue-suede-heels from Bally.
Unquestionably a finance capital, Zürich residents vary across the spectrum from unabashed luxury sedan driving capitalists to young contemporary bike-riding artists; no one overly ostentatious and all seemingly enjoy Zürich’s high standard of living. Peering through a veneer of regulated Protestant-modesty, the city reverberates with comfort and affluence. Pleasant, sophisticated, and a river runs through it.
Notes from my Learn 1 Thing a Day collection:
Switzerland has four national languages: French, German, Italian, and Romansch.
The abbreviation for the Swiss Franc, the country’s currency is CHF because Switzerland, is also known as Confoederatio Helvetica (Latin). The Helvetians were the first tribe to settle in this central European region.
“For all the gnomish bankers and uptight Protestant burghers, Zürich was never simply the soulless, spotless city of reputation, even if James Joyce claimed that if you spilled soup on the Bahnhofstrasse you could lick it up.” – Wallpaper City Guide