Tim Foolery

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Tour of Zürich

We only had one afternoon in Zürich and we wanted to maximize our time.  After we checked-in at the Park Hyatt, we headed out and decided to use a self-guided walking tour we found in the Frommer’s Guide Book.  I like these tours because you can move at your own pace, learn a bit of info about a handful of locations and the best part, if you see something interesting, you can veer off course as you like then return to the tour (if you want) – unlike an official guided group tour.

We headed off across the river and started at he base of Bahnhoffstrasse looking out across Züricksee.  It was a very calm day – almost no wind, but the clouds were low and obstructed the mountain views a bit.  Evidently they are stunning if weather conditions are a bit better.  While it was cold, there were still quite a few people hanging out along the water front.

Tour of Zurich - Zurichsee

Tour of Zurich – Zurichsee

Before we made it to our second stop, we smelled brats cooking and we realized that we hadn’t eaten lunch yet.  We just had a quick pastry in the mall connected to the Holiday Inn Bern-West Side, while we waited (in vain) for the Sixt Car Rental Road Side Assistance.  Six hours later, with the smells of the brats wafting our way, we became famished!  We hurried over and each order a sausage and a bottle of water ($25USD total). The sausage was served in a piece of paper with a small roll accompanying it (it wasn’t served in the roll).  We were given a small container of mustard and we stood at a highboy table and ate.  The sausage was spectacular.  I would have ordered another – and quite honestly, I would have been happy eating that for dinner, but the hotel had made dinner reservations for us, so I didn’t want to spoil my appetite.

We continued along the route Frommer’s suggested – actually, we took the tour route backwards, starting at the lake and ending a the Bahnhoff.  This tour was quick and had a few interesting sites, but wasn’t one of Frommer’s better tours.  It did what I wanted it to do – it got us out of the hotel, gave us an interesting path to walk to the Bahnhoff (since I’m a big transportation nerd and trains are a critical part of European transport, the Bahnhoff is an important destination) and left me wanting just a bit more of Zürich.

Here are some of the highlights from our walk:

Tour of Zurich - View of St. Peter Church Clock Tower

Tour of Zurich – View of St. Peter Church Clock Tower

Tour of Zurich - Grossmünster

Tour of Zurich – Grossmünster

Tour of Zürich - Zürich Hauptbahnhof

Tour of Zürich – Zürich Hauptbahnhof

Tour of Zürich - Paradeplatz all decked out with Christmas lights

Tour of Zürich – Paradeplatz all decked out with Christmas lights

Zürich is a pretty small City, very walkable full of very nice people – people who speak more languages than you’ll need (English, German, French, Italian are all very common, we also easily found people in shops or on the streets using Russian, Mandarin and Arabic).  I would have enjoyed another day to explore the City — and another few days to explore the neighboring countryside (I’m not sure if there is enough to keep you occupied in Zürich for more than 2.5 days).  I think it would be a great jumping off point for dozens of hikes in the Swiss Alps.  The food was great (do me and yourself a favor – grab a brat from a street vendor and enjoy), the urban transportation amazing and the chocolates were top notch.  I will definitely return to Zürich.

What was your favorite part of Zürich?  Since we had such a short stay, I know we missed a ton – what should I add to my list for my next trip?  What should I avoid?

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