After my first incursion into the Scandinavian countries, I got more desire for cold and snow. I found a wonderful offer to Switzerland and the best thing was that I would travel around Christmas. I had been dodging it for a long time and there I was alone, lost in the heart of Europe and even without stepping on it. My 6-day trip integrated by train through Switzerland was through Zurich, Lucerne, Basel and Colmar, Bern, Freiburg and Gruyeres and Lausanne and Geneva.
My winter adventure decidedly began in Zurich where I arrived with the flight after a stopover in Amsterdam. From there my itinerary started on trains, which at first I thought I would do by car. The infallible Swiss train network is sensational. Needless to say that they work perfectly. Driving in the middle of winter with snow, ice, and fog? Without much hesitation, I got on the sensational train system!
I arrived at the Zurich airport from where I easily took the train (Flughafen Station) that left me 12 minutes later at the Zürich Central Train Station. It was easy, convenient, fast and cheap! I booked my apartment for a night very close to the station, since the tourist part of Zurich is relatively small and is very close to the station. Everything can be done walking without any problem.
My first host was a lovely Italian and Swedish couple, who had settled in Zurich after traveling. There was a huge mural with a world map decorated on one of the walls of the living room with the trips made and to be done. I arrived late so, immediately, I went to bed trying not to bother them too much. Also, the next morning I was going to get up early. Until the alarm clock decided not to sound, hahaha!
When I got up startled from so much sleep, I found the couple parting with laughter in the living room. After thanking them a million times for coffee and a delicious piece of lemon cake, I went out to visit the city.
This small Swiss city was frozen but not snowed. I begin my visit to the Altstadt, the old town. The first thing I did was to take the most commercial and busiest street in Zurich, Bahnhofstrasse. This street, full of the most important shops, trams and lots of commercial life, also houses the renowned and historical Confiserie Sprüngli.
Going to is almost mandatory when you are in Zurich, trying your coffee, or confectionery, and it is well worth it! It is Switzerland and its chocolate is forced in this famous and spectacular chocolate house. Which one is the best? The hot chocolate that gave us energy that cold December day and that they prepared it with milk without the fat!
I continued my walk along the Limmat River (which cuts the city in two) passing through the emblematic Grossmünster, Fraumünster and the Church of St. Peter. We continue going through its charming streets full of details, streets so beautiful and full of places such as Augustinergasse, St.Peterhofstatt, Munsterhof or Storchengasse. After a stop in the Paradeplatz square for some sandwiches at a bus stop (to keep time), I decided to keep walking towards the Lake Zurich. I spent the whole afternoon strolling through the beautiful Belvoir garden. The views of the lake with the mountains with snow in the distance seemed to be taken from a postcard.
There was the typical Swiss landscape that we all imagine. What surprised me the most in my first foray into this country was to see that I really breathed a very relaxed and peaceful atmosphere throughout the city. It gave me a fit of laughter when I caught some armed police officers inside their van, looking at their mobile phones with a face of extreme boredom. What kind of infractions can be committed in a city that seems so quiet?
It was still cold so I decided to make a stop for a hot drink in a café-restaurant hidden in an old building in the center. It turned out to be a very authentic place. I took my coffee in a fine tableware and silver spoons surrounded by paintings of great painters such as Braque, Chagall, Miró, and Picasso hanging from the walls. How to make your wine glass fall while you dine!
Its historic center was what I liked the most and the views on both sides of the Limmat. Although, here I also meet for the first time in these 6 days, with what I least liked about Switzerland and what would be the common denominator in the trip, the Swiss timetables. That, at the time of travel (and even more in winter), play a fundamental role in the enjoyment and relaxation of a trip. Everything closes around 5 pm. There are few people walking down the street after 7 pm and at 9 pm it is an almost absolute solitude. Dining is strictly early. To my surprise the day starts late, few people walk before 9 am.
It started getting dark and I realized that, despite having fallen asleep, Zurich did not have much more to offer. I returned walking along the beautiful Rennweg street with medieval buildings and enjoy the atmosphere of the premises that were beginning to be closed. On the way home curiously I found a wine store. So I was encouraged to take a gift for my apartment couple who had offered me complimentary dinner that night.
When I arrived with the bottle of Rioja, they left me amazed with their surprise of a Raclette! I could not be thankful enough for the incredible generosity of the couple. After putting on my boots with a delicious dinner and typically Swiss white wine, I still enjoyed the evening exchanging impressions, telling my adventures and even taking out the guitar and singing.
I arrived in Zurich without much expectations and I liked the city much more than I imagined.