City spotlight: Zurich (Switzerland)

17 May

So, I went to Zurich, Switzerland, over the course of the bank holiday. I’m actually really excited to write down all the fun stuff I got up to but I’ve been so crazy busy over the course of the past couple of weeks it’s taken me a while to find time to do this. On the plus side this means I’ve done so much stuff over the past couple weeks I have enough fun stuff to write about for about a month. WOO.

I did my dissertation on the Semantics and Language of the Dada art movement and the Dada art movement started in Zurich. So, while researching my dissertation and learning about this amazing art movement (reckon I’ve said the words ‘art’ and ‘movement’ enough yet?) and the people involved, I read a lot about Zurich. Ever since, I’ve been interested in visiting and at long last I got myself over there.

EAT: Ok, so, Dada aside for a moment, there’s some effing amazing food in Switzerland. I’m going to summarise three places I ate at – burger, fondue and gourmet Swiss food (I know, get me eh?)

Lovely Bird Burger from Korner Burger
Chicken Breast poached in Mango-Curry Sauce, roasted Pineapple, Mango-Curry Mayo, Tomato Slice and Lettuce. With chips and garlic aioli.

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After doing a small bit of research, I quickly discovered that Zurich doesn’t seem to be the place for burger joints. At least not good ones. However, Korner Burger seemed to get pretty good reviews all things considered, so I gave it a try. Now – it’s expensive, but Zurich is generally pricey, so that can be overlooked. The mango-curry sauce was nice, but the burger itself isn’t that strong. Lack of brioche bun perhaps. I wasn’t blown away, but I did enjoy their chips and garlic aioli. It sounds like this is the best burger you’re going to get as far as Zurich local blogs make out and it was fine, but not on the same level as London.

Fondue at Hotel Adler Churi with Raclette
Swiss cheese fondue made with prosecco, with pears, vegetables and bread.

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This place was the tits. The cheese was GREAT. Pear dipped in prosecco mixed with yummy Swiss cheese is GREAT. Not only is this place in a lovely location (you can sit outside on the cobbled streets in the old town in Zurich) but the whole dining experience is nice too. Lovely table setting, your own pot of fondue constantly warmed and bubbling and a big basket of white and brown bread.  Only negative thing about this place is that the service was a little slow. Highly recommend going here, ‘yum central’. You can, instead of veg, purchase fruit or meat to dip in the cheese too. What can I say, I was being healthy.

eCHo Restaurant (traditional Swedish Fayre)
eCHo offers traditional Swiss cuisine prepared with authentic recipes.

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It’s a very fancy, expensive restaurant – and the only way I managed to afford to eat here is because two wonderful, lovely ladies paid for my meal. That probably needs a bit of explaining:  I met a Canadian lady when I went on a tour of Mount Titlis (see the ‘See’ section for more info). She was on my tour bus and she ended up inviting me to go to dinner with her, her work colleague and another lady that they’d bumped into! They took me to this restaurant and very VERY kindly paid for my meal (three courses with unlimited wine: score).

The food was great. I went for Raclette to start (swiss cheese melted over half a potato with pickled vegetables – actually VERY nice). I then ordered chicken, jasmine rice and spring vegetables for my main. Little did I know that I would have to cook the chicken myself… the chicken came part cooked, pink in the middle, with a boiling hot stone to cook the chicken on. The jasmine rice was lovely and I didn’t give myself food poisoning, so that was a bonus…

For dessert we ordered pretty much EVERYTHING. Elderflower sorbet (amazing), Lindt chocolate in pastry (melt in your mouth wonderful) alongside with brownie, double cream ice-cream, caramel flan, apple pie, cheesecake and chocolate mousse. All of them were divine – along with the wine, and my company, that evening. I think this is a perfect example of why travelling alone can be so bloody wonderful. I’d have never met these women or gone to this place otherwise – 10 outta 10 to solo travelling and this restaurant.

SEE: I did so effing much in Zurich I’m going to condense this section down to the best bits.

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CABERET VOLTAIRE: Home of Dada. A club in Zurich founded by Hugo Ball, where Tzara, Ball, Hennings, Arp and others congregated during the First World War. Lovely, neutral Switzerland gave birth to the Dada art movement. The place, now, is mainly a bar and cafe more than anything else (the seating is located in the room where Tzara first read the Dada Manifesto) but there’s also a little museum downstairs where you can see Dada memorabilia and watch a documentary too. I was disappointed that there wasn’t more to ‘see’, but even if all you’re after is a great bar (rather than artistic history) Cabaret Voltaire is the place to go.

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LIDNT CHOCOLATE SHOP & LAKE ZURICH: So, in Zurich you can’t visit the factory or anything, but you can get cheap Lindt chocolate in their shop. It’s located half way down Lake Zurich (not in the city centre) but the walk down Lake Zurich was stunning in the sunshine – there are loads of tiny gardens which allow you to get right down to the blue water and when the sun is out, the alps look stunning (see photo above!)

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The chocolates in the shop are piled up and they have loads of flavours we don’t have in the UK (orange, coconut, all kinds of coffee, passion fruit etc etc). They were also selling off all of their Easter stuff really cheap and they even give you chocolate when you pay. HEAVEN. If you didn’t already know, Switzerland is known for its chocolate and cheese (Toblerone is also Swiss) – and if you’ve never had Lindt chocolate you MUST go immediately and buy some now.

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LUCERNE: When I went to Sweden I shared a room with some Swiss guys (it was a hostel people, minds out of the gutter) and they told me I should visit Lucerne. So, I did. And it was beautiful. First of all, I went to the Lion Monument (for those of you who know me well that won’t come as a surprise). It was created to commemorate the massacre of the Swiss Guards in the French Revolution. The lion is spectacular – carved into stone, the lion is mortally wounded and rests above a turquoise pool.

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Elsewhere in Lucerne, you’ll find Lake Lucerne, rolling hills and a bridge across the lake which was erected in the fourteenth century. It’s absolutely beautiful and inside the bridge, plaques tell the story of ‘Swiss History’. The whole place is incredibly picturesque and I would have loved to have spend more than a few hours there.

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MOUNT TITLIS:  So, I totally went up a 10,000ft mountain in the Alps and loved every bloody second of it. Mainly the views, not the constant fear of falling over, but the snow was fun nonetheless. I walked across a 10,000ft high suspension bridge, I went on the ‘Skyrider’ (basically a longer and higher version of a ski lift) and I had Swiss ice cream on top of the mountain too.

Just LOOK at the view. I mean – it was amazing. On the ground, the day was grey. Above the clouds – glorious sunshine and snow. It wasn’t actually all that cold actually, and the photos don’t do the place justice. Now, obviously, I didn’t ski. I’m not MENTAL. But I did take a ridiculous number of photos. I don’t know why, but the scenery really had an effect on me – I can pin it to being something about being above the clouds and everything seeming so vast, but that’s as far as I’ve got.

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I actually went on a Best of Switzerland tour which got me up the mountain AND took me to Lucerne. The tour guide was lovely and knowledgeable and it was all quite reasonably priced too.

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FRAU GEROLDS GARTEN: This place is essentially a hipster bar which is outside. But it’s really cool. It also serves food, has amazing colourful lights, REALLY nice rose wine and an upper deck you can drink on. If you’re in Zurich in the summer this is an absolute must.

LOVE: I love Switzerland, Zurich, the Swiss people, the SCENERY, It’s one of the most beautiful countries I’ve ever visited. It’s honestly like the stereotype – rolling green hills, blue lakes, towering mountains topped with snow, waterfalls running down them at every given opportunity. GO. That is all.

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