Zürich reminded me of Geneva more than I expected: I think I envisioned a larger version of Bern because of the shared Swiss-German culture, but the elegant urban architecture and the way the city is situated around a lake more so resembled the Swiss-French city that I currently call home. Not to mention that Zürich seems to be filled with English speakers! We heard American- (or perhaps Canadian-) accented English everywhere — which is a bit different from Geneva, where you often hear people speaking English but with accents suggesting that it’s not their native tongue.
Anyway, the city is quite beautiful and we were lucky to have gorgeous weather for our weekend stay. After taking the train in Saturday morning (a 2-hour-and-45-minute-ride from Geneva), we checked into our hotel and spent some time wandering around the city. We visited the Grossmünster and Fraumünster churches, both of which have incredible stained glass windows: the former of which are modern and reminded me of gemstones, and the latter of which depict biblical scenes of breathtaking color by Marc Chagall. We also went to the famous Sprüngli confiserie for pricy but amazing melt-in-your-mouth macarons and chocolate, and explored a few shops in the old town that we could not afford. Later that evening, we had dinner at a well-known vegetarian restaurant named Hitl with a pay-by-weight buffet. The meal was very tasty, but it drove me slightly crazy that two plates of buffet food and water came in at more than 60 francs. Oh, Switzerland.
A day before our trip I was doing research and found out that Ballet Zürich was performing Anna Karenina while we were visiting and decided to try to get tickets. The only available seats that we could afford, however, were on two separate balconies, basically one seat directly above the other, in side boxes. I checked the 3D view online and both seats seemed to have vantage points that were just slightly obstructed, so I went ahead with the purchase. If you look at the last photo below, you’ll see that “slightly obstructed” does not begin to describe the actual situation: The chair was in the back corner of the box and I could only see the wall unless I leaned all the way forward in my seat — and then I could only see the front-left corner of the stage. By some sad coincidence, all of the scenery and most of the dancing in this particular ballet was done in the back-right corner of the stage, so minutes would pass without me being able to see anything at all. At intermission, the Swiss-German couple sitting next to me kindly insisted on squishing their chairs into the other corner of the box so I could see more of the stage, and it made such a difference! So if you ever read this, wonderful Swiss-German couple, thank you for allowing me to experience Act Two!
Sunday was mostly spent at Zürich’s art museum (the Kunsthaus), which is home to works by an impressive variety of artists but is still manageable enough to explore in a day. The audio guide was particularly well done, with interesting tidbits about the works and the artists, and the temporary Kirchner exhibit was quite good as well. We intended to spend an hour or two there, but we ended up staying closer to five hours before we took the tram across town to see James Joyce’s grave. The gate to the cemetery was closed but not locked so we weren’t 100 percent sure it was open for visitors, but we thankfully came and went without getting yelled at — or, perhaps, just without being spotted…
Gui left Sunday evening so he could go to work in Geneva the next morning, but I stuck around an extra day to meet a close friend who had arranged to fly through Zürich and spend the day with me on the way to a wedding in South Africa. She heroically overcame her battle with jet lag (red-eye flights are the worst) in time for a glorious afternoon catching up on top of Uetilberg mountain, which overlooks the city. Missing you already, dear friend. And that delicious Aperol Spritz… 🙂