jn82’s Epic Adventure

Day 62 [1 Apr 09] – Zurich

Posted in Zurich by jn82 on April 1, 2009

Day two in Zurich was another really grey day, making every single one of the last nine days in Switzerland grey sky days. Today, after breakfast at the hostel, we caught the S-bahn into the city, and did a walking route which was in the city map provided by the Zurich tourist office. This has been the first city map we have got which provides a pretty good walking route of the main sights in the city, something I think most tourists will appreciate.

Starting on the east bank of the river Limmat, we entered the old city at Niederdorf-str. Pretty similar to many of the old cities in Europe, except it is extremely clean, and has a surprising number of strip bars. There is a good mix of hotels, souvenier shops, expensive looking clothing stores, eateries catering from the mid to high budget range, and of course the naughty bars.

First naughty bar we came across.

One of the old city streets.

The two main tourist attractions and landmarks in Zurich are two cathedrals, one on the east bank and the other on the west bank of the Limmat. We first visited the one on the east bank and the more significant of the two, the Romanesque and Gothic Grossmünster Kirche. Most of the existing structure dates back from between then 11th to 14th century. The highlight of this cathedral is the 187 step climb up one of the towers to get a very good view of the city of Zurich (on a clear day).

Exterior of Grossmünster from the west bank.

The nave of Grossmünster.

View of Peter Kirche on the west bank and the city of Zurich.

View of Fraumünster Kirche directly opposite.

After Grossmünster, we continued upon the east bank and decideed to have a value meal again at a Coop restaurant. A usual meal (with meat) in a restaurant or cafe costs around 20 CHF, while at a Coop restaurant it is around 14 CHF only, although it is a self-serve concept where you collect your own food and pay for it at the counter after. I had the same pock cutlet with chips again for 13.40 CHF like yesterday, but had an additional bowl of soup for 2.90 CHF. After lunch, we crossed over to the west bank of the Limmat at the point where the Limmet opens up to Lake Zurich.

View of Peter Kirch, Fraumünster and Grossmünster from the mouth of Lake Zurich.

After crossing the river, I saw a ferry service and vaguely remember that most Swiss ferry services were covered by the Eurail train pass. Having some time to kill as the walking route was pretty short, we decided to jump on the ferry for a short roundtrip around Lake Zurich which would have cost us 7.8 CHF without the pass. The ferry ride itself was okay, but the view was not very good because it was very misty and the sky was… GREY.

Houses along Lake Zurich.

Lindt Chocolate factory or head office.

The ferry ride lasted around an hour and a bit, and after that we continued along the west bank of the Limmat. The next stop was to Fraumünster Kirche, the second largest landmark in Zurich, which dates back to around the 13th to 14th century. Unfortunately, no pictures allowed inside, so I am unable to show the famous five stained glass windows (each with their own colour theme) by Mark Chagall which date from the 1970s.

The slender blue spire of Fraumünster.

On the way back to the train station, the last sight we passed was that of Peter Kirche, which has the largest clock face in Europe (8.7m in diameter). Did not bother to go in as we were pretty tired and just wanted to go have an early dinner before going back to the hostel.

Peter Kirche.

Dinner was at the train station again, but this time we did not have Chinese or kebabs. There was this Marche outlet which I remember seeing yesterday that served rosti (fried, buttery, shredded potatoes), and as this was my final day in Zurich and I have not had any rosti yet, I decided to have it here. While I am sure a chain place such as Marche does not have the best quality Swiss speciality food, I could not really be bothered to walk around to find a place that did. The Rosti and grilled chicken was pretty nice, and reasonably priced at 16.90 CHF.

Grilled chicken and rosti.

We head out from Switzerland and go into the Austrian city of Innsbruck for two days tomorrow morning.

Today’s pictures available here.


Day 61 [31 Mar 09] – Zurich

Posted in Zurich by jn82 on April 1, 2009

After a 45 minute train ride from Lucerne this morning, we arrived in Zurich just before 10am. Zurich’a main train station is massive, and has over 54 platforms. After some confusion as to which surburban train to take to the hostel and where to take it from, we got on the train and head to the stop the hostel was at, eight minutes away from the city centre. The good thing about taking the surburban train was that it was covered by the Eurail pass, so we did not have to pay anything for this form of public transport. Taking the tram would have set us back almost 8 Swiss Francs (S$11) a day for an all-day ticket. The surburban trains in Zurich are really of the highest standard, and are comparable with the Swiss inter-regional trains. They really put to shame the surburban trains in Italy, which were totally crap. After reaching the hostel and dropping our bags, we headed back into the city to walk around for a bit.

First class carriage on board S-bahn 24 from Wollishofen to Zurich HB.

From the guide books, it appeared that there were not many tourist attractions to visit in Zurich. All that was recommended were two cathedrals and two museums, of which one was a fine arts one we had no interest in. After a pretty cheap lunch (by Swiss standards) of pork cutlets with chips at a Coop restaurent along Banhofstr for 13.40 CHF, we walked along the main shopping street for a while more before heading off to check out the Swiss National Museum (Schweiz Landesmuseum). The only permernant exhibitions open for public viewing was a display about the history of the earth from 4.5 billion years ago till modern day, Swiss woman’s dresses from the early 19th century, and some weapons. As photography was not allowed inside, I am unable to show you what a sub-par museum experience this was, and I cannot understand how both Frommers and Lonely Planet could recommend it. Needless to say it was a wasted two hours or so, although it was free.

Swiss National Museum.

Pretty iconic stagecoach of which I have no idea why.

Having planned to do the walk along the main river which runs through Zurich (Limmet river) tomorrow, we did not have anything planned for the rest of the afternoon, so we just decided to walk along bits of the Limmet anyway. It was a very grey and cloudy day, pretty depressing, so everything looked pretty dull and drab. It has been this way throughout our stay in Switzerland so far, which is rather unfortunate as this is such a beautiful country and we were unable to see it in all its glory. The following are just a sample of pictures of the three better known churches within downtown Zurich, which we will visit tomorrow during our walk around the city.

Fraumünster Kirche.

St. Peter Kirche, with the largest clock face in Europe.

The most famous Zurich landmark, the twin towered Grossmünster Kirche.

It was a pretty relaxing walk around parts of the new and old city, and at the end when we finished around 5pm we decided to have a very early dinner so that we could just go back to the hostel and relax. It was good that there was not that much to see in Zurich as we were feeling pretty tired. Dinner was at this Chinese place at the main train station, where just for laughs I decided to spend 16.50 CHF on…. Singapore noodles with chicken! Now I have no idea what exactly goes into a “Singapore noodles”, but having seen this dish around Europe quite a few times during this trip I decided to satisfy my curiosity.

Singapore noodle w/ chicken.

I tried to order the dish in Mandarin from the woman at the counter, but she did not understand what I was saying (I think she is Viernamese). As you can see, I paid the equivalent of S$23 for bee hoon! Quite stupid I know, but it was a very big portion, and given the cost of meat in Switzerland, i suppose it was a pretty decent price for such a meal. The bee hoon has a non-spicy curry powder flavour to it, which is pretty weird and can get quite unplesent in a large serving. What a non-life changing dish to be tagged with the Singapore name to it! I really hope that Europeans do not think that this is one of Singapore’s speciality dishes.

After dinner, we caught the S-bahn 24 back to the hostel, and had a early night. No (free) internet usually does mean an early night.

Today’s pictures here.