ON THE ROAD

∙ Why Zurich is the Cen­tre of the Uni­verse

SHE Canada - - CON­TENT -

Paris is most ro­man­tic, and Ber­lin is steeped in his­tory. Vi­enna is a place for cul­ture buffs, and Florence a place for food­ies. Nearly ev­ery ma­jor Euro­pean city has a unique of­fer­ing for a dif­fer­ent kind of trav­eller. But if there is one city that has it all, it’s Zurich.

Old euro­pean charm

I don’t feel like I’m in Europe un­less I’ve tripped at least twice on an un­even cob­ble­stoned road. There’s just some­thing that’s so darn charm­ing about the or­ganic look and feel of the raised stones that pave the streets of old towns in Europe—even though they hurt your feet and some­times ruin your shoes. You’ll feel like you’ve been placed in­side a me­dieval ro­mance as you stroll through the wind­ing nar­row streets of Zurich’s old town, pop­ping in and out of cheese shops and cafes, and tak­ing in the beau­ti­ful his­toric ar­chi­tec­ture.

Take your time to ex­plore one of the city’s sev­eral great churches. The iconic Gross­mün­ster church looks lovely when lit up at night and pro­vides a spec­tac­u­lar view of the city from the church tower dur­ing the day. The Fraumün­ster fea­tures bold and colour- By Ze­bun­nisa Mirza

ful stained glass win­dows by Rus­sian-french artist, Marc Cha­gall. St. Peter’s Church is dec­o­rated with a gi­ant eye-catch­ing clock face, which is the largest in Europe.

Be sure to tour through one of the sev­eral mag­nif­i­cent guild houses that dot the old town for a glimpse into the his­tory of trade unions—or Zün­fte—in Zurich. Dat­ing back to the 14th cen­tury, these grand build­ings were a gath­er­ing place for trades­peo­ple. To­day, the dec­o­ra­tive grand halls at these build­ings are used to host spe­cial events.

Mod­ern vibe and Nightlife

Once you’ve fin­ished ex­plor­ing the old town, hop into a time ma­chine and fast for­ward to present day in Zurich West, a place where art, fash­ion, de­sign and en­ter­tain­ment col­lide into a beau­ti­ful rain­bow of cre­ativ­ity.

When you first ar­rive in Zurich West, it feels a bit like some­one played a cruel joke on you. At first glance, this neigh­bour­hood ap­pears drab and dirty (well, “dirty” ac­cord­ing to Swiss stan­dards!), but don’t be too quick to judge. This area is sprin­kled with pub­lic art in­stall­ments (like colour­ful graf­fiti and sculp­tures), and hid­den in­side the old, dreary in­dus­trial build­ings is an end­less line-up of the trendi­est spots in the city.

The coolest of them all is the Schiff­bau. From the out­side, it still looks like an old ship­build­ing fa­cil­ity—which is what it used to be—but one step through the door proves oth­er­wise. Upon en­ter­ing, you are forced to walk around a bar­ri­cade of bright yel­low metal strings that run from the floor all the way up to the ceil­ing, an im­me­di­ate sig­nal to let you know that things are about to get very cre­ative in here. Schiff­bau is a cul­tural cen­tre where the city’s most cre­ative minds gather to make art. On a reg­u­lar ba­sis you can come here to catch live theatre, po­etry slams, live mu­sic (jazz, blues and hip hop) and a spec­tac­u­lar meal at La Salle restau­rant.

Time for a bit of shop­ping? You’re in the best neigh­bour­hood for stylish and unique finds. A tall stack of rusty freight con­tain­ers is the site of the flag­ship store of the fa­mous Swiss brand, Fre­itag. Make your way through five floors of one-of-a-kind bags and ac­ces­sories made from up­cy­cled tarps, then climb to the very top of the struc­ture for a great view of Zurich West.

You’ll find tons more if you walk just a bit fur­ther up the street to the Viadukt, one of the coolest mod­ern adap­ta­tions of space I have ever seen. While a train line still runs along its tracks, the hol­lows un­der the stone arches of the West Zurich’s rail­way viaduct—orig­i­nally built in 1894—have been trans­formed

into an ur­ban space lined with shops, fash­ion bou­tiques, art gal­leries and mar­ket hall full of farm­ers and food ven­dors.

Cul­ture, art, his­tory and food

Cre­ativ­ity and out-of-box think­ing thrives in Zurich, which is why it isn’t much sur­prise that the city was the birth­place of the avant-garde art move­ment of Dada. It be­gan in 1916 as a neg­a­tive re­ac­tion to World War I. Artists re­jected the con­cepts of rea­son and logic, and em­braced a feel­ing of ir­ra­tional­ity and non­sense to cre­ate art in var­i­ous medi­ums. They gath­ered at the Cabaret Voltaire, a night­club where all artists and per­form­ers were wel­come to share their work in an en­vi­ron­ment that cel­e­brated this an­ar­chic art move­ment. Cabaret Voltaire still ex­ists to­day in the same build­ing where it be­gan. You can catch reg­u­lar events in the evenings or pop in for a cof­fee and a snack dur­ing the day. And if you’re still crav­ing more Dada, book a stay at the Ho­tel Lim­mat­blick where all of the rooms are in­di­vid­u­ally dec­o­rated in Dada style.

Art lovers will also ben­e­fit from a morn­ing spent at the Kun­sthaus Zürich, the fine arts mu­seum hous­ing Switzer­land’s most im­por­tant col­lec­tion of mod­ern art. Come here to take in sig­nif­i­cant works from Ed­vard Munch, Van Gogh, Pi­casso, Claude Monet and Marc Cha­gall. There’s also a size­able col­lec­tion of colour­ful pop-art works.

Of course, if you’re in Switzer­land your visit can’t be com­plete with­out two key food ex­pe­ri­ences—swiss choco­late and a cheese fon­due. Get the finest choco­late in the land at Sprüngli where dairy in­gre­di­ents from Swiss farms come to­gether with the finest ca­cao beans from across the world to cre­ate only the most fresh and de­li­cious pra­lines, truf­fles, mac­a­roons and solid bars of choco­late. Warning: it is com­pletely pos­si­ble to get much too ex­cited in­side a Sprüngli bou­tique!

Although you can get a fon­due nearly ev­ery­where in the city, the most fun ex­pe­ri­ence can be had in the back of a tuk-tuk. Book a Fon­due tuk-tuk tour to en­joy a Swiss cheese fon­due from the back of a Tuk Tuk while tak­ing in a city tour.

Na­ture and the out­doors

You can see the moun­tains in the dis­tance right from down­town Zurich, and get­ting to the clos­est peak will only take you 15 min­utes by train. If you al­ready have a tran­sit pass, hop on a train from Zurich Main Sta­tion and within min­utes you’ll ar­rive at the Uetliberg Sta­tion, a ten-minute walk from the sum­mit of the moun­tain Uetliberg.

Uetliberg stands 870 me­tres above sea level, pro­vid­ing panoramic views of the city of Zurich and its sur­rounded vil­lages, Lake Zurich and the Alps in the dis­tance. Sev­eral well marked hik­ing trails and moun­tain bike routes makes Uetliberg pop­u­lar in the sum­mer. You can even climb right up to the top of Uetliberg, which takes about an hour to com­plete. And if all that hik­ing made you hun­gry, the Uto Kulm restau­rant is a great place to en­joy a tra­di­tional Swiss meal while you take in the breath­tak­ing view.

If you pre­fer to take in na­ture at wa­ter level, a boat tour on Lake Zurich is per­fect. You can choose from trips that last any­where from 1.5 hours to 7 hours. You can take in views of pretty lit­tle towns and vil­lages as you cruise along the perime­ter of the lake, with the snow-capped Alps form­ing a dra­matic back­drop in the dis­tance.

Spa and re­lax­ation

Lastly, what is a good va­ca­tion with­out a lit­tle rest and re­lax­ation?

Make a point to spend some time at the Ther­mal­bad & Spa. Lo­cated deep un­der­ground in­side the stone walls of an old brew­ery, the rus­tic in­te­rior of this spa will make you feel as though you have en­tered an an­cient Ro­man bath. Ther­mal wa­ters fill up gi­ant wooden vats that look like old bar­rels, and hun­dredyear-old stone vaulted ceil­ings cre­ate an air of mys­tique. You can soak away your aches and pains in the ther­a­peu­tic tubs fea­tur­ing mas­sage jets, bub­ble seats, and whirlpools, or re­lax in the emer­ald bath or a med­i­ta­tion pool with un­der­wa­ter mu­sic. At the other end of the spa, the Ir­ish-ro­man spa ri­tual will al­low your en­tire body to be warmed, cleansed, re­laxed and then cooled once again through a se­ries of ten con­sec­u­tive sta­tions. Need a bit of fresh air? Head to the rooftop hot tub to en­joy panoramic views of Zurich while you soak.

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