Things to do in Zurich

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  On initial appearance if you follow the exchange rates, being in a country that utilizes the Swiss Franc would appear to be quite a traveling bargain in relation to the submerging United States dollar on the world market.  Trust me, it's not.  But sure to bring buckets of credit cards.  While the Swiss Franc does compare nicely to the US Dollar on paper, the reality of expenses in Switzerland are quite another matter.  It's expensive, so you really have to watch your traveling dollar.  For example, if you hit a Starbucks, (of which there are many now in Switzerland), you'll end up shelling out around 8 USD for a grande mocha.   If your an addict, a category of which I fall into, it's a complete financial crisis.  This by no means is meant to deter you from the Swiss experience, just a word of caution that you have to be a resourceful and well researched traveler before your journey begins. 

Zurich is a city which is very easy to travel about.  The public transportation system goes nearly everywhere, and as with other transport systems in Europe, you pay for your alloted time on the train or trolley.  For example, the ticket you buy is good for 1 hours worth of travel.  You can get on and off as many times as you choose for that hour.  If you need more time, you buy another ticket, or buy a ticket with more hours.  Automated ticket dispensers are widely available all over the metro Zurich area, and most except credit cards.  The best thing is, the cost is very, very reasonable. 

One of the things I really like to do while in Zurich, is strolling down the Bahnhof Strasse, (claimed to be the most expensive street in Europe). The Bahnhof Strasse cuts through the center of old Zurich, and runs from the Zurichsee, (Lake Zurich), to the main train station at Bahnhof Plaza.  Sights, sounds, stores galore, but the people watching is the thing I find the most fascinating.  Hangin' at the outdoor coffee bar at the Globus on the Bahnhof Strasse, (Switzerland's version of Neiman Marcus),  you get an eyeful of everything from the nuevo riche, to the interestingly dressed, (matching hair and tennis shoes).  It can fill an entire afternoon very easily. 

Vom Fass, a mix and match liquor store, is just across the river Limmat in old Zurich.  It's been highlighted by the Travel Channel on a Passport to Europe segment, and is a terrific shopping or souvenir stop.  All types of Swiss wine, liqueurs, liquors, and brews adorn the walls of the little shop.  You can make your own concoction from the ingredients on hand.  Strawberry-Amaretto, blended whiskeys, blended rums, Vanilla Kahlua, whatever your heart desires.  You can buy from 1/10th of a liter, to the liter size.  Glass bottles and containers are sold in the store for your purchase, and range from the really, really spendy, to the incredibly generic.  It's a great experience, a very Swiss experience, and on the whole, fairly reasonable cost wise. 

Zurich is full of small eateries and tapas bars, 5 star dining, and virtually every type of food choice imaginable from all over the world.  It's a very international city, and the multitude of eating choices reflect that.  From reasonable to very expensive, you just have to do your homework, and decide what you wish to consume.  Roasted chestnuts can be bought from street vendors, as well as bratwurst and carmeled apples, just walking around town. 

One walk that should not be missed is the promenade along the Schanzen Graben.  It's a small river coming off of the Zurichsee running through the south portion of old Zurich.  Coffee and chestnut vendors, strolling musicians, and the most romantic walk in all of Zurich.  It's two blocks off of Bahnhof Strasse, turning south on Bleicher Weg. 

Be forewarned, in three trips to the Zurich area, I have yet to see the surrounding Alps that Switzerland is so famous for, (except from a plane).  Each time, weather or pollution from all of the wood stoves utilized by the Swiss have precluded the view, but I always still count my self blessed as Switzerland has so much more to offer than just mountains.  


Traveller's tip:   Draw your spending money from an ATM or use your credit/debit card.  You'll get the best exchange rate.  Exchange establishments, hotels, restaurants, probably will not give you the best exchange rate, and in some cases will charge you a rather lofty fee.   

September 16, 2008 new by steve9631 (1 point)

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