Any time you have the opportunity to see a new place, even if it is only for a few hours, it is worth it. On our way home from our Austrian Ski Arlberg holiday, we had one night in Zurich, Switzerland.
We returned to Zurich with the Arlberg Express. The shuttle bus service was adequate and fairly efficient. It goes to Zurich Airport from St Anton in about 3 hours. From the airport we had to take a taxi to our hotel. This was a short 20 minute ride that cost 52 Swiss Franc – about 90 Australian dollars. I knew Zurich was going to be expensive, but yikes!
We chose not to take the first bus service so that we could enjoy breakfast and not have to rush. This meant that we didn’t arrive at our hotel until about 2 p.m. We stayed at the Motel One, which is located a short distance from Old Town and reasonably priced. The hotel had a nice soft modern vibe, and I found the layout of everything compact but very functional. The staff was also very nice.
We chose to simply walk around and look, with a rough idea where a few points of interest were. (I like to call this the general meander.) I love walking around a new city to get a feel for it and see how it moves; every city is a little different.
Zurich has a casual confidence. The city seamlessly blends old and new, giving it the feeling of a wise soul with the energy and joy of youth.
Zurich is organised into districts, which roughly spiral out from the centre, with District 1 in the middle. Like all good European cities, Zurich straddles the river with a series of bridges. The river acts like a spine rather than a border – like the rivers in many Australian cities.
Motel One is located in District 1, as is the central train station, Old Town and several tourist attractions. If you only have a few hours, it is a good place to focus your time.
District 1 has a mix of old architecture dating back decades, centuries and millennia, modern art sculptures, and a variety of eateries. There are trams running up and down the main streets and on Bahnhofstrasse, past the luxury brand shops inside the 6-storey European buildings with shingled roofs.
Between Bahnhofstrasse and the river, we found Lindenhof hill. The walk up to the hill is via cobblestone streets past colourful rendered buildings with shutters on the windows. At the top is a small park with views overlooking the river and Old Town. While we sat and ate our bretzel sandwiches, we watched some local retirees play bocce ball.
The Old Town of Zurich runs up the hilly embankments on the east side of the river. The buildings are close together along cobble stone streets. The buildings are three to four stories tall and feel like they are leaning in and out of the road. They are each painted a different bright colour and their windows have wooden shutters on either side. On the street level is a variety of shops and restaurants, particularly along Munstergasse.
After walking through District 1 for a few hours, we returned to the hotel to rest up and change for dinner. We eventually settled on a nice, modern Swiss restaurant in a hotel near Lindenhof. Despite having walked for several hours during the day with no issues, we had to take a taxi most of the way to the restaurant because it had started to pour. It was shocking how hard the rain was coming down; you could even hear it hit the street. The food at dinner was excellent; although I am happy anytime I can get lobster tail.
In the morning after a quick breakfast at the cafe across the street then grabbed a taxi back to the airport to fly home. While we had only a short stop in Zurich, and a short holiday for such a long trip, I am so glad we went. I was able to add another year of skiing to my tally and see two new places.