When one emerges from the railway station in Zurich, the absolute beauty of the surroundings is overwhelming. If one comes in season, there is a lot of greenery everywhere, with parks, alleys and trees creating a wonderful ambience. The river Limmat is so clear, one can see the bottom, and its freshness makes one wish to stand on the quay forever. Swans, ducks and geese with their young float to and fro. The views are picture perfect. Everything is so clean, it’s really amazing. It is easy to find one’s way around. Though there is no Altstadt, Old Town area, as such, there are plenty of lovely buildings from various epochs which help create a unique image of the timeless city. The prices in all the cafes and restaurants are quite staggering, but one can go to any bakery or even better, to a large COOP shop which is located right across from the train station. There is a large salad and sandwich bar in it, plus a big counter with salads, freshly baked mini-pizzas and quiches, chicken nuggets and fish, as well as croissants and sweet buns. One can buy quite a lot of nice food for much less money than if one goes to a café for a meal. Zurich is the largest city in Switzerland, though it is not its capital. Many banks, several important industries and universities are located there.
Fraumuenster is perhaps the most famous church in town; its foundation stone was laid down in 853 by an emperor to honor his daughter who was famous for her kind deeds. Inside, there are several stained glass windows painted by Mark Chagall during the restoration. The St. Peter’s Church with the biggest clock tower in Europe is right next door to it. Later, one can cross the river along one of the many bridges, and come to the Grossmuenster, with its tall twin towers erected to commemorate two martyrs. The entry to all the churches is free. One has to pay a small sum to climb up the narrow winding staircase inside the Grossmuenster tower. To see the town from up above, perhaps it is better to use the funicular which goes straight up a hill. There, one can enjoy the wonderful panorama of the mountains and the lake, and glimpse the city and the river down below. Zurich See, as the lake is called, is also within walking distance. One should simply walk along the Limmat Quay to reach it. It is huge and clean, the air is very fresh, and the surrounding Alps are breathtaking. One can take a tram to reach any of the places, too.
Bahnhofstrasse, which starts right from the train station, is the main shopping street, with all the famous boutiques and brand names all along it. There are also plenty of little shops and several markets all over town. If you are lucky, you may happen on a sale, and get some surprisingly good bargains. Public toilets are to be found at several points; charges apply. I have heard an American say indignantly, “I’m not ready to pay two franks to share my juices with the city!” Probably before you go exploring, you should use the facilities at the hotel and at a café where you have your meal.
Zurich is definitely a place to visit and to enjoy.
©gretag 2014

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